Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Matt Hamilton - Strathcarnage Illustrated By Chris Odgers




Book Synopsis (This is not suitable for Children)

As the ragged stranger shuffled into the police station in the small coastal town under cover of darkness, no-one noticed him. Announcing his arrival to the two decadent local lawmen, the visitor claimed to possess details of a mythical Scottish village so notorious and terrifying that even the name had long since fallen from use... But now it had returned. Strathcarnage was alive.

The stranger not only claimed to know where the lost village lay hidden. He had already popped in for a visit.

And he had carried back with him the astonishing and hideous tales to prove it. Would these accounts be enough to persuade his sceptical audience? Could he be trusted? Could any of those present resist the possibility of the ancient town of legend really existing? What tragedy had this man witnessed and what deeply personal mysteries could his information perhaps solve?

Dare you join him as he reveals all, laying bare the twisted secrets at the dark heart of the myth?

The myth of Strathcarnage.


Note from Chris Odgers.

Heads up for the novel ‘Strathcarnage’ that is due to be released on the 22nd of July 2009. The debut novel by Scottish author Matt Hamilton concerns tales from a debauched hidden town beneath the Scottish cliffs, having been founded by shipwrecked lunatics generations before. Chris Odgers has provided 19 black and white chapter illustrations to accompany the 305p, hard backed novel.
More information and updates can be found at the author website: www.strathcarnage.com and a few more images at our Sawhorse Books site: www.sawhorse.co.uk
Originally intended to be released by Sawhorse Books, the logistics of publishing a novel we’re a little much for our picture book company, so Matt found a home at Matador, where the book is also available, as well as through amazon, and other online booksellers. Also good high street book shops, if you are in the UK.

I will be also auctioning off the artwork from the book in the very near future for those who wish to own an original documented piece from the town. News on the next Sawhorse picture book release will be updated with images on the sawhorse site very soon…

That’s all for now, thank you for your time and hope this mail finds you well.

About the Author

Matt Hamilton was born in Glasgow in 1969.

After various amusing interludes as a plant labourer, a shop warehouseman and a dishwasher in a Mexican restaurant, he escaped to Glasgow University where he studied Mexican politics, Marxist feminism and the post-modern philosophical impact of the subsidised university canteen all day breakfast.

On being offered a Masters degree as a clear enticement to leave, he later returned to the University undercover to both excite and alarm the other members of a creative writing course, before returning into hiding to devote himself full time to the creation of Strathcarnage.


He now lives a monastic existence in Falkirk, within sight of a colossal chemical plant, the billowing fumes from which may be partly to blame for the twisted imagination you shall soon find yourself at the mercy of, and hopefully highly amused by.

Strathcarnage is his first novel, and the first in a series set in the twisted mythical village.

Matt is currently at work on the next installment in the series and on a related book of Strathcarnage verse.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Mark Haddon - Boom! Book Review


Mr Ripley's Book Review

This book was originally published in 1992 under the great title Gridzbi Spudvetch! But Mark states that he thinks the title didn't entice sales, as no one knew how to pronounce it or had any idea as to the content of the book. As a result the book went out of print. However a call for it to be republished came and Mark has just rewritten the story; introducing it to a new audience and I'm really glad he did.
This is a great family read which will pull in all readers, of any age. It's a really fun adventure which involves a trip to another planet and back, as part of a galactic mission to save Planet Earth. The adventure starts when two school friends (Jimbo and Charlie) bug their teachers' staffroom to find out if Jimbo is going to be sent away to a Special School. But on listening to the overheard conversations of the teachers, they find two of the more 'quirky' teachers talking a strange language. Subsequently this sends them on a mission to find out the mystery behind them.

I found the mix of humour and descriptive language particularly enjoyable to read. The story flowed from page to page in this gravity-action madness. The narrative voice was well written and the on-going plot was not predictable. In fact it became a very addictive read; to the point of the pages being turned faster than a rocket setting off on a space mission to the moon!

This book adds another feather to Mark's cap as he has managed to write yet another good quality book, alongside his other published gems. This book gets a big four out of five as it is a great read for the younger person, we could do with more books as exciting as this one.

Published by David Fickling Books 3 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

From the moment that Jim and his best friend Charlie bug the staff room and overhear two of their teachers speaking to each other in a secret language, they know there's an adventure on its way. But what does 'spudvetch' mean, and why do Mr Kidd's eyes flicker with fluorescent blue light when Charlie says it to him? Perhaps Kidd and Pearce are bank robbers talking in code. Perhaps they're spies. Perhaps they're aliens. Whatever they are, Jimbo and Charlie are determined to find out. There really is an adventure on its way. A nuclear-powered, one hundred-ton adventure with reclining seats and a buffet car. And as it gathers speed and begins to spin out of control, it can only end in one way ...with a BOOM. Note: This book was first published in 1992 under the title "Gridzbi Spudvetch!" It has now been completely re-written (Mark has changed pretty much every sentence one way or another) and given a new title that is much easier to pronounce.

About the Author

Mark Haddon is an author, illustrator and screenwriter who has written fifteen books for children and won two BAFTAs. His bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was published simultaneously by Jonathan Cape and David Fickling in 2003. It won seventeen literary prizes, including the Whitbread Award. Mark Haddon lives in Oxford.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

New Children's Books For September 2009 (paperbacks)



So many great books to be released in September. All these books should keep you busy and excited in the anticipation of getting your hands on a copy. Always look forward to any of your comments and happy reading!


Mark Haddon - Boom! - Published by David Fickling Books 3 Sep 2009

Books Synopsis

From the moment that Jim and his best friend Charlie bug the staff room and overhear two of their teachers speaking to each other in a secret language, they know there's an adventure on its way. But what does 'spudvetch' mean, and why do Mr Kidd's eyes flicker with fluorescent blue light when Charlie says it to him? Perhaps Kidd and Pearce are bank robbers talking in code. Perhaps they're spies. Perhaps they're aliens. Whatever they are, Jimbo and Charlie are determined to find out. There really is an adventure on its way. A nuclear-powered, one hundred-ton adventure with reclining seats and a buffet car. And as it gathers speed and begins to spin out of control, it can only end in one way ...with a BOOM. Note: This book was first published in 1992 under the title "Gridzbi Spudvetch!" It has now been completely re-written (Mark has changed pretty much every sentence one way or another) and given a new title that is much easier to pronounce


Simon Holt - The Devouring: Soulstice - Published by Puffin 3 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

Beware the darkness and the light. They will steal your soul in day or night. In summer’s warmth or winter’s cold Your life will end when the Vours take hold. In the fearscape no one can hear you cry, And in its depth your soul will die. Reggie Halloway thought she was finished with the Vours – the demons who had possessed her brother, Henry – forever. She'd once faced them in a deathly battle for Henry’s soul and now she wants to forget them. But Quinn, the Vour she left at the bottom of a lake, is back. And he is not alone.


Mark Walden - Dreadnought (H.I.V.E) - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing 7 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

A renegade faction of the world's most powerful villains is intent on destroying G.L.O.V.E. (Global League Of Villainous Enterprises) and showing the world the true face of evil. The Disciples begin by hijacking Diabolus Darkdoom's Airborne command post, then they kidnap his son and his son's best friend. Unfortunately for them, Nigel Darkdoom (and Franz) also happen to be Otto's friends. Heading out to America, Otto, Wing et al embark on a perilous and highly unauthorised rescue operation. Cut off from the support of H.I.V.E. and on the run from American security forces the hunt for their friends leads to one of the US military's most secret facilities. It becomes clear that the Disciples are not all they appear and in a desperate race against time Otto must work out who his real friends are to prevent the Disciples from completing their true objective. Only Otto can save the world from domination by a sinister new world order but it might be that the price he has to pay is just too high. When it comes to the crunch will he be prepared to sacrifice himself?

Suzanne Collins - Catching Fire (Hunger games Trilogy) - Published by Scholastic 7 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

After winning the brutal Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen returns to her district, hoping for a peaceful future. But Katniss starts to hear rumours of a deadly rebellion against the Capitol. A rebellion that she and Peeta have helped to create. As Katniss and Peeta are forced to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. Unless Katniss and Peeta can convince the world that they are still lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying... The terrifying sequel to The Hunger Games.

Josh Lacey - Two Tigers on a String (Misfitz Mysteries) - Published by Marion Lloyd Books 7 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

The second thrilling adventure in the Misfitz series, about four children who share four parents and find themselves caught up in some very unusual mysteries. One afternoon, Frank comes home fromschool to an empty flat. His mother has disappeared. She isn't back that night. Or the next. Where has she gone? How will Frank find her? It's a job for the Misfitz. Together, they sneak out of their home, catch a train across the country and search for clues.They soon find themselves on the trail of a mysterious cult, led by a frightening figure known only as the Tiger.

Mike Wilks - MirrorShade (Mirrorscape) - Published by Egmont Books Ltd 7 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

Something has gone terribly wrong. Mel and his friends have been locked in Deep Trouble prison in the Mirrorscape, while their evil Mirrorshades - who look exactly like them - are free to cause havoc in Vlam. Luckily, their old friends Goldie and Pilfer - the invisible burglar - are on hand to help them break out and try to prove their innocence. But arson, forgery and theft are the least of what their doubles have been up to. They're involved in a plot that could destroy our heroes. The race to find the mysterious Mirrortree is on! Can the real Mel, Ludo and Wren defeat their enemies in time? The third funny, fast-paced adventure in the fantastical world of the Mirrorscape.

B.R Collins - A Trick of the Dark - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 7 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

Zach and his sister Annis have been uprooted by their parents from their comfortable home to a remote and half-built barn in France. Zach is being removed from his 'bad-influence' friends, their parents are trying to salvage their marriage and still remain on speaking terms whilst the bitterness of their father's affair bubbles underneath the surface. And Annis - Annis just keeps going, keeping her head down, trying to keep it together. So far so normal. And then Zach, uncommunicative and contrary as ever these days, defies everything their parents have said and makes his way to the unsafe ruined building at the edge of their new garden, and leans up against the wall. The wall bulges, totters - and suddenly collapses on top of him. Annis, horrified, sees him crumpled on the ground. Desperate, she races towards him, not daring to think anything at all. She sees him, on the ground, broken, silent, not there any more. And then, unbelievably, he moves. Zach moves. Zach, in an extraordinary and instinctive decision, has broken his bond with his own soul, the essence of himself. By doing so he has cheated death. By doing so he has also cheated life. He is unable to touch any human person again. And the essence of himself, his 'other', his soul, is chasing, chasing him, determined to rejoin what should rightfully be together. Zach is on the run, from himself, whom he can never escape, from death, but also from the life that he can never enjoy again. Perhaps only a sister can help him now. An extraordinary, electric and tautly thrilling new novel from the highly acclaimed debut author of The Traitor Game.

Douglas Bruton - The Chess Piece Magician - Published by Floris Books 10 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

When Corrie's family returns to Uig Bay on the Isle of Lewis for yet another miserable summer holiday, he has no idea of the incredible adventure that lies ahead. He finds a strange figurine on a windswept beach, which looks very like the ancient chess pieces found there centuries ago ...but this one has a magician's staff. Corrie makes friends with local girl, Kat, who tells him the island's legends - of a terrible sea serpent who summoned up never-ending winter, and of a powerful magician who finally banished him. When Corrie hears a voice in the night and the strange little figure starts to glow, he finds himself drawn into an incredible battle between good and evil. Douglas Bruton's brilliant first novel tells a fictional story behind the famed Lewis chessmen, which date from the 12th century and were found in Uig Bay in the 1830s. This gripping fantasy adventure will have both boys and girls on the edge of their seats.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Alan Gibbons - Renegade - Hell's Underground Book Review



Mr Ripley's Book Review for Alan Gibbons - Renegade

This book arrived unexpectedly in the post this week and I was intrigued to learn more about both the book and author. Interestingly I found out that the author has written many acclaimed books in this field. I was quite intrigued to read 'Renegade' and become more familiar with Alan's style of writing. My only concern was that this was the third book in the series (Hell's Underground) and I wasn't sure if I might have missed a crucial storyline (within previous books) which would affect my understanding of this novel. But on reading it the first thing I noticed was how it read like a stand-a-lone book and never at any part of the story did I become lost, in fact I was gripped by the tale.
This is a truly amazing, well-crafted story, written by a master author who understands this genre well. The book is set in 1830's London in the seedy alleyways of the East End where Paul meets a powerful ancestor. This story is seeped in macabre and dark events which produce an incredibly powerful storyline. I particularly appreciated the atmospheric depiction of London which brought together the series of events that began to unfold.
The imaginative and memorable plot became a drive to finish the book. I found the style both accessible and refreshing, it was both easy and compulsive to read the book in one sitting. The uniqueness of blending reality and fiction within the same realm was incredibly fascinating and intellectually stimulating.
An absolute must for any reader of children's books. I give this book five out of five and have now set myself the challenge to read books 1 and 2 - I'm sure I'll be equally besotted.

Book synopsis

Paul has met his most audacious - and powerful - ancestor yet, Samuel Rector, who seemingly has the entire East End in thrall to him in the 1830s. His legion of 'rat boys' use terror and menace ordinarily, but with the demon seed inside them, their powers know no end. Their only match is Paul, the renegade, the one member of the Rector clan determined to strike each poisoned generation from the family history. But nobody is stronger than Lud, the King of London, struggling against imprisonment in his cell where the city's five gates meet.

About the author

Alan Gibbons is an author of children's books and a Blue Peter Book Award. He currently lives in Liverpool, [England]], as he used to teach in a primary school. His father was a farm laborer, but was hurt in an accident when Alan was eight years old. The family had to move to the city where Alan experienced bullying for the first time, the bullies made comments about his surname. He began to write for pupils as a teacher, but never tried to get any of his work published.
Gibbons trained to be a teacher in his mid-thirties and starting writing short stories for his students. Later, he began to write professionally.In 2000, he won the Blue Peter Book Award in the "The Book I Couldn't Put Down" category for Shadow of the Minotaur. He was a judge for the 2001 Blue Peter Book Awards.
In addition to being a full-time writer, he is an educational consultant and speaks at schools across the UK and abroad He has been a regular speaker at the Edinburgh and London Book Festivals, the Northern Children's Book Festival, Hay on Wye and Children's Books Ireland.His work is published in nineteen languages and he visits many schools internationally.

Hell's Underground series:

1. Scared to Death (2007)

2. The Demon Assassin (2008)

3. Renegade (2009)

4. Witch Breed (2010)

Sunday, 12 July 2009

New Children's Books for September 2009 (Hardbacks)



The back to school month of September is always a busy month for new books to be launched. This year is no exception as there are some great books due to be published. These are some of the best books to tempt you into planing advance purchases.
The next post will be for paperback releases of which there are quiet a few! So it may take me some time to get that post ready for you. Look forward to any comments. Thanks very much for reading.

Henry Chancellor - The Hidden World: The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn - Published by OUP Oxford Sep 2009 (Book Two. I really loved book One.)

Book Synopsis

Tom is back at the Scatterhorn Museum, looking forward to spending some time there while his parents are away on one of their adventures. But an unexpected visitor called Pearl Smoot throws everything into disarray when she arrives with an incredible story. She says Tom's old enemy, Don Gervase Askary, has taken her father and brother - and what's more, she claims he has Tom's parents too. Together Tom and Pearl set out on a perilous journey to rescue their families - a journey that will take them in and out of time, to exotic foreign lands, and finally into the secret hidden world of Scarazand, stronghold of the terrifying Don Gervase himself . . . A scintillating sequel to the first fantastic Tom Scatterhorn book, The Museum's Secret.


Robert Muchamore - Brigands M.C. (CHERUB) - Published by Hodder Children's Books 3 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

Every CHERUB agent comes from somewhere. Dante Scott still has nightmares about the death of his family, brutally murdered by a biker gang. Dante is given the chance to become a member of CHERUB, a trained professional with one essential advantage: adults never suspect that children are spying on them. But when Dante joins James and Lauren Adams on a mission to infiltrate Brigands Motorcycle Club, he’s ready to use everything he’s learned to get revenge on the people who killed his family ...

Charlie Higson - The Enemy - Published by Puffin Books 3 Sep 2009 - (See Book Review)

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?

Jenny Nimmo - Charlie Bone and the Red Knight - Published by Egmont Books Ltd 7 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

This is the eighth and final thrilling magical adventure starring Charlie Bone! The race to find the box containing the secret regarding the Bloors' fortune has become deadly. The Bloors are gathering their evil forces - thieves, poisoners, kidnappers, swindlers and even murderers from Piminy Street and an expert magical swordsman from the seventeenth century. And Lord Grimwald, Dagbert's father, is enlisted to drown Charlie's father and mother on their second honeymoon using his magical Sea Globe. Charlie is determined to stop them from finding the box and destroying it. But with the Pets' Cafe closed down, Billy trapped in Badlock and one of his friends tricked into helping the Bloors, it looks like his only hope might be the mysterious Red Knight. But who is the Red Knight? And can he help Charlie defeat the Bloors once and for all? All the magical threads come together in this amazing finale to a hugely compelling series.

Jessica Meats - Child of the Hive - Published by Book Guild Ltd 30 Sep 2009 (Looking Forward to reading this one.)

Book Synopsis

Will is different... 'special'. He's a genius at maths and even though he's still at school studying for his A levels, he lives on his own in a dingy, run-down bed-sit and has to work at night to support himself. But there's something more that sets him apart - something he has to keep hidden from everyone, even his friends. Otherwise, he risks blowing his cover or, worse, losing his life…

Sophie is 'special' too. Deep in the bowels of a secret government facility she spends her days colouring in seemingly unfathomable patterns on endless sheets of graph paper, never speaking a word. To those around her she seems like a simpleton, but little do they suspect that she, like them, is fighting a secret war - a war against the deadly organization known as the Hive.

Set in a Britain of the near future, Child of the Hive is both a tense sci-fi thriller and a gripping philosophical exploration of what it means to be human in a world of ever-increasing technological sophistication. An unputdownable read.

Mr Ripley's Picture book Pick for September is:

Daniela Drescher - Merlina and the Magic Spell - Published by Floris Books 24 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

It's harvest time, and Merlina the little sorceress and her friend Igor the dragon are busily gathering fruit and vegetables from their garden. When Igor stands on a sharp thorn, Merlina has to find the right spell to make his toe better. Several not-so-magic spells later and the thorn is still there, and poor Igor is still in pain. That is, until he tries a tasty-looking chilli pepper, and gets quite a shock! Maybe magic doesn't always hold the key to their problems...Daniela Drescher brings the charming world of Merlina the struggling sorceress to life with her beautiful illustrations. Each page is packed with delightful details for children to enjoy time and time again.

Mr Ripley's Young Person's Book For September is :

David Melling - Ghost Goblin:Book Five - Published By Hodder Children's Books 3 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis

The land of the goblins is hidden, but not so far away. If you look carefully, you might just find it ...

Drysniff, Sludge and Gusset have been squashed by a pig and turned into ghosts. They've been given a fine new home, but there's just one problem: the Windy Nibblers are living there already. Sounds like the only answer is a haunting competition. May the scariest ghosts win!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Cathy Brett - Ember Fury Book Review



Mrs Ripley's Review

Ember Fury - a great character name and also symbolic of two strong themes that run throughout the book, fire and anger. This carefully constructed book engages the reader through its content and graphics. The word art and attention to detail, regarding the structure and layout , add extra layers to the story dimension.
The lifestyle of a celebrity (Ember’s Dad) is portrayed frankly through exploited friendships and indulgent motives. Interestingly the materialistic world, that many youngsters today aspire to live in, is shown to be a shallow and lonely world where trust and loyalty are not guaranteed qualities within people.
Ned, the character that no-one else but Ember can see, provides an interesting parallel through the role of his loving family unit and fire. Both of which, in the end, have a major influence on Ember’s life.
I thought this book was thought provoking and well constructed. It had many layers of understanding which could engage the reader at different levels. Although at times I felt the story swapped and changed into parallel worlds, a little too much


Synopsis

Pyromania: A mental derangement, excitement or excessive enthusiasm for fire.
Having celebrity parents isn’t as hot as it sounds. Yes, there’s money to burn, fame and some totally smoking guys...But when your dad’s more interested in blazing a trail to the top of the charts than why you got kicked out of school, again, it can make you seriously angry. And if there’s one thing Ember knows, it’s that the smallest spark of anger can ignite a whole heap of trouble...

Published by Headline 6 Aug 2009

About the Author

Cathy Brett has been scribbling stuff for more than twenty years - as a fashion illustrator, as a jet-setting spotter of global trends and as a consultant to the behemoths of the British high street.
She now lectures in design and unashamedly plunders her students' lives for sensational storylines and characters.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Tim Kehoe - The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow - book review


Mr Ripley's book review

I really liked the look of this book. I actually took it to work to read and some of my staff wanted to read it after me, which is something. It's a super cool book with a quirky style sketch on the front and even more super sketches, in the section marked this notebook belongs to: Vincent Shadow, showing all his mad toy inventions. I loved the simple story which had all the imagination of the 'great' Roald Dahl. It's about a boy extraordinaire, who has the creative mind of a genius misunderstood. When his dad re-marries (after his mum dies) he finds himself with three stepsisters and a stepmum, who is not the warmest person towards Vincent. So he finds himself leaving New York, his secret toy laboratory and his inventing days all behind him.
This is a good, refreshing story which leaves a great taste for the reader. I did find some characteristics similar to the Blue Balliett books. This book is aimed at 8-12 year olds but will appeal to everyone.
I give this book four out of five, only on the account that I wanted so many more pages to read. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next episode.

Book published By Little Brown and Company in November 2009 (U.S only)


Book 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.

Written by award-winning toy inventor Tim Kehoe, The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow is sure to delight young readers and send their imaginations soaring!

About the Author

Tim Kehoe is the inventor of numerous toys, including the world s first colored bubbles Zubbles, which won Popular Science magazine s Grand Prize for Innovation in 2005. Recently named one of America s 100 Best by Reader s Digest, Tim lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his wife and five children.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

David Whitley - The Midnight Charter (Author Profile)


I have had lots of interest about this particular author and his debut book, so I have published anything and everything I could find on him and his great book.

David Whitley was born in 1984 and graduated from the University of Oxford with a double First in English Literature and a passion for writing children’s fiction.
At age 17 his first children’s novel was shortlisted for the Kathleen Fidler Award and at 20 he won the Cheshire Prize for Literature for a children’s short story, the youngest writer ever to win this prestigious award, presented by Michael Morpurgo.
TV quiz fans will have spotted David on BBC2’s University Challenge where he was a member of the winning Corpus Christi team who beat all comers to become Series Champions in 2005. With viewing figures of over 3 million per show, he still gets stopped in the street by people offering him a ‘starter for ten’!
High profile auctions took place across the globe for David Whitley’s dazzling novel, The Midnight Charter. Puffin’s Fiction Publisher, Sarah Hughes, secured UK and Commonwealth rights. Whilst dealing with power struggles, morality and corruption, The Midnight Charter, aimed at a ten plus readership, is also part conspiracy thriller, and part pure fantasy. It is a wonderfully compelling read which asks important questions about today’s society.

This Article is from the Chester Chronicle Written by Michael Green. Thanks very much!
Young Chester writer has debut novel snapped up by publishing giants
May 5 2009 by Michael Green, Chester Chronicle

A NOVEL approach to literature has garnered a promising young writer a big book deal for his first work.

The debut novel of 24-year-old David Whitley, The Midnight Charter, will be published by Puffin Books this summer.



At 17, his first children’s novel was shortlisted for the Kathleen Fidler Award and at 20 he won the Cheshire Prize for Literature for a children’s short story – the youngest writer ever to win the award.

He began The Midnight Charter while reading English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford – and won University Challenge in the meantime.

In a similar vein to Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy, David’s novel tells a fantastical tale with a worldly message.

He said: “After I finished my course, my parents said they would support my plan to take a gap year and have a go at writing. Assuming nothing would come of it, I planned to go back to university and do a masters.”

But when now agent Charlie Viney expressed an interest in his style of writing, David’s work was sent to publishers worldwide. Even before it hits the shelves here, the book has been released in Germany – one of 18 countries and 12 languages the book will be released in.

He added: “It starts to feel normal then I think about things like that. It’s still a huge thrill.”

Part conspiracy thriller, part fantasy, The Midnight Charter is a children’s book dealing with morality, corruption and power. It is set in the fictional 18th century city of Agora where anything can be bought and sold and even children are possessions until their twelfth birthday.

David says encouragement at King’s provided the impetus to pursue his writing talent.

“Going to King’s sparked off the love of writing and reading,” he said.

“My English teacher Anne Marie McMahon was hugely encouraging, not only on the English front but she also directed me in Hamlet. I played Claudius so that was very useful for writing villains!

“She was always willing to help you beyond the normal lessons.”

The author says he would “leap at the opportunity” to see a movie made based on the book and the rights are currently in the hands of an intelectual property group in Hollywood.

David has already written the sequel – currently being sent to publishers – and plans a third.

The Midnight Charter is published on August 4 in paperback. RRP £6.99
Please see book review.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet - Witch & Wizard Book Review


Mr Ripley's Review

First things first, I'm not the biggest fan of James Patterson's work but I did like the look of this book. Once I'd started it, it read with an ease of simplicity, which surprised me. I felt it had the makings of a great storyline.
The two main characters, Wisty and Whit (slightly confusing!) are brother and sister. They are arrested on allegations of being a witch and a wizard. Life changes for them from this moment in time as they discover magical abilities which empower them.
The concept of the story is original (apart from the magical aspect - obviously) as it doesn't over dramatise the plots. The structure is tight and keeps the story focused. The portrayal of brotherly/sisterly love is poignantly written and again shows realistic empathy.
Subtle yet stark scenes adorn the structure. They graphically describe key actions but manage to keep the visual image fairly tame. A tricky aspect to juggle in order to keep the reader both informed yet engaged.
With the past and future all rolled into one - will the legend of prophecy show the way in book 2? Whatever challenges lie ahead within future writing, I look forward to viewing their development. I give this book four out of five due to the slightly confusing character names and slowish start.



The book is due to be published in the U.K. by Century on the 8th October 2009. The book review below has been taken from the U.S edition, which is published by Little Brown in December 2009. Just to let you know this information in case the editions differ in anyway, as I've written my review based on the US edition for children.
(Ages 9-12 based on the U.S edition.)

Book synopsis

The world is changing - the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now kids are disappearing. For fifteen-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside-down when they are hauled out of bed one night, separated from their parents, and thrown into a secret compound for no reason they can comprehend. The new government is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager. Imprisoned together and condemned to death, Wisty and Whit begin exhibiting strange abilities and powers they never dreamed of. Maybe there is a reason they were singled out. Can this newly discovered witch and a wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents - and maybe the world?

About the Author

JAMES PATTERSON is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time. He is the author of some of the most popular series of the past decade: the Women's Murder Club, the Alex Cross novels and Maximum Ride, and he has written many other number one bestsellers including romance novels and stand-alone thrillers. He lives in Florida with his wife and son. James is passionate about encouraging both adults and children alike to read. This has led to him forming a partnership with the National Literacy Trust, an independent, UK-based charity that changes lives through literacy.

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?