Thursday, 28 February 2019

Charlie Pike - Jacob's Ladder - Prepare to be Born Anew - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

This is another exciting YA book from a debut Irish author. In this case, the author is Charlie Pike and it was such a privilege to receive a copy of this book to review. Jacob's Ladder will hit the shops on the 1st April 2019 and has been published by The O'Brien Press in Ireland. It's a brilliantly written dark fantasy story that will hook you from the very first page. Set in the year 2203 (dystopian style vision) the earth is dying, birds are falling out of the sky and people are living in fear of what is to come. 

The story is very brutal and hard-hitting with some scenes that would be more appropriate to late teen/adult fiction, in my opinion. It has an epic fantasy landscape which is incredibly well written. The imagination certainly draws the reader into the world of war, destruction, and chaos. The story takes you into a mission of salvation based on a series of mystery messages, which go like this...

We have heard your call
You no longer need to fear
You will receive five messages, of which this is the first.
The last message will inform you of the time and place of your salvation. 

This sets up the story leading the reader into a tangible feeling of what might lie ahead. The main character Leon is to come of age in his warrior culture and sets out into an unknown world. The climatic adventure starts from here. However, it is impossible to predict what is going to happen in the story. You'll hurtle through the bizarre plot whilst being showered by a world of dark fantasy and violence. The main characters are devoid of empathy (almost brainwashed) which makes the plot very edgy and intriguing. Interestingly, the narrative changes the more that you travel into the complex world, as the character's perspectives change through the course of their dangerous adventures.

I really enjoyed this book due to the creativeness of the story and the complex feelings of the characters. Ulya is my favourite character as she is mysterious, resilient and very loyal. It's both heartbreaking and emotionally challenging for the reader to follow her. I was on tenterhooks hoping for a better outcome throughout the story as you are led into an immersive dystopian adventure that becomes a living nightmare. You will journey through a world of chaos and maggots in this action-packed thriller that you will not be able to tear yourself away from. 

The ending was not the one I was hoping for. However, the story went in a new direction and the encounters with the worms made me run for cover.  So, if you like chaotic dark Irish fiction with a big dollop of Sci-fi fantasy this is definitely a book for you. I loved every page of this book and would highly recommend it. Don't delay - make sure you find a copy to read and experience this thrilling adventure. 

Synopsis: We have heard your call You no longer need to fear. You will receive five messages, of which this is the first. The last message will inform you of the time and place of your salvation. Two hundred years from now, the earth is dying, scorched by powerful flares from the sun. A series of messages from an alien civilization sent to humanity over two centuries promise rescue to those strong enough to survive on their planet. Initiate Leon is a member of the True Path warrior culture and preparing for his Rising. But when his test comes - to kill in cold blood - he cannot do it. To redeem himself, he must journey to find the earth's fifth and final message from the Saviours, with the help of his resourceful servant, Martha. Out in the wild, Leon discovers alarming changes in his body - he can drink water through his skin and has poison barbs buried deep in his flesh. Martha reveals to him the secret that the True Path has kept from him all this time: Jacob's Ladder, an adaptation for life on the alien planet, has lain dormant in his genes and is now being activated. He is part alien and part human, and he is in grave danger from those who wish to take what is in his body.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

New Children's & Young Adult Book Picks March 2019 - Post One - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

David Almond (Author), Dave McKean (Illustrator) - Joe Quinn's Poltergeist - Published by Walker Books (7 Mar. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1406363197 - Hardback 
A dark, powerful and moving short story from the internationally acclaimed author of Skellig.
Joe Quinn tells everyone about the poltergeist in his house, but no one believes him. No one that is, except for Davey. He’s felt the inexplicable presence in the rooms, he’s seen random objects fly through the air. And there’s something else … a memory of his beloved sister, and a feeling deep down that somehow it might be possible for ghosts to exist.

 Steven Butler (Author), Steven Lenton (Illustrator) - Sea-ing is Believing! (Nothing to see Here Hotel) - Published by  Simon & Schuster Children's UK (21 Mar. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1471178733 - Paperback 

Welcome to The Nothing to See Here Hotel! A hotel for magical creatures run by Frankie Banister and his parents.
Frankie Banister and his family are preparing to celebrate Grandad Abraham’s 175th birthday – an occasion that’s going to be even more HONKHUMPTIOUS now that Abe’s ghost has showed up!
When the unexpected spook reveals a secret UNDERWATER wing of the hotel that’s been hidden away for years, the Banister’s decide there’s only one thing for it … a whopping welcome home bash in the spectacular BRINY BALLROOM.
But memories aren’t the only things waiting at the bottom of the ocean. Secrets and sea monsters are lurking in the shadows, and is everything as it seems with Grandad Abraham’s ghost? Or is there something fishy going on?

 Paul Stewart (Author), Chris Riddell (Author) - The Edge Chronicles 13: The Descenders: Third Book of Cade - Published by Doubleday Children's (7 Mar. 2019) - Hardback
Cade Quarter has spent the last few years of his life running from an enemy he’s never even met – the ruthless and power-hungry High Professor of Flight, Quove Lentis. But Quove’s deadly agenda has finally caught up with Cade, and now he must leave his home and flee once more, this time to the legendary floating city of New Sanctaphrax. But even reuniting with his uncle, Nate Quarter, isn’t the end of Cade’s troubles – and now, more than ever, he must find the courage to defy his enemies, unite his friends, and unlock the secrets of descending. 

The Descenders is the third and final book in the Cade trilogy - the fifth and final saga in Stewart and Riddell’s internationally bestselling series, The Edge Chronicles, which has featured on the Times and New York Times bestseller lists and sold more than 3 million copies. 2018 marks twenty years of the series, now complete with thirteen titles across five separate but interlinking sagas.

Fleur Hitchcock - The Boy Who Flew - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (7 Mar. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1788004381 - Paperback - See Book Review Here
Athan Wilde dreams of flight. When his friend, Mr Chen, is murdered, Athan must rescue the flying machine they were building together and stop it falling into the wrong hands. But keeping the machine safe puts his family in terrible danger. What will Athan choose – flight or family?
From the acclaimed author of Murder In Midwinter, Fleur Hitchcock’s The Boy Who Flew is a thrilling, murderous tale set among the steep rooftops and slippery characters of Athan’s intricately imagined world. Perfect for fans of Philip Pullman, Peter Bunzl and Philip Reeve.
Here’s an exclusive early look inside the book:

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Claire Fayers - Storm Hound Blog Tour - Guest Post - Finding the Right Place

Hello everybody. Welcome to Day 4 of Claire Fayer's Storm Hound blog tour. HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY. To celebrate the book release today, we are flying across the Welsh sky in search of "Finding the right place" which is the brilliant topic of today's guest post. So sit down, relax and hopefully, this post will inspire you to pick up and read this loveable rogue of a book. 

If you fancy reading my book review click Here. Make sure you check out all of the stops on this fun blog tour - please see the banner below for all the tour stops.

Storm could see mountains from here: a low peak rising up in the distance, and three hills in front of it, which, if he squinted, looked a bit like the paw of a giant dog. He knew the mortal world was indifferent to the world of magic, but the sight cheered him a little, as if the landscape had made an effort to welcome him. 

I’ve been asked many times already why I chose to set a fantasy adventure in Abergavenny. It doesn’t seem a likely place for adventure – a little Welsh town, tucked away between mountains. What could possibly happen in Abergavenny?
A few years back I’d have agreed. I’ve always loved fantasy set in invented worlds, and when I started to write, that’s where my imagination went. Fantastical stories needed fantastical settings. But, after two adventures with the Accidental Pirates, and a mystery set in an alternative Britain, I began to wonder. What if we didn’t have to go to other worlds to find magic? What if magic could find us (as we say in Wales) over by here?

That’s why, when Storm fell from the sky, he didn’t crash into a fantasy landscape or even somewhere big and important, like New York or London, or even Cardiff.

At first, I did it purely for comedy. I thought it would be hilarious to dump my arrogant young stormhound in a place that had no pretensions of grandeur. Within a couple of chapters, though, I knew this little town was absolutely right. I love the way the town is surrounded by mountains as if they’re standing guard. Walk along the narrow High Street and you’ll find all the essentials – a book shop, some lovely cafes, and a cheese shop.
Also, of course, there is a castle. 

(Abergavenny Castle – photo by Claire Fayers)

Storm enjoys going for walks here. The site dates back to 1087 and there’s a real sense of history. Most of the castle was destroyed during the civil war in 1645-46, but there’s a small museum sitting right on top of the original motte.
I had to invent a few things for the story. Abergavenny High School doesn’t exist. Neither does the Abergavenny Dog Rescue Centre. But I know exactly where Jessie’s house is. If you stand in the back garden you’ll be facing the Sugarloaf Mountain and, if you squint a bit you may think the three foothills look like the paw of a giant dog.

I didn’t actually find out about the Sugarloaf hills until I was well into editing the book, but that little detail had to go straight in. It was proof if anyone needs it, that Storm’s story could not happen anywhere else. 
Author Bio: Claire Fayers grew up in South Wales, studied English and Comparative Literature at the University of Kent in Canterbury, and is now back in Wales where she spends a lot of her free time tramping around castles in the rain, looking for dragons.
She has worked as a church caretaker, a shoe shop assistant, in accountancy, in health and safety, in IT, and in a library. Only one of these prepared her in any way for life as a full-time author.
Her first book came about after she won a writing competition. She was more surprised than anyone.
She works from her home in Cardiff, sharing her workspace with a pair of demanding cats and an ever-expanding set of model dinosaurs who sometimes like to pretend they are pirates.

More about Storm Hound…
Storm of Odin is the youngest stormhound of the Wild Hunt that haunts lightning-filled skies. He has longed for the time when he will be able to join his brothers and sisters but on his very first hunt, he finds he can’t keep up and falls to earth, landing on the A40 just outside Abergavenny.
Enter 12-year-old Jessica Price, who finds and adopts a cute puppy from an animal rescue centre. And suddenly, a number of strange people seem very interested in her and her new pet, Storm. People who seem to know a lot about magic . . .

In Claire Fayers’ electrifying adventure Storm Hound, Jessica starts to see that there’s something different about her beloved dog and will need to work out which of her new friends she can trust.

For more information please visit Claire Fayers’ website, and do follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Amber Lee Dodd - Lightning Chase Me Home - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

At the beginning of the year, Amber Lee Dodd's second book 'Lightning Chase Me Home' was published by Scholastic Books UK. The amazing book cover has been illustrated by Kate Forrester but, unfortunately, it appears to not get a mention anywhere in the book. It's a shame really, as I believe that illustrators should be given the credit where it is due. A good book cover has the power to persuade people to pick it up and read it. It can also enhance a story and set the expectations early-doors for the reader. 

In this case, the story equally matches up to the brilliant book cover. It is a charming and evocative story. The narrative sticks with the reader like fantasy glue from start to finish. Amelia, heroically brave and strong, lives on a windblown island called Dark Muir. The setting is fantastic; it's a rugged landscape of wilderness and a place full of nature. It will certainly capture your imagination. The sky is grey and a storm is brewing, but the characters chop through the waves on a bed of vibrant colour. 

The narrative is a heroic-packed adventure blowing in on a westerly wind of mystery. The characters are brimming with charm and heartfelt personalities that will instantly capture the reader's heart. They will wash over you like a warm summer's day sprinkled with earthy magic as the turbulent story unfolds. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this book. It's a tender story of how fragile life can be and family breakups. However, the narrative is bright with hope and the future that lies ahead. 

On her 11th birthday, Amelia makes a heartfelt wish on Serpent's Tooth Rock and unleashes a powerful magic that might destroy the island. This element cleverly weaves Scottish mythology/folklore into the concept of the story filling it with suspense and intrigue. It's a powerful story that will tinker with your heart and soul, particularly the ending which is very uplifting. This is a book that champions the adventures and the achievements of female explorers. Dreams and achievements are just one step further than the front door. It's a fantastically well-written story full of empathy and passion. What a shimmering joy to read... 

Amelia Hester McLeod is named after two of her mum's favourite explorers. Two amazing, fearless, awesome women: Amelia Earhart and Lady Hester Stanhope. But Amelia herself doesn't always feel very brave or very bright. She lives on the tiny Scottish island of Dark Muir, her mum has walked out on her and she's about to start at a whole new, scary school. Her dyslexia means she's a target for the school bullies, too. When she makes a wish on her birthday to be reunited with her mum, she finds herself quite literally disappearing at times of stress and reappearing elsewhere on the island, where she finds clues and snapshots of her parents' past. Can she harness this strange magic to find her mum, wherever she is? Will her Dad, sad and silent since her mum's departure, start to pay her more attention? Will she find the courage to forge her own path, like the lady explorers she was named for?

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's /Young Adult Book Picks - February 2019 - US Published Post Two

J. M. Bergen - Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows - Published by Elandrian Press (February 2, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1732457805 Paperback 

 'Magic is real, Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real.' 

Seven years have passed, and Thomas hasn't forgotten. He hasn't forgotten the blue of his dad's eyes either, or the tickle of beard on his cheek as they hugged goodbye. Last moments with a parent are memorable, even if you don't know that's what you're having. 

Now, with his 13th birthday rapidly approaching, Thomas's search for magic is about to take a radical and unexpected turn. At an out-of-the-way shop filled with dusty leather books, a strange little man with gold-flecked eyes offers him an ancient text called The Book of Sorrows. The price is high and the rules are strict, but there's no way Thomas can resist the chance to look inside. 

With the mysterious book guiding the way, a strange new world is revealed - a world in which Thomas has a name and destiny far more extraordinary than he ever imagined. But time is short. Even as Thomas uncovers his secret family history, a powerful new enemy emerges, threatening to end his rise to power and destroy everything he holds dear. 

Jarrett Lerner - Revenge of the EngiNerds (MAX) - Published by Aladdin (February 19, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1481468749 - Hardback 

When last we met, the EngiNerds were battling a horde of ravenous robots, but in this latest caper, they’re on the hunt for just one rogue robot. But who knows what kind of mayhem one mechanical creature can cause? And why is Ken the only EngiNerd who’s worried about the runaway robot?

The rest of the crew seems be missing in action and Ken fears it's because of Mikaela Harrington. She's the new girl in town who’s UFO and alien-obsessed and wants to join the EngiNerds. But as far as Ken is concerned, the EngiNerds are Y-chromosome only, no X’s allowed!

Will Ken allow a rogue robot and a know-it-all, genius girl to wreak havoc on the entire universe? He just might not have a choice!

Angie Sage - Rise of the Dragons - Published by Scholastic Press (February 26, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0545864961 - Hardback 

Mega-bestselling author Angie Sage takes flight with an epic adventure that imagines dragons in the modern world. Includes 9 collectible game cards that unlock an online game! The first in a thrilling multi-author series.

Comes with 9 collectible game cards that allow YOU to join the dragon battle!

Once our world was full of dragons who lived in harmony with humans. But after a group of rogue dragons, the Raptors tried to take over Earth, all dragons were banished to another realm.

Most humans forgot about the dragons, claiming they never existed. Eleven-year-old Sirin knows the truth -- she grew up with stories passed down through the generations. However, when her mother falls ill, even Sirin has trouble believing in magic . . . until she sees a mysterious streak of silver in the night sky.

Sirin becomes the first child to "lock" with a dragon in centuries -- forming a deep friendship, unlike anything she's ever imagined. But Sirin learns that not all dragons returned with good intentions, and soon she finds herself at the center of a battle between the dragons who want to protect the humans . . . and those who want to destroy them.

Eugene Yelchin - Spy Runner - Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (February 12, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1250120816 - Hardback 

In this noir mystery middle grade from Newbery Honor author Eugene Yelchin, a boy stumbles upon a secret that jeopardizes American national security.
It's 1953, and the Cold War is on. Communism threatens all that the United States stands for, and America needs every patriot to do their part. So when a Russian boarder moves into the home of 12-year-old Jake McCauley, he's on high alert. What does the mysterious Mr. Shubin do with all that photography equipment? And why did he choose to live so close to the Air Force base?
Jake's mother says that Mr. Shubin knew Jake's dad, who went missing in action during World War II. But Jake is skeptical; the facts just don't add up. And he's determined to discover the truth - no matter what the risks.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Guest Post by Kate Mallinder Author of Summer of No Regrets - Why you should read Up Lit YA fiction?

Here At Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books, we are forever looking forward to seeing what new books are on the publishing horizon. Today, author Kate Mallinder is talking about her debut YA book Summer of No Regrets. The book will be published in May 2019 by FireFly Press. This post is a little teaser of what you can expect as well as explaining the genre of UP LIT. Why not have a read and if this book sounds like your cup of fantasy tea then pop it on your list of books to buy or pre-order. Thanks for reading and enjoy your day. 

Summer of No Regrets was first called Up Lit by my publishers. I’d heard the term before but it still came as a surprise to me. I’d been calling it feel-good fiction, which it is. So what’s the difference?

What is Up Lit anyway?
Up Lit has been in the headlines for titles such as Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine; stories with kindness at their centre. Up Lit doesn’t pull any punches however, it isn’t sickly sweet. It still deals with big issues: mental illness, loss, grief, things which have a life-altering impact on the characters. But Up Lit differs from other stories with these same themes by building in a strong sense of community. The main character (or in my case, characters) still has to be the master of their own destiny but that journey is made easier by the people around them. Up Lit doesn’t short change the issues but they are resolved in an optimistic way.

Why read Up Lit now?
There is some research that shows that when times are bad, readers look to literature for an escape. The consensus surely must be that the world isn’t in a great place; the polarised nature of national and international politics, almost institutional unkindness in the way we treat others, people being quick to get angry online, a perceived lack of community and a lack of common ground is the backdrop for these contemporary stories. Readers aren’t just looking for an escape but to be reminded that humans are capable of kindness, of including the outsider and haven’t forgotten how to empathise with others.

Why is Up Lit for teens a thing?
Despite the term not being widely used in children’s literature, there are signs that this type of fiction is rising in popularity. The reasons behind why it has taken off in adult fiction are similar for teenagers – the world is uncertain and this is compounded for teens as they are trying to find their place in it. Teens are increasingly having mental health issues, can find themselves excluded from social groups, struggle to know how to help in a world seemingly full of problems and so it wouldn’t be unexpected for teens to search out this type of fiction.

Arguably YA fiction has been tackling issues for years and often with hopeful endings, so in this respect is ahead of the term, but the difference with Up Lit is there’s a focus on the community, with friendship groups helping the character with their issue rather than the character sorting it out alone. This is where the kindness, empathy and the strength of human bonds comes in. Examples of this would be in John Green’s books, in Wonder by R J Palacio and more recently in books like Holly Bourne’s Are we all Lemmings and Snowflakes?

Up Lit: kindness at its core
When I wrote Summer of No Regrets, I didn’t set out to write ‘Up Lit’. I wanted to write characters who were strong alone but stronger together. Even though my characters deal with some pretty big life events, they get through them with the support and kindness of their
friends. I wrote it because this would be the sort of book I would want to read if I was a teenager in today’s world – not only as an escape, but as a reminder that kindness isn’t a weakness and having empathy for others isn’t something to be mocked or ridiculed.

So, Summer of No Regrets then…
Summer of No Regrets is about four 16-year-old girls – Hetal, Cam, Sasha and Nell. They are best mates and in the summer after their GCSE’s they decide to have a regret-free summer, taking risks however much it scares them. Sasha agrees to spend the holiday in Geneva, with the father she hasn’t seen for six years, but is not expecting his new girlfriend, or the boy in the cafe. Shy homebody Hetal decides to go to science camp, and discovers a new competitive spirit. After Nell lost her arm in an accident, her mother is scared to let her out of the house - so to do what she wants she will have to lie to her parents. Fostered Cam goes to look for her birth father. What will she find? As all these choices become difficult, even dangerous, they look to each other for the strength to face the future.

Why you should read my book
Most importantly, because it’s a good read! Hopefully. But also it’ll perhaps inspire you to keep using kindness to alter the world around you.

Author Bio
Kate lives with her husband, four children and two crazy kittens near Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire. She grew up in Solihull and went to college in Leeds. She wrote this book as part of her own ‘no regrets’ pledge along with trying to surf, which didn't go so well. If left to her own devices, she'd live on a window seat with a good book and a never-ending cup of tea.

Contact details:
Find Kate on twitter: @KateMallinder
On Instagram: kate.mallinder

Thursday, 7 February 2019

The future of children’s stories” revealed in Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Shortlists 2019

Congratulations EVERYBODY here is the full lists of shortlisted titles (in alphabetical order by author) for the Waterstones 2019 Prize are:

Illustrated Books:
The Girls by Lauren Ace and Jenny Løvlie (Little Tiger Press)
Mini Rabbit Not Lost by John Bond (HarperCollins)
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (Penguin)
The King Who Banned the Dark by Emily Haworth-Booth (Pavilion)
Julian Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love (Walker Books)
100 Dogs by Michael Whaite (Penguin)

Younger Fiction:
The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson (Usborne)
The Train To Impossible Places by P.G. Bell (Usborne)
Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy (Scholastic)
The Mystery Of The Colour Thief by Ewa Jozefkowicz (Head of Zeus)
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf (Hachette Children’s)
The Boy Who Grew Dragons by Andy Shepherd (Templar)

Older Fiction:
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (Egmont)
Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Pan MacMillan)
A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos (Europa Editions)
The Truth About Lies by Tracy Darnton (Little Tiger Press)
Me Mam. Me Dad. Me. by Malcolm Duffy (Head of Zeus)
Boy 87 by Ele Fountain (Pushkin)

Thursday 7th February: Inspiring stories of trailblazing black women, a child’s warm-hearted perspective on the refugee crisis and an energetic verse novel about a girl finding her voice are amongst the eighteen shortlisted titles competing to win the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2019.

First awarded in 2005, the Prize has evolved into one of the most prestigious accolades for children’s books in the UK. It has launched the careers of many children’s book authors and illustrators by bringing the best new books to readers’ attention. Alumni include much-beloved household names such as Sally Nicholls, Jonny Duddle, Katherine Rundell and Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

Every year Waterstones’ expert booksellers are called upon to vote for the books they believe are the very best in new children’s writing and illustration. Now in its fifteenth year and with its shortlists exploring some highly topical subjects, the Prize shows its enduring relevance as a formidable platform for emerging talent. 

Last year’s winner, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, shot to the top of the bestseller charts after the announcement and saw an increase in sales of over 900% across the Waterstones estate.

Florentyna Martin, Waterstones Children’s Buyer says: “Children’s books are firmly at the heart of our shops. Knowledge of their local communities, and the pleasure in recommending the best books to their customers gives our booksellers a unique and pivotal role in championing new talent.  Now, more than ever before, there is real playfulness and creativity noticeable in children’s books. This year’s list showcases an exploration of wide topics including world-folklore, black history, mental health, refugees and the world around us, through dynamic forms of poetry, fables, and sweeping fantasies. It is a truly enthralling time for children’s writing, and our booksellers have keenly chosen shortlists that they are inspired to share with readers and, in doing so, recognise the creators who will shape the future of children’s stories.”

The shortlists consist of eighteen books across three categories. Six books will compete within each category to be crowned Category Winner, with the three category winners then vying for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2019.

James Daunt, Waterstones Managing Director says: “We are immensely proud of our Children’s Book Prize. It has chosen unfailingly wonderful books and in so doing propelled the careers of a succession of exceptional authors. Who knows how many might otherwise not have achieved such success? The Prize is the work of our booksellers and represents Waterstones at its very best.”

The Illustrated Books shortlist explores the importance of inclusivity and individuality. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison features forty inspirational black women from world history, whilst Lauren Ace and Jenny Løvlie tell the story of a lifelong friendship in The Girls, showcasing the strength that lies in difference, and Jessica Love’s Julian Is A Mermaid is a joyful celebration of being uniquely yourself. John Bond’s deliciously funny debut Mini Rabbit Not Lost and Michael Whaite’s joyful rhyming story 100 Dogs will make young readers laugh with delight. The shortlist concludes with the illuminating story of The King Who Banned The Dark, a modern fable about power and rebellion, by Emily Haworth–Booth.

Adventures in fantasy settings dominate the Younger Fiction shortlist. The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson is a magical tale with influences of traditional folk and fairy stories, whilst dragons are brought to life in Andy Shepherd’s The Boy Who Grew Dragons. Action, sky ships and exploration are the fuel for Vashti Hardy’s fast-paced steam punk adventure Brightstorm, whereas in The Train To Impossible Places by P.G. Bell the young heroine might travel more conventionally by train, yet her journey is anything but. Two real-life stories round up the category: Onjali Q. Raúf’s The Boy at the Back of the Class presents, with heart and humour, a child's view on the refugee crisis, meanwhile a compassionate story about coping with life and grief is told by Ewa Jozefkowicz in her debut The Mystery Of The Colour Thief.

On the Older, Fiction shortlist headstrong young protagonists, from a wide variety of backgrounds, fight for their right to determine their own life. In Christelle Dabos’ fantasy runaway hit A Winter’s Promise, a young woman becomes an unwilling pawn in a political game, whilst Tomi Adeyemi’s heroine in Children Of Blood And Bone, a fantasy saga that draws on African mythology, has to return magic to a country oppressed by a ruthless king. Shif, the eponymous Boy 87 of Ele Fountain’s beautifully written novel, is a young refugee who encounters both cruelty and kindness on his long, hard journey to Europe, whereas in Me Mam. Me Dad. Me., Malcolm Duffy’s debut novel, a fourteen-year-old Geordie lad navigates the trials and tribulations of family life. The shortlist is completed by Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X, a verse novel narrated with an unforgettable, authentic voice, and The Truth About Lies, a suspenseful, psychological thriller by Tracy Darnton, telling the story of a girl who remembers everything.

The winners will be announced at an evening reception at Waterstones Piccadilly (London), Europe’s largest bookshop, on Thursday 21st March, 2019. The winner of each category will receive £2000, with the overall winner receiving an extra £3000. In the event that the prize is awarded to a partnership, then the prize money will be split equally between the joint winners.

The winning authors and illustrators will also see a significant boost in sales, and the promise of an ongoing commitment to their writing career from all Waterstones shops nationwide.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Bex Hogan - Viper (Isles of Storm and Sorrow Bk 1) - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Marianne has been training to be the Viper for her entire life - to serve and protect the King and the citizens of The Twelve Isles - but to become the Viper and protect the islands she loves she must find the strength to defeat her father. A new fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas.
He will make me a killer.
Or he will have me killed.
That is my destiny.
Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.
But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.
He's the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne's father.
She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves - and perhaps even her life?
A storm is brewing this April with the debut book by Bex Hogan. Viper is the first book in the Isles of Storm and Sorrow trilogy published by Orion in paperback on the 18th April 2019. The book cover illustration shimmers in the dark and lights up this fantasy. The artwork has been cleverly developed by Samuel Perrett alongside source images from Shutterstock. I have to say it is really eye-catching and instantly makes you want to pick up the book and read it.

Turning the first few pages, the story soon captures your attention. The first incision of blood seeps off the pages and floats to your brain. The fluttery wings of a dead bird whisk you on a fantasy ride of a lifetime. The author is holding nothing back in this thrilling Young Adult book that I absolutely loved. In my opinion, the YA genre at the moment is at its best with lots of original and captivating stories appearing on the horizon.  This is an adventure set on the high seas with a gutsy/brave and endearing character, seventeen-year-old Marianne. Her destiny is to become a Viper, a feared defender of the Twelve Isles, but what will she encounter on the way?

Whatever the answer, it will have you flying by the seat of your fantasy pants. This is an epic story set on the high seas. It's a voyage of discovery for Marianne as she follows her destiny and hopefully uncovers the mysteries of the ships crew the Maiden. The plot will leave the reader treading a tidal wave of death and destruction. The plot is not for the faint-hearted but it has just the right amount of detail to give you an enjoyable and exhilarating ride for the harder fantasy armchair adventurer.

This is a very well-written story that has everything for you to enjoy and really love. There is an abundant amount of action and drama that will keep you engrossed. The author has placed a little sprinkling of earthly magic into the story that lifts the narrative up a notch. I loved the plot idea which makes it crazy, wild and slightly surreal in places.  The alluring cruelty of the characters whilst also instilling a small amount of warmth and feelings makes for great reading in the plot. 

All in all, this is another outstanding read that comes will all the trappings of another two books to follow. After surviving the cracking climatic ending, it makes you want to start all over again. Providing your heart hasn't already been torn to shreds. Buzzing and brilliant, get this book pre-ordered now or I'll make you walk the plank - you salty sea dogs....

Monday, 4 February 2019

Children's and Young Adult Book Picks - February 2019 US Published Post - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Raymond Arroyo - Will Wilder #3: The Amulet of Power - Published by Crown Books for Young Readers (February 19, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0553539714 - Hardback 

In book three of the series, twelve-year-old Will Wilder is back to protect the town of Perilous Falls after he's given a talisman with a lock of Samson's hair. But a new dark demon will force family secrets to be revealed, friendships to be tested, and Will's strength to be pushed to the limit.

Will Wilder yearns to join the Perilous Falls Middle School football team. But he was never big enough or strong enough to make the cut until he comes in contact with a talisman containing the fabled locks of Samson. But using the Amulet of Power attracts dark forces to Perilous Falls like moths to a flame.

Suddenly, hunched creatures are shadowing people around town, graves are being disturbed, the music of a mysterious DJ lulls half of Perilous Falls into a stupor, and to top it all off, Will is convinced that a teammate may be a demon himself! 

As he tries to identify the demon before it causes untold havoc, Wilder family secrets will be unlocked, the limits of physical strength and the power of friendship are tested--and Will might even score a touchdown or two.

John August - Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon - Published by Roaring Brook Press (February 5, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1626728165 - Hardback

“A thrilling adventure full of magic and wonder. John August is a master storyteller.” ―Ransom Riggs, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
From acclaimed screenwriter John August, Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon continues the spellbinding fantasy adventure series about the magic that lies just beyond our world.

Some legends are real. 
For Arlo Finch and the Rangers of Pine Mountain Company, summer camp is more than canoeing and hiking. It’s also a chance to search for ancient forest spirits and discover mysterious messages encoded in tree bark. But when Arlo and his best friends Indra and Wu stumble upon clues about the long-lost Yellow Patrol, Arlo uncovers a stunning history that leads right back to his very own family.

Padma Venkatraman - The Bridge Home - Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (February 5, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1524738112 - Hardback 

"Readers will be captivated by this beautifully written novel about young people who must use their instincts and grit to survive. Padma shares with us an unflinching peek into the reality millions of homeless children live every day but also infuses her story with hope and bravery that will inspire readers and stay with them long after turning the final page."--Aisha Saeed, author of the New York Times Bestselling Amal Unbound

Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman's stirring middle-grade debut.

Life is harsh in Chennai's teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter--and friendship--on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city's trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

Joanna Hathaway - Dark of the West (Glass Alliance) - Published by Tor Teen (February 5, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0765396419 - Hardback

"A novel of court intrigue and action-packed military adventure,"* Joanna Hathaway's Dark of the West, is a breathtaking YA fantasy debut--first in the Glass Alliance series.
A pilot raised in the revolution. A princess raised in a palace. A world on the brink of war.
Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania―Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.
Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it―a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.