Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Chris Hallatt Wells - King Bones - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Greezy Book Review

When Danny's mum and dad get sent to prison for stealing the Crown Jewels, Danny is sent to live with his Aunty Ratbag in the evil-smelling town of Greezy. It's many years since Aunty Ratbag has been able to practice the ancient art of being evil on a child. Once she was an expert, now she is rusty and needs practice. She thinks she has the perfect victim in Danny. But wandering through the murky churchyard of Greezy ( between the dog food factory and the cat food factory) Danny meets King Bones. And King Bones has a very special mission for Danny: he wants his queen back. She has been buried with her ladies in waiting in a separate chamber. Danny discovers that a famous archaeologist has removed her skull and her crown to display them in the British Museum. King Bones and Danny set out for the rescue!

Everything with Words is a small new independent publisher of children’s books. This is the first book that I've read from this publisher which has a big heart and a great ethos. Some of the money will go to helping street children all over the world which is a great cause and one worth supporting. The publisher's aim is to deliver powerful stories that have an edge of darkness and a plot loaded with danger. Chris Hallatt Wells has kicked this off in a magnificent way. King Bones will be published on the 6th November 2017. 

When I received this book in the post, my instant expectations were very low but how wrong I was. It's a brilliant read full of dark energy. The cleverly worded plot gives this book bags of personality and a little uniqueness, in my opinion. It is a rollicking, hilarious, page-turning narrative that will have you gripped to the bones. Chris understands what keeps children gripped and writes with originality and bucket loads of fun. 

The characters burst from the page with gleeful prose. The plot never lets up and marches the reader down a fantasy path that will have you leaping for cover. Aunty Ratbag is a nasty, vile little lady who will have you fleeing the pages with terror. She is fantastically written, loaded with bitterness, hate and has a tongue like a viper. She makes the plot hum with gentle malice. She is one of my new favourite characters as she really stands out from the crowd. The story is silly, outrageous and has a slight Roald Dahl-esk feel which works amazingly well. It is entwined with both a wicked sense of humour that will have you laughing and marveling at certain aspects together. 

The story is very imaginative. Some of the scenes are surreal and play on your fantasy mind in a big way. You will love the quirky story line of floating apparitions on horseback one minute and a museum full of chaos the next. It all fuels a great sense of adventure. This is a great book to escape into and a joy to read. However, you may need to track a copy down from the internet, probably Amazon. I LOVED THIS BOOK! I am looking forward to the next book, Chris. 

Monday, 30 October 2017

Janine Beacham - Hounds and Hauntings: (Rose Raventhorpe Investigates Bk3) - Halloween Exclusive Chapter Preview

This is another fantastic series - Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Hounds and Hauntings. It is the third thrilling story in Janine Beacham’s middle-grade detective series. With a gothic, Victorian theme, it will have readers guessing and wanting more until the very last page… 

It will be published on 11th January 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books has an exclusive sneaky peek at the first chapter of the book to get you into the mood for Halloween and hopefully whet your appetite to read this book when it finally gets published.    
The city of Yorke is in a panic. There's been a murder! Is an ancient ghost-hound called the Barghest on the loose?
ROSE RAVENTHORPE, her friend Orpheus and the secret society of butlers search for clues in the dark, eerie skitterways, on the mist-covered moors, and atop the ancient walls of the city. Rose believes that the villain is human, and she's determined to prove it.
There's no sweeping this crime under the carpet...

About the Author
A former journalist, Janine Beacham has written all her life. She has always loved fairy tales and fantasy, and as a child would make up games for her friends to play at school. Janine once entered a competition where the prize was a real-life butler – this partly inspired the secret society of butlers in the Rose Raventhorpe Investigates series. Janine lives in Western Australia with her family.

Black Cats and Butlers: Book 1 (Rose Raventhorpe Investigates)

When Rose Raventhorpe's beloved butler is found (gasp!) murdered in the hallway of her own house, she's determined to uncover the culprit. Especially since he's the third butler to die in a week! 
Rose's investigation leads her on a journey into a hidden world of grave robbers and duelling butlers, flamboyant magicians and the city's ancient feline guardians. 

Knives aren't just for cutting cucumber sandwiches, you know . . .

Rubies and Runaways: Book 2 (Rose Raventhorpe Investigates)

It's a bitterly cold winter in Yorke and Rose Raventhorpe and her butler Heddsworth are stuck with Rose's unpleasant cousin Herbert, and his equally horrible butler, Bixby. 
When an orphan boy named Orpheus interrupts the Cathedral's Mistletoe Service, saying that his sister has been kidnapped, Rose vows to help. Solving the mystery will be a lot better than accompanying ghastly Herbert! But the investigation is more complicated than Rose has anticipated and will lead her and her butler friends through fancy tea-rooms, horrible factories, secret underground passages and more... 
Fireplace pokers are much more dangerous than you might imagine . . .

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Spellchasers: The Witch's Guide to Magical Combat Blog Tour with Lari Don 2017 - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

It's fantastic to be hosting the wonderful Lari Don on Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. This is an opportunity to celebrate the release of the final thrilling installment of the spellbinding Spellchasers trilogy. The Witches Guide To Magical Combat was released on the 17th August 2017 and was published by Floris Books! It's been a fantastic trilogy and one that I would definitely recommend that you read. This is the penultimate stop on the blog tour where Lari Don talks about the writing process and what she has learned from writing a trilogy. This is a brilliant insight for readers and writers alike. 
For the last couple of years, I’ve had to change where I write. In order to get any peace and quiet round growing teenagers, I now do most of my writing in the garden shed, surrounded by rusting paint pots and lurking spiders... 

And over the last couple of years, I’ve also changed my writing process, in order to cope with the new experience of writing a trilogy. 
I’ve just finished writing the Spellchasers trilogy, and I have loved spending so much time with the same magic and characters. But it’s also been the biggest challenge of my writing life! 

Here are a few things I’ve learned about writing a trilogy: 

A trilogy is not three stories. It’s four stories. One story across all three novels, and a distinct story in each novel. That’s a lot of stories to juggle all at the same time. 

Keep hold of your central question. The first Spellchasers book begins with a girl, who has been cursed to turn into a hare when she hears a dog bark or growl, going to a curse-lifting workshop. So the big question of the whole trilogy is: will Molly lift her curse? How the curse affects her, how she tries to lift it, and who tries to stop her lifting it, those questions change in each of the three books, but ‘will she lift the curse?’ remains the central question. My job was to keep the central question fresh and new in each book, and to allow the subplots to enhance it, not obscure it. 

Make a decision about cliffhangers. I love cliffhangers at the end of chapters, but I find cliffhangers at the end of books really frustrating. I don’t want to frustrate my readers, so I made sure I didn’t end any of the Spellchasers books on a cliffhanger. I resolved a significant plot at the end of each individual book, and didn’t end on a ... 

Look for titles that play happily together. My editor and I didn’t agree on the titles of the individual Spellchasers novels until I was nearly finished writing the first draft of the third book. ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Curses’ was a line from the first book, and suggested a structure for the two titles, then we had to work out what character or aspect of a character to highlight in the other titles. The second title The Shapeshifter’s Guide to Running Away was suggested as a joke by my kids. (Even if they do drive me to the shed, they are still useful!) The final title The Witch’s Guide to Magical Combat gave me the perfect way into the big battle at the end of the last book.

Your baddies aren’t just there to growl, they’re part of the evolving story too. Even though I introduced new (darker, scarier, more powerful) baddies in each book, I wanted them to have connections to each other. I wanted each new baddie to be reacting to the defeat of the previous baddie, and to be picking up their dastardly plot and moving it ahead in a new way. So my Spellchasers team always had to deal with the consequences of their previous adventures... 

Accept you might need to change your writing process. I’m not a planner. I don’t want to know the end of a book, or even the middle when I start to write. I like to find out what happens next by writing it. I like to meet my characters by seeing how they cope with obstacles. I don’t use storyboards or mind maps or outlines. I just jump into the story and see what happens. That has worked fine for the last six novels. It worked fine for the first Spellchasers novel too, but by the end of the second novel, I started to have my doubts about it as a process for writing a trilogy. I realised that if I just wandered into the third book with a fistful of subplots, an increasing cast of characters, and a vague desire to see what happened next, I would end up with a book that was twice as long as the first two books put together. I abandoned my usual process (a terrifying thing to do!) and actually sat down and worked out what was going to happen. Though I made sure I left a few questions unanswered, so I had some discoveries to make as I wrote. And Molly’s final decision was a surprise to both of us! 

So, that’s what I’ve learned from writing my first trilogy. But everyone has to find their own writing process. Perhaps each of us needs a new writing process for each new story? Whatever I write next, I’ll be finding out ‘what happens next’ in my shed, looking nervously above my head for spiders... 

About the Author

Lari Don is a full-time children’s writer and storyteller. She grew up in the North East of Scotland and now lives in Edinburgh. She writes in her garden shed, helped by purring cats and hindered by lurking spiders. Lari has written more than 20 books, including adventure novels, picture books and retellings of traditional tales.

She can be found on Twitter @LariDonWriter or at www.laridon.co.uk 
The Spellchasers trilogy is available and out now.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Lindsay Currie - The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street (Halloween Q&A) Interview with Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

With Halloween fast approaching, this is a fantastic book to get the goose-bumps flowing. The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie was published in a gorgeous hardback in the US on the 10th October 2017. This is a great opportunity to find out more about the book and the author. 

I hope you enjoy the questions and that the answers make you want to pick up a copy of the book and read it, maybe in time for Halloween. Welcome, Lindsay Currie, to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books and thank you for taking the time to answer the questions. 

Who would love reading THE PECULIAR INCIDENT ON SHADY STREET, and why?
Well, PECULIAR INCIDENT is a ghost story with some seriously creepy moments, so anyone who likes to be "spooked" will definitely enjoy it! That said, it's also a fun mystery and a story about friendship, family, bravery, and acceptance, so I hope everyone is able to take something away from Tessa's story! 

When the rain starts. When the lights go out. That's when the trouble begins... 
What trouble can we expect in this book?
Oooh, good question! PECULIAR INCIDENT is based on a real ghost legend who is buried here in Chicago. The legend is so fascinating (and creepy) that folks travel from all over the country to visit the gravesite! When I wrote the book, I attempted to incorporate the feeling you get when you look at the grave in as many scenes as possible. This means that PECULIAR INCIDENT has a pretty unsettling tone. There's storms, flickering lights, a spooky, antique ventriloquist doll, and all kinds of ghostly events! 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have so many! I love to write with candles going, so that's definitely something a little unusual about me. I also write with things surrounding me that make me feel inspired, so my writing desk is a bit . . . eclectic. There's an old-fashioned hourglass, several Harry Potter Funko figurines, and a sculpture made from found-items that looks suspiciously like a cross between a Thanksgiving turkey, and a monster. 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I generally have an idea of where my story is going, but I don't plot per-se. It makes me feel more comfortable to let the characters lead the way. 

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I’ve been writing my entire life, so the decision to attempt a novel came on the heels of the revelation that writing isn't just a hobby for me. It's a lifestyle. Truthfully, the starting part is always the easiest; it's the finishing part that can be hard. 

Can you pass on any tips regarding the writing process to other budding writers?
Sure! I think when I first started out in publishing, I suffered from wanting things to happen fast all the time. I wanted to finish books quickly, edit them quickly, and see them in agent/editor hands quickly. I've come to learn this is a pretty common rookie error. The publishing industry is not a fast one, and the work of a writer should not be either. You need to take your time to write a good, timely book. It's impossible to know your characters and their goals/dreams/what motivates them unless you slow down and figure out what makes them tick. Same goes for plot. And editing? The more time you can take shining up your work, the better. There's a lot of amazing books out there, so make yours stand out! 

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying/reading process?
Yes. Although we've all heard the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover", I think cover art is immensely important. A striking cover stands out on shelves, and a thoughtfully designed cover speaks to the reader even while they are reading the book. I got very lucky with my cover for THE PECULIAR INCIDENT ON SHADY STREET because the designer - Jessica Handelman - has designed several other covers that I adore, so I knew I'd love whatever she came up with for Tessa's story. The colors in the background are not only a nod to the stormy weather that persists in the book, but also my main character's hobby - pastel drawing. It truly couldn't be more perfect. 

What are your thoughts about how to encourage more children to read? Tough question. I really think this varies from child-to-child. For many children, it seems the key is finding what they enjoy. Finding books that don't feel like a chore to read - either from a content or reading level standpoint. 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Spend time with my family. I have three children - ages 15, 14, and 11 that are my inspiration for everything. My favorite weekends are the ones where we hang out together, make dinner or rent a movie. 
My husband travels for work so when he's here, we do our best to make the most of it. 

What is your favourite book to read that scares you?
Yikes! Favorite scary book? That's a hard one. I'm going to answer with a book from my childhood called The Dollhouse Murders. That book terrified me as a kid, but was so deliciously wonderful that I couldn't stop reading. I reread it about two years ago and was delighted to discover that it still raises goosebumps on my arms today! 

About the Author 

Lindsay lives in Chicago, Illinois with one incredibly patient hubby, three amazing kids and THREE DOGS! She's fond of tea, Halloween, Disney World and things that go bump in the night!


An author of young adult and middle-grade fiction, Lindsay is represented by Kathleen Rushall, of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her middle-grade novels are published with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. Her young adult novels are published with Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. For more details on Lindsay's upcoming books, please visit her website:https://www.lindsaycurrie.com

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Guest Post By John Clewarth - The Dripping Quill: Reading and Writing for Halloween. Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Today, on Mr Ripley's Enchanted Grizzly Books is a post for Halloween. This has been specifically written by John Clewarth, the author of two brilliant books, both of which will definitely get you in the spirit for this spooky time. So, grab a torch, get underneath the bed covers and give it a read - IF YOU DARE! 

BOO! Don’t you just love to be scared? I know I do – feeling that thrill and rush of the scarycoaster, particularly in the pages of a good book, is a great antidote to the pressures of real life. Halloween is lurking just around the corner, like the shadow of a vampire bat, and what better way to celebrate All Hallows' Eve than with a book that'll have you gripping each and every page with anticipation? 

It’s very difficult to choose top titles because there are so many great ones out there. For example, for the younger ones there are classics such as, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Scared of Anything, by Linda Williams (about a little old lady, walking home in the dark, and despite the best efforts of numerous spooky objects, she is completely unscareable!), and if they’re into witches, there’s the fabulous Room on the Broom – not scary but totally charming.

Middle grade offers up such tempting morsels as, The Ghost Prison by Joseph Delaney (author of the Spook’s Apprentice series) – Billy, the new prison guard starts his job in a far from ordinary prison; or perhaps, Doll Bones by Holly Black which tells the story of a group of friends on an epic journey, who encounter a bone china doll that is more powerful than anyone banked on!

Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan, is a gross-out Young Adult retelling of tales from the Brothers Grimm: delicious! And of course, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is delightfully dark and ideal for this time of year.

These are just a few – and the list could go on and on forever (Google will point you in the right direction!) But, as a writer of spooky books for children and Young Adult myself, I thought it would be fun to share some techniques that I use when I’m writing the kind of material that could turn into a Halloween story. Maybe you could try some of these and see if they work for you too! Let’s say, you want to write a Halloween ghost story – they always go down well…

A good story is a good story; the same rules apply to ghost stories as to any other genre.

Create a likeable character who will be meeting the ghost. This could be the person that the reader identifies with. If we see the story through this person’s eyes and we feel they’re like us, we’ll be scared when they’re scared. 

Don't wait too long to start rattling the chains. In other words, hook the reader quickly with a scary event or at least the foreshadowing of one.

Create an unusual ghost; try to think of a different angle. The ghost could be anybody or anything - it could be the ghost of a dog, or an extinct animal, or any kind of person, with all their personality flaws.

Give the ghost motivation for what it’s doing. If it wants to frighten everybody, why? If it needs help, what unfinished business does it have on earth? See of you can come up with something unusual. It could be funny - maybe the person died in the middle of baking a cake and won’t able to rest until he or she sees how the finished product tastes. Perhaps the TV freaks out every time the Great British Bake Off is on! 

Create a fun hero or heroine for your story – why would they want to do battle with or help out the ghost? What will happen if they don’t? And put a deadline on it; perhaps the ghost must be banished before dawn, or something terrible might happen. 

See if you can come up with a twist to the ending. Instead of ending on the ghost’s problem being solved, maybe your character persuades the ghost to get even with a bully (of course you’d have to include the bully earlier in the story!) 

The story has to have atmosphere - the weather and setting help. Never underestimate the power of thunder and lightning and an abandoned old house in a scary story! 

Try not to be too graphic as you try to scare your reader – remember it is what you don’t see that scares you more than what you actually do see: what is that flickering shadow in the corner of your eye, that tapping on the window, that scratching beneath your bed?…

And remember, when writing for children or Young Adults - the secret of scaring them is remembering what it was like to be that age yourself. You need to try to remember what it was you were scared of as a young person, and how much you enjoyed being scared too. I used to love being allowed to stay up late on Friday nights to watch a show called ‘Appointment with Fear’. Even the opening titles were scary! And I always used to try to switch my bedroom light off so quickly that I could get in bed before it went dark (never made it!), just in case that thing in the wardrobe grabbed me before I hid under the duvet. 

And it’s exactly that ‘scary-but-safe’ thrill that I try to create in my own books, for children and Young Adults. Why not give them a try? Firestorm Rising, for Middle-Grade readers, reached the final of The People’s Book Prize (alongside a Neil Gaiman book – wowee!). It’s the story of three friends, who unearth something very strange in a graveyard – on Halloween, of course! Demons in the Dark, for the teen/Young Adult market, is a story of awakening truths that have long lain hidden, and the value of true friendship in the face of ultimate horrors. Either one of these titles would make an ideal Halloween read – but make sure you wrap up warm and leave the lights on! 


About the Author
John Clewarth is a writer for children and Young Adults. His first novel, ‘Firestorm Rising’, is a chilling tale, inspired by a visit to a gothic graveyard one dark, rainy day. His second novel, ‘Demons in the Dark’, is a horror story, broadly aimed written for the young adult market. John believes that horror should be scary but fun, and loves to lace his stories with humour. For further details and sneaky previews of these, along with John’s future projects, please 
visit his website: http://www.johnclewarth.com 
Other links: 
Twitter - @johnclewarth 
Facebook – John Clewarth - Author

Monday, 23 October 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) October 2017 - US Post Two

Karina Yan Glaser - The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street - Published by HMH Books for Young Readers (October 3, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0544876392

A modern classic in the making reminiscent of the Penderwicks series, The Vanderbeekersof 141st Street is about the connections we make and the unexpected turns life can take.

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It's practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home. 

Lisa McMann - Going Wild #2: Predator vs. Prey - Published by HarperCollins (October 3, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0062337177

The Avengers meets Animorphs in the second book of this epic series from Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of the Unwanteds and Unwanteds Quests. “Kids will go wild for Going Wild!” raved Newbery Medal–winning author Katherine Applegate.
The Going Wild series highlights the unbelievable (and completely true) abilities that animals possess, and it’s perfect for Marvel fans and middle grade readers who enjoy an exciting mix of action, humor, and heart. “Fans of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull will not be disappointed,” proclaimed School Library Journal.
In Predator vs. Prey, Charlie Wilde’s dad has been abducted by masked figures who might not even be completely human. And it will take more than her incredible bracelet—which gives her powers from the animal kingdom—to rescue him.
Luckily, Charlie’s friends now have bracelets of their own with all-new abilities…they just have to work through a few issues first. Maria’s device has hair-raising side effects. Mac can’t wait to hack into his. And their frenemy, Kelly, swears hers is a dud. If Charlie is going to have any hope of saving her dad—and the world—from their beastly foes, she’ll have to help her friends master their powers and come together as a team.

Ridley Pearson - Lock and Key: The Downward Spiral - Published by HarperCollins; (October 10, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0062399045

Will leave you dying to know more.” —Rick Riordan, author of the #1 bestselling Percy Jackson series
The New York Times bestselling author of the Peter and the Starcatcher and Kingdom Keepers series, Ridley Pearson, brings us the second riveting tale in the Lock and Key trilogy.
This bravely reimagined origin story of the rivalry of literature’s most famous enemies—Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty—is told from the perspective of James’s observant little sister, Moira. 
At the thrilling conclusion to book one, we left off with James and Moira’s father dying horribly and unexpectedly. Now the search is on to find out what really happened to their father. Did he fall or was he pushed? Sherlock, James, and Moira reluctantly partner up, trusting no one, not even each other, as they uncover a secret sect, a rare jewel, and a sordid history. Blood is spilled, trusts broken, and friendships lost in this story of how one simple mistake cost Father his life and James his heart, and sent the Moriartys spiraling ever downward. 
It’s a highly original and satisfying take on the Sherlock Holmes series as only master of suspense Ridley Pearson could envision. As Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, says, “This tale will change the way you see Sherlock Holmes and leave you dying to know more.”

Zack Loran Clark & Nick Eliopulos - The Adventurers Guild - Published by  Disney-Hyperion (October 3, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1484788011

Few ever asked to join the Adventurers Guild. . . . Their members often died young.

In one of the last cities standing after the world fell to monsters, best friends Zed Kagari and Brock Dunderfel have high hopes for the future. Zed desperately wishes to join the ranks of the Mages Guild, where his status as Freestone's only half elf might finally be an asset. Brock, the roguishly handsome son of merchants, is confident he'll be welcomed into the ranks of the Merchants Guild.

But just as it seems the boys' dreams have come true, their lives take a startling turn . . . and they find themselves members of the perilous Adventurers Guild.

Led by the fearsome Alabasel Frond, the guild acts as the last line of defense against the Dangers-hungry, unnatural beasts from otherworldly planes. And when the boys uncover a conspiracy that threatens all of Freestone, Zed, Brock, and their new allies-Liza, a fierce noble, and Jett, a brave dwarf-must prove their worth once and for all.

This start of a thrilling new series is sure to be a hit with readers who like their fantasies clever and action-packed, with tons of humor and heart.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Nicholas Gannon - The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse (The Doldrums, Book 2)

Last year one of my favourite reads was "The Doldrums" - a brilliant visual debut by Nicholas Gannon. However, this book, in my opinion, has generally gone unnoticed by the reading public. Please read what I had to say about it by checking out my book review HERE 

A year later and the second book, The Helmsley Curse, will be published on the 16th November 2017 by HarperCollins Children's in the UK and the US. At first glance, it looks as visually stunning as The Doldrums. I'm really looking forward to reading a copy very soon. If you are interested then please take a look at the author's website The Doldrums Press. http://www.nicholasgannon.com

I hope that you read both of these books - I really don't think you will be disappointed.  
Archer B. Hemsley and friends are back and yearning for adventure in this second beautifully told, stunningly-illustrated story from author-illustrator Nicholas Gannon.
After two years, Archer B. Helmsley’s famous explorer grandparents are finally coming home. They had been missing – abandoned on an iceberg – and Archer and his best friends, Adélaïde L. Belmont and Oliver Grub led an adventurous mission to rescue them.
Archer is overjoyed by his grandparents return. However, he seems to be the only one. Rumours begin to surface that Archer’s grandparents weren’t abandoned after all. People are claiming that they made it all up. Well, Archer knows those rumours are false, and with the help of his best friends and new neighbour, Kana, he is going to prove it. Off the foursome set, into a snowstorm and beyond, to restore his grandparent’s reputation.

The Helmsley Curse from The Doldrums Press on Vimeo.

The Doldrums Process from The Doldrums Press on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Helen Cooper - The Hippo at the End of the Hall - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Review (David Fickling)

The invitation was delivered by bees. It wasn't addressed to anyone at all, but Ben knew it was for him. It would lead him to an old, shambolic museum, full of strange and bewitching creatures. A peculiar world of hidden mysteries and curious family secrets . . . and some really dangerous magic. 

But most importantly Ben discovers a connection to his father and the family he never knew he had. And now he has something important to fight for - survival of the gee museum and the promise of finding out who he really is. 

Helen Cooper is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator whose picture books include Pumpkin Soup, The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed. Both of which won the CILIP Kate Greenaway award. Her debut novel, The Hippo at the End of the Hall, will be published by David Fickling Books on the 2nd November 2017 which is a fantastic accomplished debut and an absolute joy to read. It is a visual story that will you not forget. 

It was a real privilege to read an early chapter sample of this book back in June. I read the small extract and immediately thought I can not wait to read the finished book in its entirety. So when the copy arrived, I was very much excited to see it and get stuck into it straight away. (Thank you very much, David Fickling)

The first thing that I'm going to say is that it's another fantastic production by the team. A glorious red hardback lavished with love, care and detail with a fantastic story inside. You turn the book cover to be greeted with the fantastic black endpapers where you begin to feel the love for the story inside. 

As you start to read this magical plot, you will notice the really charming pencil sketches/drawings which bring the characters and the setting to life. They are a lovely touch and a fantastic way to start you on your big-footed adventure. There are 42 chapters filled with a sparkling and vivid imagination. It is a story that will stand the test of time - a great classic of the future and one of my book picks of the year. 

A visit to the Peabody Museum (Boston) is where the inspiration for the story started. One of the main characters and, my favourite pygmy hippopotamus, began as an initial sketch from here. Whilst many of the other characters were created from a range of other museums. The author collected these sketches and, with time, love and a bucketful of heart, made The GEE museum in this book a wonderous and enchanting place to visit. The story comes to life with a buzz of bees and a menagerie of stuffed creatures that might make you jump with excitement and anticipation. 

The story itself encompasses a re-telling of two old folk tales that intertwine to create the main story. They achieve this rather nicely by delivering mystery, myth, and wonder to the adventure. In my opinion, it enhances the story and creates an exciting wild adventure. 

The story is a real family read that will appeal to everybody. You will gravitate to the mayhem and mystery that follows the main character, Ben. It's a real heartfelt story that pulls on the reality strings of loss and loneliness whilst giving the reader a feel-good moment once the last pages have been turned. You will be sad as you come to the end of this wonderfully descriptive adventure. This is another fantastic book from the children's publisher of the year, in my opinion. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) October 2017 - US Post

Kate Milford - Ghosts of Greenglass House - Published by Clarion Books (October 3, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0544991460

Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem. There are fresh clues to uncover as friends old and new join in his search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler’s lost haul.

This exciting sequel to a beloved book that was praised in a starred review as "an enchanting, empowering read" is sure to thrill both fans and newcomers. Like its predecessor, it's a smart, suspenseful tale that offers ghosts, friendships, and a cast of unforgettable characters, all wrapped up in a cozy mystery.

Kate Milford is the New York Times bestselling author of the Edgar Award-winning, National Book Award nominee Greenglass House, as well as Ghosts of Greenglass House, The Boneshaker, The Broken Lands, and The Left-Handed Fate. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her online at clockworkfoundry.com and on Twitter @KateMilford.

Lindsay Currie - The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street - Published by Aladdin (October 10, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1481477048

A girl unravels a centuries-old mystery after moving into a haunted house in this deliciously suspenseful mystery. Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones.

When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. And it involves a secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years. With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her!

Armand Baltazar - Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (October 10, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0062402363

For fans of Rick Riordan and Brian Selznick, author-artist Armand Baltazar introduces Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic, the first in a new science fiction/fantasy series that explores a world painted new by the Time Collision. Integrating art and text, this epic and cinematic adventure features more than 150 full-color illustrations.

You’ve never seen Earth like this before: continents reshaped, oceans re-formed, cities rebuilt, and mountains sculpted anew. Dinosaurs roam the plains alongside herds of buffalo, and giant robots navigate the same waters as steam-powered ships.  
This is the world Diego Ribera was born into. The past, present, and future coexisting together. In New Chicago, Diego’s middle school hallways buzz with kids from all eras of history and from cultures all over the world. The pieces do not always fit together neatly, but this is the world he loves.
There are those, however, who do not share his affection. On his thirteenth birthday, Diego learns of a special gift he has within, a secret that is part of something much bigger—something he cannot understand. When his father, New Chicago’s top engineer, is taken by the Aeternum, Diego must rescue him and prevent this evil group from disrupting the fragile peace humanity has forged.

Peter Lerangis - Max Tilt: Fire the Depths - Published - HarperCollins -(October 3, 2017) -  ISBN-13: 978-0062441003 "

The New York Times bestselling author of the Seven Wonders series and books in the 39 Clues series, Peter Lerangis, brings us the enthralling first installment of the Max Tilt trilogy.


When thirteen-year-old Max Tilt happens upon his great-great-great-grandfather Jules Verne's unfinished, unpublished manuscript, The Lost Treasures, he doesn't realize that he's found the answers to all his problems. And Max has a lot of problems — his mother is sick, his father is out of work, and his home is about to be foreclosed on.  But when Max and his cousin Alex discover that Verne's last work reveals everything he wrote was fact, not fiction, they realize that the book holds the key to something incredibly valuable. A treasure that can save his house — and maybe his entire family.

But Max and Alex aren't the only ones who know about Verne's clues. Spencer Niemand, a strange skunk-haired man who has spent his life researching Verne's works, is bent on reshaping the world with the hidden treasure. To find it first, Max and Alex must go on an adventure that'll take them from the broken remains of an underwater city to the very jaws of a giant squid to the edges of a whirlpool from which no one has ever emerged alive.  

This is the first book in a new hair-raising, edge-of-your-seat adventure series from master storyteller and New York Times bestselling author Peter Lerangis

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Guest Post - Sarah Baker - Eloise Undercover - UK Blog (5) Tour - MORSE CODE (Catnip)


France, 1944. 12-year-old Eloise’s father has not come home in over a week, and she is getting worried that something might be badly wrong. When the Germans occupy Eloise’s town, and the Nazi Kommandant moves into Maison de la Noyer, things start falling apart. Through a chance meeting, Eloise volunteers to join the Resistance. Suspense, secrecy and danger follow her as, inspired by her favourite detective fiction books, she tries to find her father. A hidden passage behind a tapestry, a deportation list and a race against time... Will Eloise find her father? And what other secrets will she reveal?
Published by Catnip Paperback, £6.99, 9 + year olds, ISBN: 9781910611135- OUT NOW.

--- .-. ... . / -.-. --- -.. . 

Do you know that this says? 

It says Morse Code! 

(Pinterest photo credit) 

Morse Code is a series of dots and dashes used to send individual letters of the alphabet. If you use it over a short wave radio the long and short tones are referred to as dits and dahs. You could also use a torch!

(link to photo credit): http://histclo.com/essay/war/ww2/code/ei/w2-ei.html 

Morse code was used during WW2 because it was the simplest, most recognizable and understandable signal to send. Online encoding didn’t exist yet, so the safest way of making sure your message was secure was to encrypt it yourself, then send it. Someone at the other end would write down your message, feed it through the same manual decoding system in reverse and… voila! 

Could you be a covert code breaker? 

Here’s an example of a substitution cipher. Each letter of the alphabet has been substituted with a code letter. 

HINT: Sometimes it helps to work on the short words first (notice how NBY is repeated several times!) 

Here’s a question for you written in code. Can you crack it? 

Here’s the alphabet to help you. 

Got it? If so, congrats, you’re on your way to becoming a spy! If not, here’s the key: 



You can use random orders and patterns, but in this case the alphabet has simply shifted 6 places to the right. 


Sputnik 1 

If this was far too easy, try a harder cipher HERE or you can find out how much more you need to learn about being a spy by booking one of my school workshops HERE 

Big thanks to Education.com for the Code Breaker resources.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Sarah Baker is a children’s writer based in London. Her previous book, Through the Mirror Door, has been very well received by bloggers, bookshops, and readers. Sarah has worked extensively in film, with roles at Aardman Features, the Bermuda Film Festival and as Story Editor at Celador Films. She writes guest features for a number of online magazines and blogs, including the popular #vintage baker finds pieces for Bristol Vintage. ELOISE UNDERCOVER is Sarah’s second novel.

Find out more at bysarahbaker.com<http://bysarahbaker.com/>  and follow Sarah on Instagram and twitter @bysarahbaker