Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Young Adult Book Picks June 2018 - US Post

Chris Rylander - The Legend of Greg (Failures) - Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (June 12, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1524739720 - Hardback 

A boy discovers his destiny could totally stink in this riotously funny fantasy-adventure.

Risk-averse Greg Belmont is content with being ordinary. He's got a friend--that's right, just one--at his fancy prep school, and a pretty cool dad (even if he is obsessed with organic soaps that smell like a mix of salted pork and Icelandic bog). The problem is, Greg isn't ordinary . . . he's actually an honest-to-goodness, fantastical Dwarf! 

He discovers the truth the day his dad brings home a gross new tea--one that awakens bizarre abilities in Greg. Then a murderous Bro-Troll kidnaps his dad and Greg is whisked away to the Underground, where Dwarves have lived for centuries right beneath the streets of Chicago.

With the help of some awesome new friends and a talking ax, Greg learns all about the history of the Dwarves, which has been marked with tales of epic failure since the dawn of time. However, the return of the magic they once wielded means big changes are afoot, escalating tensions with the Dwarves' sworn enemy: the Elves. 

Brimming with humor and action, Chris Rylander's The Legend of Greg turns dwarf lore on its head, delivering an adventure readers won't be able to resist.

Ellen Oh - Spirit Hunters - Published by Harper Collins  (June 26, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0062430090 - Paperback

We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh returns with Spirit Hunters, a high-stakes middle grade mystery series about Harper Raine, the new seventh grader in town who must face down the dangerous ghosts haunting her younger brother.
A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn!
Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely.
The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?

Chris Mould - The Great Cheese Robbery (Pocket Pirates) - Published by Aladdin (June 12, 2018)  ISBN-13: 978-1481491143 - Paperback 

A band of tiny squash-bucklers go on adventures of epic proportions in this start to a brand-new chapter book series about pocket-sized pirates!

In the junk shop at the end of the street is a dusty old ship in a bottle. And when the world isn’t watching, a tiny pirate crew comes out of the ship to explore. They aren’t much bigger than a matchstick, but they have a HUGE appetite for adventure!

When a band of mice kidnaps Jones, the ship’s cat, and ransoms him for cheese, the Pocket Pirates spring into action. But to get the cheese, they must venture to the freezing cold place where it’s always winter…the place called Fridge. Can the Pocket Pirates survive their perilous journey and get their ship’s cat back?

Adam Jay Epstein - Snared: Escape to the Above (Wily Snare) - Published by Imprint (June 5, 2018) -  ISBN-13: 978-1250146922 - Hardback


Chopping blades, scorpion nests, giant spiderwebs―no one makes traps better than Wily Snare.
He has never seen the sun, or blue sky, or even his parents. Wily Snare lives underground, creating traps to keep treasure-seekers away from the gold in an ancient wizard’s dungeon. He spends his days mopping up giant slug slime, avoiding poison darts, and herding undead skeletons. It’s all he knows.
Until an unusual band of adventurers―an acrobatic elf, a warrior with a magic arm, and a giant made of moss―successfully defeat Wily’s traps. And they want the ultimate treasure: Wily himself. His skills can help them invade every other dungeon in the kingdom. He might even aid their fight against the Infernal King, whose gearfolk and prisonauts terrorize the land.

But for a boy who has never been outside, dungeons aren’t nearly as scary as the world above. Or an evil king who builds the trickiest traps of all . . .
Snared: Escape to the Above is the first book in a new fantasy adventure series from bestselling author Adam Jay Epstein.

Todd Calgi Gallicano - The Selkie of San Francisco - Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (June 19, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1524713690 - Hardback 

Sam London didn't mean to uncover an ancient secret, but when he found out that mythical creatures are real and living in our national parks, he became the newest recruit to the Department of Mythical Wildlife. Ever since, the middle schooler has been anxiously awaiting the call for his next case . . . and it finally arrives with the brazen appearance of a selkie in San Francisco Bay.

Along with Dr. Vance Vantana and the guardian Tashi, Sam pursues the selkie, who has taken a peculiar interest in fashion's newest "it" girl and social media star, Pearl Eklund. But the closer he gets, the more questions emerge about Pearl's mysterious connection to the mythical world. Is she the long-lost hope for an entire civilization or the harbinger of its doom? It's up to Sam to find out the truth, and fast. . . . The fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Amy Ephron - Carnival Magic - Book Review (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

Tess and Max are back in England for another summer with their Aunt Evie - this time by the seashore in South Devon. And they're incredibly excited about the travelling carnival that's come to town. There are rides, games, acrobats, The House of Mirrors - and even a psychic, with a beautiful wagon all her own. In a visit to the psychic's wagon, while Tess is being hypnotized, the wagon seems to move. Before Tess can shake herself out of the hypnosis, before Max can do anything, they seem to be travelling - along with the rest of the carnival - too quickly for the two of them to jump out. But where are they going and what awaits them? Will they be caught in a world different from their own? And do the Baranova twins, acrobats who miss their sister almost as much as Tess and Max miss their family, hold the keys to the mystery?

Carnival Magic is coming to a town near you. Although, it has already been published by Philomel Books (13th June 2018) in the US. You could easily be sucked into this story just by the book cover, as it is particularly captivating and inviting. This book is the follow up to The Castle in the Mist which was published in February 2017. However, you don't really need to have read it first as this book reads fantastically well on its own. Both books have similar themes, so if you like one of them then you will easily love them both. 

I really loved the black and white map illustration of the fairground which leads you into this amazing story. You will find yourself hurtling into an adventure that pulls on the magical heartstrings of being a child by providing a world of pure escapism. It is a captivating story that introduces the idyllic charm of England, particularly country life. The genteel and relaxed narrative washes over the reader like a babbling brook bubbling with fantastic, vivid imagination.  

The book is set in Devon and will hypnotically transport the reader into a magical adventure regardless of age or gender. The adventurous taste buds will fire on all cylinders as you follow Tess and Max into a wonderful timeless story. The story starts off with a visit to the zoo where Tess gravitates towards a baby tiger writhing on the straw. However, something strange soon happens which sets the reader off on a magical mystery filled full of suspense and wonder. 

The travelling carnival then comes to town and provides a brilliant backdrop for the author, with her calculating eye, to weave a tapestry of bright detail and description. At this point, just like Tess and Max, you are whisked into a family adventure full of love, friendship, and high-flying escapades. I really loved the plot as it is not over-worked or over-explained. It is perhaps a little naive at times, but it leaves the reader fantasizing and believing in dreams. 

It's a great adventure which is both eery and slightly surreal, but it will have the reader hooked until the very last page. It's a brilliant read for a summer's day as it encompasses you with warmth, magic, and love. 

Thank you very much, Amy and Lindsay, for getting this book to me from across the pond. 


Friday, 22 June 2018

Claire Fayers - Mirror Magic Q&A Interview (Blog Tour)

Today we have the wonderful Claire Fayers visiting Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. We are taking part in the Mirror Magic blog tour - please see the list of stops at the bottom of this post. This tour has been a fantastic opportunity to ask some teasing questions about the book and Claire's writing career.  

Mirror Magic was recently released on the 14th June 2018 and has been published by Macmillan Children’s Books. It's a cracking magical adventure, so please check out my book review HERE. 
How would you describe Mirror Magic to reluctant readers to encourage them to pick it up and start reading? 
I don’t blame you for not liking books. Books are annoying. They’re grumpy, they complain all the time and they never tell you anything useful until it’s too late. At least, The Book in Mirror Magic is like that. The Book can see the future, and the future does not look good. The magic that connects our world with the fairy Unworld is about to go terribly wrong. Maybe your chair will come to life and eat you, or maybe an Unworld skeleton will hunt you down and drag you off to the fairy dungeons. If The Book’s new guardians don’t find out what’s happening and put a stop to it, the whole world could end. 

You probably ought to read Mirror Magic, you know, just in case the world does end. You’ll want to be ready for it. 

Mirror mirror on the wall. Pick any character in the book and tell me what they would see when they looked into the magic mirror? 
Ah, I’m going to cheat a little here. The town of Wyse has six magic mirror and if you look into any of them you’ll see the same thing – a bored fairy receptionist waiting to hear what you want. 
But then, twelve-year-old Ava Harcourt arrives in Wyse, and when she looks into a mirror – just a plain, ordinary mirror, not even magical – she sees something she definitely shouldn’t. She sees a fairy boy who is just as surprised to see her. And that’s when the trouble starts. 

Welcome to Wyse. What enchantments are placed on the reader when they visit Wyse? 
You have to be careful in Wyse as nothing is how it seems. Fairy enchantments can only change appearance, but they are used everywhere. Your hotel might be painted pale blue one day and bright yellow the next. Your room will probably look twice the size it really is so you’ll keep bumping into the walls. You can buy enchantments to make you look taller, shorter, older, younger, fatter, thinner. You can turn your hair green and your nose purple. Make sure you visit the theatre, where the Wyse conjurors take it in turns to perform magic shows. If you’re lucky, you might even get to ask a fairy a question – just don’t trust the answer. 

Tell us about the writing process, how do your ideas take shape? 
The idea for Mirror Magic came from a conversation with my agent and the story changed a lot as I wrote it. I started with a picture in my head of a carriage rattling along a street and all the buildings were shimmering. From there I spent ages wrestling with Ava – of all my characters, she was the hardest to pin down. Was she rich or poor, where did she come from, was she alone at the start or with her family? Once I got that sorted, I wrote the first few chapters and an outline for my editor, then I set to work finishing a full draft – at which point Charles suddenly appeared shouting, ‘Hey, I want to be in the story too!’ And Charles is a great character so I put him in and hoped my editor wouldn’t notice (she did!) 

The whole thing, as you see, was quite chaotic – a lot more chaotic than my last two books (The Accidental Pirates) where I had a clear sense of the story right from the start. Maybe it’s because Mirror Magic is more mystery than adventure, and I had to uncover the mystery myself before I could write it. 

What predictions do you think the grumpy old book would make about the real world? 
I’ll tell you what predictions I’d like to see. 
A big increase in funding to schools and school libraries so every school can have a qualified librarian and an exciting stock of books. 
Regular storytimes become part of every school, and parents, excited about books, read with their children. 
Public libraries reopen with great celebrations. People flood in and whole shelves are left empty as books are borrowed. 
Everywhere, people are inspired to share their own stories. And, as we do, we see that the world is a bigger, more wonderful, more various place that we had ever imagined. 

Which actor would you like to see play the lead character from your book and why? 
This is the point at which I have to admit I watch very little in the way of film and TV and I’m hopeless at remembering actors. But I adore Studio Ghibli films – the Japanese animation studio that produced Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and many more. I think Wyse, with its mixture of real world and spooky magic would make a perfect setting for a Ghibli film. So please, if anyone from the studio is reading this, come and visit Wyse. 

Where is your favourite place to write? 
I have two places. First, at home, where I have my own office with doors onto the garden and bookshelves all the way round the walls so I write surrounded by my favourite books. Then, roughly twice a week, I take my laptop and meet fellow author, Peter Bell, in The Coffi House near Roath Park in Cardiff. The staff are lovely there and they do great coffee. Peter and I sit in near silence for two hours and just write. 

I love the book cover, which has been brilliantly illustrated by Becka Moor, do you think that the book cover has an important role to play as part of the buying process? 
I am so pleased with the Mirror Magic book cover and incredibly lucky to have Becka. Yes, I think the cover plays a huge role in attracting readers. I know everyone says ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but most of the time the cover is the first thing you see. Straight away it gives you an impression of the kind of book this is, who it’s aimed at and whether you’ll like it. A good cover will make sure the right readers pick up your book. 

How important are stories to you? What do you like to read? 
Stories are hugely important to me. When I was growing up, they gave me somewhere to escape to. Now I see stories as a fundamental part of who we are. They comfort us, inspire us and connect us one to another in a way nothing else can. 

I’ve always been drawn to fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure. I’m a big fan of Stephanie Burgis and Frances Hardinge, I love Sophie Anderson’s ‘The House with Chicken Legs’, and I nearly fell off my chair laughing at Lissa Evans’ ‘Wed Wabbit’. But I also love it when I discover a book I never thought I’d enjoy – such as ‘Kick’ by Mich Johnson. I have zero interest in football but the book really isn’t about football at all, it’s about hope and dreams and how stories drive us to keep going. 

For Mirror Magic, I re-read a lot of Victorian gothic. They’re set a bit later, but I wanted to capture the claustrophobic feel of a gothic mansion. And they’re all fantastic reads.

Claire Fayers was born and brought up in South Wales, an area of the country sadly deficient in dragons. Having studied English at University of Kent, Canterbury, she built a successful career writing short stories for women’s magazines until the lure of magic became too much and she wrote The Accidental Pirates: Voyage to Magical North. It was selected for Waterstones Book of the Month and shortlisted for the FCBG Children’s Book Award 2016, and its sequel, The Accidental Pirates: Journey to Dragon Island, was published in 2017. When she’s not writing, you’ll find Claire at her allotment. Mirror Magic is her third book with Macmillan Children’s Books.
You can find out more about Claire on her website –
Or why not follow Claire on twitter – @ClaireFayers

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks June 2018 - UK Post Two

Abie Longstaff - The Scent of Danger: Book 2 (The Trapdoor Mysteries) - Published by  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (14 Jun. 2018) ISBN-13: 978-1510200227

The second book in The Trapdoor Mysteries, a series about Tally, a code-breaking, animal-loving servant girl and her best friend, a squirrel named Squill, who solve mysteries with the help of a secret library...
Orphan Tally is the servant girl at Mollett Manor - and she's also the Secret Keeper of the magical library hidden beneath a trapdoor, underneath the manor's grounds. Along with Squill the squirrel, she uses the enchanted books to solve crimes. So when Lady Mollett's new puppy, Widdles, is kidnapped, Tally and Squill head straight to the library. But will they be able to catch the dognapper or is it already too late?

Lindsay Eagar - Race to the Bottom of the Sea - Published by Walker Books (7 Jun. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1406377392

A swashbuckling pirate adventure story from the author of the critically acclaimed Hour of the Bees.
When her marine scientist parents are killed in a tragic accident, eleven-year-old Fidelia Quail is racked by grief – and guilt. It was a submarine of Fidelia’s invention that her parents were in when they died, and it was she who pressed them to stay out longer when the raging Undertow was looming. But Fidelia is forced out of her mourning when she’s kidnapped by Merrick the Monstrous, a pirate whose list of treasons stretches longer than a ribbon eel. Her task? Use her marine know-how to retrieve his treasure, lost on the ocean floor. But as Fidelia and the pirates close in on the prize with the navy hot on their heels, she realizes that Merrick doesn’t expect to live long enough to enjoy his loot. Could something other than black-hearted greed be driving him? Will Fidelia be able to master the perils of the ocean without her parents – and piece together the mystery of Merrick the Monstrous before it’s too late?

Lena Jones - The Secret Key (Agatha Oddly, Book 1) - Published by Harper Collins Children's Books (28 Jun. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0008211837

Meet thirteen-year-old Agatha Oddly – a bold, determined heroine, and the star of a stylish new detective series.
Agatha Oddlow has been a detective for as long as she can remember – she’s just been waiting for her first big case. And nothing gets bigger than saving the City of London from some strange goings-on.
With a scholarship to the prestigious St Regis School, a cottage in the middle of Hyde Park, a room full of beloved sleuthing novels, and a secret key that gives her access to a whole hidden side of London, Agatha is perfectly poised to solve the mystery of what’s going on. But just who can she trust when no one is quite who they seem…

Adam Baron - Boy Underwater - Published by Harper Collins Children's Books (1 Jun. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0008267018

A heart-breaking, heart-warming novel for every one of 10 and older – this book will probably make you cry, and will definitely make you laugh.
Cymbeline Igloo (yes, really!) has NEVER been swimming
Not ever. Not once.
But how hard can it be? He’s Googled front crawl and he’s found his dad’s old pair of trunks. He’s totally ready.
What he’s not ready for is the accident at the pool – or how it leads his mum to a sudden breakdown.
Now, with the help of friends old and new, Cymbeline must solve the mystery of why his mum never took him near water – and it will turn his whole life upside down…

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Candy Gourlay - Bone Talk - Book Review (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

Amazing cover illustration by Philippine illustrator Kerby Rosanes

Samkad lives in a tribe deep in the Philippine jungle at the end of the nineteenth century, and has never encountered anyone from outside his own tribe before. He's about to become a man, and while he's desperate to grow up, he's worried that this will take him away from his best friend, Little Luki. However, Samkad's world is about to change utterly. A strange man with white skin arrives in his village, and Samkad discovers the brother he never knew he had. A brother who tells him of people called `Americans'. Americans who are bringing war, and burning, to Samuel's home...

The remarkable primitive culture of the Philipines, many years ago, has been brought to life by Candy Gourlay. Bone Talk is set around 1899, a period which is known as the Philippine-American War. It's a fantastic story that will be published on the 2nd August 2018 by David Fickling Books. This will be the author's third published book and, in my opinion, the best book to date. You are all definitely in for a great historical treat. 

Some books grab the attention of the reader well before you turn the first page. The idea for this book is very intriguing as you are instantly transported back in time to 1899, Bontok. Like small ripples in a pond, this book will reach out to the fantasy brain and stay with you for some time. The story is told from a Filipino perspective, which I really loved and depicts the beating heart of tribal life in the Philipines around that time. It is brilliantly written, weaving historical facts and research together to deliver a plot that, hopefully, reflects the time as authentically possible.  

It's a fantasy story that itches at the skin through the brutal reality of life and will ask many questions of the reader along the way. It is a reflection of a time that many people will be very unfamiliar with. However, it makes the reader want to know more. In fact, I became really emotionally involved with the story. I wanted, on so many occasions, to be able to climb up the nearest tree and experience what was going to happen first hand. Pure armchair fantasy! Nevertheless, it's a very hard-hitting book that combines a basic way of life with a dark and macabre reality from death and war.

You will love one of the main characters called Luki. She is very well written and dances off the page with a playful charm and cheekiness. She will make you chuckle as her character really does deliver a lighter-side to the plot. 

I loved this book in so many ways. It's diverse, very challenging and really made me think. I feel as if I have lived every moment of the story. You set off on a mundane ramble and end in an explosive narrative that finds the Philippine tribes move beyond the village into an unknown world. This is a great young-adult read that strikes away from the norm. It certainly shook me from my reading perch as it was enjoyable on so many levels. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks June 2018 - UK Post

Will Mabbitt - Embassy of the Dead: Book 1 - Published by Orion Children's Books (14 Jun. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1510104556 - Paperback


The first book in a spookily funny new series, where the living meets the dead and survival is a race against time. Perfect for fans of Skulduggery Pleasant and Who Let the Gods Out.
Welcome to the Embassy of the Dead. Leave your life at the door. (Thanks.)
When Jake opens a strange box containing a severed finger, he accidentally summons a grim reaper to drag him to the Eternal Void (yep, it's as fatal as it sounds) and now he's running for his life! But luckily Jake isn't alone - he can see and speak to ghosts.
Jake and his deadly gang (well dead, at least) - Stiffkey the undertaker, hockey stick-wielding, Cora, and Zorro the ghost fox - have one mission: find the Embassy of the Dead and seek protection. But the Embassy has troubles of its own and may not be the safe haven Jake is hoping for . . .

David Solomons - My Arch-Enemy Is a Brain In a Jar (My Brother Is a Superhero 4) - Published by Nosy Crow (28 Jun. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0857639912 - Paperback

Luke and his brother have swapped bodies by accident. Zack's got Luke's weird feet while Luke has Zack's SUPERPOWERS! Now he needs another world-threatening adventure to try them out. Could a family mini-break at Great Minds Leisure Park be his chance? Probably, because that's where his super-clever arch-enemy lurks, fermenting dastardly plans and bubbling gently... 'My Arch-Enemy Is a Brain In a Jar' is the fourth instalment of Luke's laugh-out-loud adventures. From the author of 'My Brother Is a Superhero', winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the British Book Industry Awards Children's Book of the Year, and 'My Gym Teacher Is an Alien Overlord', winner of a Lollies Laugh Out Loud 2017 Book Award.

Nicki Thornton - The Last Chance Hotel - Published by Chicken House (7 Jun. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1911077671 - Paperback

Seth is the downtrodden kitchen boy at the remote Last Chance Hotel, owned by the nasty Bunn family. His only friend is his black cat, Nightshade. But when a strange gathering of magicians arrives for dinner, kindly Dr Thallomius is poisoned by Seth’s special dessert. A locked-room murder investigation ensues – and Seth is the main suspect. The funny thing is, he’s innocent … can he solve the mystery and clear his name, especially when magic’s afoot?
Winner of the 2016 Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition. Extract Here. 
Mark Huckerby & Nick Ostler - Defender of the Realm: King's Army
Published by Scholastic (7 Jun. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1407186665 - Paperback

The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy! After the Defender's losing battle against the Black Dragon, the United Kingdom finds itself under the cruel control of "Lord Protector" Lock, the undead Viking invaders and the monstrous berserkers unleashed by the Raven Banner. King Alfie must raise an army and take back his country - or is that exactly what Lock's evil master wants him to do?