Thursday, 30 August 2018

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

Katherine Marsh - Nowhere Boy - Published by Roaring Brook Press (August 7, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1250307576 - Hardback 

An "important and riveting story, masterfully told" of family, sacrifice and the friendship between a young Syrian refugee and an American boy living in Brussels. Nowhere Boy is a "captivating book" that focuses on the "discourse around the refugee crisis." The Center for Children's Books calls it a "perilous journey, tempered by the striking realism of obstacles refugees face daily."
Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Aleppo, Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope.
Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy from Washington, D.C. Lonely and homesick, Max is struggling at his new school and just can’t seem to do anything right. But with one startling discovery, Max and Ahmed’s lives collide and a friendship begins to grow. Together, Max and Ahmed will defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave and how hope can change your destiny. 
Set against the backdrop of the Syrian refugee crisis, award-winning author of Jepp, Who Defied the Stars Katherine Marsh delivers a gripping, heartwarming story of resilience, friendship and everyday heroes. Barbara O'Connor, author of Wish and Wonderland, says "Move Nowhere Boy to the top of your to-be-read pile immediately."

Ethan M. Aldridge - Estranged - Published by HarperCollins (August 7, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0062653864 - Paperback 

Rising star author-illustrator Ethan M. Aldridge delivers a fantasy adventure with all the makings of a classic. Illustrated with over two-hundred pages of watercolor paintings, this epic graphic novel is perfect for fans of Amulet.
Edmund and the Childe were swapped at birth. Now Edmund lives in secret as a changeling in the World Above, his fae powers hidden from his unsuspecting parents and his older sister, Alexis. The Childe lives among the fae in the World Below, where being a human makes him a curiosity at the royal palace.
But when the cruel sorceress Hawthorne seizes the throne, the Childe and Edmund must unite on a dangerous quest to save both worlds—even if they’re not sure which world they belong to.

Kristin O'Donnell Tubb (Author), Iacopo Bruno (Illustrator) - The Story Collector: A New York Public Library Book - Published by Henry Holt and Co. (August 28, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1250143808 - Hardback
"For every book lover who fantasized about getting locked in the library overnight,The Story Collector is a dream come true!" New York Times-bestselling author Alan Gratz
In the tradition of E. L. Konisburg, this middle-grade mystery adventure is inspired by the real life of Viviani Joffre Fedeler, born and raised in the New York Public Library. 
Eleven-year-old Viviani Fedeler has spent her whole life in the New York Public Library. She knows every room by heart, except the ones her father keeps locked. When Viviani becomes convinced that the library is haunted, new girl Merit Mubarak makes fun of her. So Viviani decides to play a harmless little prank, roping her older brothers and best friend Eva to help out.
But what begins as a joke quickly gets out of hand, and soon Viviani and her friends have to solve two big mysteries: Is the Library truly haunted? And what happened to the expensive new stamp collection? It's up to Viviani, Eva, and Merit (reluctantly) to findout.

Keir Graff - The Phantom Tower - Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (August 21, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1524739522 - Hardback

Twin brothers discover their new home is also a portal--for an hour a day--to a parallel dimension in this rollicking middle-grade adventure, perfect for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society 

Colm and Mal are twins so identical their own mom can't tell them apart, but they're different in just about every other way. Mal's a pragmatist while Colm's a dreamer, and they bicker and battle constantly. Neither brother is excited to be moving to Chicago for a fresh start with their mom just after their dad's death. But nothing cures homesickness like intrigue--and their new home, Brunhild Tower, has plenty of it: mysterious elderly neighbors who warn against wandering the building at midday, strange sounds in the walls, and an elevator missing a button for the thirteenth floor. 

One day, that button appears--and when the doors open on the missing floor, the boys are greeted by the strangest puzzle yet: a twin building that is stuck in time and bustling with activity. All of Brunhild Tower's former residents live on in this phantom tower, where the rules of the real world don't apply. But when the brothers and their newfound friends discover they're all trapped by an ancient curse, they must band together to set everyone free before it's too late.

KR Alexander - The Collector - Published by Scholastic Press (August 28, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1338212242 - Paperback 


Josie always liked visiting her grandmother in the countryside. But when her mother loses her job in the city and they're forced to relocate along with Josie's sister, Annie, she realizes she doesn't like the country that much. Especially because Grandma Jeannie has some strange rules: Don't bring any dolls into the house. And never, ever go near the house in the woods behind their yard. Soon though, Josie manages to make friends with the most popular girl in the sixth grade, Vanessa. When Vanessa eventually invites Josie back to her house to hang out, Josie doesn't question it. Not even when Vanessa takes her into the woods, and down an old dirt road, toward the very house Grandma Jeannie had warned her about.

As Josie gets caught up in her illicit friendship with Vanessa, Annie is caught in the crossfire. What follows is a chilling tale of dark magic, friendship, and some verrrrrry creepy dolls. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Mal Peet - Mr Godley's Phantom - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books (David Fickling)

It's 1945 and Martin Heath, like many men at that time, is struggling to settle, to find his place again after the horrors of war. When an old comrade sends him a letter, telling of a position that's just come up with an elderly fellow called Mr Godley in the deepest and loneliest part of Devon. Martin travels there and so begins a dark mystery...

David Fickling Books proudly presents new fiction for adults. The first title to be published in October 2018 will be the last book ever finished by Mal Peet. The author sadly passed away in 2015 and is sorely missed by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. However, his memory continues through this marvellous book "Mr Godley's Phantom". It truly highlights his amazing and brilliant storytelling skills. 

This book has to be one of my favourite reads of the year and one I hope will get new readers to appreciate the other seven books that have already been published. He started to write his first novel at the age of 52 and produced some of the best books for teenagers. Like this book, he slowly sucks you into the narrative distilling a dark supernatural feeling that you have no idea where it will take you or leave you. The simplicity of the plot is laced with a mysterious edge comprising of part ghost/part crime novel and something slightly more seductive. 

The story harks back to the 1940's, just after the war. Mal Peet manages to effectively write a story very evocative of this time period. He really gets the emotions and dark feelings across in this story. You can almost feel the emotions of the characters who captivate you the more you get to know them, but you don't really know them. 

It's a very intelligent story which hangs in the realms of reality. It has a sharp and snappy no-nonsense dialogue. You WILL definitely turn the pages quickly which, in this case, will be at the speed of a fast Rolls Royce car. You'll journey comfortably across the Devon landscape before being led into a thrilling, but unsettling, ending that will make you truly squirm inside. This is a deep psychological look into two characters with traumatic previous lives. 

This book is one of the best atmospheric stories that I've read - it will come back to haunt you again and again. It is a truly brilliant book attributed to a truly brilliant man. Mal Peet. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

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

Victoria Schwab - City of Ghosts - Published by Scholastic Press (28 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1338111002 - Hardback

Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn't like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost. 
So things are already pretty strange. But they're about to get much stranger. 
When Cass's parents start hosting a TV show about the world's most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her "gift," she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil -- and herself. 
And she'll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Catherine Johnson - Freedom - Published by Scholastic (2 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1407185484 - Paperback


An action-packed and pacey story about slavery in Britain. Nathaniel doesn't want to move to England with his master's family, leaving behind his mother and sister on the Jamaican plantation. But then he remembers what his mother told him: once a slave sets foot on English soil, they're free. Perhaps he can earn his fortune and buy his family's freedom, too. When Nat arrives in London, he soon discovers that his mother was wrong. Nat refuses to live like a caged bird, and seizes the first opportunity to escape. Alone on the streets of London, he hears the story of a nightmare ship, the Zong, where over a hundred slaves were thrown overboard. Now, those responsible face a trial. Will the world continue to turn a blind eye to the horrors of slavery? And can Nat really evade his masters forever?

Candy Gourlay - Bone Talk - Published by David Fickling Books (2 Aug. 2018) -  ISBN-13: 978-1788450171 - Hardback (Book Review HERE - Mr Ripley's Book of the Month)

Samkad dreams of becoming a mighty headhunter like his father, carrying his own weapons and etching tattoos across his chest to proclaim his greatness as a warrior. His best friend is a girl his age, Little Luki and Little Luki wants to become a mighty warrior too ... except in their culture, girls don't grow up to become warriors. The two friends have no idea about the world outside their isolated mountain village until a boy from the Lowlands turns up ... a boy who can speak many tongues and who tells stories about the world outside that seem ridiculous and unbelievable especially the part about invaders called 'Americans' who are coming to take over the village.
Sally Nicholls (Author), Brett Helquist (Illustrator) - A Chase In Time (The Time-Seekers) - Published by Nosy Crow (2 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0857638984 - Paperback 
From multi-award-winning author Sally Nicholls, A Chase In Time is the first in a brilliant time-slip adventure series for 9+ readers, beautifully illustrated by Brett Hellquist.
The old gilt-edged mirror has hung in Alex's aunt's house for as long as he can remember. Alex hardly notices it, until the day he and his sister are pulled through the mirror, back into 1912. It's the same house, but a very different place to live, and the people they meet need their help. Soon they're caught up in car chases and treasure hunts as they race to find a priceless golden cup - but will they ever be able to return to their own time?

Vanessa Harbour - Flight - Published by Firefly Press (1 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1910080764 - Paperback 

Austria 1945. After losing his family, Jakob shelters with Herr Engel in a rural stable, where they hide the precious Lipizzanner stallions they know Hitler wants to steal. When a German officer comes looking for Jakob and finds the horses, Jakob and his guardian know they must get the stallions to safety, but the only way is straight through Nazi territory. Joined by Kizzy, an orphan Roma girl, the three must guide the horses across the perilous Austrian mountains. Will they reach safety? What will be waiting for them on the other side?

Monday, 20 August 2018

Liz Flanagan - Dragon Daughter - Book Review - David Fickling (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

On the island of Arcosi, dragons and their riders used to rule the skies. But now they are only legends, found in bedtime stories, on beautiful murals and ancient jewellery. Then servant girl Milla witnesses a murder and finds herself caring for the last four dragon eggs. Forced to keep them secret amidst the growing tensions in the city, she begins to fear that the island's ruler, Duke Olvar, isn't all that he seems. But how can Milla and her friends keep the eggs safe when it means endangering everything she's ever loved? Fiery friendships, forgotten family and the struggle for power collide as Milla's fight to save the dragons leads her to discover her own hidden past.

The last book to be reviewed this month is in keeping with our theme of escapism. It is Dragon Daughter by Liz Flanagan which will be published by David Fickling Books on 4th October 2018 in glorious hardback. The cover has been fantastically illustrated by Angelo Rinaldi and deserves a closer inspection. It has a large blue dragon taking centre stage with three smaller dragons in the sky above. It is a very appealing look for this genre and has a similar look to that of Eragon (Christopher Paolini) and the original book cover for Dragon Rider (Cornelia Funke). It will certainly help to pull the readers in once it's been published later this year. 

Will it live up to the fantasy expectations when it flies off the shelves later this year?

For me, the answer is YES. The story inside is a fantastic middle-grade read that is full of rich detail and a great story concept. As soon as you turn the pages, you stumble into an epic adventure that is thrilling, captivating and covers one of my favourite fantasy themes, Dragons. The author's love for travelling has made the location of this book wonderful and imaginative. The small island of Arcosi feels like a magical timeless place that you would really want to explore yourself. If you take a magical pinch of Yorkshire, a splash of Rome and a very large Italian fishing village, this just about sums up the amazing location. 

I HEAR you say you need more than a great location and dragons to make a good story. Well, the story also has a fantastic set of characters. Each reader, I'm sure, will have their favourite which will make this book exciting to read. It also covers key themes that are relevant today like migration and belonging in society. You follow the characters with your heart as the struggle for power is a key element in this story. It's a fantastic blend of action, fleet of foot realism that coalesces into a brilliant and vibrant story. It makes you want to take flight on the wing of fantasy and adventure. Soaring on the thermals of friendship, forgotten family and war, it will take you to new literary delights like no story will have taken you so far this year. 

THE DRAGONS WILL RETURN ONE LAST TIME... One of the best aspects of the story was to follow the evolution of the Dragons from eggs to hatchlings and the bonding process with the four main characters. This was a very different and interesting take on events. All the characters personalities and traits came through with their respective dragons.

This is a very creative story that has been well written and is very different from Liz's first book Eden Summer.  It slowly builds into an epic adventure before finishing with a climatic and brilliant ending. This, for me, reflects the author's life and passion for stories that she has both read and loved. It really shows the power they can have on the reader. This is a story that stays with you for life and this one ends with a bang. Hopefully, there is still more to come.... 

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

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

Jeremy Lachlan - The Cradle of All Worlds: The Jane Doe Chronicles - Published by Egmont (9 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1405291330 - Paperback 

Fourteen years ago, Jane Doe and her father arrived on the steps of the Manor – the entrance to a dangerous labyrinth connecting the island of Bluehaven to many other worlds. That was the same night the earthquakes started, and Jane and her silent, troubled father, John have been feared and despised ever since. When the strongest quake yet strikes and John disappears back into the Manor, Jane embarks on a perilous adventure to find her father and save her world – perhaps all worlds – from destruction . . .
Fans of Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials, Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson adventures, Frances Hardinge and the Netflix blockbuster Stranger Things will love this heart-pounding and spell-binding middle-grade adventure with its nod to the classic 80s movies The Goonies and Indiana Jones.
Jeremy Lachlan, a Sydney bookseller, has always been obsessed with the big epic adventures such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones and The Chronicles of Narnia – and was inspired to write The Cradle of All Worlds while lost in the Cairo Museum. The first book in a duology, this is his debut novel.

Katherine Woodfine (Author), Karl James Mountford (Illustrator) - Peril in Paris (Taylor and Rose Secret Agents) - Published by Egmont (9 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1405287043 - Paperback 

It’s 1911, and the young detectives of TAYLOR & ROSE are turning their talents to ESPIONAGE. 
On a case for the mysterious SECRET SERVICE BUREAU, the daring MISS SOPHIE TAYLOR and MISS LILIAN ROSE must leave London for the boulevards and grand hotels of Paris.
But DANGER lurks beneath the bright lights of the city - and INTRIGUE and MURDER lie in store. As airplanes soar in the skies overhead, our heroines will need to put all their spy skills to the test to face the PERIL that awaits them...

Lindsay Galvin - The Secret Deep - Published by Chicken House (2 Aug. 2018) ISBN-13: 978-1911490029 - Paperback 

When Aster wakes alone on a tropical island, she has no idea what has happened, why she is there, or where to find her younger sister, Poppy. Meanwhile, Sam who once met the sisters on a plane makes links between the mystery of their disappearance and suspicious happenings in his own life. In a stunning dual narrative, the truth unravels with devastating effect - and the answer lies in the secret underwater world surrounding the desert island, populated by the beautiful and the impossible ...

Sam Hearn - Baker Street Academy: Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Curse - Published by Scholastic (2 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1407164069

Welcome to Baker Street Academy, where there's always a mystery to be solved! Told through Watson's diary, a top-secret detective dossier and energetic comic-strip illustrations, this introduction to Arthur Conan Doyle's classic characters will have every young super-sleuth hooked! Luckily Sherlock Holmes is on the case, with his friends John Watson and Martha Hudson. No crime is too big, no villain too cunning - especially if it's James Moriarty. This time, Sherlock and the gang are up against a centuries-old curse...

Monday, 6 August 2018

S. A. Patrick - A Darkness of Dragons - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

After playing a forbidden spell-song to save a village from rats, 12-year-old piper Patch Brightwater is thrown in jail. But there he meets Wren – a noble girl under a rat-shaped curse – and together they befriend Barver, a fearsome dracogriff, and set off on a grand adventure filled with sorcerers, dragons, bandits…and one very deadly enemy.
From the depths of the Tiviscan dungeons to the highest peak of Gemspar Mountain, this stunning book reminds us of the soaring joy of adventure, the captivating danger of magic, and of the delight of finding friends in unexpected places.

Since the middle ages, the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin has been passed down from generation to generation. The story originated from the days of the plague and has possibly changed in many ways since then. S. A. Patrick has based his story on the world of the Pied Piper and weaved a magical inventive story that incorporates the basic essence of that original idea. 
He has made it into a new modern-day fairy tale that will be loved by many for years to come. 

A Darkness of Dragons will be Seth's first book for children. It is set to be published on the 6th September 2018 by Usborne Publishing. The book is around 400 pages and is a substantial read. However, the very start of the plot has the power to place the reader in an adventure that will leave them gripped and hooked incredibly quickly. "The screams of the children brought the villagers running" and the readers too. 

The first character to love is Patch; the story really starts with this character. Without spoiling anything too much, he joins up with two more major characters. There is Wren, a girl cursed to live as a rat, and big bold Barver, a fire-breathing Dracogriff. All three characters in the book have personal journeys that they undertake but they all, inadvertently, link together. As a result, the three accidental heroes take us on an epic journey captivating our fantasy hearts as they go up against one epic villain.

The story is deeply immersive and has all the magical ingredients that I look for in a great book. A fantastic fantasy plot that pops and pings full of action as well as humour and heart, especially from the characters. It has a very pacey storyline full of creative imagination including spell-slinging, shape-shifting and fire-breathing battles. The split narratives will keep the readers on their toes. It has a lovely dark edge to it that slowly creeps into your soul - often slapping you in the face with horror like moments that will thrill and excite the reader in more ways than one. 

This is set to be a great new series for readers age 9 and upwards. With the next installment eagerly expected around mid-2019. So why not take up the quest by picking up the book and reading it. 
You will not be disappointed as it is full of twists and turns with a cracking climatic and up-lifting ending that will make you want more.