Thursday, 1 April 2021
Wednesday, 24 March 2021
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
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)
Tuesday, 23 February 2021
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.