Thursday, 25 June 2009

Marissa Moss - The Pharaoh's Secret - Book Review


Mr Ripley's Review

I liked the look of this book just from its cover appeal and so read it with great interest. I really love the Egyptian theme in books, the strong history and heritage that the Egyptians had. This book uses factual information as its main basis and then adds a little bit of fiction to enhance. This well thought-out story transports the reader back in time to the Land of the Pharaoh's, the great rulers of their time. The story is about finding one's true-self, through a child's eye, whilst living with the difficulties of loosing a parent (at an early age) and discovering the history of the family.
Talibah and Adom go on an ordinary holiday vacation to Egypt, when things start to go strange. Talibah starts to hear cryptic voices that whisper strange things.The brown swirls of life are depicted in every single page read. The pages flow like the River Nile and before you know it the story has ended.
The adventure takes on many twists and turns, with many aspects to keep you thinking. The nicely captured, inter-spaced drawings help with the on-going depiction of the story.
The books inspiration has been drawn from two significant aspects in Marisa Marr's life. A family trip to Egypt with her three children and the very tragic personal issue of her family dealing with the loss of a loved one. This gives the story a personal emotional focus which subtly deals with bereavement. It is heart-warming to see the story being tied up as a happy ending.
I will give this gem of a read four out of five, as I would have liked greater battle scenes with more blood and gore. Only kidding!!!!
I will be very interested to see what Marissa writes next, as she seems to have a diverse approach to writing.


Published by Amulet Books 1 October 2009 (Ages 9-12)

Synopsis

Filled with intrigue and surprises, The Pharaoh’s Secret includes Marissa Moss’s original illustrations throughout. The novel skillfully weaves history with a personal story full of heartache and family tensions that will entice and enthrall readers.

When Talibah and her younger brother, Adom, accompany their father, an academic, to his homeland of modern Egypt on his research assignment, they become involved in a mystery surrounding an ancient, lost pharaoh—a rare queen ruler. Someone has tried to wipe her from the record, to make it appear as if she never existed! She needs Talibah to help her and her high priest, Senenmut, reclaim their rightful place in history. Exotic locales, mysterious strangers, and a sinister archaeologist round out an adventure that is full of riddles, old tales, and, most surprisingly of all, a link to Talibah’s and Adom’s mother, who died mysteriously.

About the author

Marissa Moss is the author and illustrator of over 20 books for children, including the popular Amelia's Notebook series. She lives in Berkeley, California with her three children. For Marissa's latest title, Max's Logbook, she took inspiration from her son Elias. Elias had been urging his mother to write a book of experiments and inventions. He even helped his mother with the different experiments and inventions in the book by sharing his scientific logbooks from the many classes he took at the local science museum. Marissa also wanted to create a toy-like invention she could use in the comic strips she created for the book. Once again she turned to Elias for inspiration. Marissa had noticed Elias playing with a coffee can full of army and alien erasers. And thus, the Alien Eraser was born, the ultimate Max invention.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Tracey Morley & Kevin Morley - The Unravellers


This is my first re-post of a book review I did some time ago. This time I'm adding a 'YouTube' trailer for the book. It's a great old-fashioned classic, written in the present time, with great illustrations that leave you feeling happy. If you want to know more or buy the book please check out the web site by clicking on the author link half way down the page.

Book Synopsis
Grandad Bob died before he could put everything right. We’ve got to act in his place.’ Sam and Danny have gone to stay at their aunt’s inn in the sleepy, run-down fishing village of Travin Cove. But it’s not all sunbathing and paddling and prodding around in rock pools. They’re also on a secret mission – to hunt for a mysterious object discovered by their grandad many years before and in doing so somehow to bring the village back to life … The only clues Sam and Danny have are a rather puzzling letter from their grandad and the key to a dusty old cabinet at the inn. Then, when the key goes missing on a trip to the beach, an encounter with Winkle, the ‘thief’, plunges the children into the weird and wonderful world of the Beachcombers and the mystery begins to unravel at last … Beautifully told and superbly illustrated, The Unravellers will make you see a trip to the seaside in a whole different light!







Ripley's review
Firstly I have to say that this book cover is just great. The bright watercolour picture, featuring the main characters of the book sells itself well. This talented wife and husband team have done a very good job on the overall book. It's a great bedtime story for kids.
I loved reading this book with its great imaginative ideas. Sam and Danny find themselves on a mission to find the key. This unlocks the cabinet which holds an adventure that is written in a non-fussy way; keeping to the story and leaving a warm cosy feeling right through to the last page. A super easy read which is recommended to everyone.
The other great feature of this book is Kevin's amazing pen-ink drawings which sets the book apart from other books. I would buy this book just for these, especially being a big collector of pen and ink drawings myself. Also check out some of the great drawings on the Unravellers website I have listed.
I give this book four out of five. I hope you'll give it some support and buy this book as it is published by a small publishing company.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

New Children's Books from the U.S August -December 2009 Part Two



Also please read part one to this post.


September 2009


Tom Dolby - Secret Society - Published by HarperTeen September 29, 2009 (Young Adult)

Synopsis

An eccentric new girl. A brooding socialite. The scion of one of New York’s wealthiest families. A promising filmmaker. As students at the exclusive Chadwick School, Phoebe, Lauren, Nick, and Patch already live in a world most teenagers only dream about.

They didn’t ask to be Society members. But when three of them receive a mysterious text message promising success and fame beyond belief, they say yes to everything. Even to the harrowing initiation ceremony in a gritty warehouse downtown, and to the ankh-shaped tattoo they’re forced to get on the nape of their necks.

Once they’re part of the Society, things begin falling into place for them. Week after week, their ambitions are fulfilled. It’s all perfect—until a body is found in Central Park with no distinguishing marks except for an ankh-shaped tattoo.

Kate DiCamilo - The Magician's Elephant - Published by Candlewick Press September 8, 2009 (Ages 9-12)

Synopsis

When a fortuneteller's tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. With atmospheric illustrations by fine artist Yoko Tanaka, here is a dreamlike and captivating tale that could only be narrated by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch.

October 2009

Marissa Moss - The Pharaoh's Secret - Published by Amulet Books October 1, 2009 (Ages 9-12)


Synopsis

Filled with intrigue and surprises, The Pharaoh’s Secret includes Marissa Moss’s original illustrations throughout. The novel skillfully weaves history with a personal story full of heartache and family tensions that will entice and enthrall readers.

When Talibah and her younger brother, Adom, accompany their father, an academic, to his homeland of modern Egypt on his research assignment, they become involved in a mystery surrounding an ancient, lost pharaoh—a rare queen ruler. Someone has tried to wipe her from the record, to make it appear as if she never existed! She needs Talibah to help her and her high priest, Senenmut, reclaim their rightful place in history. Exotic locales, mysterious strangers, and a sinister archaeologist round out an adventure that is full of riddles, old tales, and, most surprisingly of all, a link to Talibah’s and Adom’s mother, who died mysteriously.

November 2009

Tim Kehoe - The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow - Published by Little, Brown November 1, 2009 (Young Reader)

Synopsis

Eleven-year-old Vincent Shadow dreamed of being a toy inventor. He had notebooks full of ideas bubbles that carried sound, rockets that pop into kites, and a football that would rather bite than be caught.
Unfortunately, the secret attic lab where Vincent built his prototypes had seen more disasters than triumphs. But a chance encounter with eccentric toy inventor Howard G. Whiz, and the discovery of long-lost inventions by one of the world s greatest scientists would change Vincent s life forever.

December 2009

James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet - Witch & Wizard Published by Little, Brown and Company December 14, 2009 (Young Adult)

Synopsis

The world is changing: the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now, kids are disappearing. For 15-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside down when they are torn from their parents one night and slammed into a secret prison for no reason they can comprehend. The New Order, as it is known, is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager. But while trapped in this totalitarian nightmare, Wisty and Whit discover they have incredible powers they'd never dreamed of. Can this newly minted witch and wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents--and maybe the world?

That's all the books in so far. If you would like to send any books to us please email us. Thank you!

Friday, 19 June 2009

New Children's Books from the U.S August -December 2009 Post One.


Lots of new books have turned up this week in Mr Ripley's very busy postbox. All the books are due to be published in the U.S between August and December, there are some very interesting and enjoyable reads, so I'll get on and introduce them to you.
Post one of Two.

August 2009

Daniel & Dina Nayeri - Another Faust - Published By Candlewick Press August 25, 2009 (Young Adult)

Synopsis

One night, in cities all across Europe, five children vanish — only to appear, years later, at an exclusive New York party with a strange and elegant governess. Rumor and mystery follow the Faust teenagers to the city’s most prestigious high school, where they soar to suspicious heights with the help of their benefactor’s extraordinary "gifts." But as the students claw their way up — reading minds, erasing scenes, stopping time, stealing power, seducing with artificial beauty — they start to suffer the sideeffects of their own addictions. And as they make further deals with the devil, they uncover secrets more shocking than their most unforgivable sins. At once chilling and wickedly satirical, this contemporary reimagining of the Faustian bargain is a compelling tale of ambition, consequences, and ultimate redemption.

Joanne Dahme - Tombstone Tea - Published By Running Press Kids August 24, 2009 (Young Adult)

Synopsis

In order to be accepted by the “in crowd” at her new high school, Jamie accepts a dare to spend one night in a local cemetery collecting rubbings from ten gravestones. Once inside the gate of the dark and frightening burial ground, Jamie meets Paul, a handsome boy who works as a caretaker at the cemetery. Paul explains to Jamie about Tombstone Tea: a fund-raising performance in which actors impersonate the people buried in the cemetery. The actors are supposedly rehearsing on this particular evening, but Jamie quickly discovers that they aren’t actors at all but the ghosts of men and women buried in the cemetery. When one woman decides to adopt Jamie to replace her lost daughter, our heroine fears she may never escape the cemetery.

September 2009


Matt Phelan - The Storm in the Barn - Published by Candlewick Press September 8, 2009 (Age 9-12)


Synopsis

In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father’s failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of "dust dementia" would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot’s abandoned barn — a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it’s hard to trust what you see with your own eyes — and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes. With phenomenal pacing, sensitivity, and a sure command of suspense, Matt Phelan ushers us into a world where desperation is transformed by unexpected courage.

October 2009

Mary Amato - Invisible Lines - Published by Egmont USA October 13, 2009 (Age 10+)

Synopsis

For Trevor Musgrove, life isn't always bright and cheerful. His family has just moved to Hedley Garden, a tough housing projects its residents called "Deadly Gardens." He goes to school with rich kids who have everything, while he has to work just to afford soccer cleats. It doesn't help that the best athlete in school, Xander Pierce, happens to have it out for him. Mistakenly enrolled in an advanced science class taught by an odd but engaging teacher, Trevor is thrown headfirst into the world of natural science. Through all this, he will learn that life can spring up in the darkest places - maybe even Deadly Gardens.

Mark Teague - The Doom Machine Published by Blue Sky Press (Scholastic Books) October 1, 2009 (Age 9-12)

Synopsis

When a spaceship lands in Vern Hollow, Jack's hometown, he and his no-account inventor-uncle Bud are busy trying to fix a car driven by Dr. Shumway and her daughter, Isadora. Although Uncle Bud secretly knows the aliens are after one of his inventions, everyone is surprised when the space aliens capture seven of Vern Hollow's residents and take them into outer space on a wild adventure. . . . (more)
After a series of twists and turns, all of them are taken to Skreepia, the aliens' planet, where they have to defeat the Skreep queen before she can use Uncle Bud's invention to take over planet Earth. Filled with wonderful detail, humor, inventive dialog, and irresistible black-and-white spot art, THE DOOM MACHINE is a tour de force by one of America's most beloved storytellers.

Davido Russell & Andrew Auseon - Alienated Published by Simon& Schuster October 6, 2009 (Age 9-12)

Synopsis

Eighth graders Gene and Vince enjoy reporting wacky stories of local weirdos for their news rag,The Globe. What no one knows is that these wild stories of aliens-thanks to inside info from Gene's strange old cousin Fred are actually true. But when the aliens they've written about start disappearing, Gene and Vince find themselves at the centre of an intergalactic conflict that could be the death of the boys' friendship, or of the boys themselves - which ever comes first!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Di Toft - Wolven Book Review


Mr Ripley's Book Review

The first thing you notice about this book, is the fantastic cover that looks great. The holographic image just works so well, it will be a hit with the book buyers. A great credit to Steve Wells, who did the design for the book, as it's in keeping with the story. This is another good quality debut book with a fresh outlook to story writing.
The book starts off when Nat Carver, a young boy, ventures to a farm searching for a dog to be his pet. But he soon finds himself looking at a very strange animal, whose origins sway more to that of Dr Frankenstein than Mr Darwin. The book develops into a really enjoyable read with lots of good story ideas. The horror side to the book was very subtle and will make it more appealing to a younger audience. It encompasses both a humorous and serious side which gives it more depth. All the characters in the book worked well and the depiction of the strange village, Temple Gurney, just gave the story more credence.
It really shows what talented up and coming writers are out there.
The ending delivers a Disney-good feel factor in a magical ending, setting a great adventure for books two and three. This book will go down well with readers who enjoyed Steve Feasey's book "Changeling". I give this book four out of five; I feel the best is to come as the author explores her full potential in the next installment. I am already looking forward to reading this in the near future. A story for the barking mad.


Book synopsis

WOLVEN is a fantasy firmly rooted in the mysterious present. A boy and his eccentric grandparents live near a strange wood - apparently cursed. He longs for a dog - but the dirty ungainly farm creature finally found by his grandfather hardly fits his image of the perfect pet. And it howls in the night. But it's only when his dog starts to grow human ears that he realises that something is seriously wrong. The truth is stranger than his wildest dreams -the boy who appears, alarmingly unpredictably, is a kind of special werewolf in reverse. A noble, almost heraldic breed of WOLVEN - the kings own werewolves from ancient times, who have been in hiding until rediscovered by evil government scientists who are trying to breed werewolves as weapons.

Book Published by Chicken House 3 Aug 2009

Monday, 15 June 2009

New Children's Books For August 2009 (Hardbacks)



Not many Hardbacks out in the month August. Next post we will look at some of the best releases in the U.S.

Lucinda Hare - Dragon Whisperer - Published by Bodley Head Children's Books 6 Aug 2009 ( Looks a great read)

Quenelda has always had a magical bond with dragons, and her greatest wish is to fly one and fight alongside her father in the war against the hobgoblins. Root, on the other hand, wishes only to avoid the fearsome creatures, so the role of Quenelda's esquire is the last thing he needs. But an unexpected friendship is forged, and when Dragons Dome is besieged by a deadly plot, this unlikely duo must find a way to defeat the dark forces. Epic battles, whispered legends and soaring magic combine in this breathtaking debut fantasy, with black and white illustrations by David Wyatt.
Marry Hoffman - Troubadour - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 3 Aug 2009

A story of persecution and poetry, love and war set in 13th-century Southern France. A troubadour, Bertran, witnesses the brutal murder of the Pope's legate, and risks his life to warn others of the war that he knows is certain to follow this act. The lands of the peaceable Cathars - deemed heretics - are now forfeit and under threat from crusaders who have been given authority by the Pope to take the Cathar domains by force. But the Pope is trying to track Bertran down and so is somebody else: Elinor, a young noblewoman, in love with Bertran but facing a loveless arranged marriage, flees her family and becomes a minstrel herself. Soon both Bertan and Elinor find themselves enveloped in a rising tide of bloodshed that threatens the very fabric of their society.

Michelle Paver - Ghost Hunter:Bk 6 Chronicles of Ancient Darkness - Published by Orion Children's 20 Aug 2009 (Next great story in the adventures of Torak)

As winter approaches and Souls' Night draws near, the Eagle Owl Mage holds the clans in the grip of terror. To fulfill his destiny, Torak must seek his lair in the Mountain of Ghosts. He must defy demons and tokoroths, and find his way through the Gorge of the Hidden People. Wolf must overcome terrible grief. Renn must make an agonizing decision. And in the final battle against the Soul-Eater, Torak must face the most heart-rending choice of all.


Michael Morpurgo - Running Wild - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books 24 Aug 2009 (Never let's you down,have this one to read)

An epic and heart-rending jungle adventure from the bestselling author of Kaspar and Born to Run. When 10-year-old Will's father dies in the Iraq war, his mother surprises him with a trip to Indonesia. But little could she have known what awaited them both there. The first Will knows that anything is wrong is when Oona, the elephant he is riding along the beach, begins to spook. Then, suddenly, she takes off into the jungle with Will on her back. And that's when Will sees the wave come crashing in! With his mother almost certainly drowned, with nothing to cling onto but an elephant and nothing to help him but the clothes on his back, Will faces a terrifying future. But maybe the jungle , and Oona the elephant, can help him!

Picture book pick for August.

Chris Gall - Dinotrux - Published by Little, Brown Young Readers 6 Aug 2009

Millions of years ago, DINOTRUX ruled the earth! These mighty part-truck, part-dino demolition dynamos rumbled, plowed and bulldozed their way through the centuries. From the nosy Craneosaurus and hungry Garbageadon to the bully of the jungle, Tyrannosaurus Trux, Chris Gall guides you on a safari through the wild world of these mechanical monsters of prehistoric times. Feast your eyes upon these mighty mobile creatures that once ruled the earth, but now only rule the highways. Buckle up for the ride - you'll never look at Dad's rusty old pickup the same way again! What happened to the Dinotrux? Find out in a fold-out gatefold detailing their evolution!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Books out in August 2009 Paperback



I have found quite a good mix of books to be released in the summer month of August; some great gems for every one to read.


Di Toft - Wolven - Published by Chicken House 3 Aug 2009 (Great holographic cover need to see it!)

WOLVEN is a fantasy firmly rooted in the mysterious present. A boy and his eccentric grandparents live near a strange wood - apparently cursed. He longs for a dog - but the dirty ungainly farm creature finally found by his grandfather hardly fits his image of the perfect pet. And it howls in the night. But it's only when his dog starts to grow human ears that he realises that something is seriously wrong. The truth is stranger than his wildest dreams -the boy who appears, alarmingly unpredictably, is a kind of special werewolf in reverse. A noble, almost heraldic breed of WOLVEN - the kings own werewolves from ancient times, who have been in hiding until rediscovered by evil government scientists who are trying to breed werewolves as weapons.

Steve Feasey - Changeling:Dark Moon - Published by Macmillan Children's Books 7 Aug 2009 ( I have had the pleasure to read an early manuscript copy of this book, which reads really well.)

Fourteen-year-old werewolf Trey is getting more powerful by the day. But can he control his powers - or will they bite back? Trey is sent on a dangerous mission to Iceland, where he must infiltrate the evil empire of the vampire Caliban. Trey's abilities are tested to the max, challenged by a rage he cannot regulate and a dark angel with looks that kill. Lucien Charon, Trey's mentor, lies in a coma in London, Trey is his only hope for survival. But the Netherworld is intent on destruction and Trey's about to face his nemesis...

David Whitley - The Midnight Charter - Published by Puffin 6 Aug 2009 (See Book Review)

In the city of Agora, anything can be bought and sold. Even children are possessions until their twelfth birthday. Mark has been sold by his father, and Lily, an orphan from birth, has bartered for her life. Thrown together by chance, in the ancient tower of Count Stelli, they face an existence of poverty and servitude, unless they can find a way to break free. But, unbeknown to Mark and Lily, they are being watched by the ruler of the city. Can they survive the traps and treachery that await them and discover the dark secret that binds them together? Their lives depend on this question: what is the Midnight Charter?


Philip Caveney - Alec Delvin: Empire of the Skull - Published by Red Fox 6 Aug 2009 (Cover looks good, not had a copy yet.)

Mexico, 1924. At his father's hacienda, restlessly waiting for adventurer Ethan to arrive, sixteen-year-old Alec and his faithful valet Coates head out into the wilderness in search of an ancient archaeological site...only to discover that Mexico is every bit as perilous as The Valley of the Kings. Pursued by ruthless bandits, involved in a plane crash in the middle of remote rain-forest and finally an unwelcome guest in a lost Aztec city where the inhabitants still practice rituals of human sacrifice, once again Alec must use all of his skills and stamina to survive.


C.P. Goy The Seven Stones:Terry,the Torus and the Tumblestones - Published by Matador 3 Aug 2009 (From a small publisher)

Terry should never have been in the middle of Crow Wood that night - then the Torus couldn't have sucked him into the strange new world. But he was, and it did. So now he has a problem. To have any chance of getting home again, he needs to find the seven stones - but the Baron's secret police are closing in fast. Unless his new friends Gwen, Meeshka and Polka can help him solve the riddles and find the mysterious Watcher, Terry will never see his home again...


Harry Edge - Soft Targets - Published by Hodder Children's Books 6 Aug 2009 (Great read for boys)

New Yorker, Luke Kite has been estranged from his multi-millionaire father, Jack, for years. The result of a one night stand, he has never been acknowledged as heir to his father's globally successful business, Kite Industries - unlike his English half-sister Megan, the apple of her daddy's eye. But when his father is mysteriously killed on Luke's 17th birthday, Luke and Megan are brought together as they uncover the dark secrets, and corruption at the heart of their father's multi-billion business empire. Jack's death was not an accident, nor was the hit and run incident that Megan herself, narrowly escaped the day he died...The threats don't end there, as Megan again becomes a target for killer when she's staying at Jack's London flat. Again she escapes death, and another girl is killed in her place, but now Megan is on the run. Using her best-friend's identity, she travels to New York, to Poland, and Tokyo in order to escape whoever wants her dead. Luke, too, is wary of all those around him, even his mother and his reliable Uncle Mike, his dad's brother. Who can he trust and how can he protect his half-sister? In a tense game of cat and mouse, Luke needs all his resources to narrow down his enemies and those of Megan...what he discovers destroys what little faith he has in his so-called family, and in his own identity as no one is quite who they seem. As the action draws to a shocking and nail-biting conclusion, Luke and Megan discover they have only each other to rely on in the end...


Eoin Colfer - The Arctic Incident:Graphic Novel - Published by Puffin 6 Aug 2009 (Great new way to read a great book)

Someone has been supplying Class-A illegal human power sources to the goblins. Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit is sure that her arch-enemy, thirteen-year-old Artemis Fowl, is responsible. But is he? Artemis has his own problems to deal with: his father is being held to ransom and only a miracle will save him. Maybe this time a brilliant plan just won't be enough. Maybe this time Artemis needs help . . .


Julia Golding - Wolf Cry Published by OUP Oxford 6 Aug 2009 (Have this one to read soon)


reydis has been left for dead following a raid by pirates on her father's Viking stronghold. Her brother has been kidnapped-and Freydis's father is hell-bent on revenge. But this is a volatile man who loathes his daughter and is driven by love of his son. Reluctantly he takes Freydis with him on his journey, giving her a slave-Enno-to tend her. As Freydis's father becomes more bitter and cruel, and the hunt for his son becomes increasingly desperate, Freydis and Enno draw closer together. But when battle looms on the horizon, the bonds of friendship, obedience and loyalty are tested to the limit.


Garen Ewing - The Adventures of Julius Chancer:The Rainbow Orchid V.1 Published by Egmont Books Ltd 4 Aug 2009 (Looks really good)

The Rainbow Orchid" is an ambitious blend of classic storytelling and cinematic artwork in which adventure, historical drama and legend are seamlessly intertwined. In Volume One, follow the story's hero, Julius Chancer, as he embarks on a hazardous quest for the rainbow orchid - a mythical flower last mentioned by the ancient Greek philosopher, Theophrastus, and steeped in legend. His epic journey takes him from 1920s Britain to the Indian subcontinent and its mysterious lost valleys.

Hope you found something to look forward to reading. We're always looking out for new books, so if you have a book you would like to see on this blog, drop us an email. The hardback post is soon to follow.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

David Whitley - The Midnight Charter Book Review


Mr Ripley's Book Review

It's great to see another promising debut author. I was told great things about this book, by an enthusiastic person at the publishing company. I had no preconception of what I was going to read. It started off quite slowly and it took some time for me to find my 'reading legs' but when I did, the book just clicked with me. It delivered a Dickensian feel with a great story concept and interesting plot development. I really liked the way he used his imagination to create a world, building up the key features developing the roles of the characters. Every page read impacts on the reader, the story leaves them guessing throughout.
Mark has been sold by his father. Lily an orphan from birth,has bartered for the her life and both characters are being watched mysteriously by the ruler of the city. Through out the book they are many questions asked will they all be answered by the end of the book.
This is a new voice and it will be interesting to see what other readers think of this book. I will give this book four out of five, due to the slow start and the lack of dialogue between various characters in the first few chapters.

Book synopsis

In the city of Agora, anything can be bought and sold. Even children are possessions until their twelfth birthday. Mark has been sold by his father, and Lily, an orphan from birth, has bartered for her life. Thrown together by chance, in the ancient tower of Count Stelli, they face an existence of poverty and servitude, unless they can find a way to break free. But, unbeknown to Mark and Lily, they are being watched by the ruler of the city. Can they survive the traps and treachery that await them and discover the dark secret that binds them together? Their lives depend on this question: what is the Midnight Charter?

Book Published by Puffin 6 Aug 2009


About the Author

David Whitley was born in 1984 and at the age of twenty he won the Cheshire Prize for Literature. He later graduated from the University of Oxford with a double first in English Literature. TV quiz fans will have spotted David on BBC2’s University Challenge, when he was a member of Oxford’s Corpus Christi team who became Series Champions in 2005.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Charlie Higson - The Enemy Book Review (Fourteen)



Mr Ripley's Review

Charlie Higson is a very talented writer, not only does he write screenplays and comedy sketch shows but he's also the co-creator of The Fast Show. He writes adult thriller novels but is best known as the writer of the bestselling 'Young Bond' series. More recently, out of the blue, he has just written a great teenage horror book. It's a cross between 'Shaun of the Dead' and the quality 'gory' parts of a Stephen King book.
The book starts with an understated opening, Small Sam is playing outside like a 'normal' child but then the plot soon escalates into the 'grown-ups' taking him! After a few more pages it soon becomes clear that Small Sam is intended to be part of the menu for the Zombie-like creatures, who are adults that have been infected with a sickness. The book then follows the story, of groups of children, trying to survive in a world which is unsafe and inhabitable.
I loved the way this book draws the reader into the deep depths of a frightening and macabre world. It explores the ways in which children have to live on the edge, fighting for survival when they should've been having fun. The story contains many action scenes including stand-offs between the sick infected grown-ups versus the children.
Charlie has managed to write a heart-stopping horror book, keeping the reader on the edge of their seats with their heart in their mouths. He has played a strong emotional card, portraying key elements of death and friendship resulting in a culmination of the two. The ending is a 'cracker' resulting in the story finishing with a bang!
Let us have more of this type of writing, it's captivating and stunning. The only problem I can envisage is it getting into the hands of younger children, as parents may think it is aimed at the 'Young Bond' market. Even with an age limit of 14+, the audience needs to be carefully monitored. I will have to go now there is a "Zombie" Knocking on my door for a cup of tea so I will catch you in the next post. Five out of Five what next?

Book synopsis

They'll chase you. They'll rip you open. They'll feed on you...When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician - every adult - fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they're fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there - alive?

Book is published by Puffin out 3 Sep 2009


Young Bond Books:

1. Silverfin (2005)
2. BloodFever (2006)
3. Double or Die (2007)
4. Hurricane Gold (2007)
5. By Royal Command (2008)

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Melvyn Grant -Digital Artist


Mr Ripley Say's Do you Know the book cover?

Sometimes artists behind great book covers never get a mention or credit for the contribution to the end product of a book. So I thought I would highlight some of the best creative people in this job. I really love the cover artwork of children's books, it always makes a difference as to how well a book will sell. Get the book cover right and you're already on the way to selling more copies.



BIOGRAPHY

Melvyn Grant was born in London, England at a time when it was quite possible that somewhere, a sun turned nova and the Earth, for a moment, probably orbited a little off centre. If this was indeed the case and caused a problem anywhere, we are all deeply touched…
…But this probably had nothing to do with the fact that Mel has been from the very beginning, an exceptionally talented and universal artist.

Within a few days of attending his first school, Mel’s artistic ability was soon noticed. But as mischief would have it, at the same time he was also reprimanded for sneaking a bite from a tasty apple left on his teacher’s desk. Fortunately, this teacher (whose name Mel remembers only as ‘Yesmiss’) was a patient woman with a good sense of humour. She readily enjoyed challenging the imp in her young pupil and took Mel under her wing. Although he was unable to fully appreciate this at the time, the creative guidance she gave set an important mark to his early life. But best, she had a keen eye for art and Mel’s talent was respected and even more importantly, encouraged.

From that time on it became important to Mel that he always achieved the highest class-marks in art each year throughout his school life. Also, being considered the ‘School Artist’ allowed acceptable leeway for a nonconformist and useful bohemian attitude. He became the only student to attend The Brassey Institute School Of Fine Arts at the early age of twelve, but the only paper qualification he ever took was an ‘Advanced’ level GCE in which he achieved a grade one with distinction.

After six years at The Brassey, he found the style of work encouraged by this environment (bus queues on a rainy day, with much use of grey) lacking in inspiration, and was becoming keen for a new and brighter pasture. Although his tutors did their best to encourage him to stay on and acquire more qualifications, Mel’s mind was made-up and at the age of eighteen, he dropped out. He needed a break and fresh input, and there was a big world waiting outside.

For a time, he gave painting a rest and pursued other interests, music and science in particular. It is said that where art points science often goes. He studied electronics and worked in a variety of short-term jobs. He designed and built several unusual electric guitars and played some good Rock and Roll. Finally, he shouldered his pack, took the reins of his mule (symbolically) and set foot to the big wide world.

Some years later Melvyn Grant quit his wandering, left the mule (a mean-eyed and stubborn fellow with a tendency to ferment) in a meadow by the gate and located in London. And went back into the world of art. Although his approach to painting is firmly rooted in traditional Fine Art, he found a much more exciting world in High-end Fantasy Illustration. Here he could give full vent to his imagination and with his strong mastery of figure work (Earthly or otherwise) soon became one of the leading British Fantasy Artists. His powerful imagery is always believable and has since inspired many other artists and fans alike around the world. And he is now considered, of the very best in this field.

Ever in great demand, Mel continues to work with publishers, mostly in the U.K., Europe and the U.S.A. He is happy to work with clients anywhere in (or off) the world (but off world is a little difficult as couriers are hard to find). He has worked with virtually all the major book companies, and has produced countless paintings as covers for the books of leading authors.

While Fantasy is Mel’s pleasure, his art is versatile and wide ranging. He has worked on Children’s books and posters through adult Romance, General, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. And although he prefers working with books, Mel’s art has also been used in Advertising, Animated Films, Prints, Gift Designs and Record Sleeves.

Until a few years ago Melvyn Grant worked entirely with oil paint mostly on stretched canvas or board. But sometimes he would also paint on other materials such as Masonite, blockwood panels, Kryptonite, or anything else that took his fancy, which could be straightened out, stuck down, battered flat, or in some way encouraged into becoming a receptacle surface. A perfectionist and ever thorough, Mel has researched and understood his subject well and his mastery of oil paint has become on a par with any of the Old Masters, often formulating his own mediums and grinding pigments to create personalised paints.

Now, moving with the times, Mel has embraced the future and some of his work is painted digitally. But although for this he uses a computer, his artwork still starts with a sketch and is hand painted mark upon mark as in traditional painting and still takes time. None of Mel’s digital work is ‘Computer Generated’. He has simply swapped paint and canvas for pixels and screen. The beauty of painting on a virtual canvas is that it is possible to mix mediums in a way that would not work in the physical world and Mel relishes this fluidity. But most important he says… he does not have to wait for the damn paint to dry.

Mel Grant, at this time, is living and working on the coast in the Southeast of England. He feels that to sit on the shore on a hot day (preferably on a dry rock) and share energy with his planet is a necessary thing. While to look quietly across the sea is important to his creativity and peace of mind… and with such an imagination there is always the tease that, one day, he might just step up and stand on top of a wave. But looking down through the water at the holes in his sandals, nothing is too serious to crack a smile… least of all himself. And like a soft breeze in a summer sky, a touch of caprice adds to the gentle art of being, Melvyn Grant.

Rose-Mae Bluestone.

If you want to find more out or buy some great book cover prints please click on the link below. And thanks for reading.
www.melgrant.com

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Chris Bradford - Young Samurai - The way of the Warrior Book Review

Mrs Ripley's Review



I first stumbled across this book through a free chapter sampler. I was intrigued but not overly fascinated by the subject content, as it primarily seemed aimed at boys. I bought it all the same but it remained unread until last Sunday. The weather was beautiful, my spirits high and my appetite for a different style of writing needed to be fulfilled. I was not disappointed at any point, I thought this book was a ‘cracker.’ From the very beginning I was captured by Jack Fletcher (the main character), the unlikely crew and the evil ninja pirates.
The style of writing captured the reader’s attention through descriptive action-adventure scenes and thoughtful dialogue. This was stilted at the beginning, as Jack could not converse in the warriors language. However we learnt how to communicate alongside Jack, through the many words introduced in Japanese. I found this both interesting and educational, although I am far from being fluent.
I actually read the book, cover to cover, in one sitting over several hours. I found learning about the warrior’s culture and traditions informative and intriguing. Whilst the book contains many scenes of adrenaline pumping, masculine competitiveness. This is mildly diluted by Akiko (female warrior) who introduces aspects of femininity through her sophisticated bow and arrow work.
A great read, thoroughly entertaining with a lot of intense drama but not too much unwarranted violence. I can’t wait for the sequel, which will not be left untouched for a long period of time like the first. Five out of Five.
For readers 11+

Book Published by Puffin 7 Aug 2008Book Synopsis

August 1611. Jack Fletcher is shipwrecked off the coast of Japan – his beloved father and the crew lie slaughtered by ninja pirates. Rescued by the legendary sword master Masamoto Takeshi, Jack's only hope is to become a samurai warrior. And so his training begins. But life at the samurai school is a constant fight for survival. Even with his friend Akiko by his side, Jack is singled out by bullies and treated as an outcast. With courage in his heart and his sword held high, can Jack prove himself and face his deadliest rival yet?

About the Author

Chris Bradford has earned his black belt in taijutsu, the secret fighting art of the ninja. He has also trained in judo, karate, kickboxing and samurai swordmanship. He lives in the South Downs with his wife and two cats called Tigger and Rhubarb.

The next book is called The Way of the Sword which is out in July.

Synopsis for book two.

One year of training in samurai school and Jack is in real trouble . . . He’s busy preparing for the Circle of Three, an ancient ritual that tests courage, skill and spirit to the limit. And, at the same time, Jack is caught in a running battle with fellow student Kazuki and his gang. But these are the least of Jack’s problems. He knows his deadly rival – the ninja Dragon Eye – could strike at any moment. Jack possesses the very thing he will kill for. Can Jack master the Way of the Sword in time to survive a fight to the death?

Sunday, 31 May 2009

David Wyatt Interview - His life and work



David Wyatt is a great illustrator who has worked with many 'big' authors, one of these can be seen in the photograph above. Have you worked out who it is yet? . . . . . . . Philip Reeve. It has been a privilege to have been in contact with David recently and for him to have kindly agreed to be interviewed by us. So many thanks David, for the time you spared us, we're looking forward to seeing your published graphic novel out in due time.

What project are you currently working on and are there any exciting future projects ahead? If you are allowed to divulge such information!

For the time being, I’ve gone back to doing book covers. Last year I spent most of the time working on Peter Pan in Scarlet and then Mothstorm. This year I was supposed to be doing Geraldine McCaughrean’s abridged version of the original Peter Pan, but the time constraints were such that I couldn’t do a good enough job in the time available, so I had to pass on it. At this stage I’m not sure if it will go ahead at all, but it would make a good companion to ‘Scarlet’. I would prefer to be doing these kind of projects that I can really get my teeth into, but for now it’s back to covers. At the moment I’m working on a couple of things for a New York publisher involving lots of ancient British mythology (which is interesting for me) and also a spin-off from Joe Delaney’s Spook series, which will have some interior illustrations. I’m looking forward to working on Philip Reeve’s sequel to Fever Crumb, which he is currently finishing off.

2) Obviously comic art was inspirational to you earlier on in your career, now that graphic novels are becoming popular would you consider illustrating this type of text?

It’s funny you should ask – I have been working on an idea myself. The problem is fitting it in. I’ve managed 8 finished pages since January, which means the first chapter might be completed by next Spring. It’s frustrating, as I’d like to set aside more time to work on it, so I suppose I’ll have to turn more paid work down to really make a go of it.

3) Have you come close to fulfilling your dreams as an illustrator, or are there any particular achievements or ambitions you have your heart set on for the future?

I’ve been quite lucky so far, having illustrated for many excellent authors. As mentioned earlier, I would like to do more picture books, particularly original ones where there is more collaboration between author and illustrator. I would hope to continue working with Philip, possibly on something in a similar format to Larklight, which was very satisfying to work on.

A working day in the life of David Wyatt"

This is tricky, as there is no typical day. At the moment, Spring is making the outdoors particularly attractive and I’m in a constant state of ‘catch-up’ because I’m out and about a lot enjoying the beautiful area in which I live. Some days I’m painting on the computer, some days I’m using pencils and pens, some days I’m reading manuscripts and scribbling down ideas.
I tend to get up when my body feels like it, then after a cup of tea I walk the dog. The computer is then switched on, and I have a quick look at emails before starting work. I tend to have a bike ride around midday, do a bit more work then visit the local bookshop for a coffee and a chat. I have an allotment, so somewhere during the day I’ll potter about up there for half an hour or so. Then it’s another dog walk, and after tea (unless I’m going out) I’ll keep drawing in order to make up for all the time I’ve squandered avoiding work during the day...

Thursday, 28 May 2009

David Jowsey - Shattered Truths: An'Tsari Trilogy No. 2: The Past Holds a Secret


I am always looking to promote small, up and coming books. It's so hard to get noticed when there are so many good books available. I remember reading "Dragons in the Sky" (book one) by David back in 2006 and really enjoyed the story. It was particularly gripping with different layers to develop different levels of thinking. Now his second book is due out in June, so I thought i'd bring this news to your attention.

Words from the author.

My name is David Jowsey and I am a teacher from Middlesbrough, England. I published a successful children's novel in 2006 and this email is to advertise the release of the forthcoming sequel. I am attempting to achieve as much global interest as possible, and would like to ask you to help me in doing this.

Shattered Truths is written for gifted and talented readers within primary schools, and readers aged 14 and upwards within secondary schools, but both books are not limited only to school age children. Adults of all ages read my first book, enjoyed it, and are eagerly awaiting the release of the sequel....


Books Synopsis

Mars 2039 - Tom Richards knows he has been destined to visit the red planet since his childhood encounter with the An'Tsari thirty years before. Can he protect humanity from a dark and treacherous past, or will the existence of an overwhelming power mean the extinction of the human race? "Shattered Truths" is the eagerly awaited sequel to "Dragons in the Sky", and draws the second chapter of the An'Tsari trilogy to a nail-biting conclusion. Thirty-one years have passed since Tom Richards' terrifying childhood encounter with the An'Tsari, but the fears he has struggled so hard to bury will be challenged once again as the truth behind his own destiny is revealed. Mars: 2039 - Tom Richards knows he has been destined to visit the red planet since his childhood encounter with the An'Tsari but as part of a NASA team, exploring the surface of Mars, he finds himself subjected to startling visions of Mars' past. Amongst the visions stands a sinister figure, but who is he, and why is he so desperate to withhold a secret of epic proportions? With the odds stacked against him by a devastating planet-wide storm, and all contact with Earth lost, Tom must fight to protect the existence of the human race. But how can he confront a dark and treacherous power that threatens to destroy everything the human race has achieved, when the individual behind it turns out to be the person he least expects? "Shattered Truths" is the eagerly awaited sequel to "Dragons in the Sky", and the second installment in the exciting "An'Tsari" trilogy.

Published by a small book publisher Sigel Press 15 Jun 2009

If you would like to know more or order the book please check out the author's web page www.davidjowsey.com

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Daniel Finn - Two Good Thieves - Book Review




Mr Ripley's Review

The city is burning in the South American sun. The river is baked to a trickle of brown water. And a gang of child thieves are out lurking in the city looking to relieve unsuspecting passersby of their valuables. When Demi and Baz steal something big the story takes a turn. The story tells the hardship and living the rough life of Barrio where they are always looking over their shoulder.
I loved reading this book as I was drawn into the children's lives and the journey of the characters throughout the book. A great story adventure with great bouts of action moments layered alongside tension. Some great emotional parts which add to the story, such as when the gangster-type bad guys 'come out to play' all fighting for top dog.
A great debut story and a well crafted plot; building a world where people struggle to live a life without crime. Perhaps not the most original plot but still interesting. I give this book four out of five. I will be interested to see what the author produces next.

Published By Macmillan Children's Books 3 Jul 2009


Book Synopsis

In the searing heat of an unnamed South American city, a gang of child-thieves runs wild. Demi has the gift of speed - he can pick a pocket and be gone before his victim has even noticed he was there. Baz is his lookout - no one sees her unless she wants them to. It's like a game: dodging the law, keeping one step ahead, being the fastest, the cleverest, the best. But one day, almost by accident, they steal a dazzling, beautiful, priceless jewel - and make a very dangerous enemy. Suddenly they're sucked into a world where children's lives are worthless, where the rich and powerful are just adults who steal on a much grander scale, and where secrets are traded like gold. Their only hope is to make a brave bid for freedom - to head upcountry, away from the unrelenting heat, the dried-up river, the only home they've ever known. When good and bad are meaningless, two child thieves become the beating moral heart of an unputdownable thriller.

About the Author

Daniel Finn is a well-travelled teacher and writer who has written several books for younger readers, published under another name. When he started to write Two Good Thieves, he knew it was different from anything else he'd done - so he started to lead a double-life, with two names and two very different writing styles. He lives and works in Surrey, with his wife and two grown-up children. He is currently writing a second book, set in the same country as Two Good Thieves, which will be published by Macmillan in 2010.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

More Books For The Busy Month Of July 2009





Mr Ripley has some more great books to bring to your attention for the busy month of July. Also Some recommended U.S titles for May to get your teeth stuck into.

J.C Bemis - The Mystifying Medicine Show - Oxford University Press - 2, July 2009 Paperback

Orphan Ray has been separated from his sister. The only clue to finding her is a lodestone, left to him by his father before he vanished. The lodestone tugs Ray towards a train bursting with astounding characters. Soon Ray is hurtling across the Wild West, joining in as they perform their enthralling medicine show. But something dark is following the train. Something that wants to steal people's souls. How long before Ray realizes it? And can he and his new friends do anything to stop it?

Michelle Lovric - The Undrowned Child - Orion Children's Books - 2, July 2009 Paperback

It's the beginning of the 20th century; the age of scientific progress. But for Venice the future looks bleak. A conference of scientists assembles to address the problems, among whose delegates are the parents of eleven-year-old Teodora. Within days of her arrival, she is subsumed into the secret life of Venice: a world in which salty-tongued mermaids run subversive printing presses, ghosts good and bad patrol the streets and librarians turn fluidly into cats. A battle against forces determined to destroy the city once and for all quickly ensues. Only Teo, the undrowned child who survived a tragic accident as a baby, can go 'between-the-linings' to subvert evil and restore order.

Rob Stevens - The Mapmaker's Monster:Vampanther Attack! No 2 - Macmillan Children's Books - 3, July 2009 Paperback

In their next hilarious adventure, Hugo and Savage travel to the unchartered mountains of deepest Transylvania, where nothing is as it seems. With a fortune telling cat, an anxious wolf-man and some seriously angry rabbits to deal with, can Hugo rescue Uncle Walter from the clutches of the evil vampanther lord before it's too late?


Picture book recommendation from a great team must check this out.

Julia Donaldson Author and David Roberts Illustrator - The Troll - Macmillan Children's Books - 3, July 2009

Trolls are supposed to lurk under bridges, ready to eat billy goats, and pirates should always dig where 'X marks the spot. But what happens when goats are hard to come by, map reading skills aren't up to scratch and everybody has rumbling tummies? This is a rib-tickling tale, brilliantly woven together by a winning picture book team.


The U.S Book Picks for May 2009 is:

Book One:

Patrick Carman's third book in the Atherton series entitled The Dark Planet Published by Little, Brown Young Readers - May 1, 2009


In the dazzling conclusion to the epic story of Atherton, Patrick Carman takes readers on the most rewarding journey of all, to the perilous realm of The Dark Planet: Earth.

When Edgar discovers a way to leave the mysterious satellite world of Atherton, he couldn't have imagined the gloom that awaited him on the dark planet, where the oceans are toxic, the forests are full of mutant monsters, and children toil in darkness, controlled by ruthless maniacs. Max Harding, an orphan of the Silo, the maker of Atherton, and the last hope of a dying world, left this place behind, and now Edgar is determined to complete the mad scientist's spectacular plan, revealing Atherton's true purpose.


Book Two:


Michael Grant second book Hunger:A Gone Novel Published by HarperTeen - 26, May 2009 Hardback


By It's been three months since everyone under the age of fifteen became trapped in the bubble known as the FAYZ.

Three months since all the adults disappeared.

Gone.

Food ran out weeks ago. Everyone is starving, but no one wants to figure out a solution. And each day, more and more kids are evolving, developing supernatural abilities that set them apart from the kids without powers.

Tension rises and chaos is descending upon the town. It's the normal kids against the mutants. Each kid is out for himself, and even the good ones turn murderous.

But a larger problem looms. The Darkness, a sinister creature that has lived buried deep in the hills, begins calling to some of the teens in the FAYZ. Calling to them, guiding them, manipulating them.

The Darkness has awakened. And it is hungry.


Thanks for reading!

And please email us if you have anything you would like to see on this blog or just pass on some information.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

F E Higgins - The Eyeball Collector - Book Review


Mr Ripley's Book Review

This is my favourite book, out of the series of three, so far. I love the deep and dark sophisticated world of Urbs Umida. It takes a trip in time, to another captivating Gothic tale, of one boys revenge against an evil swindler and actor of great cunning. Hector finds himself embroiled in mysterious deeds and an even sinister plot. Will Hector get his revenge or will it take on a life of its own?
Hector is out to find revenge after his father is swindled (losing everything, including his reputation) and then eventually dies. The story takes the reader on a great journey, leaving them breathless through the fast paced and intricately plotted adventure found on every page. The dark twisted characters make the book and atmosphere come alive. F E Higgins has a great way of writing this type of story. I love the butterfly theme which is intertwined in this story and the riddles that are used throughout the book. The story hooks the reader in and then spits them right back out again. Engaging them in trying to shake off the ongoing account of the inhabitants of the forbidding Gothic house of Withypitts, where the story climaxes to a great ending which fulfills the story. This is a great read for anyone who like bumps in the dark and limbs that run away with friendly cats and servants who like to be sucked dry by leeches just after supper! So I give this book five out of five as I was caught and hooked in this world and only let myself out to feed the great Hairy-Back Hog knocking on my door with a hungry look in it's eye. Tartri Flammis!

Book published by Macmillan Children's books 6 June 2009


Book synopsis

When his butterfly-collector father is swindled to within an inch of his life, a vengeful Hector leaves the city of Urbs Umida in pursuit of a fiendish villain with a glass eye. The trail leads to Withypitts Hall, a forbidding Gothic mansion as warped as its inhabitants and their secret schemes. Soon Hector finds himself embroiled in mysterious deeds more poisonous than his worst imaginings, but every twist and turn brings him closer to his revenge ...The third dark and diabolical book from a devilishly talented author.

About the Author

F. E. Higgins has been fascinated by the macabre ever since seeing a ghostly apparition as a child. Nowadays F. E. travels the lands that these books describe, collecting strange artefacts and the even stranger secrets and stories behind them. The Black Book of Secrets and The Bone Magician, the first results of these eerie explorations, have sold all over the world. When not in pursuit of a story, F.E. may be found in a haunted house in Kent. She sits with quill in hand, a false leg beside her and from the mantelpiece an eyeball watches the words she forms on the page.


Other books by this author.

The Black Book of Secrets (2007)

The Bone Magician (2008)

The Eyeball Collector (2009)

Friday, 8 May 2009

Pete Johnson - The TV Time Traveller



Mr Ripley's word of mouth book for June. Covers the subject of world war in a new concept for children and teachers.


This book really started in a primary school classroom, over thirty years ago.

My favourite teacher, Mr Karr, had the excellent habit of ending each day with a story. But one day, instead, he read aloud from diaries and letters of children who'd been evacuated during the
Second World War. At first I was a bit cross at not having a proper story - but soon I was absolutely riveted. I t stirred up an interest in World War II - and especially life on the home front - which has endured to this very day.

Then, a little while ago, I was chatting with a Year Five teacher who had to teach Evacuation as a topic. She was saying to me. 'It's hard to bring such a time alive to modern children because their lives are so very different with their mobile phones and wall to wall reality television.'

Now, when she said that I didn't exactly jump up and cry ' Eureka' but I tell you, I came pretty close.
And right then I began imagining a reality television show which sent modern children away to live life exactly as those evacuees did, with rationing and gas masks and very strict discipline. Yet, it would also be a 'Big Brother' style show with constant surveillance, evacuees being voted out - and a mysterious command to: 'always expect the unexpected.'

We watch the clash of two very different worlds through the eyes of five children including, Zac. Since the death of his mother, Zac has felt as if he is stuck in a horrible dark void. But his passionate interest in the war years though, has given him a secret door into another time. So the chance to live as an evacuee appears like a dream come true ...

But nothing on a reality television show is what it seems ...

Researching this book has been a special pleasure. I've loved, too, constructing a twisty plot, which asks questions about both life then and now - and I hope too, it shows the past isn't quite as faraway from us as we might think.

Book Synopsis

Zac and Izzy win a place on a new reality TV show, but they have no idea where they're going or what to expect ...They must live as if it's 1939, the start of World War Two. One by on they will be voted out by the viewing public. It's a hard life and, desperate to be the final winner, problems occur. When the live final arrives, the contestants and the audience will all be stunned by what occurs.

About the Author

PETE JOHNSON began work as a film critic for Radio One, then became a teacher. His experiences in the classroom led to his beginning to write and he still keeps contact with a panel of young readers to gain the viewpoint of the actual reader as he writes new titles. He is the author of several titles for the Corgi Yearling list.


Corgi Yearling Books (4 Jun 2009)

Thursday, 7 May 2009

New Children's Books For July 2009 (Hardbacks)



This is some of the best Hardbacks to be released in the month of July. Next post will look at U.S book releases from May-July 2009.

Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell Barnaby Grimes:Phatom Of Blood Alley Doubleday 2 July 2009 (Book Four in a great Series of books by the award winning Duo)

Barnaby Grimes is a tick-tock lad, high-stacking his way across the rooftops of his city in search of adventure and mystery. In each tale, he encounters a supernatural force and must battle the horrors that await him. In the fiercely competitive world of early photography, the rewards are immense but so are the risks. After an experiment goes disastrously wrong, Barnaby finds himself on the trail of a mad chemist with a talent for disappearing into thin air...


James Patterson - Daniel X:Watch the Skies (Daniel X Children Edition) Doubleday 2 July 2009

Daniel X has his work cut out for him. A teenage alien hunter, he has a deadly list of evil predators to eliminate and while he's made it all look easy so far, much darker days await him. Next on his list is number five, an unsightly and terrifying alien who is watching Daniel as intently as Daniel has been tracking him. Number Five kills for thrills but not just for his own. He is operating a sinister entertainment network and innocent people are unknowingly the stars of the show. But while Number Five may have managed to brainwash the public, is he cunning enough to outwit the alien hunter? As the two seek to destroy one another, who will be the ultimate winner? And will Daniel X live to see who is next on his list?


Chris D'lacey - Dark Fire (David Rain) - Orchard 2 July 2009( Book Five in the Happy clay Dragon saga.)


With the Earth on the brink of recolonisation by dragons, David Rain is sent on an important mission: to seek out and destroy a trace of dark fire, the deadliest force in the universe. But with success could come a terrible price, the sacrifice of a beloved clay dragon. How much does the life of one small dragon count, when the alternative is the birth of a darkling...?

Daniel Finn - Two Good Thieves - Macmillan Children's Books 3 July 2009
(Ripley's Recommended Read)
In the searing heat of an unnamed South American city, a gang of child-thieves runs wild. Demi has the gift of speed - he can pick a pocket and be gone before his victim has even noticed he was there. Baz is his lookout - no one sees her unless she wants them to. It's like a game: dodging the law, keeping one step ahead, being the fastest, the cleverest, the best. But one day, almost by accident, they steal a dazzling, beautiful, priceless jewel - and make a very dangerous enemy. Suddenly they're sucked into a world where children's lives are worthless, where the rich and powerful are just adults who steal on a much grander scale, and where secrets are traded like gold. Their only hope is to make a brave bid for freedom - to head upcountry, away from the unrelenting heat, the dried-up river, the only home they've ever known. When good and bad are meaningless, two child thieves become the beating moral heart of an unputdownable thriller.

Linda Buckley-Archer - Time Quake (Gideon) Simon & Schuster Children's 6 July 2009
(Book three in the enjoyable time travel books)
The catastrophic consequences of time travel are now impossible to ignore. Lord Luxon has set his sights on the ultimate prize: America, while, abducted to 1763, Peter and Kate begin to understand that history has arrived at a tipping point. Transformed into an oracle, Kate is able to see the future as easily as the past. Gideon does all he can to help, but he is tormented by the knowledge that The Tar Man, his nemesis, is also his brother. As they pursue him through the dark streets of eighteenth-century London, and the time quakes begin, Peter realises that this monster may hold the fate of us all in his hands.


Marcus Sedgwick - Revolver - Orion books 16 July 2009 A gritty real life adventure.

1910. A cabin north of the Arctic Circle. Fifteen-year-old Sig Andersson is alone. Alone, except for the corpse of his father, who died earlier that day after falling through a weak spot on the ice-covered lake. His sister, Anna, and step-mother, Nadya, have gone to the local town for help. Then comes a knock at the door. It's a man, the flash of a revolver's butt at his hip, and a mean glare in his eyes. Sig has never seen him before but Wolff claims to have unfinished business with his father. As Sig gradually learns the awful truth about Wolff's connection to his father, Sig finds his thoughts drawn to a certain box hidden on a shelf in the storeroom, in which lies his father's prized possession - a revolver. When Anna returns alone, and Wolff begins to close in, Sigs choice is pulled into sharp focus. Should he use the gun, or not?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

New Children's Books For July 2009 (paperbacks)



It's a busy old month for July. I have picked some of the best U.K Paperback books to be published over the summer month of July.
I will also follow up this post with the more interesting hardback releases. I will also cover some of the best ones to be released in the U.S.



Ali Sparkes - Dark Summer - Oxford Children's - 2 July

It's the summer holidays, and Eddie finds himself strangely drawn to the famous caves at Wookey Hole. He makes friends with the ticket seller there, and before long is allowed to roam wherever he wants. He loves it . . . until the day he gets lost. Just as panic sets in, his hand is taken by a strange girl, about his own age, who guides him to the surface. Gwerren is weird. She's extraordinarily pale with huge violet eyes and white hair - what's more, she won't come out of the caves. As she and Eddie become friends he starts to wonder if she's a ghost. Then Eddie nearly dies in a pothole - and discovers not only the truth, but life where nobody thought it could be . . . A thrilling new novel from the author of the popular 'Shapeshifter' series.

Toby Forward - Travelling Backwards - Anderson Press - 2 July

Franny is upset. Her grandfather is very ill and she realises that he will soon die. She begs her friend Mrs May to give her something to make him better. Mrs May gives her a potion with the warning that Grandfather must not drink too much. The effect is startling. Grandfather becomes much younger and more vigorous with each sip. Of course, he pays no heed to Mrs May's warning until the process of getting younger becomes a little too extreme! He and Fanny are faced with the dilemma: is this really how life should end?

Chris Bradford - The Way of the Sword (Young Samurai) - Puffin - 2 July (Recommended read for boys)

One year of training in samurai school and Jack is in real trouble . . . He’s busy preparing for the Circle of Three, an ancient ritual that tests courage, skill and spirit to the limit. And, at the same time, Jack is caught in a running battle with fellow student Kazuki and his gang. But these are the least of Jack’s problems. He knows his deadly rival – the ninja Dragon Eye – could strike at any moment. Jack possesses the very thing he will kill for. Can Jack master the Way of the Sword in time to survive a fight to the death?

Richelle Mead - Vampire Academy ( book one ) - Puffin - 2 July

St Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school - hidden away, it's a place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St Vladimir's where the girls must survive a world of forbidden romances, a ruthless social scene and terrifying night time rituals. But most of all, staying alive.

Paul Adam -Escape From Shadow Island (A Max Cassidy Adventure) Corgi Children's 2 July (See review for this book)

Max is an ordinary north London schoolboy by day, but at night he performs sell-out public shows as an escapologist - nicknamed The Half-Pint Houdini by the tabloid press. His father, Alexander, was also a world-renowned escapologist, who disappeared two years earlier in the Central American state of Santo Domingo. His body was never found, but Max's mother, Helen, was convicted of murdering her husband by a Santo Domingan court. One evening, after his show, Max receives a visit from a mysterious man from Santo Domingo - Lopez-Vega tells Max that his mother's trial was rigged and, if Max comes to his hotel room the following night, he has something to give him.When Max goes to the hotel, he finds Lopez-Vega dead, shot through the head. The room has clearly been searched by the killer, but what was he looking for? By chance, Max finds a piece of paper hidden under Lopez-Vega's wig. Written on the paper is a sequence of eight numbers - 83521113. What do the numbers mean? Are they a code, or maybe the combination for a lock or a safe? Could they be the key to unlocking the mystery of his father's disappearance and getting his mother out of prison?

L J Adlington - The Glittering Eye - Hodder Children's Books 2 July ( Great local author need to get a copy of this book)

Shabti wakes in a barley field with nothing but a hoe in his hand and a head full of fragmented memories. A vicious master torments his days, working in the fields with no way of escape, until a hole suspended in mid-air, leads him to a room. Two shiny gold eyes glitter back at him. Questions. Who is he? And to where does this room lead?

Amy arrives in Egypt to join her archaeologist father on an excavation. All around her tombs are unearthed, opened, entered. Left to her own devices, Amy discovers a rock. But not just any rock. A great tawny cat stares back at her from its smooth surface, its shiny gold eyes glittering. Questions. Where did it come from? And what should she do now?

When past, present and future collide, it's clear that some things are best left buried ...

Emma Kennedy - Wilma Tenderfoot and the Case of the Frozen Hearts - Macmillan Children's Books - 3 Jul 2009

(One to look out for and a great book cover)

Somewhere between France and England there is an island that no one has ever bothered to discover. On it, lives Wilma Tenderfoot, a determined ten-year old girl who dreams of one day becoming a World-Famous Detective. So she can't help thinking it's destiny when, dispatched from the Institute for Woeful Children to her new home as a live-in skivvy, she discovers that the genius gentleman detective Theodore P. Goodman lives next door. A ten-year-old girl of great determination (and her pet beagle, Pickle) and a World-Famous Detective of great repute might not be the most obvious crime-solving duo - but Wilma Tenderfoot is not about to let that put either of them off! And it looks like their first dastardly case is about to begin ...Feisty but funny, cheeky but charming - Wilma Tenderfoot and her unique mystery-solving methodology is hard to resist!


Sophie Mckenzie - The Set Up (Medusa Project) - Simon & Schuster - 6 July (See review for this one)

Fourteen years ago, scientist William Fox implanted four babies with the Medusa gene - a gene for psychic abilities. But Fox died and the babies were hidden away for years. Now the children are teenagers - and unaware that their psychic powers are about to kick in. Cocky, charismatic Nico thinks his emerging telekinetic abilities will bring him money, power and the girl of his dreams. He's about to find out just how wrong he is...


Cassandra Clare - City of Glass (The Mortal Instrument) book three - Walker Books - 6 July ( already published in the U.S getting great reviews)

In search of a potion for her dying mother, Clary sneaks into the City of Glass and is immediately caught up in a life-and-death battle. As the children of the Moon (werewolves), Night (vampires), and Faerie gather for a war that will rend the heavens, Clary calls upon her untrained powers to control an angel who will save or destroy them all. Readers should be familiar with the first two installments in the Mortal Instruments series, but there is nevertheless plenty of romance, loss, honor, and betrayal to make the journey worthwhile. An experienced storyteller, Clare moves the plot quickly to a satisfying end.

Thanks very much for reading!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Matthew Skelton - The Story of Cirrus Flux - Book Review


Mr Ripley's Review

Matthew Skelton's first published novel was "Endymion Spring." This was a fab book and a hard act to follow.
But three years later, Matthew has just published his second book and the question is, has he produced something as great?
The book starts off in the Antarctic Circle, with one the main characters known as Seaman James Flux, on board the Destiny. The story then follows the adventures of a boy, Cirrus Flux, as he lives his life as an orphan in the Foundling Hospital. His life takes on many dangers, as he faces evil scoundrels trying to gain his divine power. The story swings back and forwards in strands of time, highlighting the on-going story; reeling you into the plot.
Matthew is articulate in his telling of an unusual tale. The many themes and time jumps keeps the reader on their toes. It could have been a dangerous ploy by Matthew but in fact he has created eloquently sequenced and joined time chapters.
I enjoyed reading this book, it was enthralling and more difficult to predict the ending. As the true course of the book wasn't properly established or finalised until later. Four out of five, very different to Endymion Spring but refreshingly good.
Suitable for 9+



Synopsis

‘You shall help me find him still . . . there is nowhere for the boy to hide.’ Orphan boy Cirrus Flux is being watched. Merciless rogues are conniving to steal the world’s most divine power, which they believe Cirrus has inherited. Now he faces a perilous journey through the dirty backstreets of London as a sinister mesmerist, a tiny man with an all-seeing eye, and a skull-collecting scoundrel pursue him. Cirrus must escape them. It really is not safe to give such evil people such incredible power . . .

Book published by Puffin Books 4 June 2009 (paperback)

Quick Fact About Matthew Skelton in 2002 he won the Richard and Judy's short story competition.

Please email me if you fancy doing the odd children's book review as we like to put up more!!