Wednesday, 26 May 2021

C. J. Dunford - FAKE NEWS - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

C. J. Dunford is a visiting Alien and former playwright. She placed the magical true story inside a plastic bag on Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh hoping that, one day, a wonderful publisher would find the account of real-life events that took place sometime last year. After all, the media and government would not want us to know that we may have been fooled by a group of highly-trained school children.  However, Fledgling Press is publishing the whole eye-witness account which has been obtained through an Alien's persuasive powers. The book will be published on the 31st of May 2021 with real banana skins woven into the cover. It's the first time this has ever been done in the publishing world and is courtesy of the inventor and illustrator, Graeme Clarke.  

Fake News is full of the truth. Do you believe in everything you read on the internet? Did you ever question what you might think to be true? This is a fantastic story that will have you scratching your head as we follow the lives of four children (and one dog) who cross paths in the most bizarre way.  The book's plot is a narrative triumph and one of my favourite reads for some time. The story really goes deep into bringing the characters to life in such a dramatic and thrilling way. The journey, as a reader, is both gripping and emotional. However, it is also very amusing at times whilst remaining true to life, in my humble opinion. 

I really think teenagers will love this book as much as adults, as there is so much in this story to inspire our own lives. The book covers a lot of sensitive subjects in a fantastic but public way. It's about being true to yourself. This is shown through the characters as they launch their own news site detailing amazingly shocking stories. The reader is required to make up their own mind as to whether they are TRUE or NOT. The characters intend to come clean, but the publicity goes to their heads. Other life events then come crashing into one mass adventure which makes for a viral calamity. This is dealt with in a very brilliant way bringing the story to a great climatic end.

The book delivers a fantasy Sci-fi element that works really well. It is full of Aliens and spies, secret services, slimy journalist investigators, and a hacker or two. There are also eco-crazy parents and some rather witty but challenging school teachers which all add to the mayhem. Not to mention the school bully! The characters plan to show people they should never believe what they read on the internet. However, this backfires in a comical way that made me laugh so much.

This is a really great book. It's slightly different from the usual books that I tend to read and love. I think it is an absolute work of genius. It's thrilling, emotional, thought-provoking, and very topical. Yet it's told in a clever, comical, and imaginatively contemporary way. It's a book that I would recommend to you all. I would love to hear your thoughts if you do read a copy.  

As this book is published by a small publisher, I have put a link (if you are interested) to buy a signed copy while stocks last. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did. https://www.fledglingpress.co.uk/product-page/fake-news

P.S Don't slip on the banana skin whilst leaving this website. We take your safety as our top priority. This review has been brought to you by Radio Ripley City Central - the book review website you can trust or can you?!

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Jaclyn Moriarty - The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 


Welcome to the third book in the series The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty. It has already been published by Levine Querido (23 March 2021) in the US. However, the book was first published in the author's native country (Australia) by Allen & Unwin last year (2020). The UK version will be published by Guppy books this coming September (2021). I'm really looking forward to seeing the UK book cover which will be very different from the one above. 

This series is one of my personal all-time favourites. The author is the Queen of Australian children's books as she has written some absolutely stunning stories. This series is so quirky and original that it is an absolute delight to read. The depth of characterisation and the way the storyline connects all the books in the series together is a real work of art. The humour is written cleverly at many levels from deadpan, to truly outrageous. 

The story is another master class on how to keep the reader engrossed without knowing where the plot is going to take you. It's both simple yet deceptive, uplifting, and moralistic. The storyline explores the personal feelings of the characters. We really get to know some of the new characters and find out more about the older ones which is really interesting. 

Imagination and creativity are other amazing attributes to both the book and series. The story is set around Katherine Valley Boarding School which helps to weave the magical story to life with social interaction and keeps you on your fantasy toes. 

This is a book that needs to be explored again and again. It's a very MEMORABLE READ full of mayhem and craziness which is all told in an authentic voice that you will not be able to get out of your head for some time. I would read this book in the order of the series, so if you are in the UK you have time to read the first two books now. However, wherever you are in the world, I would urge you to take a look at which books have been published near you and buy copies today without delay. You will not be disappointed, dear reader.  

Here is the synopsis below for this book.

Esther is a middle child, in her own mind a pale reflection of siblings who are bright, shining stars. Her mother doesn't show the slightest bit of interest, no matter what Esther does. Still, she's content to go back to school, do her best, hang out with her friends, and let others take care of things. 

But her best friends aren't AT school when she gets there. Why didn't they tell her they wouldn't be coming back? Why were they silent all summer? But stuff like that happens. And it's bad luck that her new teacher makes Esther the butt of all kinds of jokes. Mrs. Pollock is rumored to be an ogre--and maybe she IS one. Could be. 

Then things go from unfortunate to outright dangerous. The mountains surrounding the school--usually sparkling with glaciers and lakes, alive with Faeries, and sheltering a quaint town with really great bakeries--are now crowded with Shadow Mages, casting a noticeable pall, and clearly--to Esther--signifying something very dark and threatening. As the people she might have depended on to help are either strangely absent or in hiding, it's left to ordinary, middle-child Esther (just Esther) to act. But she'll have to burst out of the box of mediocrity she's been but in, and do something absolutely extraordinary. 

Sunday, 16 May 2021

The Best New Children's Book Picks US - May 2021 - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

Brian Young - Healer of the Water Monster - Published by Heartdrum (May 11, 2021) - Hardback 

Brian Young’s powerful debut novel tells of a seemingly ordinary Navajo boy who must save the life of a Water Monster—and comes to realize he’s a hero at heart.

When Nathan goes to visit his grandma, Nali, at her mobile summer home on the Navajo reservation, he knows he’s in for a pretty uneventful summer, with no electricity or cell service. Still, he loves spending time with Nali and with his uncle Jet, though it’s clear when Jet arrives that he brings his problems with him. 

One night, while lost in the nearby desert, Nathan finds someone extraordinary: a Holy Being from the Navajo Creation Story—a Water Monster—in need of help. 

Now Nathan must summon all his courage to save his new friend. With the help of other Navajo Holy Beings, Nathan is determined to save the Water Monster, and to support Uncle Jet in healing from his own pain.

The Heartdrum imprint centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.


Sam Subity - The Last Shadow War - Published by Scholastic Press (May 4, 2021) - Hardback 

Percy Jackson meets Thor in a laugh-out-loud, action-packed adventure inspired by Norse mythology.
Twelve-year-old Abby Beckett is proud to come from a long line of elite Viking warriors known as the Aesir. She's spent her entire life training to hunt the horrific creatures known as Grendels--the ancient foe of the Aesir--just like her mother did before she died. But there's just one, small problem: No one has seen a Grendel in centuries, and the Viking Council wants to disband the Aesir . . . forever.

When her father is injured in an attack that leaves him in a coma, Abby is forced to take refuge at Vale Hall, a mysterious school in Minnesota where nothing is quite as it seems. She soon discovers the tables have turned and a Grendel is hunting her, but when she tries to alert the Viking Council, they accuse her of making up stories for attention . . . just like her mother did.

Desperate to protect her father and clear her mother's name, Abby goes on a dangerous quest to discover the truth--a journey that brings her face-to-face with some unlikely foes, including a Ping-Pong-playing sea monster with a wicked backhand, and a dark Valkyrie with a fondness for bingo. Abby quickly realizes that someone at the school is trying to stop her progress and destroy the Aesir for good. And only she can unravel the sinister plot before it's too late.


Jacqueline West - Long Lost - Published by Greenwillow Books (May 18, 2021) - Hardback 

Lost is an atmospheric, eerie mystery brimming with suspense. Fans of Katherine Arden’s Small Spaces and Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts series will lose themselves in this mesmerizing and century-spanning tale.

Eleven-year-old Fiona has just read a book that doesn’t exist.

When Fiona’s family moves to a new town to be closer to her older sister’s figure skating club—and far from Fiona’s close-knit group of friends—nobody seems to notice Fiona’s unhappiness. Alone and out of place, Fiona ventures to the town’s library, a rambling mansion donated by a long-dead heiress. And there she finds a gripping mystery novel about a small town, family secrets, and a tragic disappearance.

Soon Fiona begins to notice strange similarities that blur the lines between the novel and her new town. With a little help from a few odd Lost Lake locals, Fiona uncovers the book’s strange history. Lost Lake is a town of restless spirits, and Fiona will learn that both help and danger come from unexpected places—maybe even from the sister she thinks doesn’t care about her anymore.

Fran Wilde - Riverland - Published by Amulet Paperbacks (May 11, 2021) - Paperback 
The story of two sisters who must journey to a magical world to save their home in this stunning middle-grade novel, which won the 2019 Andre Norton Nebula Award—now in paperback

When things go bad at home, sisters Eleanor and Mike hide in a secret place under Eleanor’s bed, telling stories about how one day, their real parents will come and save them. Often, it seems those stories and their mother’s house magic are all that keep them safe from busybodies and their dad’s temper. But when their father breaks a family heirloom, a glass witch ball, a river suddenly appears beneath the bed, and Eleanor and Mike fall into a world where dreams are born, nightmares struggle to break into the real world, and secrets have big consequences. Full of both adventure and heart, Riverland is a story about the bond between two sisters and how they must make their own magic to protect each other and save the ones they love.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Tim Tilley (Author, Illustrator) - Harklights - Interview with Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

Welcome to Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books and the chance to read our wonderful interview with debut author and illustrator Tim Tilley. Harklights has been published by Usborne Publishing and is our favourite book of May 2021. It is a fantastic illustrative delight. We've recently reviewed the book so if you fancy taking a look you can find the link HERE.  

We are running a competition to give away a free copy on Twitter @Enchantedbooks please see the pinned Tweet. The competition ends 20th May 2021 and is open to the UK only. 

We would like to thank Tim Tilley and Jacob Dow (Usborne Publishing) for taking the time to put this post together. We hope you enjoy it and have a great week. 

Harklights is a fantastic debut novel. How would you describe it without using any part of the synopsis?


Harklights is full of nature, adventure, heart, and wrapped in magic. It is also filled with a message of hope, that you are never too small to make a difference.


How did you select the names for your characters?


The idea to give the orphans new names when they arrived at Harklights came from a trip to the Foundling Museum in London. Back when the place was the Foundling Hospital, mothers would leave their babies with swatches of fabric – cut from their dresses – which would fit into place if they were reunited. Mothers would also leave unique tokens. Some of these tokens were keys, rings, buttons, engraved coins, flattened thimbles, and padlocks.


The Hospital gave the babies new names too. There are some fantastic ones, such as John Tempest, Molly Lightfoot, Admiral Benbow, and Inigo Scotland.


If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?


I think all of the characters have their own stories to tell. I’ve already written a short story with Nissa, which is set before Wick arrives at Oakhome. But there are definitely opportunities for others. Petal is one of the few orphans who remembers her parents, so there’s lots to explore there.


There is an environmental element throughout this book. What was the influence of nature on the story?


I grew up with a love of getting close to nature. Some of my favourite places include The Forest of Dean, where my dad grew up, and Bradgdate Park, a medieval deer park north of Leicester. Bradgate has ancient oaks, many of which are hollow but still alive. My younger brother and I used to crawl inside and climb them, imagining they were wooden castles. 


I’m a huge fan of the Usborne Spotter’s Guide series – field guides full of facts and information on the natural world. I remember one time, aged ten, filling an old fish tank with pond water and frogspawn, so we could watch the spawn turn from full stops into commas, then tadpoles and tiny frogs. 



(All images subject to copyright ©Tim Tiley test illustration (Acorn) for Harklights) 


You studied illustration at Anglia Ruskin University. Did you ever think you would be writing and illustrating your own children's book?


I hoped so. The course had strong leanings into children’s books (this was before the fantastic MA Children’s Book Illustration course). We had children’s book authors and illustrators who came to visit and worked with us on a range of projects. Harklights itself, originally started life as a picture book.


The story sparked on a return trip to Bradgate Park. I was amazed to see that the hollow oaks, my brother and I had played in, half my life ago, were still alive. As we left, in the fading light, what appeared to a distant tree, stood up and revealed itself to be a stag. The moment burned in my mind and gave me the idea for Half Crown.  


As a picture book, the story revolved around a boy meeting a tree-stag, but then a match factory orphanage came along, and then a baby in an acorn-shaped cradle, and suddenly the story grew and grew. 


You have a magical theme in the book which in my opinion is not overly used. Was this the intention when you started writing the book?


Growing up, I always loved fairy tales and stories with magic in them, so it was inevitable that magic would wind up in some of my own stories. I loved The Box of Delights, the Narnia books, and James and the Giant Peach. 


One of my favourite non-fiction books was – and still is – The Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, that belonged to my grandmother. Brewers is packed full of history, myths, folk tales and legends. I loved going on afternoon adventures poring over the mottled pages. 


Brewers wove its way into the roots of Harklights – the Hobs take their name from Hob, a Scottish household spirit. And Nissa’s name comes from Nisse, meaning gnome in Norwegian. 


What comes first for you, the words or the illustrations?


Images always come first, whether I’m writing or illustrating. When writing, I always see the scenes as a movie playing out in my mind. Visualising the scenes comes easy, it’s putting them into words, and finding the perfect word, that takes time. When rewriting Harklights – after I decided it wasn’t a picture book – I made sketches along the way, but I didn’t set out to fully work on the illustrations until I’d finished the manuscript.


(All images subject to copyright ©Tim Tiley test illustration for Harklights) 

Are there any significant ways in which your book has changed since the first draft?


Lots of the story bones I set in place in the first draft still remain. However, the introduction of Nissa in the second draft, opened up the story in so many ways. Suddenly, Papa Herne had a daughter, who was quietly jealous that she was being side-lined when Wick arrived at Oakhome. Nox, the Hob who is wary of humans, was also introduced in the second draft. Both of these characters deepened the story and added lots of extra dimension to the plot. Not everyone wants to embrace change.


I'm a massive fan of illustrations. What do you think makes an illustration effective and why?


Growing up, I loved illustrated books and losing myself in their details. I especially loved Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge series, which took the magic miniaturisation of dolls houses and brought it to the countryside. Another favourite was The Troll Book by Michael Berenstain, an illustrated history and guide to trolls, filled with myths and information on their family life. One of my favourites illustrations was of a tall fir tree that was used as a look-out tower. 


For me, an illustration is effective if it adds something to the text. This could be showing character action, reaction and interaction, but it could also show the setting and establish a mood.


I really love the book cover. Were you involved with the development or production of this? If so, how did it start life e.g. as a series of sketches or was it all done digitally etc? (It would be amazing if you could share any of these images with us!)


Thank you. I worked closely with Will and Sarah, the wonderful designers at Usborne, but we had feedback from everyone in the team, so the cover really took a village to raise. Interestingly, the cover illustration altered the story. The idea to have some of the Hob homes up in the branches was something that was evolved when developing the cover illustration. I then went back to the text and found ways to bring this into the story.


In terms of the process, everything started out as pencil sketches, then developed into final pencil drawings. I like to work with lots of drawn elements and textures, and then bring everything into Photoshop to work on.


We had lots of ideas for the cover, but we settled on the final design as we wanted to show Wick in the forest setting. I also developed the lettering for the cover, inspired by the tiles at Postman’s Park, near St. Pauls in London.


Could you tell us a bit about any of your upcoming projects?


I’ve just finished a new draft for Witchstorm. The story is set in the same world as Harklights, and focuses on a cast of new characters, but there’s a crossover. There’s a surprise appearance from ... I can’t say more, without giving anything away.



Thursday, 6 May 2021

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Children's Book Picks - May 2021 - UK Post Two

 

Ross MacKenzie - Feast of the Evernight - Published by Andersen Press (6 May 2021)
The Evernight has been defeated and the sun has returned, thanks to Larabelle Fox and her friends Joe and Double Eight. White Witches have their souls back and Mrs Hester is no more. It should be a time of celebration and relief. But a new threat is emerging from the mists of the Veil, the dangerous forest that surrounds the Silver Kingdom’s southern lands. Mysterious killings are taking place, and Double Eight is the suspect. Lara and Joe journey to Lake End to discover what’s really happening, all the while trying to stay one step ahead of the secret police . . .

Kirtsy Applebaum - The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (6 May 2021) - Book Review HERE

A brilliant novel by the author of The Middler about family, secrets, and a terrible power.

Lonny is a lifeling. He has the power to heal any living creature and bring it back from the dead. But he pays a price for this gift - by lengthening the creature's life, he shortens his own. So Lonny has to be careful, has to stay hidden in the forest. Because if people knew what he could do, Lonny would be left with no life at all...


S. A. Ellis - Goby the Goblin - Published by S. A. Ellis (24 May 2021) Please check out the website HERE

It is a misconception that all goblins are bad, this simply isn't true.

They are not all ugly, gnarled, nasty little creatures that only want to cause trouble and misery.

The goblins from the Three Realms live in an enchanted land, full of wizardry and magic. Goby is a Pumple goblin and lives within the Gravern tree deep in Kracklewood, under the majestic Galamide mountain range.

He is a bright green little goblin with oversized ears that his friend Squiggle (a booquar), often likes to snuggle under and fall asleep.

Follow Goby on his adventures and see how he helps to reunite the Three Realms of the goblins, with the support of his unusual friends and others he meets along the way.


Tim Tilley - Harklights - Published by - Usborne Publishing Ltd (13 May 2021) - Book Review HERE (Interview Coming Soon)
Wick has always lived in the dark and dreadful Harklights Match Factory and Orphanage, working tirelessly for greedy Old Ma Bogey. He only dreams of escaping, until one day a bird drops something impossible and magical at his feet - a tiny baby in an acorn cradle...

As midnight chimes, Wick is visited by the Hobs, miniature protectors of the forest. Grateful for the kindness shown to their stolen child, they offer Wick the chance of a lifetime - escape from Harklights and begin a new life with them in the wild...

Winner of the Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize, Harklights is a magical story celebrating family, friendship and the natural world, filled with a message of hope for our times.

Frank Cottrell Boyce (Author), Steve Lenton (Illustrator) - Noah's Gold - Published by 
Macmillan Children's Books (13 May 2021)
Packed with mystery, adventure and laughs, Noah's Gold is the exciting novel from the bestselling, multi-award-winning author of Millions and Cosmic, Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Fully illustrated in black and white throughout by Steven Lenton, this is perfect for readers of 9+.

Being the smallest doesn't stop you from having the biggest ideas.

Eleven-year-old Noah sneaks along on his big sister's geography field trip. Everything goes wrong! Six kids are marooned on an uninhabited island. Their teacher has vanished. They're hungry. Their phones don't work and Noah has broken the internet. There's no way of contacting home . . . Disaster!

Until Noah discovers a treasure map and the gang goes in search of gold.


Monday, 3 May 2021

Alex Cotter - The House on the Edge - (Nosy Crow) - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

This is a debut book to look forward to by Alex Cotter. As a former bookseller, her dream has come to fruition as she publishes The House on the Edge. It is due to be published this summer (beginning of July 2021) by Nosy Crow Books. I am a massive fan of the book cover which I believe is illustrated by Indonesian illustrator Kathrin Honesta. It's very reflective of the story and really eye-catching on the bookshelf. In my opinion, the colour palette works really well. 

What can you expect from this brilliant book? It's a story of sadness and new beginnings as Faith's dad has gone missing. We are not sure of the circumstances as we are lead down the mysterious garden path. Why has he left his family living in an old house perched on a crumbling clifftop? A crack has suddenly appeared in the cliff and, just like the story, the adventure turns into a thrilling and splitting adventure. The setting is idyllic but the family side of the narrative is anything but. There are many mysteries to uncover in this book. The plotline will keep the readers on their little tiny toes. 

The book turns into a dark and spine-tingling ghost story. Faith's brother brings an element of surprise to the plot when he claims sea ghosts are living in the basement of the house. He then disappears and we start to feel the fractures of family life splinter into dust. You need to watch out for her greedy Uncle Art as the VILLIAN. However, the story is really a race for time to find her brother and father and save the family house from falling into the sea. 

There are a lot of really great elements to this book: a dramatic setting, a moody atmosphere, and a great depiction of a coastal town. The loveable but rather quirky characters are well-written. The history is like a layer of antique dust as it is uncovered to weave the different story threads. It's a creative jaunt that will leave you with a creepy feeling. Chuck in some pirate treasure, smuggler's caves, and a sour teacher and you just about have the lot going on here. It's both thrilling and exciting - just about the best type of book you want to wake up to and have on the reading pile.