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

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.