Saturday, 23 January 2010

Michelle Harrison - The Thirteen Curses - Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review
The first book in this series was a 2009 personal favourite of mine. I felt the author had her work cut out, in order to either match or produce something even more spectacular, than she had previously written. Quite a task, and one that could leave many a writer quivering in their own boots of success . . . 

However, as I have come to expect from Michelle, I was far from disappointed; the writing was exquisite. Whilst the book started fairly slowly it soon gained in momentum, with a steady pace to the very end. The chapters that particularly covered the entrapment of Red, and a host of other misfortunate characters, are superbly written - voiced through a particularly dark and moody tone. I thought they were fantastic, so much so that they are actually at the point of brilliance!

The only aspect that didn't quite gel for me at points, was the sub-plot related to Rowan and Michael's background. I felt it weighted the pace of the story line down at times, and left it feeling slightly unnecessary. I acknowledge that it all ties in towards the end but I would have liked more of the story to have featured in the Fey world.

Red, Tanya and Fabian have to solve the riddle and find all the charms, which take the form of the "Thirteen Curses". This leads them all into head long experiences involving mystery and danger; leaving the reader engaged but also somewhat apprehensive as to what might happen next.

The ending uncovers some great twists and a number of thought provoking moments, these give a different take through the whole journey. This has great appeal for all readers, with something to entice all of you into the realm of the fairies.

Will this be the end or the start of new things to come?

Book Published by Simon & Schuster - Jan 2010

Book Synopsis
The Thirteen Treasures have become the Thirteen Curses. When fairies stole her brother, Red vowed to get him back. Now trapped in the fairy realm, she begs an audience with the fairy court where she strikes a bargain. Her brother will be returned - but only if she can find the thirteen charms of Tanya's bracelet that have been scattered in the human world. Returning to Elvesden Manor, Red is assisted by Tanya and Fabian and a desperate hunt begins. Soon they make a shocking discovery. The charms now have twisted qualities of the thirteen treasures they represent...and the longer they are missing the worse the consequences will be. Can Red, Tanya and Fabian find all the charms? And even if they do, will the fairies keep their promise?

About the Author
Michelle Harrison is 29 years old and an editorial assistant in children's publishing. She is a former bookseller at Ottakars/Waterstones in Stafford. Originally from Grays in Essex, she is a keen illustrator as well as writer and now lives in Oxfordshire with her partner. Her debut novel THE THIRTEEN TREASURES won the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize in 2009. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Alex Bell - Lex Trent Versus the Gods

Thanks to Sam for sending me more details about this great forthcoming title. I mentioned this book some time ago, in the February picks post, as it looks a great read. I for one, am really looking forward to reading it once it's been published.

About the book...........
Perfect for fans of The Edge ChroniclesLex Trent Versus the Gods is the first in a new comic fantasy series by brilliant Gollancz author Alex Bell. The book turns on its head the notion that cheats never prosper, following trickster Lex Trent as he cheats, swindles and lies his way to the top under the guidance of the Goddess of Fortune.“There are some people who are born lucky. They seem to float through life on little golden wings whilst misfortune, hardship and calamity hurry to get out of their hallowed way. One might say that Lex Trent was such a person.” 

Whilst Lex is seemingly dedicated to his legal studies he’s always enjoyed a challenge – which is why he leads a double life as the notorious cat burglar ‘The Shadowman’ who has been (luckily) evading capture for years.  But Lex’s luck is about to run out because the Goddess of Fortune has selected him to be her player in the highly dangerous Games. Losing is not an option for Lex (particularly as it so often involves dying) but can he really win each of the perilous rounds? Given that the reward for doing so is money, fame and glory – all things that Lex is quite keen on – he’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure he will... and he’s certainly got good experience of cheating.

Book Published by Headline - 4 February 2010
About the author
Alex Bell has always wanted to be a writer but had several different back-up plans ranging from a dolphin trainer to animal shelter vet but then, at fifteen, she had an epiphany involving John and Robert Kennedy and decided to become a lawyer instead.  She studied Law on and off for six long years before the boredom became so overwhelming that she had to throw down the textbooks and run madly from the building. Since then she has never looked back.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Jon Mayhew - Mortlock - Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review
I have had this book for quite a while now; I have been keeping it back for the special moment that I know as 'savouring time'. However as the last book I reviewed had a character called 'Mortlock' (The Obsidian Key), I thought that the 'savouring' moment had finally arrived to dust the book down and start the reading journey. . . . .

The book starts with some speed, taking you straight into the action from the very first page. The author certainly sets the standard from the beginning and delivers a delicious piece of Gothic horror - you will struggle to find this quality from any other debut author. 

Dark humour is sprinkled throughout the story and gives an added dimension to the book - showing characters' emotions in the face of evil. The book is based upon an original story plot but is greatly enhanced by the incredible description of individual characters; inflicting brutal acts on their victims and intimidating all who have the unfortunate luck to encounter them! My favourite though, are the beaky-like creatures known as 'Ghuls,' who show up at the Great Cardamom house and menace them - all at devastating and perilous lengths.

The plot is developed around the search of a powerful item, known as the Amarant, which holds the power of life and death. Everyone wants to become the master of this object and the owner of these powers. The mysteries that unfold encompass raging battles to find the 'Amarant' first. The backdrop to the story is well executed, keeping  you on edge the whole time. The further you delve into the story the more it freaks you out.

The end swiftly comes to a close but not too quickly. Instead it left me feeling distinctly satisfied (even though I didn't want it to end). The only mystery I was left with, related to whether the story may be further developed into a sequel, as the ending felt fairly final to me.

Book Synopsis
The sister is a knife-thrower in a magician's stage act, the brother an undertaker's assistant. Neither orphan knows of the other's existence. Until, that is, three terrible Aunts descend on the girl's house and imprison her guardian, the Great Cardamom. His dying act is to pass the girl a note with clues to the secret he carries to his grave. Cardamom was one of three explorers on an expedition to locate the legendary Amarant, a plant with power over life and death. Now, pursued by flesh-eating crow-like ghuls, brother and sister must decode the message and save themselves from its sinister legacy.

About The Author
Jon Mayhew is a man with a dark imagination, who has always loved writing and storytelling. An English teacher (to children and teenagers) for 20 years, he now works as a specialist teacher for children with autism. He has four children himself and, when neither teaching nor writing, he plays in ceilidh bands and runs marathons. Mortlock is his first novel. Jon lives between the ancient cities of Chester and Liverpool.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Eleanor J Cramphorn - The Obsidian Key - Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review
This is a great time of the year in which to reflect on books, both past and present, as well as providing an opportunity to look over the bookshelves at forgotten reads. In this particular case this is how I stumbled upon  The Obsidian Key - for some reason this book went un-read . . . . . . until now. 

I was transported to a world of colourful characters, strange lands, and dangerous journeys. All of which have been set against a backdrop of a world fearful of the evil intentions of the militaristic land of Wintermark, and its Prince Regent Sigvard. The book is steeped in historical fantasy; transporting the reader to a magical place in the Orient. It is a breathtaking read, perhaps this is due it being incredibly well written. It is exciting, funny and yet still moving.

The story follows the quest of a teenage boy, Takeshi or Tackers as he is referred to by some of his friends later on, to avenge the death of his family by the evil Sigvard of Wintermark. Along the way we meet all sorts of interesting characters - my favourite by far being Vincent Di Luna, also known as 'Midnight' (a gentleman by day and thief by night). The book has so many levels to it that I think it would appeal to all ages; there's magic, battles, relationships and much much more.

The only downside to this book is that it ends on a cliffhanger, and with no sequel insight! I'm presuming that this is due to it being published by the small, but wonderful, publishing company Pen Press. So the question is, will we see the next book in the sequel to rival this great start and resolve the cliffhanger that I find myself left with?

An excellent book by a brilliant new author; I was very surprised to find such an amazing gem. This is one of the best debut books you will read - if you can still track down a copy, you will not be disappointed. For those who particularly loved Liam Hearn's series of books 'Tales of Otori', I think you will enjoy this book.

Book Synopsis
A cruel and powerful prince with ice-blue eyes and the voice of a dagger sheathed in silk - Sigvard of Wintermark will stop at nothing in his quest to find the Key...But to become immortal, unstoppable, unconquerable, he now needs to find the Lock of Animus. A peaceful, idyllic island off Okoku is savagely invaded and only Takeshi Senshi survives - the rest of his family and the island's inhabitants are brutally murdered. Now Takeshi, the boy with the unusual keyhole-shaped eyes, seeks revenge. Swordfights and sorcerers - this is a gripping story of good versus evil, courage and fear, love and hate.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Book Vote - Favorite Debut Book Author Of 2009 - Plus Book Proof Competition

It's time for another vote to find Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books 'Debut Author of 2009'. The battle is on for eight hand-picked authors to be crowned with this glorious title, so good luck to you all. 

Readers and fans it is now time to vote for your favourite - don't forget there's a prize for one lucky person, who leaves a comment on this post. The stunning prize this week is a proof copy of Andy McNab's new book DropZone, which will be published in February.  I hope this tempts your reading appetite, as I loved reading this book (see my book review).  I look forward to reading your comments and watching the unfolding battle commence. The book competition is open to everyone, so please Twitter this to your friends for them to get involved too.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling

This is My U.S Book pick for February 2010

Book Review 
Fresh from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, 15-year-old Penelope Lumley reports to remote but palatial Ashton Place and discovers just why the advertisement for a governess indicated a strong preference for "Experience with Animals." The three young children are not the offspring of disdainful newlywed Lady Ashton but were recently found in the forest, raised (apparently) by wolves. Lacking magical props but in every other respect a Mary Poppins in the bud, Miss Lumley quickly gets the wild but winning trio out of the barn and into the nursery, washed, properly dressed and thanks to a savvy strategy of "careful demonstration, a great deal of repetition, and the occasional use of tasty treats"on the road to civilized behavior. Tongue so forcibly in cheek that medical intervention may be required, Wood plunges her inexperienced but resourceful heroine into an unusually challenging domestic situation, winds the plot up and closes with an aftermath laced with tantalizing hints that All Is Not As It Seems. 

Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.
Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.
But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?

Book Published by Balzer & Bray/Harperteen 23 Feb 2010

Friday, 1 January 2010

M.G Harris - Zero Moment - Joshua Files Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review
This book is more than just a boy action adventure. Under the surface you can actually depict a sensitive side to the story, which I was not expecting.
The start of the book is actually quite deep; rich in its exploration of characters' feelings, emotions and thoughts, which are written in greater depth than in the previous two books within the series.
The book feels like the reader is engaging in a head long rush of excitement and into a long journey containing peril and danger. There's lots of flying that takes place in the 
 Muwan including a visit to Brazil, to the World Capoeira Championships, which is the starting point where the story explodes into life.

As with the other books in the series, the research and knowledge that is crammed into each novel makes for a more detailed and captivating story. This just highlights the greatness of this series for me and makes it stand out from all other books in this genre.

Another great aspect of the book is how it engages the reader throughout. The story, right from the first paragraph, continues to build up layers until it reaches a surreal moment where Josh meets a ghost from the past. I especially liked this part of the book as it was like floating on a little cloud over Mexico looking down at yourself, swimming in the streamline - if you know what I mean?

The idea of time travel is explored within the book, this captivated my full attention - I am a sucker for a good time travel idea! I have to say that I did connect with this book in a big way. It's certainly a great end of year feeling to find such a good book like this. The author believes that a great book is not created by just one person but in fact it is a team contribution that produces such a great book for us to read. So thanks to all of you involved in producing such a book for us to enjoy. The only thing I can do now is give it five out of five.

What can we ask for in the next book? In my opinion just more of the same great writing and perhaps a quicker publication date so that I can read it very soon - otherwise I may have to build me a time machine to read it now!

Book Published By Scholastic; 1 February  2010

Book Synopsis:Josh thinks he has discovered the key to time travel. Should he use it to go back in time and save his father? Ixchel knows what he intends to do. Should she stop him? Before they can decide, Ixchel is kidnapped by the people who want to see an ancient prophecy predicting the end of the world in 2012 come true. It's up to Josh to save Ixchel and possibly save the world. Time is running out in the exhilarating third part of the best-selling Joshua Files. the legendary Ix Codex - a lost book of the ancient Maya containing a prophecy about the end of the world...

If  you like to read more about the book or the author take a trip to M.G Harris web 

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Mr Ripley's - Top 10 Book Covers of 2009

Book 10 - Mike Wilks -  Mirrorstorm -  Book Published By Egmont Books U.K

Book 9 - David Whitley - The Midnight Charter -   Book Published By Roaring Brook Press - U.S

Book 8 - Steve Augarde -  X Isle - Book Published By David Fickling Books - U.K

Book 7 - DI Toft - Wolven - Book Published By Chicken House  - U.K

Book 6 - Ian Beck - Pastworld - Book Published By Bloomsbury -  U.K

Book 5 -  Brandon Mull - Fableheim -  Book Published By Penhaligon Verlag - German

Book 4 - Arthur Slade - The Hunchback Assignments - Book Published By HarperCollins - Canada

Book 3 - Cherie Priest - Boneshaker - Book Published By Tor - U.S

Book 2 - Darren Shan - The Demonata - Dark Calling - Book Published By Little,Brown Books - U.S

Book 1 - Daniel Kirk - The Elf Realm: The High Road - Book Published By Amulet Books - U.S (Mr Ripley's Book Cover of the year 2009)

A great year for the book cover. Let us know your favorite book covers of 2009. 

Any you like here?

Monday, 28 December 2009

Sam Enthoven - Crawlers Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review
They will do anything for their queen and soon, so will you..... 
The book cover is a one off intrigue; keeping you guessing as to what's inside the pages of this crazy book. So take some time; have a peruse at the book cover and you will be drawn into the story. 
This is a new take on Sam's writing - he has stepped up the horror factor to great affect after living off instant noodles and freshly cooked spider's legs! The plot is based around a living horror, which begins on a school trip to the Barbican, as the fire alarm starts the story unfolds. It draws you into a weird and scary place - a place that you would never expect to find yourself in. The pages start to turn faster then a demon infested runaway train at this point.
The depiction of the Crawlers is a nastiness to behold and is delivered well on its way to hell. The strange spider-like creatures swarm through the building attacking people and turning them into vicious killers; something is crawling down my spine but the book review must be continued. 
Lots of questions are asked of all the children, which makes for a real sense of drama and tension, as trust and their possibilities for escape are (at the best of times) quite bleak! In essence this story is a fast paced 'seat-of-your-pants-ride' of terrifying Zombies and a sinister alien queen, who wants to take over the world, I believe she might have a lot in common with the author!  
This book gets four out of five, as I found the start a little bit too slow - perhaps a little too much dialogue between the children at the start. This slowed the pace down, especially in comparison with the much faster paced action that followed.
It's always a pleasure to read and love a book by a great author. Sam is a great ambassador within the world of children's books. I'm looking forward to the next new book in April - bring it on Sam.
Book Published by Corgi Books 1 April 2010
Book Synopsis......
Ben is on a school trip. So is Jasmine. What they don't know is that not everybody in the theatre is there to watch the play and, in fact, they'll never get to see it ...There is panic at the Barbican when the fire alarms start wailing, but the strangely silent theatre staff, trap them inside the building rather than letting them out to safety. Ben, Jasmine and their classmates soon discover that there's no fire - what's happening is much weirder, and much scarier. Strange spider-like creatures swarm through the building attacking people and turning them into vicious killers, and the kids have to run for their lives. But barricaded in an office, with these creatures waiting outside for them, the children realise they're stuck. Will they ever get out? And, more importantly can they trust each other?

About the author
For the last ten years Sam Enthoven has been working as a part-time bookseller, living largely on a diet of instant noodles and parsnips while honing his skills as a writer of thrillers for young people. He is passionately - possibly 'certifiably' - committed to the ideal of books that make kids want to read; if you like The Black Tattoo, you should see what he writes now he can afford something decent to eat once in a while.

Other books by Sam
The Black Tattoo (2006)
Tim:Defender of the Earth (2008)
Crawlers (2010)
Seed (2010)

Thursday, 24 December 2009

William Hussey - Witchfinder:Dawn of the Demontide - Book Review

Book Review

The smell of the Demontide is upon us (the reader), the anticipation is strong as the writer drags us down to a living hell. The swirl of poisonous frogs and green mist encompass the reader and then toss them back down with a horrifying thud. Witches, Demons and blood sacrifices are themes that are accounted for in this book, which is disturbing and certainly keeps everyone on edge. 

We may have a new master of 'Dark Fiction' for 2010 - the book spooks all our living senses and sets us on a tale of terror but with a fantastic plot intertwined throughout. The book has a slow start but gains momentum as the mysteries of Hobarron and its character's are delved into. I love the feel of this book including the ending.

This series of books will go down well with the evil and darker happenings of other great children's book writers, this will be the genre for 2010 as lots of interesting books are to be published next year. So much more to come, I think.

Book Published by Oxford University Press - March 2010

Book Synopsis
The first in a terrifying trilogy, read on if you dare: Jake could now see the demon fully. Its body was a mass of steely sinew, its arms roped with muscle. Six fingers sprouted from its hands, each ending in lethal talons. The thing did not possess a nose; instead a large hole, bubbling with green mucus, occupied the middle of its face. Mr Pinch's tongue flickered between his teeth and slurped across his fat lips. He was hungry. When a violent storm rages around the little village of Hobarron's Hollow, a young boy is sacrificed 'for the greater good'. His blood is used to seal a mystical doorway and prevent an apocalyptic disaster known only as the Demontide. Twenty-five years later, another boy, Jake Harker, is about to be drawn into the nightmare of the Demontide. Witches and their demon familiars stalk his every move, and his dreams are plagued by visions of a 17th Century figure known only as the Witchfinder. When his father is abducted, Jake must face the terrible secrets kept by those closest to him and a shocking truth that will change his life forever . . .

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Ben Horton - Monster Republic - Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review

I am the monster and the monster shall be a hero. This tale may be the book you are looking for or it might not.
This is a new voice for 2010, from the author who's goal is to steal young peoples imaginations from the gaming world. The book is based on a manic Cyber romp of Sci-Fi mayhem in the world of a madman. Dr Fry is the evil character of the book, which sets out to make Frankenstein monsters out of children, in order to make an indestructible army of Superhuman soldiers . It's a fast paced action-packed book; the short chapters and great dialogue keep the book bouncing along. The book features some feisty encounters through various detailed battles, as Cameron comes to grip with many of his artificial enhancements.
Moral issues are tackled in the face of the truth and the belief in doing what's right. The book will appeal to many a reader and is a very exciting start to a new series. The next book has so much scope, it will be one of the many great books which I will be looking forward to.
The only negativity I have is with the ending, as I did find one aspect a little bit feeble. I will give this four out of five - a captivating read with many possibilities for the next one.

Book Published by Corgi in January 2010

Book synopsis
An explosion in a nuclear power plant. Kids patched up with scavenged body parts and bionic implants. A growing army of superhuman soldiers programmed for destruction. 'No', whispered Cameron to the monster in the glass. And he watched it shaking its hideous head. 'That's not me. You're not me'. As commercial and compelling as a computer game, this is the first book in a major new series. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

David Miller - Sea Wolf - Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review
This is the second book by David Miller - featuring the same three children, it follows them on a journey filled with danger and an incredible adventure that springs out of nowhere.

The book is told as a traditionally spun tale of action adventure, for the younger person. The writer uses his experiences of a foreign land and seduces the reader into a paradise world, that suddenly goes wrong in a bad way. The children have a nose for finding trouble, and trouble finds them in many ways!
The book encompasses some quite graphic descriptions of how to be killed, which is not for the squeamish. One such tale is based on the death of a thousand cuts to the body, so you have been warned! But the story is actually a great read (in my opinion) and builds well on the previous book in the series.

I love the plot with its twists and turns, as well as the development of the varied and unique characters. It's a great page turner with superb action scenes including battles, sinking ships, shark-infested waters and a really nasty 'baddie' that you want to see pay the price at the end!
The book has a surreal like quality to its reading, it's like drifting out to sea with a golden sunset as a backdrop and believing in everything that life has to offer.This book gets a good four out of five;  the next  book in this series is entitled "Leopard's Claw," which you only have to wait until July to read - can't wait.

Book Published by Oxford University Press -  7 January 2010

About the Book

HUNTED. TRAPPED. DESPERATE. Shipwrecked after a ferocious storm, Hanna, Ned and Jik come face to face with a murderous foe. They must escape or die. But how do you outrun a bullet ...Or out swim a shark?
Hanna and Ned are excited to be back on Shark Island with their friend Jik but when their boat is destroyed by a typhoon, their lives as they know it are swept away. They face a desperate battle - not just with the sea, but with an enemy obsessed with revenge.

About the Author
David Miller was born into a farming family in a small Norfolk village. After Cambridge he spent most of his career in advertising, as a copywriter, and later a creative director at the major international agency Ogilvy and Mather (where, incidentally, he shared an office with Salman Rushdie for more than a year).

Saturday, 12 December 2009

New Books Out February 2010 - The Picks Of The Month

Andy McNab - DropZone:BK.1 - Published By Doubleday Books - 4 Feb 2010 - ( See Book Review)

Book Synopsis
Ethan Blake is seventeen and desperate to escape from his dead-end life. When he sees someone B.A.S.E. jump from the top of his block of flats, it changes the way he sees the world for ever. Soon, Ethan is caught up in the adrenaline-fuelled world of skydiving. He's a natural, so it's no surprise when he's invited to join an elite skydive team, but is he signing up for more than just jumping out of planes? The team's involved in covert military operations - missions that require a special kind of guts, missions so secret even MI5 denies all knowledge.

Steve Feasey - Changeling:Blood Wolf - Published by Macmillan Children's - 5 Feb 2010 - (Need to read this one.)

Book Synopsis:

Trey thought he was the only one.
It was a lie.
The last hereditary werewolf has found his pack – and they’re vicious, bloodthirsty,aBndtruly wild.
Trey has had enough of vampires, demons and sorcerors. He needs to get in touch with his real family – the ones with fur, fangs and killer instincts.
But the wolf pack howling at the moon in Canada is not what he expected. And without the protection of de-fanged vampire and demon-hunter Lucien Charron, the family secret is more dangerous than he ever knew. Trey’s out of control. Can the werewolf be tamed?

M.G Harris - Zero Moment(The Joshua Files) - Published By Scholastic - 1 Feb 2010 

Book Synopsis:
Josh thinks he has discovered the key to time travel. Should he use it to go back in time and save his father? Ixchel knows what he intends to do. Should she stop him? Before they can decide, Ixchel is kidnapped by the people who want to see an ancient prophecy predicting the end of the world in 2012 come true. It's up to Josh to save Ixchel and possibly save the world. Time is running out in the exhilarating third part of the best-selling Joshua Files. the legendary Ix Codex - a lost book of the ancient Maya containing a prophecy about the end of the world...

Tom Becker - Blackjack (Darkside) - Published By Scholastic - 1 Feb 2010

Book Synopsis:
Jonathan is shocked when he finds out his mother has been locked away in Darkside's most infamous madhouse, The Bedlam, for years - and he's determined to rescue her. But with the rotten borough's brutal new leader causing mass chaos, a mysterious stone wreaking havoc on all who possess it, and the wereman Carnegie nowhere to be found, will he be able to save his mum without losing everything else?

Alex Bell - Lex Trent Versus the Gods - Published by Hedline - 4 Feb 2010

Book Synopsis:
A quirky and original comic fantasy from talented Gollancz author Alex Bell
Law student Lex Trent’s world is inhabited by fearsome magicians, ageing crones and a menagerie of Gods and Goddesses. And while Lex is seemingly dedicated to his legal studies he’s always enjoyed a challenge – which is why he leads a double life as the notorious cat burglar ‘The Shadowman’ who has been (luckily) evading capture for years.

But Lex’s luck is about to run out because the Goddess of Fortune has selected him to be her player in the highly dangerous Games. Losing is not an option for Lex (particularly as it so often involves dying) but can he really win each of the perilous rounds? Given that the reward for doing so is money, fame and glory – all things that Lex is quite keen on – he’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure he will... and he’s certainly got good experience of cheating.

Neal Shusterman - Everwild - Published By Simon & Schuster - 4 Feb 2010
Book Synopsis:
Nick the "chocolate ogre" wants to help the children of Everlost to reach the light at the end of the tunnel, and is slowly handing each child a coin which will release them from Everlost. But Mary Hightower wants to trap the children forever, and joins forces with Pugsy Capone, a death boss, who gains allies in a terrible way...Meanwhile, Allie has gone in search for her parents and joins up with a group of "skinjackers". But, as her search takes her further away from Nick and the children of Everlost, Allie uncovers a shocking seems that "skinjackers" are not actually dead...In this riveting sequel to the imaginative, supernatural thriller, Everlost, there is new dark force to be reckoned with.

Gabrielle Lord - Conspiracy 365 February - Published By Hodder Children's - 4 Feb 2010
Book Synopsis
On New Year's Eve, Callum Ormond is chased down the street by a crazed man with a deadly warning:
They killed your father.
They'll kill you.
You must survive the next 365 days!
Now he's on the run. The people who killed his father want him dead, and the police are chasing him for a crime he didn't commit. A month has gone by and he's still no nearer to solving the Ormond Riddle, the family secret that has turned his life into a nightmare. Can he trust the mysterious Winter Frey, or will she lead him further into danger?
He has 334 days. The clock is ticking...

Monday, 7 December 2009

Rachel Hawkins - Hex Hall - Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review
Are you a practicing Witch, Faerie or Vampire? Do you love a book that casts a spell on the reader? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, then this may well be the book for you. As a shapeshifter myself I like to morph into a good book and, I have to say I definitely found one here. The quicker I read a book, the greater the sign that I am enjoying it; this took less then five hours in one sitting! 

The magical experience of all the characters was a joy to read. I loved the story and was extremely surprised about it, to tell the truth. You' ve no idea where the book is going to take you but it definitely has a blockbuster feel, as well as a feeling of being fresh and not like a book you may have read before.
The plot was particularly good and the relationships between the characters worked well. The angst and romantic nature was not too over the top; making it more appealing to both boys and girls.
The story is set around the shabby outward looking school of Hecate Hall. The reform school is for wayward 'Prodigium,' who have been attracting too much human attention.
This is going to be a real hit next year with readers; it's fun, witty and very uber-cool. It has great twists and turns with a climatic ending which will enhance the enthusiasm for the next book in the series. This is currently known as 'Hexy Times' but could be subject to change prior to publication.
I am going to give four out of five, as I need to know more about the history and the events which connect the story. A fine debut book and a great new series - one which I believe will catch the eye of film makers. The only downside to the book is its front cover, which I feel is not appealing enough for boys. I'd be interested to know whether other people feel the same.

Book published by Hyperion Books in the U.S  March 2010 

Book Synopsis Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Mark Walden - Dreadnought - High Institute Of Villainous Education

Book Review:
I loved this series of books, starting with the very first book I was given at the FCBG conference by a nice person from Bloomsbury. I have to say they are among some of my personal all time favourite reads. The story-lines within each book are packed full of action and take the reader on a whirlwind ride. These are the type of books reluctant boy readers will love and could encourage them to read more. I have not heard many people, who have read these, say a bad thing about any of them.

The books are centred around some great characters, who are part of a villainous group know as G.L.O.V.E (Global League Of Villainous Enterprises). The battle and scrapes they all get themselves into make for top quality reading, that keep the reader transfixed to the pages. The story and dialogue in all of the books are tight and engaging. The plots are clever and well constructed. 

Mark Walden (before writing books) spent ten years producing video games and so has a good idea in knowing what entertains children - lots of action and great imagination, some cool and likable characters; with lots of bad guys. Another five out of five - I appear to be saving the best books to last this year.

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?

H.I.V.E Books:

Book One - H.I.V.E - Higher Institute of Villainous Education - 2006
Book Two - The Overlord Protocol - 2007
Book Three - Escape Velocity - 2008
Book Four - Dreadnought - 2009 ( also a world book day book - Interception point)
Book Five - Rouge - 2009 - All books are published by Bloomsbury010)

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Andy McNab - DropZone - Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review

I have to say when I got this book I was hooked from the start. The book cover on the proof copy is one of the best I have seen for a long time but I'm not sure if it will look like this when it is published, as I have seen another cover (which is shown below.) The story Andy has written is one of the best action boy style books I have read for a long time. One of the characters in the book is so well written it could be even Andy himself.
As you may not know, Andy McNab's career before writing great books for children and adults, was in the British Army. He was most the highly decorated serving soldier when he left the S.A.S in 1993. So he knows a bit about danger and encompasses that to great affect in this book. The book is an action packed killer bomb waiting to go off in the reader's hands.
The story follows 17 year old Ethan Blake in an adrenalin-fuelled world of skydiving. After taken a badly paid summer job Ethan's life takes on a turn of events that is gripping to the core. The realistic feel and the emotions between the characters keep the book on the ground - pardon the pun. The book draws upon action and experiences to keep you gripped and the underlying feel to this book is a very cool read. The skydiving element in the book is one of originality and told with the knowledge of someone who obviously knows it inside out.
This was totally addictive to read and unexpected in many ways. Another great part was the friendly banter and humour between all the characters that made for good reading. The secrets told towards the end give it an explosive ending and a great finish to a book that you'll want to read more. This book for me gets a five out of five and I am really looking forward to the next book in this series.

Book synopsis:Ethan Blake is seventeen and desperate to escape from his dead-end life. When he sees someone B.A.S.E. jump from the top of his block of flats, it changes the way he sees the world for ever. Soon, Ethan is caught up in the adrenaline-fuelled world of skydiving. He's a natural, so it's no surprise when he's invited to join an elite skydive team, but is he signing up for more than just jumping out of planes? The team's involved in covert military operations - missions that require a special kind of guts, missions so secret even MI5 denies all knowledge.

Andy McNab was a member of 22 SAS Regiment and was involved in both covert and overt special operations worldwide. During the Gulf War he commanded Bravo Two Zero, a patrol that, in the words of his commanding officer, 'will remain in regimental history for ever'. Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his military career, McNab was the British Army's most highly decorated serving soldier when he finally left the SAS. He wrote about his experiences in two phenomenal bestsellers, Bravo Two Zero, which was filmed starring Sean Bean, and Immediate Action. Besides his writing work, he lectures to security and intelligence agencies in both the USA and UK.

Other Great Books To Read.

Boy Soldier books by Andy and Robert Rigby

Book one - Boy Soldier - 2005
Book Two - Payback - 2005
Book Three - Avenger - 2006
Book Four - Meltdown - 2007

Boy SoldierPaybackAvengerMeltdown

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A.G Taylor - Meteorite Strike - Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review
This is not the kind of book that you want to read whilst flying (as a passenger) in an aeroplane!

A brother and sister become newly reunited with their father, after their mother tragically became ill and finally died. They soon find themselves on the way to Australia, with their father, and at this point the story starts to unfold. The opening starts with a cliff-hanger of suspense - a plane (destination - Australia) hits the aftermath of a meteorite, at which point the action soon develops into gripping proportions.
I was pleasantly surprised by the plot structure; lots of action to keep the reader engaged and epic proportions of turbulence to keep the reader gripped. Whilst this story does have similar attributes to other books published at the moment, it is nevertheless a fantastic ride of enjoyment. The action parts of the book are particularly well written and actually leave many similar-style books standing. I felt there were many memorable scenarios within the book such as when the children had to fend for themselves against the evil-power hungry military task force HIDRA. When they discovered how to control and use the powers to gain freedom and found a vaccine to fight the virus - leaving its victims in a comatosed state.
This is a very accomplished book by a debut author, who was inspired to write from a flight across Australia, and I am glad he did. This book is a great read, it has a Sci-Fi edge with lots of cool superhero powers (demonstrated by the children). It finally ends with a dynamic crescendo .... a big battle which makes for an epic flourish.
The next book to look out for is 'Alien Storm' which will be published in November 2010.
This book gets four out of five I expect five of five in the next book!

Published by Usborne fiction  29 January 2010

Book Synopsis: Sarah and Robert are sure their number is up when their aeroplane crashes over the Australian desert. But this is no ordinary air disaster. A meteorite strike has impacted Earth, bringing with it a deadly alien disease. Thousands fall victim to the virus, falling into a deep coma. Luckily, Robert and Sarah appear to be unaffected - until they begin to exhibit some extraordinary psychic side-effects. This quickly makes them a target for HIDRA, a rogue international agency determined to experiment on them like lab rats in an attempt to control their superpowers. Before long, the children are captured in HIDRA's secret desert HQ, a prison for superhuman kids who can control fire, create storms and tear steel with their minds. This new generation of superheroes must join forces if they are to escape HIDRA. But what kind of world awaits them outside?