Showing posts with label May 2021. Show all posts
Showing posts with label May 2021. Show all posts

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?!

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.


Sunday, 25 April 2021

Annaliese Avery - The Nightsilver Promise - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Author Interview

 


Hello Everybody. In this interview with Annaliese Avery, we promise you adventure, dragons, and a heady amount of excitement. The Nightsilver Promise is one of the most eagerly awaited book releases and one we cannot wait to read. The book will be published by Scholastic on the 6th May 2021. However, we thought we would take the opportunity to explore more about this intriguing book. 

If you are interested in supporting this debut author then you can pre-order a copy here or pop into your local bookshop and buy a copy. We are looking forward to seeing what your thoughts are here or on social media. Twitter: @Enchantedbooks and @AnnalieseAvery   

  1. The Nightsilver Promise sounds very mysterious upon reading the synopsis. How would you describe it to potential readers?

The Nightsilver Promise is an epic race against time adventure! Thirteen-year-old Paisley Fitzwilliam lives in the London of the Empire of Albion where the Dragons of old have all been vanquished and the stars of the Celestial Mechanism dictate the rule of the land. In Paisley’s world everyone is given a track of stars which is tattooed on their wrist that tells them what their destiny is. Paisley has lived without a track until now and when her stars tell her that her fate is to die before her next birthday she begins a race against time adventure to protect her dragon-touched brother, find her missing mother, and change her stars before her destiny catches her. 

  1. What would the characters say to you about the setting that they have found themselves in? 

The characters are very comfortable in their setting, they are used to seeing the floating boroughs of London littering the sky, or travelling on aerocopters, and visiting grand buildings like the Institute of Celestial Mechanics where the inside of the building shifts and moves. 

I think that Paisley would tell me that she like living in London but would love to live on the floating borough of Kensington Above, and her little brother Dax would much rather live in the Northern Realm where Dragons are allowed to roam, unlike in London, which is part of the Empire of Albion where all dragons are banned and killed on sight. 

  1. What are Dragon Walkers and how do they feature in the storyline?

The Dragon Walkers are an amazing group of young girls and women who have all been Dragon Touched. The Dragon Touched are all born with dragon attributes, they might have dragon wings or their skin may be covered in scales, they may have dragon claws at the ends of their fingers or they might have an unseen dragon ability like immense strength or being able to breath fire. No dragons are allowed in the Empire of Albion and this extends to any one found to have Dragon Touch, so to protect themselves those with Dragon Touch become members of the Dragon Walkers and live in the floating boroughs of London. As well as being quite brilliant at engineering, Dragon Walkers are skilled fighters. Their fighting skills allow them to protect themselves and the Dragon Vaults where they look after people’s treasure. 

In The Nightsilver Promise Paisley and Dax visit their family treasure trove at the Dragon Vault on the floating borough of Kensington Above. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say they find more than they were looking for there. 

  1. The book cover is amazing. What are your feelings about it and do you think it conveys the right message about the story inside?

The awesome cover was illustrated by the very wonderful Natalie Smillie and designed by the equally wonderful Jamie Gregory. I think the cover gets across the energy of the story; the epic adventure and the vastness of the world, as well as the peril that Paisley faces. 

  1. I understand that this is the first book in a trilogy. When you first started writing this book were you expecting it to be in three parts?

No, when I first started writing I expected the story to be a stand alone book. It then grew as I was writing and after a chat with my Golden Egg editor Bella Pearson, we realised that the story was bigger than just the one book. 

  1. You have an MA in Creative Writing. What did you learn that may have helped you write this book?

I learnt many things on my MA, one of the most important was how much I loved writing for children. My MA was in writing fiction for adults and in writing screen plays. I really enjoy writing for adults but I love writing for children. Luckily the skills of good writing apply to both audiences, but for me there is a shift in outlook, an opening up that is required for children's books that you don’t often find in books written for adults, unless they are Sci-fi or Fantasy - you find that outwardly-looking-wonder there more often than not. 

  1. How do you process the ideas for your storyline?

What a fabulous question. I am a keen amature astronomer and I like to think of building a story as being a very similar process to the way that the solar system is formed. The first thing you need is a large cloud full of tenuous ideas floating about in your imagination. Every time you come across an idea that you think might have promise you pop it in the cloud and you just let all those ideas swirl about. 

When two ideas connect they start to draw other ideas towards them and when they do they erupt is a massive explosion. If we were building a solar system this eruption would form the star, as we are building a story system what we form is the central idea that all the other things in the story will circle around. Just like with a solar system there can be more than one star, more than one central idea.
Around this then forms a thing called an accretion disk, this is where all the matter that will make the planets and moons and comets reside it is made of all the star stuff that was blown off when the star formed. When it comes to the story the accretions disk is full of all the ideas that were in the cloud before the central idea formed. Some of the ideas have changed, some have remained the same. 

The ideas with the most mass will stay closest to the centre of the story; they become the characters that travel through the solar system of the story like planets and the world-building elements that give the story its colour and shape; it’s space to travel through.
In building a solar system the heavy elements stay closest to the sun, they form rocky planets, and the lighter elements drift outwards and collect together often forming gas giants - much bigger planets whose gravity can affect the objects in the solar system. In the story system, I like to think of these large gas giants as elements of theme and tone. 

When the story system has formed, when the characters have settled into their orbits and all the elements are moving, that’s when I have my story. 

  1. Do you think reading other children's books has helped you to become a better writer? If so, can you share an example of what and how this has been useful?

I think that accessing and assessing any type of story is a great way to become a better writer be it through a movie or play, a song or a poem, a painting or a dance. Thinking about the story that we are being presented with, the emotional response that we are having to it, the way it makes us feel, what it makes us think about, the connections that we find, recognising the stories around us and how they speak to is a great way of building up our skills as storytellers.

  1. Do you think social media now plays a significant part in the publishing process? How do you use it?

I love Twitter. For me, social media is about connecting with my fellow writers, seeing how they are doing, supporting them in their journey, and keeping up with what’s going on in the industry. Also, it’s the best place for book recommendations. I’m not as good at Instagram and I don’t really like to use Facebook, and my children have said they will disown me if I ever go on Tick-Tock! so I tend to be most active on Twitter, I feel it’s important to engage on platforms that you like otherwise it feels like a chore.

I think that social media does have an impact on the publishing process but the impact that I would say is most important for a writer is to look at if the time spent on social media is enriching. If it is something you enjoy doing and have fun with then do it, but if it becomes a distraction or a procrastination tool and takes you away from your writing then maybe you need to assess its value. 

  1. Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to once your book has been published? 

The thing I’m most looking forward to is sharing Paisley’s adventure and getting to meet readers. I know that things are a little different and difficult right now, and it might be a little while before I can visit schools, libraries, bookshops or festivals but as soon as I can I will be there. 

Friday, 23 April 2021

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

Louie Stowell - Otherland - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (6 May 2021)

Otherland is a dangerous magical underworld - a place where appearances can be deceiving and anything can happen. 

A world of demi-gods, vampires, and fairies. It's also... horrible.

When best friends Myra and Rohan discover that Rohan's baby sister Shilpa has been stolen and taken to Otherland, the only way to rescue her is by taking part in a deadly game - three impossible challenges set by the Fairy Queen, the ruler of Otherland. Win the game, and Rohan and Myra can go home with Shilpa - but lose, and they'll be trapped in Otherland forever... 

A darkly funny, action-packed fantasy adventure, perfect for fans of Malamander, Stranger Things, Coraline and Pan's Labyrinth, from the author of the highly-acclaimed Dragon in the Library series.



N. J Poulton - Podwitch - Published by Matador (28 May 2021)


You will soon learn that many things exist in this life to which you have so far remained completely oblivious. You must embrace them, for it is a journey of wonder upon which you are embarking, one not without its perils, but miraculous nonetheless.” 
An Aldhelm is a protector of something very old and very powerful. Cal's dad says he himself, is the chosen Aldhelm, but Cal refuses to believe it's true... 
Podwitch chronicles the tale of Cal Wainwright and his best friend Janey Wickthorpe as they fight to survive a wild yet wonderful adventure throughout the streets of London. When the ravens are killed at the Tower of London, Cal’s life on Podwitch, a mysterious narrowboat, is turned upside down... 
A menacing stranger arrives with a cryptic message, which hurls Cal and Janey into a series of events far beyond their imagination that will have readers gasping for breath. Escaping the clutches of a minotaur in the Labyrinth, crossing through London's 'Blue Plaques' to reach a place beyond the realms of time, and bartering with river pirates to spare their lives...This is just another day in the life of an Aldhelm – but can Cal and Janey stay one step ahead? 
This tale of astonishing miracles and heroic adventures will be enjoyed by young readers from the age of 12 and will also appeal to fans of fantasy fiction of any age.


Jim Beckett (Author), Olia Muza (Illustrator) - The Caravan at the Edge of Doom

Published by Farshore (27 May 2021)

The perfect summer read for fans of Terry Pratchett, David Walliams and Roald Dahl!

When her grandparents explode in their caravan toilet late one night, twelve-year-old Harley discovers a surprising truth: their toilet is a gateway to the Land of the Dead, and they are its Guardians. Well, they were. But there’s no time to mourn their passing. Because Harley’s baby brother has accidentally gone with them to the Land of the Dead. And Harley only has 24 hours to rescue him before he’s trapped there FOREVER!

This hilarious and heartbreaking debut features exploding grandparents, unexpected heroes and a truly EPIC adventure.


Guy Bass (Author), Pete Williamson (Illustrator) - Skeleton Keys: The Night of the Nobody - Published by Stripes Publishing (13 May 2021)


The fourth tall-but-true tale in the darkly comic series SKELETON KEYS from the award-winning duo behind STITCH HEAD.


Greetings! My name is Skeleton Keys and these fantabulant fingers of mine can open doors to hidden worlds… Join me for the terrifying tale of the Nobody – a nightmarish unimaginary with a dark mission… 

On the hunt for an unimaginary, Skeleton Keys meets young Flynn Twist, a boy with a wild imagination who tells of his encounter with a terrifying shadow calling itself the Nobody.

Skeleton Keys suspects it could be a shapeless unimaginary searching for a physical form. As night falls the Nobody roams the village of Matching Trousers turning everyone it meets into zombie-like nobodies. No one is safe – not even Skeleton Keys. Soon only Flynn is left. Can he become the brave hero of his imagination and free everybody from the Nobody?


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.