Tuesday, 24 July 2018

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

J. A. White - Nightbooks - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (July 24, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0062560087 - Hardback 

A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling.
Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending—and a way out of this twisted place.
This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm. With interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer’s block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales.

Alana Harrison & Drew Callander Mightier Than the Sword - Published by Penguin Workshop (July 10, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1524785093 - Hardback 

Wildly funny and inventive, this interactive book pulls you, the reader, into the action. Yes, YOU!

You wake up in the fictional land of Astorya, where stories from our world come to life. You're a real human being (we assume), and in this fictional world, that makes you a superhero. Armed with your trusty pencil you have the power to create: what you write, draw, or scribble in the book becomes part of the story!

Only you can rescue Prince S. from the evil Queen Rulette. Aided by the Couriers--a French stoat with dangerous dance moves, a giant dung beetle, a fire ninja, a Pegasus-centaur-cowgirl and a super-intelligent femalien chameleon--you must write, draw, and puzzle your way through a hilarious adventure that is unique to every reader! And most importantly, you must prove that the pencil is mightier than the sword.

David J Gibbs - Mad Maggie Dupree - Published by Clean Reads (July 3, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1621357728 - Paperback

When her dad's new job forces her family to live on the Stillwater Psychiatric Hospital grounds, twelve-year-old Mad Maggie Dupree resents everything about it. Between two brothers terrorizing the kids living on grounds and an annoying nerd, named Jackson, wanting to be her friend, she knows it'll be the worst summer of her life. But, when Maggie stumbles upon a secret, courtesy of the old suitcases left by discharged patients, things begin to get way more interesting. However, It's not until her father goes missing during a terrifying storm, Maggie begins to realize she might be in over her head. 
The first in his new series, award-winning author David J. Gibbs creates an exciting tale set on the creepy grounds of the Stillwater Psychiatric Hospital.

Kali Wallace - City of Islands - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (July 24, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0062499813 - Hardback 

A dark and riveting middle-grade fantasy from the critically acclaimed Kali Wallace about an archipelago of magical islands and one girl’s dangerous discovery on the ocean floor. Perfect for fans of Holly Black and Kate Milford. 
In a foggy archipelago called the City of Islands, twelve-year-old Mara has always been fascinated by the magic that drifts on the air as songs. But as a servant for the powerful Lady of the Tides, Mara must earn her keep by searching for magical treasures deep in the murky ocean.
Then Mara finds the skeletons of strange hybrid creatures that haven’t existed in the city for centuries—all humming with a powerful spell-song. Convinced her discovery will earn her the opportunity to study magic, Mara shares them with the Lady. But instead of a reward, the Lady gives Mara a new challenge: to sneak into the island fortress, the Winter Blade. 
Now Mara must dive deeper than ever before to survive her mission. The chilling truths that Mara uncovers along the way, about her past as well as about the secrets of her beloved city, are more dangerous—and magical—than she ever imagined.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Ross MacKenzie - The Elsewhere Emporium - Book Review (Kelpies) Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Step this way into the land of fantasy with the anticipated sequel to The Nowhere Emporium. This first book was published way back in 2015 and subsequently scooped up the Blue Peter Book Award as well as gaining some fantastic reviews. So what better way to introduce the new sequel, The Elsewhere Emporium, which sports a very similar book cover. I can hear you all CRY, when is this book PUBLISHED? Well, the book will be published on the 13th September 2018 by Floris Books of Edinburgh. Apologies for the early review, but I just couldn't wait to read it! 

Ross MacKenzie is back again with a BOOM. Before I turned the first page the anticipation was truly growing. I remember reading his first book and absolutely loving every moment of it. Therefore, I was hoping that this book would live up to my very high expectations. What do you think, did it?

Welcome one and all to the CARNIVAL of WONDERS.  As you turn the very first page you arrive in Mayfair (London) in 1967, where everything looks ordinary. However, you would be very wrong to think that as you suddenly find yourself walking the tightrope of mystery and fantasy. Each page draws you into a story full of magic and illusion which transports the reader to a place of pure joy and escapism. 

Everything I loved in the first book I found in this story as well. However, the author has gone one better by introducing a new element. A problem-solving mystery to unravel. The book flits between two brilliant narratives of present-day Keswick and a bygone era in Mayfair, London. Without spoiling the story for you and giving too much away, the plot threads really pull together and contort like elastic bands as they weave the storyline back and forth to keep the reader on their fantasy toes. 

Returning to the emporium is like reuniting with a long-lost friend. Each room presented magical delights full of mystery and majesty. It was absolutely thrilling to be back exploring all of the hidden wonders producing pure excitement and anticipation; like the unwrapping of presents on Christmas Day. The feeling you get from reading this book is absolute exhilaration and five star entertainment. 

The search for the lost emporium will capture your heart. However, be aware as the villain will steal your soul and slowly extract your shadow. You can not help but feel the brooding and dark side seep through your bones as the dangerous force attacks the emporium. It gives a scary punch to the adventure and intensifies the danger within. However, with the opportunity to ride on a magic carpet, visit magical bookshops and deserted islands as well as meet a host of magicians and a scary witch, what more could you possibly want?

This is easily one of the best books that I have read this year. I would have just loved for it to be 100+ pages longer so that I could have continued living and breathing in this wonderful place. It needed to permeate and ferment longer within my fantasy head, as I truly devoured this book in just a few hours. It's another showmanship of storytelling that will delight all readers. Now is a fantastic opportunity to read the first book before the sequel is published in September. What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Asia MacKay - Killing It: Bad Guys Can Wait. Bedtime Can't - Blog Tour (Short Book Extract) (Adult Post)

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books are part of the blog 'road' tour for Asia Mackay's debut book "Killing It :Bad Guys Can Wait. Bedtime Can't". This was a runner-up in the Richard and Judy's Search for a Bestseller competition in 2017. Recently, it has been published by Zaffre (12 July 2018) and has since gathered momentum. 

This book depicts real-life parenting intertwined with being a covert government agent "MUM". It's a new breed of hero: clutching a nappy bag in one hand and the latest gadgets in the other. The plot is thrilling and is laced with witty adult humour, fast-paced action WHILST BEING very observant about everyday life. Here is a small extract to pique your interest in picking up a copy. 

Every working mum has had to face it.
The guilt-fuelled, anxiety-filled first day back in the office after maternity leave.
But this working mum is one of a kind.

Meet Alexis Tyler.
An elite covert agent within Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Her first project back is a high-stakes hit of global significance and the old boys network of government espionage is far from ready for the return of an operational mother. But woe betide anyone who ever tells Alexis Tyler 'you can't'.

She will have it all. Or she'll die trying . . .

Packed into a full eastbound commuter train, I deeply missed the VIP status of Transport for London’s tacky ‘Baby on Board’ badge. I stood rammed up against the doors and looked around the carriage. It was all dark clothes and solemn faces. The only splash of bright colour came from a woman in a party dress with panda eyes and bed hair. She kept tugging down at the short frayed hem as suited men watched her over the top of their newspapers. 

I had forgotten how miserable the morning commute was. I pulled out my phone and clicked on my ‘GigiCam’ app. Up popped a live feed of Gigi, now indulging in a strawberry yogurt facial. I stroked the screen. I missed her already. But having access to an arsenal of government-issue surveillance equipment was definitely helping. 

Thanks to motion-activated cameras hidden all over the house and the GPS tracker in the pram I could not only keep an eye on what Beata was pureeing for Gigi’s lunch, but track their movements all over Chiswick. I had also tasked Bryan in R & D to work on a prototype tiny camera that could be hidden inside Gigi’s amber teething necklace. He had been making good progress although he had warned it was unlikely the image quality would be the requested HD. To make up for this disappointment he had added a sound sensor notification to the app – if Gigi’s crying reached a certain decibel I would immediately get an alert to my phone allowing me to check the cause of her tears and assess Beata’s reaction to them. Hands-free parenting made easy. 

Gigi was currently staring transfixed at Beata, who was balancing a 
bright pink plastic cup on her head and wobbling around the kitchen with more grace than I expected from someone of her build. Gigi had thankfully taken to the no-nonsense mother-of-four immediately. My own confidence in Beata was undoubtedly helped by the office undertaking several exhaustive background checks, a month of surveillance and even arranging for a local agent to visit her small hometown in Eastern Poland. 

The cup fell from Beata’s head and Gigi squealed with laughter. 
The worries I had quietened, the tight knot in my chest loosened. Gigi was being well looked after, I was getting back to work, this is what I always wanted. To have it all. And, one day, it would prove to my daughter that she could, too. 
But hopefully with a job that didn’t involve quite so much bloodshed. 
I looked around the carriage and saw nothing but glazed eyes and stifled yawns. Not me. I felt more awake than I had been since I entered the baby haze of sleep-deprivation. I felt ready. Fully prepared for my first day back. Excited, even. I could do this. I was an Assassa-Mum. 

I definitely needed to work more on the name.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Interview with Karl James Mountford - Freelance Children's Illustrator

Welcome, Karl James Mountford, to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. It's an absolute pleasure to host you on our little website. We loved your answers to our questions and finding out more about your amazing artwork, particularly for children's books. So without further ado, let me introduce Karl and his amazing post. I hope you all enjoy this. 
Karl James Mountford is an illustrator who works in both traditional and digital media. He has created artwork for such titles as ‘The Uncommoners ‘ by Jennifer Bell, published by Penguin Random House (2017), and ‘The Peculiars’ by Kieran Larwood with Chicken House publishing (2018), to name just a couple. Karl specialises in book cover design and chapter illustrations but also works on picture books, with recent titles including ‘Maurice the Unbeastly’ by Amy Dixon, published by Sterling Children’s Books (2017), and ‘The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth’ by Ellie Hattie with Little Tiger Press (2017).

Karl currently lives and works in Wales, where his sketch-books rarely get a day off.

How did you become an illustrator?
I went to art college and then Uni to study illustration. But I’ve been drawing since really young.
After uni I started freelancing, the first two years were a bit rough financially and work was few and far between. So I had many a part-time job then I started hunting for an illustration agent while building a whole new portfolio or work.

I didn’t apply to many as I was a bit nervous about rejection but you build a thick skin and after a while, I got signed up with the Bright agency (2nd time lucky) which was a game changer and have now been able to illustrate full time.

What is your favourite medium in which to draw/paint?
Pencil and paper. I know it sounds boring, but it’s always nice (for me) to just sketch using those tools.

Can you give us a good example of a great illustration and what makes it great to you?
A great illustration…anything by Shaun Tan, especially in the picture book ‘The Red Tree’. It’s stunning but his compositions and use of colours are on another level. I think he just delivers the emotion from the page to the reader, whatever that emotion is. Even if you were reading it in another language, the illustrations tell so much of the story.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
Work-wise… I'm not sure - I'm quietly proud of it all… I’m a bit proud that I didn’t give up on freelance and stuck it out. Even though some days I think, "Oh maybe you should have been a vet?”  But that thought is usually short-lived because I love what I do.

What would you like to say to the publishing world about illustrations?
Will have to be careful here, don’t bite the hand that feeds you and all that. Erm..the publishing world is a business at the end of the day BUT I think sometimes publishers and sales teams etc can over think the artwork. This is understandable as everyone wants the book to do well but the process can ‘clip the wings’ a bit of an artist, which isn’t great working conditions. However, when you find a client that gives you a bit of trust and freedom to create work that reflects the story inside and still be true to how the illustrator works, well that’s like a lottery win.
I think the most important thing regarding illustrations is that the artists/designers/illustrators are properly credited. For a long time, illustrators names were in a tiny font under the barcode - out of the way or not included at all! In some cases (especially in middle grade/YA and editorials) publishing houses, editors etc should strive to use their illustrator's names and artwork as a good tool to further a books longevity on the shelves. Whether it is credited on the front cover or clearly and visibly on the back.
I know there is a good argument that what's inside the book is the priority ..but 9/10 times people tend to pick up the book because of the cover and illustrations.

What projects get the creative juices flowing for you? 
I love stories that are set in the past or have a darker undertone. The style in past decades really resonates with me, from the clothes to the buildings, cars etc.

Could you tell us a bit about any of your upcoming projects?
I’m working on the cover and internal illustrations for a new middle-grade book, which I’ve really fallen in love with. I read the manuscript in one night - it was that GREAT!. 

It’s a noir mystery by Sophie Green. I think it’s her debut book? I just think the world is gonna fall in love with it too and the main characters. Especially if your reading taste is a little darker, it’s got some right scary chapters … as a 29-year-old, I probably shouldn’t say that - but it’s just great. I can’t tell you how chuffed I am to be apart of it.

I'm working on Katherine Woodfine’s 2nd book in the new series ‘Taylor and Rose’ as we speak. I'm also (slowly) working on my own picture book. But I’m taking my sweet time on it as I love it but it needs to be thought about a bit more as it’s not going to be directed towards children as it’s main audience.

Who are your favourite illustrators and why?
Alice and Martin Provensons, Shaun Tan, all screen printers and there are some stellar current illustrators too, such as Zoe Persico, Matt Saunders, Cally Conway, Sonny Ross. I could list hundreds.

Where should a person start if they want to pursue a career in illustration?
It sounds daft, but just open a sketch-book and start drawing what interests you, then tackle the rest as it comes. 

What's the strangest question you've ever been asked?
I went to art school - most questions were strange and wonderful. 

Karl is represented by The Bright Group.
For any work, enquiries give my agents Arabella or Freddie a shout.

arabella@brightgroupinternational.com / freddie@thebrightagency.com

You can also find him lurking on Twitter: @karlj_mountford 

Thursday, 12 July 2018

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

Janina Ramirez (Author), David Wyatt (Illustrator) - Riddle of the Runes (Viking Mystery 1) - Published by OUP Oxford (5 July 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0192766335 - Paperback 

Alva rushes through the trees in the dead of night with her sniffer wolf, Fen. Being out alone when there's a kidnapper on the loose is reckless, but if she ever wants to be an investigator like her Uncle Magnus, she'll need to be first to the crime scene. But what Alva discovers raises more questions than it answers, drawing her into a dangerous search for truth, and for treasure.

Check out more illustrations on David Wyatt's Blog Here: https://davidwyattillustration.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/a-crone-for-christmas/

Tamsin Cooke - Stunt Double: Jungle Curse - Published by  OUP Oxford (5 July 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0192749840 - Paperback

An action-packed adventure story with an exciting film location setting. 
Fearless stunt double Finn is in Thailand working on the latest Rio Dinoni blockbuster. It's a dream job, but are the whispers around set true? Is the film really cursed? When stunt, after stunt goes wrong; filming starts to get really dangerous. So far, Finn's survived all sorts of smashes and crashes, even an elephant stampede, but it's the secrets on set that might finally break him.

Justin Fisher - The Darkening King (Ned’s Circus of Marvels, Book 3) - Published by  HarperCollins Children's Books (26 July 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0008124588 - Paperback

Ned and the magical Circus of Marvels are back in a third rip-roaring, page-turning adventure!
The Armstrongs are both predator and prey, hunting for clues to help them fight the Darkening-King, while constantly watching their backs. This time it’s not just the world of the Hidden searching for them: the Josser world is intent on capturing the family too. Leading the search is the curious Mr Fox and his agents in grey, and they’ve found an ally who knows Ned’s every move.
As the world of the Hidden begins to fall apart, its horde of Demons and Darklings threatens to spill out of the shadows at any moment. With his trusty mouse and Familiar, Lucy and George, Ned must travel from the snow-swept forests of Siberia to the cliffs of Dover in a desperate attempt to rally allies for a final stand. Fearsome enemies will become allies and old allies enemies, as Ned prepares himself for the final battle.

Tania Unsworth (Author), Helen Crawford-White (Illustrator)The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid - Published by Zephyr (12 July 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1788541671 - Hardback - (Check out the book review here)

Even though she's terrified of the sea, a girl who believes her mum might have been a mermaid runs away to the ocean to solve the mystery of who she really is. Stella is the odd one out. She sleepwalks, is terrified of water, yet obsessed by the ocean. Her mum who died when Stella was eight remains the biggest mystery of all. Who was she and why did she give Stella a necklace called 'the word of the sea' before she died? Nobody can give her any answers. Her father is consumed by grief and her grandmother's memories are fading with dementia.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Tania Unsworth (Author), Helen Crawford-White (Illustrator) - The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid - Book Review

Even though she's terrified of the sea, a girl who believes her mum might have been a mermaid runs away to the ocean to solve the mystery of who she really is. Stella is the odd one out. She sleepwalks, is terrified of water, yet obsessed by the ocean. Her mum who died when Stella was eight remains the biggest mystery of all. Who was she and why did she give Stella a necklace called 'the word of the sea' before she died? Nobody can give her any answers. Her father is consumed by grief and her grandmother's memories are fading with dementia. 
When Stella's only friend in the world, Cam, moves house, Stella runs away. She's determined to find out who her mum was and who she is too. She ends up in the Crystal Cove, a run-down aquarium with a mermaid show. There she meets Pearl who reveals disturbing secrets. It's only by facing her fear of the ocean that Stella will truly uncover the truth.
Summer is here with a loud bang. Wimbledon and strawberries, blue sky and sun, sandy beaches and ice cream, as well as loads of great books to read. With so many books wanting and waiting to grab your attention, July is all about books that inspire the readers to escape and to enjoy the great outdoors. The first book for review is Tania Unsworth, The Girl Who Thought Her Mother Was a Mermaid, published by Zephyr on the 12th July 2018. 

The book cover artwork by Helen Crawford-White is absolutely brilliant and instantly makes you want to explore the story inside. All you have to do is turn the pages and dive straight into the crisp cool waters of the narrative. Once the pages are turned, you are introduced to the main character, Stella. Unfortunately, at eight years old she unexpectedly loses her mother to illness. The narrative is filled with sadness and loneliness exploring the character's grief. However, things begin to look brighter when a new neighbour, Cam, moves in next door. The story takes you on an uplifting adventure of self-discovery and friendship which washes over the reader like gigantic waves crashing against the shore. It's a story of self-discovery that will shine brighter than the sun regardless of age or gender.

This is a brilliant story in which to escape to. As you dive below the sea, it gives you a whole new perspective on the world. It's a book full of wonder and mystery that leads the reader down a path full of dark magic and a heartfelt story. I loved the simplicity of the plot, which is delivered with great imagination, whilst the storyline challenges the beliefs of the reader and the characters of the book in so many ways.

I loved the conversations between Stella and her grandmother. With her loss of memory, it was very well written and incredibly endearing. It really enhanced the storyline of the plot through the poignancy and compassion shown whilst still managing to explore the reality both characters face within the story. I also loved the balance between fantasy, reality, dialogue and action. It really makes this story an amazing lazy summer afternoon read. 

This is a great recommended read that whets the appetite. It's about facing your fears and looking for the truth. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

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

Philip Reeve (Author) & Ian McQue (Illustrator) - Night Flights (Mortal Engines 5) - Published by Scholastic (5 July 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1407186771 - Hardback
Anna Fang is a spy. An aviatrix. An escaped slave. But no one knows the whole story - until now. 
In the dangerous future world of MORTAL ENGINES, huge motorized cities hunt, attack and devour each other. It is there that Anna's home was consumed by Arkangel, the great predator city. She was separated from her parents and kept as a slave in the dark belly of Arkangel - but Anna is determined to be free again.
Check out the Philip Reeve post about Night Flights it's very interesting.
Jennifer Bell (Author) & Karl James Mountford (Illustrator) - The Frozen Telescope (THE UNCOMMONERS) Published by Corgi Childrens (5 July 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0552572910 - Paperback
After the thrilling events which concluded The Smoking Hourglass, Ivy, Seb and Valian think they've vanquished their enemies, and those of Lundinor, forever. It turns out their adventure was only just beginning . . . 

Ivy and Seb can't wait to join Valian for their first ever overseas uncommon adventure - they're meeting in Nubrook, the completely astonishing and totally-different-to-Ludinor trading market hidden underneath New York. But there's no time to enjoy looking round all the incredible sights - they're on a mission to find Valian's long-lost sister, Rosie.

But it seems they're not the only ones looking for her. Once again the Dirge rear their terrifying heads, and it appears they're after not only Rosie, but another enormously powerful Great Uncommon Good object. But what do they want it for? And can Ivy, Seb and Valian stop them from finding it?

Catherine Doyle - The Storm Keeper’s Island - Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books (1 July 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1408896884

When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet ...
Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn's grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise.
But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island's next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.

Andrew Lane - AWOL 1  Agent Without Licence - Published by Piccadilly Press (12 July 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1848126633 - Paperback 

Young Bond and James Bond meet Alex Rider and Cherub in this brilliantly written, fast-paced spy action thriller. All credibly delivered from somebody who knows all about counter-intelligence...

Kieron and his friend Sam are shocked to see a man kidnapped in a Newcastle shopping centre right in front of their eyes. The boys quickly realise that the kidnapped man left something behind in the scuffle - an earpiece and glasses. Kieron puts them on and realises he can see not what is front of him, but a busy, tourist city, somewhere very hot - in Mumbai...

Kieron has accidentally stumbled upon the undercover world of Rebecca 'Bex' Wilson - a freelance agent working for the British Secret Intelligence Service. And without her handler Bradley (the man who was kidnapped), Bex is in trouble. She doesn't know who of her usual contacts she can trust, and like it or not, she is going to have to use teenage Kieron to get her out of danger. Before Kieron and Sam know it, they are part of a mission to stop a weapon of mass destruction from falling into the wrong hands...