Friday, 21 August 2009

New Children's Books For October 2009 (paperbacks)

Some of the best paperback books for release in the normally quiet month October 2009.

Joseph Patrick Kanon & Rick Yancey - The Monstrumologist - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's - 1 Oct 2009


A gruesome gothic-horror adventure about a monster-hunting scientist and his apprentice. Will Henry is an assistant to a doctor with a most unusual speciality: monster hunting! In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown used to late night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was feeding on her, Will's world changes forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagi - a headless monster that feeds through the mouthfuls of teeth in its chest - and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Now, Will and the doctor must face the horror threatening to consume our world and find the rest of the monsters before it is too late...

Marcus Sedgwick - Raven Mysteries:Ghosts and Gadgets - Published by Orion Children's -
1 Oct 2009

Does my beak look wonky? Edgar's battered beak is nothing to crow about. He's so preoccupied that when Cudweed sees a guh..., a guh...You-Know-What, Edgar almosts forgets that he's the Guardian of Otherhand Castle. But the rumblings and wailing from the Lost South Wing can no longer be ignored. Lord Valevine is busy trying to save the family from destitution with his latest Gold-detecting-Gadget, so it's up to Solstice and Edgar to go ghost-hunting, and pit their wits against the obnoxious Captain Spookini.

Alexander Gordon Smith - Furnace:Death Sentence - Published by Faber Children's Books - 1 Oct 2009


In order to escape them, I must become one of them. We were so close. We had one last shot at freedom and we failed. This time the warden will show us no mercy. This time, our punishment is a death sentence. Only death won't come for us here, not in Furnace. It wouldn't dare. No, our fate is something much, much worse. Because in the bloodstained laboratories deep beneath the prison lies the horrific truth behind the warden's plans. Down here, monsters are made.

Andy Stanton - What's for Dinner, Mr Gum? - Published by Egmont Books - 5 Oct 2009


Well, Shabba Me whiskers! Mr Gum's back! But what's he up to this time? Oh, dreadful things my friends, dreadful things indeed. It seems he's found himself a brand new treat - rancid kebabs just dripping with dirty grey sauce. And he just can't get enough of them. He's gotta have more! More! Less! I mean, More! But not everyone's too happy about Mr Gum's new dinnertime arrangements and soon the town of Lamonic Bibber is gearing up for war. Can Polly and her friends save the town from being torn apart? Will Mr Gum's hunger ever be satisfied? And who on earth is Thora Gruntwinkle? All will be revealed when you read "What's For Dinner, Mr Gum?" You'll see a gingerbread man driving through London! You'll see an annoying little monkey driving everyone mad! You'll see Friday O'Leary falling asleep in a hedge! Yes, it's all there in glorious black and white, my friends. Except for the cover, which is in colour. It's Bonus.

Nancy Farmer - The Islands of the Blessed ( Sea of Trolls Trilogy) - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's - 29 Oct 2009


In the final adventure of Nancy Farmer's acclaimed trilogy a malevolent spirit of a vengeful mermaid is wreaking havoc on Jack's village and it's up to him, the old Bard and Thorgril to confront and vanquish the restless draugr. But the task will not be easy and the three find themselves travelling once more with Thorgil's northman brother and his crew into the most dangerous of waters. Their quest to right old wrongs leads them from a village plagued by a hogboon to the fin folk land of Notland and via every danger in-between. Can they escape the perils they face and return in time to help undead spirit to find peace?

Monday, 17 August 2009

New Children's Books For October 2009 (Hardbacks Post Two)

Some more great book titles to get your pulse racing. The next post will be paperbacks, picture books and novelty books for October.

Philip Reeve - No Such Things As Dragons - Published by Scholastic 5 Oct 2009 (See book review)


A dragon story with a brilliant twist from multi award-winning writer, PHILIP REEVE. Ansel's new master slays dragons for a living. He says he's hunted the monstrous worms all over Christendom and has the scars to prove it. But is Brock just a clever trickster in shining armour? Ansel is sure there are no such things as dragons. So what ishe man-eating creature that makes its lair in the crags of Dragon Mountain? Ansel and Brock must climb the ice face to discover the terrifying truth.

Ian Beck - Pastworld - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing 5 Oct 2009 (Have this one to read)


Pastworld. A city within a city. A city for excursions and outings. Pastworld is a theme park with a difference, where travellers can travel back in time for a brush with an authentic Victorian past. But what if the Jack the Ripper figure stopped play-acting and really started killing people? For Caleb, a tourist from the present day, his visit goes terribly wrong when his father is kidnapped and he finds himself accused of murder. Then Caleb meets Eva Rose, a Pastworld inhabitant who has no idea the modern world exists. Both Caleb and Eva have roles to play in the murderer's diabolical plans - roles that reveal disturbing truths about their origins.

Chris Preistley & David Roberts - Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing 5 Oct 2009 (I love this series of books)


A boy is put on a train by his stepmother to make his first journey on his own. But soon that journey turns out to be more of a challenge than anyone could have imagined as the train stalls at the mouth of a tunnel and a mysterious woman in white helps the boy while away the hours by telling him stories - stories with a difference.

Martin Howard - The Wickedest Witch - Published by Pavilion 19 Oct 2009 (One to look out for)


The headline in The Cackler is grim. Old Biddy Vicious, the Most Superior High and Wicked Witch and owner of the Black Wand of Ohh Please Don't Turn Me Into Aaaaarghhh - Ribbett is dead. But witches like their news on the dark side and there is great anticipation in the witching world. After all, there will need to be a new leader and a diabolical competition to find out who is to become the new Most Superior High and Wicked Witch. Esmeila Sniff fancies her chances, after all she is exceedingly wicked and has warts in all of the right places. As she and her surprisingly cheerful apprentice, Sam, set off to find three other witches to nominate her for the job, the meanest and the baddest witches in the world are hatching their own devious plan to become "The Wickedest Witch".

Angie Sage - Syren - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing 5 Oct 2009 (Book one soon to be a film)


In the fifth book of this Magykal series, Septimus and his friends find themselves on an island whose secrets are as dark and dangerous as its inhabitants. Septimus Heap returns to the House of Foryx with Spit Fyre to pick up Jenna, Nicko, Snorri, and Beetle. But the journey home does not go well and when Septimus and his friends are caught in a storm, Spit Fyre crashes into the Rokk Lighthouse. They are rescued by the lighthouse keeper who is disturbingly sinister, and who has an equally sinister cat And all the while, Septimus is trying to fight the strange pull he's feeling to the island and its mysterious secrets.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

New Children's Books For October 2009 (Hardbacks Post one)

So many good hardback book releases in October, I have split this into two posts.
Lots of great reading and something to wet your appetite.

Kate Thompson -The White Horse Trick (New Policeman Trilogy) - published by Bodley Head Children's Books 1 Oct 2009


It is the latter part of the 21st century, and dramatic climate change has made life in Ireland almost impossible. Meanwhile, Tir na n'Og is faced with a refugee problem, and the king of the fairies is not happy about it and when it is revealed that the warlord who is behind the problem is a member of the Liddy family, JJ is sent to sort him out...Following on from "The New Policeman" and "The Last of the High Kings", "The White Horse Trick" travels from the now to far distant futures: from world's end to world's beginning.

Steve Augarde - X - isle - published by David Fickling Books 1 Oct 2009 - (Great book see book review)


Ever since the floods came and washed the world away, survivors have been desperate to win a place on X Isle, the island where life is rumoured to be easier than on what's left of the mainland. Only young boys are in with a chance, the smaller and lighter the better. Baz and Ray are two of the lucky few to be chosen, but they soon discover that X-Isle is a far cry from paradise. Ruled by Preacher John, a dangerous religious fanatic, it's a violent, unpredictable place where terrible things can happen at any moment. The boys hatch an extraordinary plan in order to protect themselves - the construction of a mighty weapon of defence. But can they complete this weapon in time, and are they really prepared to use it in order to secure their freedom? Powerful and compelling, "X Isle" is a fast-moving thriller that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

Scott Westerfeld - Leviathan - published by Simon & Schuster Children's 1 Oct 2009 (Looking forward to reading this one)


The year is 1914 and Europe, armed with futuristic machines and biotechnology, is on the precipice of war. Prince Aleksandar is fleeing for his life, having discovered that his parents have been assassinated and that he is now a target for the Clanker Powers, a group determined to take over the globe with their mechanical machinery. They will stop at nothing to get what they want, so Alek knows his only choice is to keep on running. When he meets Deryn Sharpe, an orphan girl who has disguised herself as a boy so she can to join the British Air Service, they form an uneasy, but necessary, alliance. But the pair will soon discover that their emerging friendship will dramatically change their lives and the entire course of the Great World War...

Darren Shan - Hell's Heroes ( The Demonata) published by HarperCollins Children's Books 1 Oct 2009


The final dramatic conclusion to Darren Shan's international phenomena, The Demonata. Expect the unexpected..."The girl gazes up at me. She's even younger than I thought, clutching a small teddy bear in one hand. 'Are you the bogey man?' she whispers, eyes round. 'Yes,' I croak, then take hold of her head with my huge, scarred, blood-soaked hands and crush..." Beranabus and Dervish are gone. Bec has formed an unholy alliance with Lord Loss. Kernel is blind, held on Earth against his will. Grubbs is mad with grief and spinning out of control. The demons are crossing. The Disciples are falling. The Shadow is waiting. Welcome to the end.

Joseph Delaney - The Spook's Stories: Witches - published by Bodley Head Children's Books 1 Oct 2009


This is a fabulous collection of stories based on many of the witches from Joseph Delaney's Spooks books. Ever wondered why the Spook doesn't trust girls who wear pointy shoes? Or why Grimalkin became the Assassin for the Malkin Witch clan? Find out all this and more in this a dark and eerie collection. You don't have to know the Spook's books to enjoy the stories. They're all standalone and absolutely haunting. This is a perfect introduction to the world of "The Spook's Apprentice". But for any fans of the series out there, this collection will be a must-have.

Sam Wilding - The Magic Scales - Denthan Series - Book Review

Mr Ripley's Review

I've just had a nice Scottish week away to the gateway of the Highlands - the picturesque and once thriving fishing town of Oban, which now relies on the tourist trade. I only took one book on my hols and read that quite early on, so I went in search of a local book to read - keeping me in the Scottish spirit of the week. We found this book in the local section of the bookstore; I was hooked by the synopsis.
It's a great little tale - a fantasy adventure for the young and old. The book is laced with humour and action throughout.
The journey follows two boys, one asthmatic and the other highly talkative, plus a magical fish who used to be a wizard! I know it perhaps sounds a little unbelievable but it's not. They embark on a rollercoaster ride to the fantasy land of Denthan. It's a nice wee tale, incorporating lots of well written creatures, which have been developed from the author's great imagination.
The book reads really well; lots of action and split story segments which bring all the characters alive to great affect. The book also encompasses lots of Tolkien-like battles making it very memorable. The reader is thrown head-first into the adventure and in doing so the pages of the book fly by. This a well crafted debut book from a new writer. Book two is apparently also in the shops entitled "The Second Gateway" which I did not see - published in April 2009. I will give this book a good four out of five and will track down the next installment before book three is published.

Published by Olida Publishing; First Edition edition 16 May 2008
For more information please check the author's website and click the link to this post.

>The Magic Scales synopsis:

James's father is missing. With no clue why his dad would run out on him and his mum, he hides out by an ancient stone circle to think. There, James discovers a dead stoat, crushed in an impossibly huge footprint. The mystery of what smashed the little animal leads James into finding Mendel, a wizard from another world called Denthan. Mendel has his own problems though. He's trapped in the body of a goldfish and Denthan's sun is about to die and destroy the planet. James is soon drawn into Mendel's plight and hopes against hope that the goldfish can somehow help him find his dad.

Will Denthan be saved? Can Mendel regain his true form? But more importantly, will James ever find his father?

About the author:

Born in Helensburgh, Scotland, Sam grew up beside Loch Lomond on the edge of the Scottish Highlands.

He gained an honours degree in Zoology at Glasgow University and always maintained a strong interest in nature and the outdoors. He also became involved in songwriting and through the years played rock guitar in the UK, Holland and America.

Sam soon moved on from song writing to poerty, short stories and eventually on to his first novel, The Magic Scales, Book One of the Denthan Series, which he wrote in the early hours of the morning for his oldest son, Ryan.

Sam still lives and works in the Scottish Highlands and is currently working on Book Three of the Denthan Series.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Steve Augarde - X-isle Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review

My enthusiasm to get hold of a copy of this book to read, resulted in the nice people at Random House sending out an early copy. As a result I feel incredibly privileged (and nervous) to be one of the first to write a review for this book.

I am glad to say that the anticipation and wait has engaged me in a worthwhile journey. I will be honest and state that I am a very big fan of Steve Augarde's work, after devouring the 'Various' Trilogy. In fact when they came to their sad end, I was not sure that Steve would and could write books that would equal, never mind better them. But Steve has risen to and conquered the challenge; I now embark on my mission to review his exciting and new masterpiece.

Surviving in a world, where most of the land is underwater, pockets of people endeavour to keep themselves alive. Trading becomes common place, everything is traded - even human life. As Rae and Baz, two young boys (only related by association) are traded by their parents to the Eck brothers. Unfortunately the optimism of hope and a better life for their children are not upheld, but of course they aren't aware of this. Instead the brothers' ruthless and sometimes cringe worthy actions, as well as the cruelty embarked upon by Steiner and Hutchinson, enforcers of the Eck brothers and preacher John's rules, persistently taint the boys lives. However circumstances prevail (I don't want to give much away) and moral justice, of a kind, enables wrong-doing to be righted - cloak and dagger jargon to protect the ending of the story.

The story has been imaginatively written, it is original and thought-provoking making it a gripping read. The constant developments within leaves the reader musing, as to whether the expected will actually happen. The abuse endured, both mental and physical, added to the heightened sense of tension and melodrama. One of my favourite aspects of the story involves the depiction of the character Preacher John and his twisted beliefs, which bring the book alive and cement the story. The ingenuity of Rae and Baz's plans never failed to intrigue, their 'back-to-nature' ideas were cleverly devised to produce an outstanding ending.

A super book, one of the best books I've read this year. I loved every page and was left wanting more. Totally emotional and a truly captivating read. I give this book five out of five. I want to know, will there be another book?

Published by David Fickling Books (1 Oct 2009)

Book synopsis

Ever since the floods came and washed the world away, survivors have been desperate to win a place on X Isle, the island where life is rumoured to be easier than on what's left of the mainland. Only young boys are in with a chance, the smaller and lighter the better. Baz and Ray are two of the lucky few to be chosen, but they soon discover that X-Isle is a far cry from paradise. Ruled by Preacher John, a dangerous religious fanatic, it's a violent, unpredictable place where terrible things can happen at any moment. The boys hatch an extraordinary plan in order to protect themselves - the construction of a mighty weapon of defence. But can they complete this weapon in time, and are they really prepared to use it in order to secure their freedom? Powerful and compelling, "X Isle" is a fast-moving thriller that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

About the Author

Steve Augarde was born in Birmingham, but spent most of his life in the West Country, working as an illustrator, paper-engineer, and semi-pro jazz musician. He has written and illustrated over 70 picture-books for younger children, and has produced the paper-engineering for many pop-up books, including those by other artists - as well as providing the artwork and music for two animated BBC television series. His first book for older children, THE VARIOUS, won a Silver Smarties Award in 2003.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

James Bond Museum - Keswick - England

We had a great day out in Keswick recently; one of things we did was take a visit to the Bond Museum. It's a great attraction to go to aswell as the Cars for the Stars museum, both of which are owned by the same person. A great family place to go to if you get the chance.

This article is taken from the

Keswick’s James Bond Museum will feature numerous vehicles and gadgets that were used in the James Bond films, all from the private collection of Peter Nelson who has been collecting James Bond items for 20 years.

Press Release

An exciting new museum will open in the Lake District on the 5th of April 2009. The Bond Museum is the brainchild of Peter Nelson who has been collecting James Bond items for 20 years and now has the biggest private collection in the World. The museum will feature several Aston Martin and Lotus cars used in the Bond films along side many other vehicles including the actual Russian T55 main battle tank used in the film GoldenEye, as well as boats , planes and even a Bell Jetranger helicopter.

The 5th of April is also a very special date being the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Albert R (Cubby) Broccoli. As a tribute to the Bond producer Nelson will unveil a bust on that date at the museum.

Nelson has also collected many of the props from the films, several being donated by many of the actors and crew. One of the iconic items on display will be the original Colibri Golden Gun plus many Q gadgets. However, it is the vehicles, many of which have never been seen by the public which will form the centre piece of the museum.

Nelson also owns the now famous Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in the town, but because the current museum is too small to house his large collection of Bond vehicles it had to have a new purpose built site close by.

“This will be a museum dedicated to the fans of 007,” states Nelson, who was a school boy when he first read the books of Ian Fleming and later became a fan himself of the films. “Like many others I have grown up with James Bond and its fantastic that the franchise continues in the very capable hands of the Fleming family, Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson and family,” says Nelson.

Ask him who is his favourite Bond and he states that each Bond was perfect for that era however his favourite film is Goldfinger, simply because it features the gadget laden DB5 which he states is the greatest car ever made—he should know he has two!

But Nelson has had his problems building such a major attraction, namely the sheer cost of the project. When he required a further extension to his overdraft he sent a very ‘tongue in cheek’ fax to his bank manager stating that failure to comply with his request would result in demolition of the bank with his tank. When the fax was intercepted by one of the junior staff in the absence of the manager he thought it a serious threat and nearly called the police! However the manager eventually granted the payment without recourse to Nelson’s threat!

At one time Nelson thought about selling the entire collection and did approach Christies, but on reflection he felt that it would be a shame to split the collection up since it is one of great historic as well as cultural importance. “Fans of Bond will want to see this collection in it’s entirety” Nelson states. And he has ensured that the museum has been completed to a standard that will impress visitors and also help to promote the films and the books. Nelson said that he is re reading Fleming’s books and has been so impressed how well written they are. “New Bond books have been written, but you simply can’t equal Fleming: he was an outstanding author”, says Nelson. Nelson also states that he is a great admirer of the work of Cubby Broccoli who he sites as a genius in his ability in finding and attracting the very best cast and crew for the films. “The most amazing thing is that Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson have been able to carry on Cubby’s superb legacy extremely well indeed, which was no mean feat.” He is therefore sure that Bond will go on for many years to come.

The museum will be open from the 5th April 10am to 5pm. The unveiling of Nelsons bust of ‘Cubby’ at 10am on that morning.

The Collection

•Vanquish Aston Martin from Die Another Day - the actual hero car used by Pierce Brosnan in the film.
•DB5 Uncle/Goldfinger car - The actual gadget laden car used in period Man from Uncle film, driven by James Bond. The original car was stolen.
•DB5 from GoldenEye - The actual Hero car used by Piece Brosnan
•Aston Martin V8 - The Living Daylights - The actual car used in the film
•Aston Martin DBS - On Her Majesty’s Secret Service - The actual car used in the film
•Lotus Esprit S1 from The Spy Who Loved Me - The actual car used in the film
•The Underwater Submarine from The Spy Who Loved Me - The actual submarine used
•Lotus Esprit Turbo white - For Your Eyes Only - The actual car used in the film
•Lotus Esprit Turbo copper - For Your Eyes Only - The actual car used in the film
•Scaramanga’s car - The Man With The Golden Gun - The actual car used in the film
•Mustang from Diamonds Are Forever - The actual two wheel stunt car
•General Ourumov’s Volga from GoldenEye - The actual car used in the film
•Renault Taxi from A View To A Kill - The actual car used in the film
•Tuk Tuk taxi - Both goodies and baddies from Octopussy - The actual vehicles used in the film
•Dragon tank - Dr No - a recreation for a major Bond event
•Mini Bede jet - Octopussy - From the Ian Fleming Foundation
•Skiddoo - Die Another Day - The actual vehicle from the film
•Parahawk - The World Is Not Enough - The actual vehicle from the film
•Jet Pack - Thunderball with a figure of Sean Connery. Especially built for a major show but some original parts included
•Toyota 2000 GT - You Only Live Twice - Thought to be one of only two/three in the world - with the original control panel from the film fitted
•Q Boat - The World Is Not Enough - The actual car/boat used in the film
•Fairey Huntress - From Russia With Love - The actual boat used in the film
•BMW Motorcycle - Tomorrow Never Dies - Both bikes including Pierre Goys own bike.
•Cagiva - GoldenEye - The actual bike used in the film
•Rocket firing Motorcycle from Thunderball - The actual one used in the film
•The Spy Who Loved Me bike with exploding side car - The actual one used in the film
•Space Shuttle - Model - The actual one used in the film Moonraker
•The Hovercraft from Die Another Day - The actual one used in the film
•The Glastron Speedboat from Live And Let Die - The actual one used in the film - the gold boat that Bond drives through wedding party
•Various other show/promotional items and vehicles. Including the red Glastron GT150 boat (claimed to be original but no docs!) Small Mig fighter from GoldenEye. Citroen 2cv display - model and full size.
•The Spy Who Loved Me Pinewood Reunion Wetbike
•The actual Landrover from Casino Royale
•Little Nel. Second cousin twice removed of Little Nellie Exhibition autogyro
•The ‘Pinewood’ The Spy Who Loved Me Stromberg Black 206 Jet Ranger Helicopter
•BMW 750iL Tomorrow Never Dies - with the actual blue screen Ericcson telephone
•Triumph Stag used by Sean in Diamonds are Forever
•Tank from GoldeneEye model - The actual one used in the film
•The actual Beach Buggy used in the film For Your Eyes Only
•The actual Russian T55 main battle tank from GoldenEye

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Barry Hutchison - Invisible Fiends:Mr Mumbles - Book Review

Book Review by Mr Mumbles and Mr Ripley

Mr Mumbles stumbles down a dark alleyway in search of young readers who own a copy of this book. The anticipation and the feeling of horror is what he feeds on as you read the pages which lie within this book. He could be lurking in a neighbourhood near you - his tall hat, big ears and bushy eyebrows, dancing in the moonlight, give a very big clue to this creatures whereabouts. If you unfortunately bump into him in the night, I suggest you run the other way.
Kyle's imaginary friend doesn't exist or he didn't until one day, when he heard something lurking in the attic. The story takes on a twisted tale of persual by his imaginary friend, who becomes not so friendly any more. There is a grudge to settle leaving Kyle running for his life.
This is a new series of exceedingly good books from a new voice in children's horror books. The book first came to my attention in the pre-run up to this years Bologna Book Fair as HarperCollins were showcasing this book; great things were said about this fresh new project.
The imaginative characters in this book feel realistic and as we speak, Mr Mumbles is on a train to Scotland, to find his creator and find out more about himself.
The feeling this book gives is not for the faint-hearted; its twists and turns regarding the families past is too much to bear. The action and the battle scars are also severe.
I loved reading this book as I re-lived all the dangers and heart stopping momments throughout its entirety. It makes it a top read for all children and adults; leaving an everlasting edgy feeling as Mr Mumbles is a well-crafted character in the making. The book has lots to offer and would work really well as a film. I give this book five out five; I will definitely follow Mr Mumbles on his next outing - to the grave yard!

Book published by HarperCollins Children's Books 7 Jan 2010

Book synopsis

Kyle's imaginary friend from childhood is back! with a vengeance. Kyle hasn't seen Mr Mumbles in years. And there's a good reason for that: Mr Mumbles doesn't exist. But now Kyle's imaginary friend is back, and Kyle doesn't have time to worry about why. Only one thing matters: staying alive! A major series from a fresh new talent, brought to you by the publisher that put horror on the map.

About the author

Barry Hutchison is from the Highlands of Scotland, currently writing books for children.
Over the past decade and a bit I’ve written everything from screenplays to magazine articles, but didn’t turn my hand to children’s books until late 2006, at the suggestion of another author, Tommy Donbavand.

Since then I’ve written six 7-9 year old adventure novels for Egmont Press, and have recently sold Invisible Fiends, a six book horror-series, to HarperCollins Children’s Books.

I am thirty-one years old – but on a good day could easily pass for mid-forties – and live happily with my long-term partner and our six year old son.

I am tall – but not like the BFG or that – and like seafood, comics and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Rebecca Stead - When You Reach Me - Guest Review

This looks a great read from the U.S I have heard really good things about this book.

Book Review by Meghan Cox Gurdon (Thanks for this great Review!)

Young readers may not realize how terrific “When You Reach Me” is until they’ve almost finished it. Rebecca Stead’s writing here is so clean and unfussy that it’s ­almost deceptive: The complexity of the story is obvious in hindsight, but only the most attentive children are likely to catch all the author’s clues the first time through. At its heart, the book is a mystery, but ­precisely what puzzle is being solved in these closely plotted pages remains itself a mystery until the end, when the main character has a series of jaw-dropping realizations. We see events unfolding through the eyes of 12-year-old Miranda, who lives with her single mother in a scruffy Manhattan high-rise in 1979. A savvy latchkey kid, Miranda normally walks home from school with her best friend, Sal, past the intimidating boys who lurk by the garage and past the crazy homeless guy who has recently started hanging out on the corner. Then things start going wrong. One of the garage boys ­inexplicably punches Sal in the stomach. Suddenly, Sal won’t talk to Miranda, and someone steals the ­extra key to her apartment. Soon, Miranda begins ­receiving enigmatic notes on bits of paper: “I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own,” reads the first message. “The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you.” Readers age 9-15 (and older) will share Miranda’s wonderment as she discovers who has been communicating with her, and why, and are likely to find themselves chewing over the details of this superb and intricate tale long afterward.

Book Published by Wendy Lamb Books July 14, 2009

Book Synopsis

Four mysterious letters change Miranda's world forever. By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it's safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner. But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda's mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own. I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she's too late.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Philip Reeve - No Such Thing As Dragons Book Review

(Picture used from Amazon)

Mr Ripley's Book Review

I am a really big fan of Philip Reeve's work. So the day I found out he had a new book coming out, I had to find out if I could get myself a pre-publication copy. I am rarely able to wait for books, so when my copy landed from the skies I was chuffed to bits and eager to read it.
This is a new tale from Philip which is told in a simple, traditional way which is both enjoyable and addictive. I literally could not put it down, until I'd read the whole book in one go (the best way to read a book in my opinion.)
This is a majestic tale of dragons, written with a different approach which is neither predictable or repetitive. The story starts when Ansel, a mute boy, is sold by his by his father to a heroic dragon slayer. They both set out to find and kill the mythical beast of a dragon, but is there really a dragon or is it all fantasy?
The book is a great read for all ages and one I would recommend to reluctant readers. I particularly appreciated the small sketches, incorporated into each chapter page, which give a visual depiction of the on-going story. This plot is simple yet descriptive, with an engaging and gripping adventure. The amazing fantasy transports the reader into the eyes of one of the characters used in the book. The ending takes on an unexpected twist which adds to the possibility of a sequel, I hope!! I give this book four out of five.

Book Published by Scholastic 5 Oct 2009

Book Synopsis

Ansel's new master slays dragons for a living. He says he's hunted the monstrous worms all over Christendom and has the scars to prove it. But is Brock just a clever trickster in shining armour? Ansel is sure there are no such things as dragons. So what is the man-eating creature that makes its lair in the crags of Dragon Mountain? Ansel and Brock must climb the ice face to discover the terrifying truth.

More books by Philip Reeve

Hungry City Chronicles
1. Mortal Engines (2001)
2. Predator's Gold (2003)
3. Infernal Devices (2005)
4. A Darkling Plain (2006)
Mortal Engines Quartet (omnibus) (2009)

Buster Bayliss
4. Custardfinger (2003)
The Big Freeze (2002)
Day of the Hamster (2002)
Night of the Living Veg (2002)

1. Larklight (2006)
2. Starcross (2007)
3. Mothstorm (2008)

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Daniel and Dina Nayeri - Another Faust Book Review

Mr Ripley's book review

I have to say before I start this review, that this is a style of book that I would not normally read. But for research and exploration in to the unknown I decided to read it anyway.
The book starts out on a journey with five children who vanish from home; five years later they are introduced to the elite at Manhattan Marlowe School by their strange governess. The tale tantalises and grips the reader from this point on, setting a chilling tale with epic proportions. The further this story is entered, the more it leads you into the different worlds of each character. Madame Vileroy manipulates all the children gaining control over their actions. The outcome of each scenario is well-crafted and educated in its setting.
The book has a lot to offer the reader on many levels and is well written; I appreciated its ending. Unfortunately at various points I lost the plot a little due to the overly complicated and detailed character dialogue. I give this book three out of five as it unfortunately proved to be not my cup of tea.

Book Published by Candlewick August 25, 2009 Young Adult

Book 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 side effects 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 re imagining of the Faustian bargain is a compelling tale of ambition, consequences, and ultimate redemption.

About the Author

Daniel Nayeri has held many book-related jobs, including editor, literary agent, and children’s librarian. He is also a professional pastry chef and award-winning stuntman.

His sister, Dina Nayeri Viergutz, is a former teaching fellow in economics who holds both an MBA and a master’s of education from Harvard University. Both were born in Iran and now live in New York City and Amsterdam, respectively.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Charlie Higson Talks about his new book The Enemy

Thanks for the comment about this trailer I thought I would put it up to show you all!
Also see book review on this site.

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: and a few more images at our Sawhorse Books site:
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


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.