Showing posts with label Book Review 2021. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Review 2021. Show all posts

Monday, 11 October 2021

Danny Weston - A Hunter's Moon - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books


Are you looking for a Halloween read? Well, we recommend the latest installment by the cheeky author and man of mystery, Danny Weston. A Hunter's Moon was published by UCLan Publishing on 2 Sept. 2021. The reason for recommending this book is that it has none of the classical cliché monsters such as ghosts and vampires or monsters lurking under the bed. The author has something a little different to offer the reader; a nostalgic supernatural mystery that will make your toes curl. 

The book is set in Scotland; deep in the Forest of Tay. There are no modern distractions in the story as it has been set in simple times when folklore, myths, and word of mouth ruled the day. Instead, all the cinematic action happens under the cover of darkness. We walk and run the gauntlet of fear and mystery as the locals are attacked and begin to disappear. Farmers' sheep are ravaged by a beast summoned by the mysterious people called 'Walkers in the Woods'. 

The villain is a wealthy landowner, who chopped down large parts of the forest to build a hunting lodge. Whilst the two main protagonists (Callum and his master Fraser) hopefully come to save the day. Although, this does not quite go to plan! 

The story is brilliantly fine-tuned with distractions, mayhem, and a slightly romantic involvement that pulls the story together. It's a great earthy story with a moral in the tale and a read that comes with a warning; Don't go into the FOREST. Enter at your PERIL. Do you DARE? What more can you want from a great Halloween read? So don't hesitate, buy yourself a copy and get stuck in. Maybe read it in a forest near you. 

Monday, 20 September 2021

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Best Illustrated Children's Books - Sep/Oct 2021

 

We have picked five fantastic illustrated marvels that also have a great story to go alongside each one. They are all creative and very special with so much imagination inside them that you will instantly escape into each one. We hope you like our choices for September/October 2021. 

Author/Illustrator: Tom Gauld  

Title: The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess  

Published: Templar Publishing (2 Sept. 2021) 

Hardback: ISBN-13  978-178741917

Purchase HERE

    A whimsical modern fairy tale from internationally renowned cartoonist, Tom Gauld.

    When the log princess goes missing, her brother, the little wooden robot, sets out on an epic adventure to find her. He will encounter goblins, magic puddings, a mushroom queen and a very intimidating woodpile as he seeks to bring his sister home.

    The Little Wooden Robot and the Log Princess is an exquisitely illustrated modern fairytale about sibling love. Tom Gauld brings all of his wit, draghtsmanship and narrative craft to a funny, moving tale that proves that woodlice can be heroes too.



    Author/Illustrator: William Grill  

    Bandoola: The Great Elephant Rescue

    Published: Flying Eye Books (1 Oct. 2021)
    Hardback: ISBN-13 ‏  978-1838740238
    Pre-Order Here

    When a world war comes to Myanmar (Burma), one special elephant becomes a hero. As people are forced to leave their home in the Burmese jungle, Bandoola, his keeper Po Toke, and war veteran James Howard Williams (Aka Elephant Bill), undertake a journey that will test their courage, taking trust, understanding and bravery to the very limit. Together, they lead a group of 53 elephants and over 200 refugees to safety, scaling 6000ft mountains as they trek from Myanmar to northern India.

    In this moving tale based on a true story, award-winning William Grill’s stunning illustrations show the majesty of Myanmar’s forests and mountains, the backdrop to a heart-warming tale about empathy between humans and animals, and the strength that can arise from working together when the world is full of danger.


    Author/Illustrator: Jakob Wegelius (Translated by Peter Graves)

    Title: The False Rose

    Published: Pushkin Children's Books (7 Oct. 2021) 

    Hardback: ISBN-13  978-1782693215

    Pre-Order Here

    When Sally Jones and The Chief discover a curious rose-shaped necklace hidden onboard their beloved Hudson Queen, it’s the start of another perilous adventure for the seafaring gorilla and her faithful friend. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, they set sail for Glasgow, but there fall into the clutches of one of the city’s most ruthless gangs, commanded by a fearsome smuggler queen who will stop at nothing to snatch the necklace for herself.

    Held prisoner hundreds of miles from friendship and safety, Sally Jones must use all her strength, determination and compassion to escape and unravel the mysterious story of the False Rose – a twisting tale leading all the way from Lisbon to Shetland and the South Seas.


    Author/Illustrator: Pam Smy

    Title: The Hideaway

    Published: Pavilion Children's (9 Sept. 2021)

    Hardback: ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1843654797 - Book Review HERE

    Purchase HERE 

    The wonderful long-awaited second novel from Pam Smy celebrated author and illustrator of Thornhill.

    The Hideaway tells the story of a boy, Billy McKenna, who runs away from a difficult situation at home and takes refuge in an overgrown graveyard. While hiding there he meets an elderly man who is tending the graves in preparation for a day in November when something magical is set to happen.

    The book is written in two alternating narratives, both different aspects of the same story. One thread tells of Billy’s experience of hiding away in the graveyard, his mixed-up feelings and emotions, and the supernatural events he eventually witnesses. The other tells of his mother’s situation at home and the police search for Billy. Covering themes of family, childhood, separation and reunion, domestic violence and doing the right thing, this is an important and beautiful book for middle-grade readers right up to adults.

    Billy’s story is illustrated throughout with tonal and textured black and white drawings, until the event on All Souls’ Eve, when the text gives way to a series of double-page images of the supernatural happening.

    The Hideaway is a compelling, exciting and emotional story that will stay with you long after you finish the last page.




    Author/Illustrator|: James Mayhew
    Title: Once Upon a Tune 
    Published: Otter-Barry Books (9 Sept. 2021)
    Hardback: ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913074036
    Purchase Here

    Six wonderful stories that inspired world-famous music, accompanied by brilliant illustrations.

    Once Upon a Tune brings you six wonderful stories from many lands - all of which inspired great music. You can battle trolls with Peer Gynt in 'The Hall of the Mountain King'; grapple with a magic broom in 'The Sorcerer’s Apprentice'; meet the evil Witch of the North in 'The Swan of Tuonela'; sail the seven seas with Sinbad the Sailor in 'Scheherazade'; be a prince disguised as a bee in 'The Flight of the Bumblebee'; and become a fearless hero in 'William Tell'.
    The stories are excitingly told and stunningly illustrated by James Mayhew, who is famous for bringing live classical music, art, and storytelling to families across the UK. There is also a Musical Notes feature, where you can find out more about the stories and music, plus discover James’ recommended recordings - which can be downloaded too.



    Monday, 9 August 2021

    Nicolas Bowling - Song of the Far Isles - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books



    One of the books we've very much loved reading this summer is Nicholas Bowling's third middle-grade children's book published in July 2021 by Chicken House. It's a story inspired by the author's time in the Hebrides of Scotland and New Zealand. The book has a great outdoors feeling as it is set on the fictional island of Little Drum. The landscape and the characters come crashing down on you in a sweeping melody. Music is everything to the islanders. In fact, it's so important that everybody has a birth instrument and a really close bond to it which results in a very special and unique life song. This for me created a very interesting idea that pulled the story threads together into a very intriguing and beguiling read. 




    The book has a very appealing feel to it through a fantastic blend of both music and mother nature which results in a wonderful heartfelt adventure. The story is infused with myths and folklore and has an excellent plot that will make you tap your feet to the story's unique rhythm. Oran is the main character who will have you enraptured as you plummet into an action-adventure on sea and land. However, we are soon lead into a merry dance when the Duchess arrives from the mainland bringing orders that will silence the islanders forever. No more MUSIC. Oran must set out on a high-stakes adventure to change the Duchess's mind. Whatever will happen?

    Oran, with a little help from her best friend ghast called Alick, plus a group of musical pirates makes this story a brilliantly gripping and entertaining read. There are rumours of a mythical instrument that might be able to change everything. It might just save the islander's way of life and restore the balance to the island and their families. 

    The book has everything that I love to find in a great read - quirkiness and a great setting. It's a rapid page-turner that is full of passion and detailed accuracy. The book flows with fantasy adventure and an air of mystery. It is also full of great characters depicted within a family life setting. This for me was a fantastic book with a difference to escape into. Its soul will last with you for some time. Grab a copy to read now as it will inspire you to explore your inner self and the great outdoors whilst playing the cithara. What more could you ask for?



    Wednesday, 21 July 2021

    Alastair Chisholm - ADAM-2 - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

    The puzzler from Edinburgh is back with his second exciting novel entitled Adam-2. The book is a summer delight published by Nosy Crow Books on 5th August 2021. The fantastically vibrant and brilliant orange book cover has been illustrated by Dan Munford - it's an absolute beauty brimming with anticipated adventure. 

    I've been in a bit of a reading slump for some months now as I've been trying to find not only the time to read but also books that I will really enjoy. I think every prolific reader finds themselves in this situation from time to time. I have read a few books recently that did not hold my attention or were too reality-based when what I really wanted was a book to escape into. Fortunately, Alastair Chisholm hit the nail on the head with this book by providing everything I needed. It's a real fantasy-based book that throws up challenging questions in a world so distant from our very own. The author has set his stall out with a great imaginary world that is so absorbing you will certainly not want to leave it. 

    The book starts with a dark tale where we find Adam-2 locked in a basement. Even worst, we find out he's been there for over two hundred years. I never read the synopsis for this book so, at the start, I had no idea what was going on. I think that really kept me engaged and eager to read on and find out more.  For this reason, I'm not going to mention any of the plot or synopsis in this review so you can enjoy it as much as I did. All I will say is that it is a fast-paced Sci-Fi futuristic read set in Edinburgh, Scotland. Some of the famous landmarks are used to great effect in telling the story. 

    The book's characters are fantastically written and develop through the story process with great heart as they uncover what it really means to be human. It really made me think about the choices the characters were making along their journeys. The plot ending was a great climatic roller-coaster that left me both satisfied but very sad to finish. This book is full of explosive action with some epic twists and turns that create a truly stunning cinematic read. 

    It's a new world... how can we save it? There's a War between HUMANS and advanced INTELLIGENCE, what more could you want? Make sure you find the time to read this book as it is surely the best book to be published this month. It will really give you a Middle-Grade fantasy boost that will make your pulse rate beat faster with every page turned. 



    Tuesday, 6 July 2021

    Ella Risbridger - The Secret Detectives - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books


    A gripping, beautifully written historical mystery, from an incredible new voice in children's fiction.

    Ella Risbridger is a writer and editor. She is found mostly in her pink kitchen in South London. This is her first children's book which was published in June 2021 by Nosy Crow Books. The book has a fantastically eye-catching cover that showers you with a golden shimmer. The cover has been illustrated by the brilliant Ray Tierney and will certainly stand out in the bookshops this summer. Are you ready to ride the waves and enjoy a spectacular adventure? We hope you are as this one is going to develop the amateur detective skills in YOU! So it's time to roll up your sleeves and turn the pages of this book. 


    The body seemed to fall for a long time. There was no splash, or if there was it was lost in the waves. Isobel was frozen to the spot for a moment before her common sense caught up with her and she stepped back quickly into the shadows. This book is a gripping whodunnit thriller that has a rhythm to the plot which is led by the characters. The group of multi-racial children each bring their different backgrounds to the story - their individual strengths and weaknesses make this detective adventure really enjoyable to read. 

    The story takes place on board the S. S. Mariana which is a small boat that has set sail from Calcutta to England. One of the children witnesses something being thrown overboard in the middle of the night which leads to the start of an amazing crime to solve. Like all Agatha Christie-type stories, there are a number of great individuals who might have been involved in this despicable act. Intriguingly, what has or who has been thrown overboard the ship and why? The ship's captain insists that NOBODY is missing which provides a great opportunity for the children to solve the mystery in a funny and heartfelt way.

    This is a brilliant historical mystery that I enjoyed immensely. It had a real quirkiness about it that I loved. This genre is packed with so many mystery stories but this one stands out for me. I loved the backstory and the colourful characters that we share the journey with. The author has done a remarkable job of bringing this adventure to life. It's full of historical accuracy with some detailed research of the time and period. This is a fast-paced race for time to solve the crime before the ship reaches England.  Are you ready to don your dear stalker and take notes and use your brain? If so, this is the adventure for you. Can you work it out before the children do? All you need to do is follow the clues to the bookshop to pick this one up and give it a READ.  



    Monday, 7 June 2021

    Sinéad O’Hart - Skyborn - Blog Tour Day One - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books



    Hello Everybody and WELCOME to Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books. We are really delighted to be starting the #SKYBORN blog tour today celebrating the imminent release of Sinéad O’Hart’s third Middle-Grade children’s book. Which is being published by Stripes Publishing. 

    The book cover is a cracker - we particularly love the choice of colour and sparkle. It has been illustrated by the very talented Sara Mulvanny and really sets the mood well. 

    The other sites to visit, each day, as part of the blog tour are listed on the banner below. Make sure you drop by and say HELLO. There is a fantastic competition on Twitter to go with this post. To have a chance to win a copy of the book and a £10 Book Voucher and a bar of chocolate, all you have to do is head over to our pinned Tweet and find out more @Enchantedbooks 

    Anyway, we’re now ready to kick off this amazing blog tour with our spoiler-free book review.

    A watchful girl stands before the walls of a silent city. As we look over the walls, we take our first steps into a fantasy wonderland. The story starts with a rather intriguing prologue but as you turn the pages, a vortex of imagination and world-building leads through the narrative on a high wire adventure. Deadly and perilous situations lead to both surprising and captivating outcomes. 

    The plot is very mysterious and enticing as it features magical and slightly dark supernatural theme. The second part of the story features a struggling circus that features larger-than-life characters who you may come to love or hate. The circus element of the story feels realistic without too much detail as it brings the story to life. It sparkles like a performer's sequin leotard!

    I love books based on circus themes - the traditions and the history are all fascinating. It is easy to become immersed in this world as you do in the BOOK. You’ll find yourself instantly transported to the big top circus tent! 

    Bastjan is the main character who will do anything he can to save his home and the circus. Even if it means participating in a death-defying new act. We are also introduced to a mysterious man by the name of Dr. Bauer. He and the ringmaster together make plans, however this creates a good plot twist. 

    There is so much to keep you on your flexible toes. The eclectic mix of ideas make this book so enjoyable. For example, the runaway child called Alice who is a pickpocket and thief. There are also secret shape-shifting creatures, a mysterious island, a strange box, and a ride in an airship! All of which you will not want to miss. It's a pop fizz of static, a roller-coaster ride fuelled on adrenalin. There’s a lion’s roar here, an elephant's trumpet there followed by an acrobatic tumble. Finally, it all ends in a brilliantly climactic finish that you will just LOVE. Finishing this book may require a cup of YORKSHIRE tea, a chocolate biscuit, and a lie-down. This book is one to be read and savoured. 



    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. 

    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. 

    Sunday, 18 April 2021

    ALIEN NATION by Sandro Bassi - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books - Book Review

    I have something very different to review this week. It's a very special book that is not just an illustrative delight but also conveys a powerful story that hits the reader on so many different levels. Sandro Bassi is an illustrator from Venezuela whose work was the 2019 Bologna Children's Book Fair Illustrator Show selection. Alien Nation is his first book and was published by Levine Querido on April 13, 2021. It has already received great acclaim in Mexico where it was originally published. 

    It all begins on an unforgettable subway ride in an alien world or is it? The story explores the theme of travelling and technology in all of our lives. As you open the pages, you find yourself on a journey of wonder as you marvel at the black and white illustrations. It's a wordless picture book that shows the commuter moving through a crowded train station. You will glide across the pages mesmerised in a world that is totally different from our very own. However, there may be some similarities as we too can be glued to technology both day and night. For me, the story explores the theme of being engrossed in handheld devices whilst the world continues to go on around us particularly as we travel on public transport. We might as well be an alien of this world when this happens.


    The book is illustrated using thick pencil lines to create amazing drawings that convey a fantasy world that requires closer inspection. One of the main features of the book focuses on the commuter. Each is drawn in human form except for the heads and faces. Instead, each face and head is represented in a number of ways through bulbous or blocked organic structures that somehow convey feelings to the reader. The narrative asks me questions about the future of us as a race and how far technology will develop. How much more of our time in the future will we spend on our devices, reading, playing games, or watching programs? However, is this loneliness that we seem to seek whilst commuting creating a hive mind society? 

    This is a very special book with a cinematic appeal. It shows a world that we are at risk of losing out on and real adventures beyond the screen of a phone that might be passing us by. It's time to visit the eerie vision of a spectacular train station and a strange baby in a stroller as a packed metro awaits us. This book is a real page-turner that is full of real-time illustrations that will capture the attention of all readers from eight to a hundred and eight. Be warned, we might just be glimpsing a future that is not as alien as we believe from our very own. 


    Thursday, 1 April 2021

    Kirsty Applebaum - The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke - Book Review - Mr.Ripley's Enchanted Book

     


    I'm delighted to be able to introduce another new title published on 6th May 2021 by Nosy Crow. This is the third middle-grade book by Kirsty Applebaum and for me the best one so far. The brilliant book cover has been illustrated by Matt Saunders and makes it very appealing. This for me has an intriguing premise and from the very start asks a lot of questions. What if you could save animals or human lives with the touch of your hand but every time you healed someone you got older? What if you got older more quickly if you saved a larger life, would you still do it?  I thought this was a really interesting concept.

    Of course, the quicker you got older would mean you had less time for yourself. How would you feel and what would you think as an older person looking at yourself in the mirror? I wonder how many people would actually forfeit some of their life if this was a possibility in the real world? Is it a gift or a curse? You have to decide as you walk the tight rope of tension and daily life. 

    Lonny, the main character, is a lifeling that is passed down from generation to generation. He has the power to heal any living creatures, but he has to be VERY careful and stay hidden with his family in the forest. Midge is his smaller brother but the relationship between them is rather sad and slightly bitter. Life has taken its toll on the family. Lonny dreams of travelling to amazing places and meeting new people. At this point, the buzzing starts again as his jaw vibrates which tells him something is dying nearby. How is he ever going to get the chance to visit these places when this keeps happening? Lonny is a very endearing and well-written character.

    What can you expect from the story? The first thing is that it's a very earthy story that belongs to nature and human emotions. In my opinion, it is also a modern-day fairytale told with thought and emotion in a folkloric way. You'll find yourself investing your emotions in each of the characters as they make you think about yourself as a reader in the real world. Grandad made me particularly smile as he never leaves his bedroom and is always looking out of his bedroom with his binoculars. 

    The author has done a fantastic job of teasing the fantasy strands out of her head and applying them onto paper. She has a very creative and unique way of telling the narrative which is full of mystery, family secrets, and a yearning to have a normal life. It takes a philosophical look at how stories can shape us as readers and takes us on journeys without even leaving our home. I would have loved to have seen the story expanded upon in some areas. However, by keeping it trim, readers can fill in the gaps and develop their own opinions. It would be a really fantastic book to discuss as a group with so much to ponder over. I had no idea how the story would pan out - it kept me guessing throughout!

    This is a chocolate delight of a book that will make waves in the literary world. It's a great seed for thought so grab a copy, read it and talk about it. Let the story fully blossom into a profound place in your heart. 

    Wednesday, 24 March 2021

    Tim Tilley - Harklights - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

     

    Looking into this book cover is like looking into the star-lit future. Harklights will be published on 13th May 2021 by Usborne Publishing but it needs mentioning early so you can pop it on your pre-order list now. The author and illustrating duties are both by Tim Tilley, who has accomplished a dual spectacular from the illustrative and narrative point of view. A former Winner of the Joan Aiken Future Classic prize, Tim has now made his foray into a middle-grade fantasy where he will be noted for a truly reflective story. The proof copy is gorgeous but, of course, is missing some of the illustrations so I'm really looking FORWARD to seeing them in the finished copy. 

    The story feels like a Dickensian tale that meets the Borrowers with an environmental overtone. I thought it really worked and loved every minute of this book. In fact, I read it in virtually one sitting. It all begins at Harklights which is an Orphanage and Match Factory. All the children work for an old tyrant called Old Ma Bogey which is a fantastic name for a character. All the characters have new names to reflect the factory. Wick is one of the unfortunate characters who lives in this dark and dreadful place. They really are dire living conditions where the children work tirelessly with no way out. However, one day something happens out of the ordinary, a bird drops something beyond belief - a tiny baby in an acorn cradle.

    From this point forward, the narrative takes on a wild turn of magical events that are both imaginative and captivating. Wick dreams of escaping but as midnight chimes he is visited by the Hobs (miniature protectors) and the guardians of the forest outside the factory. His dreams come true and he escapes on a magical tree stag where he finds happiness and love like he has never known. If this was a HAPPY fairytale the story would end here. However, that would not do as Old Ma Bogey woman has something else to say. With wickedness, a shotgun, and the willful destruction of the forest she leads us down a path that will leave you shivering with fear and trepidation as the story further unfolds. 

    This is a thrilling tale about the importance of looking after nature and the environment. It has a moralistic view of future innovation vs mankind's greed and cruelty. This heartwarming story is about family, friendship, and a message filled with hope. The amazing setting has a sparkling, magical theme that is not overly used. The only thing to ask is: are you ready to strike that match to pursue a fantasy bonfire that you will want to escape into? If so, then what are you waiting for? This is a story I would fully recommend - it's a real treat.

    Thursday, 18 March 2021

    Conrad Mason - The Girl in Wooden Armour - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books


    When you are looking for a ray of sunshine then a new book by Conrad Mason is just the tonic. The Girl In Wooden Armour will be published on 1st April, 2021 by David Fickling. The book cover illustration is amazing; I have been recently informed it's been produced by the talented illustrator George Ermos (one of my favourite illustrators). It certainly enticed me and made me want to dive in straight away. After reading other books by Conrad Mason, I have a certain expectation of what to find. This did not fail but it lived up to my expectations in different ways. 

    The story is about sorcery, witchcraft, and possibly a warrior or two. It's very dark and essentially is a middle-grade fantasy horror story. Conrad Mason appears to be stretching his fantasy wings and going into new territory.  Just like the main character in the book (Hattie), he is strapping on his wooden armour and getting ready to do battle with the readers' mind. It's a plot about a family that has secrets and a very unusual granny. 

    One day Hattie gets a mysterious letter calling for help so she and her younger brother Jonathan visit her granny for the first time in years. The plot thickens and the veil of an ancient evil is cast over the reader as the characters launch into their adventure. At this point, this is not what I was expecting; I was looking for pirate swashbuckling and some spilled grog. However, what we get is a very strange place called Brokewood-on Tandle (a great name for a place) and an all-action-packed narrative that will be loved by all armchair readers. 

    Unfortunately, Granny has disappeared and a dark shadowy place called the Un Forest is introduced. I really liked Un Forest and would have loved to have seen this explored in more detail. It had so much potential for the plotline and is what reading is all about - being transported to an imaginary world with mystery, mayhem, and madness. Nevertheless, we escape into a sinister world of scary monsters who are lurking around every corner (some of which would fit nicely into a Darren Shan novel). They are very imaginatively written and definitely sent shivers down my spine. Empathy is another element that has been injected into the story. It faces issues that many of us might be feeling at the moment: loneliness, sadness, and losing a loved one.  

    This is a great book with many twists and turns. It doesn't have a set agenda instead it is about good quality storytelling that will grip you and captivate your fantasy brain. It has a courageous female heroine who will be adored regardless of gender or age. It's a thrilling read with a dynamite ending to capture readers and light up their imaginations. 

    Thursday, 11 March 2021

    Julian Sedgwick (Author), Chie Kutsuwada (Illustrator) - Tsunami Girl - Book Review (Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books)



    Hello and welcome (こんにちは、ようこそ)  to Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books. This has been a very emotional and poignant book review.

    A huge earthquake and Tsunami struck Japan at 2.46pm on March 11, 2011. It devastated towns and changed the landscape forever whilst also triggering nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima. The world watched helplessly as a triple disaster unfolded and the chaotic struggle to contain the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl took place. Ten years later and the story of Tsunami Girl by Julian Sedgwick is born. Published by Guppy Books in March 2021 the book will finally spread its wings and soar into the world. 

    The book was inspired by the people, memories, and the author's visits to Odak, Minamisōm, Japan. The book is a three-year culmination of research and writing about the unseen crisis. It's a story to remember, savour and reflect upon. Just like petals falling from a Skura tree, this story showers the reader with a poignant and heartfelt story. It has both dark and light flowing throughout the narrative. 

    The book is part story and part manga (a comic art form traditionally developed in Japan from scrolls dating back as far as the 12th century). The manga illustrations have been wonderfully created by Chie Kutsuwada and are used to weave in the imaginary element of the story alongside the written reality. They particularly introduce and follow the super-hero character in the imaginary world (Half Wave) who is bound by Yuki's own manga creation which is very much linked to the back story. The character is pulled together in a quirky quality that I associate with watching a Studio Ghibli film, both of which I really love. 

    The narrative follows shy 15-year-old, Yuki Hara Jones, who finds herself caught up in the Earthquake and Tsunami whilst visiting her Grandpa. The story centers around both Yuki and her amazing Grandpa, who is an award-winning adult Manga artist. Back in England, she finds herself reliving the tragic events that unfolded on that unimaginable day. You'll find yourself walking a tightrope of emotions as you follow Yuki and the relationships between her English family in Cambridge (England) and her Japanese family as she attempts to heal herself by revisiting the disaster zone with the help of her friend Taka. 


    This is the most thought-provoking story that I've read for a long time. It made me feel so emotional that it really swept me off my feet and stirred many thoughts. It was almost like looking over the edge of the cliff and free-falling into the foamy sea. The story is about place/time, pain, loss, friendship, and finally finding one's self again. It charts the struggles in the aftermath and how life was viewed differently as a result of such devastation. It's about not only the importance of memories but also after being in such a dark place trying to find the light and courage once more to make life a full experience and as rewarding as it can be. 

    The way to best describe this book is as one massive Hanabi (花火) firework display as it sparkles, pops, and fizzes on the brain. A fluttering ghost story (Yami Shibai) delivers the yin and yang punching into the plot with a beating heart. The encounters and the feelings of the characters have been masterfully written. I view the story with sadness but also have fond memories from the special moments within. One day I hope to take a journey to Japan and, as a result of this book, will remember the people who lost their lives as well as those who were left behind to deal with the devastation. 

    The story has been very well researched and written. It really is a very fitting tribute to one of the biggest natural disasters to happen in our lifetime. I'm sure that many people as they read this book will feel and view things differently but that's why I particularly love books like this. There is certainly no other book like this available to buy at the moment so I really would recommend that you read this. I would be particularly interested to know your thoughts on this amazingly well-published book. Thank you for reading and have a great day.

    If you also fancy a doubled signed copy of the book. Here is the link to do so! https://www.kenilworthbooks.co.uk/tsunami-girl/




    Tuesday, 23 February 2021

    Elle McNicoll - Show Us Who You Are - (Knights Of) Book Review (Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books)


    Some books are really special as they just hit you right between the eyes. This is the second book by Elle McNicoll entitled Show Us Who You Are and it will certainly knock your socks off. Published by Knights Of on 4th March 2021 with a stunning book cover illustration by Kay Wilson. After reading the blurb, the concept of this story was very intriguing. However, I did not expect the totality of the story inside. What do you think if you were made perfect after you die?

    In all honesty, this is not a book I would normally seek out and buy. With everything we are all going through, I'm mainly reading magical fantasy. I'm really looking for worlds that are uplifting and make you feel good - that type of plot. In contrast, this is not that type of book and maybe a tricky read if you are not in the right frame of mind. However, sometimes you have to bite the fantasy bullet and give it a go. This book certainly provokes a lot of thought - it is inspirational and challenging.  

    If you do feel able to read this and to have your emotions scattered on the wind then you will not be disappointed. This book asks so many questions of the reader and is one of the saddest books I've read for a long time.  You really immerse yourself in the world of the two main characters. Cora and Adrien are two peas in a lonely pod (Cora is Autistic and Adrien has ADHD). The author has portrayed them both so well and with such understanding, it is magnificent and so heartbreaking to read. In some places in the story, there was even a tear running down my cheek. 

    The plot is so clever - it is a great story in which to write both characters into. I don't really want to mention the plot details of the story as I want you to read this book open-minded. However, themes are around being different and accepting that being normal might not always be the way forward.  

    This is a black and white story told in a technicolor rainbow that showers empathy and emotion. It's a holographic 3-D experience that will cut through daily life by showing diversity through the working minds that we should all read and hopefully begin to understand. Everything is told with immense compassion and bags of heart. Every page is packed full of adventure, technology, holograms, sorrow, and some timely mischief that slices some of the emotional tension away. It's a five-star read - it's something different and unique that should be read and loved.