Friday, 31 January 2014

Events: Jorvik Viking Festival Meets Francesca Simon - The Lost Gods - Merchant Adventurers’ Hall York


When gods become celebrities at JORVIK Viking Festival VIKING FESTIVAL
'The Lost Gods' with Francesca Simon -
19 February 2014 at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, York
What happens when Norse gods decide to become celebrities? A new book by children’s author Francesca Simon, creator of ‘Horrid Henry’, explores this very subject, as visitors to JORVIK Viking Festival’s mid-week ‘Meet-the-author’ event will find out on Wednesday 19 February at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall.
‘The Lost Gods’ is the sequel to her 2011 book ‘The Sleeping Army’, which re imagined a world in which Norse mythology had been adopted as the primary religion in England. In the second book, with their popularity waning, Odin, Thor and the crew decide to jump on board the celebrity bandwagon, with hilarious consequences.

On Wednesday 19 February, children have the chance to meet the best-selling author as part of the JORVIK Viking Festival, ask questions about the Norse-inspired world she created and have their books signed.
Francesca’s talk is just one of the literary-themed events taking place as part of the 30th annual JORVIK Viking Festival. On Thursday 20 February, St Helen’s Church in York becomes the setting for an atmospheric retelling of Beowulf. Peter Carrington-Porter presents a modern adaptation of the historic poem about Norse monsters and myths, continuing the Viking tradition of storytelling in a space lit entirely by candles.

Author Joanne Harris will also be hosting a Norse-mythology themed event as part of the Festival, talking about her book “The Gospel of Loki” on Sunday 16 February at York Mansion House.
Prebooking is strongly advised for all events, as places are limited. Tickets are available online via the Festival website ( The Lost Gods takes place at 2.30pm on 19 February at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, with tickets priced at just £5.00 per person. Beowulf by Candlelight is hosted at St Helen’s Church at 4.00pm and 7.30pm on Thursday 20 February. Tickets are £7.00 for adults, £5.00 for concessions and £4.00 for children. The Gospel of Loki takes place at York Mansion House at 2pm on Sunday 16 February. Tickets are £7.00 per person.

Tickets are also available for the JORVIK Viking Festival’s grand finale event at the Eye of York on Saturday 22 February. Gates open at 6.00pm, with entertainment from 6.45pm, including thrilling live battle action, sound and light effects with stunning pyrotechnics. Tickets are prices at £12.00 for adults or £9.50 for concessions, with a family ticket (up to four people) for £36.00.

More information and tickets are available online at, or telephone bookings can be made by calling 01904 615505.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Book Review: John Mcnally - Infinity Drake - The Sons Of Scarlatti - HarperCollins


This is a very big debut book for 2014 which will go down a storm with the 8-12 year age group. It is a story that boys will definitely love and a book that girls will be intrigued to read. I have to say that I was definitely looking forward to reading this book. Fortunately I received a speedy review copy from the publisher. Many thanks for sending this to me and enabling me to have such a fantastic January reading experience. 

This is a big adventure involving a really small hero, 9mm tall to be precise, who is called Infinity Drake (aka Finn). He is every inch a hero with a really big heart. I like to compare this book with 'The Borrowers' meets 'Arthur and the Invisibles'. In my opinion, this is the biggest family read for years which is fast-paced, smart and also slightly zany e.g. Finn's psycho-knitting Grandma!

Finn is off on holiday with his mad-scientist uncle, when they are summoned to a crisis meeting. This leads to a madcap plot that will have you hooked to the point of no return. Meanwhile Scarlatti, which is a lethal bio-weapon and an ϋber-wasp killing machine, adds a dash of dark horror and some fantastic reading moments. Released by a pitiless villain which soon results in incalculable consequences for mankind. 

Fortunately Uncle Al comes to the rescue and shrinks a military team to be able to track down and kill the beast. However disaster soon strikes – sabotage! Finn has to jump in a tiny Apache helicopter with three soldiers in a desperate race to destroy the beast that's out there, which is very angry and many times their size…

This book was very infectious to read. It is full of explosive action with many crazy elements threaded through the storyline. Whilst still retaining humour to captivate the audience which adds another dimension. This is a huge cake wedge of fantasy immersed in layers of biology and science fiction themes with an oozing filling of serious action. Bugs on a large scale, people on a small scale and the world waiting to be saved from global destruction. Can they do it? Will they do it? You'll have to find out.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Guest Post: Debut Author M.J. Howes - Feed - Chicken House

Firstly, I’m still pinching myself, still can’t quite believe I’m a published author. When you dream about something for so long, (and I have dreamt about getting published for years, probably driving my poor family crazy in the process), it’s a weird feeling when it finally comes true. So has it been worth all the hours of writing, waiting and rejections …? Absolutely!

FEED, is my first published novel and it’s certainly changed and evolved on its journey to publication, getting darker, scarier and even more gruesome with every rewrite. And I’ve loved it!
So how did I come up with the idea for FEED? It was really just an image in my head at first, of children in a playground being sucked up by an alien spaceship (I know, don’t even ask me where that came from). The seed was then firmly planted, wouldn’t go away and kept pestering me all the time until I had no choice but to sit down at my computer and grow it into a story.

I love asking myself – What if? And that’s exactly how I developed the plot for FEED. What if a travelling convoy of aliens needed to stock up on their food supplies? What if they saw Earth and its inhabitants as just animals, theirs for the taking? 
If we were travelling through space, wouldn’t we do the same if we saw a planet full of cattle-like creatures? Probably.

A few people have asked me whether I’m a vegetarian – I’m not. I really don’t have a problem with eating meat. It’s a choice we make or don’t make. But maybe we should think more about the way we see other species, the way we treat them, the way we farm them. We think we’re superior, but how would we feel if the tables were turned, and suddenly we were the livestock?
I adore my main character, Lola. She’s strong, feisty and fiercely loyal, yet she’s flawed, just like the rest of us. That’s one of the best things about writing for me, creating characters that I hope everyone can relate to and cheer on.     
I’m so excited that FEED is finally out there and I hope readers will find it as thrilling and gripping to read as I did to write.
So I’ll stop pinching myself now and get on with writing, because I don’t want the dream to end. 

Published by Chicken House 2nd January 2014

Thanks very much M.J. This is a GREAT read. Check out my book review:


Friday, 24 January 2014

Mr Ripley's New Children's/Teens Books Published February 2014 - Post One

Diana Wynne Jones - The Islands of Chaldea - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (27 Feb 2014)
Aileen was supposed to grow up magical – just like the other women in her family. Unfortunately, she’s just found out that the magic seems to have skipped a generation… but that’s not her biggest problem right now.
In her world, there are four Islands of Chaldea. The largest and most magical island has been cut off from the other three for decades – and is slowly draining the magic from them.
But now a prophecy has come to light. Someone from Aileen’s island will gather a man from each of the three islands, bring down the magical barrier, and unite them with the fourth island again. And according to the king, that someone is Aileen’s Aunt – who insists on dragging Aileen along. AND the boy Aileen is sure she’ll marry (one day); AND the local boy with more brawn then brain. Someone seems to want to stop them too… someone with an interest in keeping the Islands apart. But still, with magic on their side, nothing can go wrong.
Seth Fishman - The Well's End - Published by Putnam Publishing Group (25 Feb 2014)
A deadly virus and an impossible discovery unite in one enthralling can’t-miss read... 
Sixteen-year-old Mia Kish has always been afraid of the dark. After all, she’s baby Mia, the one who fell down a well. That was years ago, though the darkness still haunts her. But when her classmates and teachers at ritzy Westbrook Academy start dying of old age from a bizarre and frightening virus that ages its victims years in a matter of hours, Mia becomes haunted by a lot more than the dark. Their deaths are gruesome and Mia worries she and her friends may be next. In order to survive, Mia and her small crew must break quarantine and outrun armed soldiers in hazmat suits who shoot first and ask questions later.

And there’s only one place to go—the Cave, aka Fenton Electronics. Mia knows it’s somehow connected and hopes her dad, Director of Fenton Electronics, who has always been strangely secretive about his work, has the answers she needs, and more importantly a cure to save everyone before the whole town succumbs to the mysterious virus. Unfortunately, it’s not answers Mia discovers, but something far more treacherous and impossible than even the virus itself. 

Tom Hoyle - Thirteen - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (13 Feb 2014)
Born at midnight in London, on the stroke of the new millennium, Adam is the target of a cult that believes boys born on this date must die before the end of their thirteenth year. Twelve boys have been killed so far. Coron, the crazy cult leader, will stop at nothing to bring in his new kingdom. And now he is planning a bombing spectacular across London to celebrate the sacrifice of his final victim: Adam.

Tiffany Trent - The Tinker King - Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (1 Feb 2014)
After Vespa, Syrus and Bayne defeated the Grue and restored order to their world, they thought their future was secure. Empress Olivia, committed to peace and equality for humans and Elementals alike, was a fair and just ruler. And the Creeping Waste had vanished for good, giving them hope for the first time.

But rebellion is brewing in the far-off city of Scientia, and dark Elementals are plotting war in the ruins of New London. When a wave of unimaginable terror threatens to destroy everything in its path, Vespa, Syrus and their friends are plunged into a new swamp of intrigue, deception and magic---and the cost of survival may be more than any of them are willing to pa

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Book Review: Sally Gardner Drawings by David Roberts - Tinder - Published by Indigo


This book is a macabre parade between the visual and the written. It is a dark fantasy feast of delights with a great combination of atmospheric black/white drawings. The splashes of red, here and there, give the illustrations an extra intensity. As always they have been expertly drawn and created by David Roberts.  

Sally Gardner skillfully tells a tale reminiscent to that of The Tinderbox; the first story Hans Christian Andersen wrote at the age of twenty-nine. The influence from this story and his other works really shine within this book, in my humble opinion. 
Copyright :Illustrations by David Roberts, taken from Tinder by Sally Gardner (Indigo, £9.99) -  (Do not replicate images, permission given.)

The words and the pictures take you on a journey of intrigue - they work in pure harmony to captivate the reader. This story is a chilling and disturbing take on a classic , but with a modern day twist and feel. It is an enchanting story that has been told in exquisite detail. A realm of dark fantasy is explored with a hint of love, greed, magic and mythical elements which are layered into the unfolding and uncompromising story that you will either love or hate. 

Copyright :Illustrations by David Roberts, taken from Tinder by Sally Gardner (Indigo, £9.99) -  (Do not replicate images, permission given.)

Otto Hundebiss is tired of war, but when he defies Death he walks a dangerous path. A half beast half man gives him shoes and dice which will lead him deep into a web of dark magic and mystery. He meets the beautiful Safire - pure of heart and spirit, the scheming Mistress Jabber and the terrifying Lady of the Nail. He learns the powers of the tinderbox and the wolves whose master he becomes. But will all the riches in the world bring him the thing he most desires?

I really enjoyed reading this book. I found myself reading the text very quickly and then stopping for longer to consider the illustrations. I really took the opportunity to soak in the drawings, of which there are around a hundred or so, to wonder at the amazing detail. I may have got lost in parts by wandering slightly off the path, due to the little flashbacks that were incorporated, but I soon managed to work out the meaning. My brain, by the end of the story, was definitely in the right gear and heading in the right direction.

This is another good story that has been written by this author. It's not a book for the young or those with a delicate disposition - it's quirky, brutal and amazingly honest in its telling. It will suck you in and throw you out with equal measure. However it is definitely one to be read and to be mentally cherished, but don't take my word for it . . . grab a copy and find out for yourselves. If you have any thoughts then please leave these in the comments box. I always love to hear your thoughts. So what are you waiting for? This book is available to buy and read now.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Book News: Tor Acquires Stunning Science Fiction From Adrian Tchaikovsky - Portia's Children


Pan Macmillan's Tor imprint is thrilled to share news of its latest acquisition – a breath-taking science fiction epic by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Senior Commissioning Editor Bella Pagan bought World Rights to the novel, from Simon Kavanagh of the Mic Cheetham Agency. Tor UK has published nine of Adrian's highly accomplished Shadows of the Apt fantasy novels so far. But with this science fictional departure, Tchaikovsky has proved that he is a true master of speculative fiction – being more than capable of making this challenging transition from one sub genre to another.

Portia's Children tells the story of a desperate quest to preserve the last remnants of humanity, which brings out the best and very worst in his impressive cast of characters. It describes a future where our kind once travelled the stars. But here our reach exceeded our grasp, and we fell back to Earth. Now, the ragged remnants of our species are fleeing a dying planet one last time, following ancient star maps and searching for a new home. But they cannot know that mankind's oldest fear is already waiting for them.

Adrian Tchaikovsky enthused: 'I'm delighted that Tor has decided to take me up on this. I've been wanting for a long time to turn my hand to science fiction, and Portia's Children is a book that I poured a lot of myself into. I'm looking forward to seeing it unleashed on the world.'
Bella Pagan praised the book, saying: 'I knew Adrian was an impressive fantasy writer, but I was really blown away by his science fiction. This novel is utterly compulsive, powerfully ambitious and a palpable sense of menace and danger informs the urgent writing throughout.'

Tor UK plans to release Portia's Children in summer 2015, in between Tchaikovsky's forthcoming fantasy titles.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Review: M J Howes - Feed - Chicken House


I have been looking forward to reading this book for quite a while now. The question has to be . . . . . has the wait been worth it? Well, the black glossy book cover certainly sets up a great feel before you even open up the book - Steve Wells is the illustrator responsible for this. The large, red, reptilian eye stares into the soul of the reader asking the question are sure you want to find out what's going on? Almost like a dare.....

As a big fan of the horror genre, I have to say that this is one tasty morsel of literature. It is probably one of the best that I've read for a while. I certainly found myself lapping up the words like a well seasoned corpse - just like one or two lurking throughout this book. The story reads like an express train (the pages are consumed at a rapid pace) with the story hurtling towards a chilling conclusion. The story is one of survival, not just for fourteen-year old Lola and her friend Patrick, but for the world as it has been invaded by a monstrous enemy. The 'human raids' are surreal but very engaging as those that are taken face a terrible fate.  THEY WILL EAT US......

The unfortunate victims are transported, processed and put into human cages for amusement and eaten in a food chain like no other. Unless, against all odds, Lola and Patrick can find a way to save the world, then they too could face this terrible fate. 

This is a great slice of Action Horror for the 10+ audience. It has a very strong and well written female character that will be loved by both boys and girls. It is a powerful and engaging story that will capture your fantasy appetite; layered with gripping suspense and speculation that will keep you on your toes. Aliens, monsters and gore are in abundance throughout this book. The memorable and intelligent plot sits very comfortably alongside the other big names also writing in this genre.  

This is a great debut voice that has been chosen to be published by Chicken House. It is already available to purchase - I dare you to pick it up and read it. This is a highly recommended read for anyone with a large reading appetite. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Mr Ripley's New Children's Books Published In January 2014 ( US Post One )


Karen Foxlee - Ophelia and the Marvelous - Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (January 28, 2014)
A luminous retelling of the Snow Queen, this is the story of unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard who doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room.  He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen.  And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested.  Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.


Matthew J. Kirby - The Quantum League #1: Spell Robbers - Published by Scholastic Press (January 28, 2014)
A magical crime saga filled with marvelous thrills, high action, and extraordinary adventure, from critically acclaimed author Matthew J. Kirby.

After Ben Warner is recruited to join a "science camp" led by the eccentric quantum physicist Dr. Madeleine Hughes, he quickly realizes it's no regular science camp. Along with his new friend, Peter, Ben discovers the secret, powerful art of Actuation -- the ability to change reality by simply imagining it differently.

When a mysterious group of men invade Dr. Hughes's laboratory, abducting her and stealing her precious equipment, Ben and Peter are suddenly caught up in a turf war between dangerous actuators desperate for Dr. Hughes's innovative technology. And as Ben and Peter are pulled into a perilous, hidden world full of impossibilities now made possible, will their combined powers be enough to save Dr. Hughes and vanquish their enemies before it's too late?


Jon S lewis - Domination (A C.H.A.O.S. Novel) - Published by Thomas Nelson (January 14, 2014)

With six arms and jaws that can snap a man in two, the warmongering race of aliens known as the Thule has conquered every planet they’ve attacked.
And now their invasion of Earth has begun.
Humanity’s only hope springs from a mysterious Thule legend about a Betrayer, who they believe will rise up and destroy their people. The American government tried to manufacture their own Betrayer by injecting children with Thule blood but time after time the experiment failed . . . until Colt McAlister.
A decade later, Colt is a 16-year-old cadet at the CHAOS Military Academy where he’s training to defend mankind. But he’s afraid that the alien blood may be turning him into a Thule—and he’s beginning to suspect that fulfilling his role as the Betrayer may cost him everything.
Experience a cosmic battle filled with high-tech gear, gateways to other planets, and ultimate stakes. Not everyone will survive. But heroes will rise up and step into their destiny in this earth-shaking conclusion to the C.H.A.O.S trilogy.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Book Review: Simon Mason - Running Girl ( A Garvie Smith Mystery) - Published by David Fickling


After a recent mission to find a book to review, I came across this one in Waterstone's Bookshop. I was pulled in by the book cover appeal which was bright, bold and very retro. I was instantly attracted to it - I really loved the look. Book Cover by Lorenzo EtheringtonThis is my first review of the year of, to be honest, a book that has instantly filled a hole from last years appetite. It really was an absolute joy to find and read.

This is a crime thriller mystery written in the Young Adult genre with a fresh and engaging plot. However, in my opinion, it will also attract an older audience - it really is that good. Simon Mason appears to have written a variety of books that I've not read or heard of before. I believe that this particular book is the the first in a series. 

The main character is Garvie Smith who is a likable character and one that the reader can relate to, especially if you have a teenage son. One of his characteristics is his very high IQ, but unfortunately he is also bone-idle. Until one day, a close school friend, Chloe Dow's body is pulled from a pond, and slacker Smith's life will never be the same again.

Another influential and important character is DI Singh who brings a range of interesting skills and beliefs to the story, which I really enjoyed. Ambitious, upright and methodical he's determined to solve the mystery and get promoted, but the case does not run his way. As a result 'Slacker' Smith and 'Methodical' Singh go in search for answers to bring one of the most dramatic crime roller-coaster adventures that you will have read. 

I would definitely recommend that you give this book a read - it certainly has a lot going on in within the 400 pages. There is a great plot with lots of twists and turns, as well as suspense and danger which are all told within a real life environment to create a very plausible crime. I loved the police transcripts that were written in to the story and the portrayed family life that all the characters have. Real characters depicted emotionally and psychologically to intensify the story. These elements really stood out to me and enhanced the plot.

The solving of the crime takes a fresh and non-stereotypical approach to keep you on your toes. There are many suspects and angles to take into consideration which will keep you guessing as well as introducing more danger in order to spice up the plot. All of this is delivered within a contemporary and modern day setting.

What a brilliant start to a series - wonderfully engaging and entertaining. Full marks for this book.... 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Mr Ripley's Most Wanted #Friday: Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell - The Nameless One - Book One Of The Cadie Saga (Edge Chronicles)


Welcome to a world like no other. Welcome to the Edge.

If he didn't get out of the city now, he was as good as dead.
Cade has never met his uncle, the infamous 'descender' Nate Quarter, who years ago committed heresy by lowering himself over the cliff-face of the Edge. But Nate has returned, and the Academy of Flight are looking for revenge against all of his supporters - including Cade. So now he has to run.
With no money and nowhere else to go, Cade's only option is to stow away aboard the Xanth Filatine - a mighty sky-ship bound for the city of Hive. But getting onto the ship is only the beginning of his troubles as he runs afoul of thieving goblins, brutal skymarshals, and the unpleasant-sounding threat of 'skyfiring' . . .
Stewart and Riddell return to the world of the Edge Chronicles with the first in a brand new series of adventures starring Cade Quarter.
Welcome to a world like no other. Welcome to the Edge. A new series a new saga......

Published by Doubleday Childrens Books(30 Jan 2014)

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Mr Ripley's New Children's and Teens Book Picks: Published January 2014

Julian Sedgwick - Mysterium 2: The Palace of Memory - Published by Hodder Children's Books - 2, Jan 2014
Danny Woo has escaped from the jaws of death once - but his trials are not yet over. He's meant to be recovering, but when he discovers the Mysterium - the circus into which he was born, and which cost his parents their lives - is being reformed in Barcelona, he determines to join them. But all is not well - who is the bad seed inside the once-loyal company? And who is the woman in green who can kill, and who seems to be trailing Danny with each move he makes? Everything, he knows, is linked to the death of his parents: he must continue his quest to find his parents' killers. Once again, the story culminates in Danny's participation in a well-known and dangerous stunt.

Alan Gibbons - Raining Fire - Published by Indigo - 16, Jan 2014

The gun is the coward's fist. The gun is power. Alex and Ethan are growing up on an estate where there are just two choices: sport or crime. Ethan is selected for a football training programme in the US, his chance to escape the gangs that terrorise his neighbourhood. But Alex is drawn into an explosive feud with a gun at its heart. In this gripping and absorbing real life thriller, Alan Gibbons explores the complex issue of gun crime, and the far reaching consequences it can have.

M. J Howes - Feed - Published by Chicken House - 2, Jan 2014

Fourteen-year-old friends Lola and Patrick are in desperate trouble - along with everybody else. Monstrous enemy invaders have increased their human raids. Those taken face a terrible fate: like animals they will be transported, processed and eaten in a food chain like no other - unless Lola and Patrick can find a way to save them.

Ruth Warburton - WitchFinder: Witch Finder - Published by Hodder Children's Books - 2, Jan 2014
London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.
Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Mr Ripley's New Children/Teens Horror Books - Published by January 2014


Ransom Riggs - Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children) - Published by Quirk Book - 14 Jan 2104

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" was the surprise best seller of 2011--an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it "an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters."
This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine's island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises. 
Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.


William Sleator - Blackbriar - Published by Skyscape - 21 Jan 2014
Danny can feel something sinister about his new home, Blackbriar, an old, abandoned cottage in the English countryside. The residents of a nearby town refuse to speak of the house and can barely look Danny in the eyes. Then Danny begins to have strange dreams of fires and witches, and awakes to shrieks of laughter that seem to come from another time and place.With help from his friend, Lark, Danny begins to unravel the mysteries of Blackbriar and its frightening past, through the discovery of an ancient doll and a chilling list of names and dates carved on the cellar door. But what might be most terrifying of all is the mystery that does not lie in the past but in the here and now...

Michelle Muto - The Haunting Season - Published by Skyscape - 21 Jan 2014
Siler House has stood silent beneath Savannah’s moss-draped oaks for decades. Notoriously haunted, it has remained empty until college-bound Jess Perry and three of her peers gather to take part in a month-long study on the paranormal. Able to talk to ghosts, Jess quickly bonds with her fellow test subjects, who have their own “gifts.” One is possessed. Another just wants to forget. The third is a guy who knows how to turn up the August heat, not to mention Jess’s heart rate…when he’s not resurrecting the dead.
The study soon turns into something far more sinister when they discover that Siler House and the dark forces within are determined to keep them forever. To escape, Jess and the others must open themselves up to the true horror of Siler House and channel the very evil that seeks to hold them in.

Darren Shan - Zom-B Gladiator - Published by Simon & Schuster - 2 Jan 2014
The sixth book in the series. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, B Smith has decided to live--and to fight for good as long as possible. However, London is overridden with the brain-eating undead and swarming with human mercenaries whose sense of right and wrong dissolved when society did. When they lay a trap, B is captured. And it'll take dozens of battles--and the fight of a lifetime--to escape. Filled with gripping, bloody action sequences, the sixth book in Darren Shan's horrifying Zom-B series promises the fright--and the fight--of your life.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013



2014 is officially on the horizon and Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books is coming to the end of yet another year. Around this festive time I like to take a trip down memory lane and highlight some of my favourite reads of 2013. 
All of the following books have been reviewed on the website so if you would like to know and read more then just use the search bar.......

Mr Ripley's Favourite Adult Reads 2013: (in no order)
  • Brandon Sanderson - Steelheart - Published by Gollancz - 26, September 2013
  • Cherie Priest - The Inexplicables - Published by Tor 14, February 2013
  • Gareth Powell - Ack-Ack Macaque - Published by Solaris 3, January  2013
  • Samantha Shannon - The Bone Season - Published by Bloomsbury 20, August 2013
  • Joe Hill - NOS4R2 - Published by Gollancz - 31, October 2013

Mr Ripley's Favourite Children's/Young Adult Reads 2013: (in no order)
  • SF Said and Dave McKean - Phoenix - Published by David Fickling - 1, August 2013
  • Brandon Sanderson - The Rithmatist - Published by Orion - 23, May 2013
  • Ian Johnstone - The Bell Between Worlds - Published by HarperCollins - 6, June 2013
  • Andy Mulligan - The Boy with Two Heads - Published by David Fickling - 6, June 2103
  • John Connolly + Jennifer Ridyard - Conquest - Published by Headline - 26, September 2013
  • Oisin McGann - Rat Runners - Published by Corgi - 7, March 2013
  • Rhys A Jones - The Obsidian Pebble - Published by Spencer Hill Press - 29, October 2013
  • Emerald Fennell - Shiverton Hall - Published by Bloomsbury - 3, January 2013 
  • Chris Riddell - Goth Girl: and the Ghost of a Mouse - Published by Macmillan - 12, September 2013
  • Ashley Miller + Jack Stentz - Colin Fischer - Published by Puffin - 7, February 2013
  • Andrew Lane - Lost Worlds - Published by Macmillan - 25, April 2013
  • Michelle Paver - The Burning Shadow - Published by Puffin - 1, August 2013
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all (readers, authors, illustrators and publishers) for your support in 2013. I'd like to wish you all a great Christmas and a wonderful start to the New Year.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Mr Ripley's Children's Book Recommendation - Animal Spirits Series: Wild Born/Hunted - By Brandon Mull & Maggie Stiefvater


WILD BORN - Book One by Brandon Mull - Out Now
Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts - a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children - and the world - have been changed for ever. Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both.

 A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers ... 

Book Two: Hunted is by Maggie Stiefvater - Published 1st Jan 2014 - Check out the cool game and more:

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Mr Ripley's Book Review: The Obsidian Pebble by Rhys A Jones - Spencer Hill Press


Spencer Hill Press have delivered what they set out to do - publishing special reads that fall into the category of "I couldn't put it down". Literally I found myself not being able to put this book down. It was such a fantastic read that it will definitely find itself gaining a late entry on my best reads of the year list. This is the first exciting installment in the Artefact series - it is the authors first step into the world of children and young adult literature.  

The amazing story line in this book will definitely help it to shine as it has so much going for it in my opinion. Eleven year old Oz Chambers is the star of the story - he appears to be a normal down-to-earth character who happens to live in a haunted house. However this haunted house is full of secrets and a mystery that will leave you flicking through the pages like a mad Buzzard in a whirlwind in order to get to the end. 

When Oz and his friends hear ghostly footsteps in the boarded up dorm during Halloween, Oz and his friends go exploring. They try to find out more about the eerie reputation engulfing this place. The story is a great journey focusing on friendships, loyalty, school and family life. I particularly enjoyed the way in which the hard lessons in life were explored through the many ups and downs that life can throw at you. The more that you read on the more the mystery engulfs the reader in a magical world that is action packed full of ghostly encounters and mind tingling moments that you will just love.

This book has so much character in it that you will find yourself lost within the 340 pages. It is really well written but, most importantly, the story inside is particularly good. The author has a great ability to write from a child's perspective which encompasses a fantasy magical world that is both gripping and intriguing. There is definitely more than one puzzle to unearth within this adventure. It is a cool, witty and fun book that will have every reader from ten to hundred enchanted and wanting to read more. 

I really hope that this book finds more readers. If this review has enchanted you then you will need to look out for this small indie publisher from the US - I hope that you manage to grab a copy. I am really looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Hopefully I won't need to wait too long.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Guest Author Post: Inspirations For Phoenix by SF Said - Published by David Fickling

My new book Phoenix is set in space.  One of the biggest inspirations for it was an amazing book of astral photography created by the Hubble Space Telescope .  I found this book in Reykjavik, on a trip to see the Northern Lights, and it stayed with me through the seven years it took to write my story, always giving me a sense of wonder when I needed it.

I was so glad when I learned that Dave McKean loves space photography as much as I do!  When the writing was complete, I passed the Hubble book on to him.  I think he made incredible use of it in illustrating the space sequences in Phoenix, though he also added many unique and mind-blowing concepts of his own, including the idea of using fractals to represent the connections between all things.

When I was thinking about how to navigate through space, I was very inspired by the idea of Astrolabes.  These were ancient astronomical devices, popular in the Islamic world a thousand years ago, and then in medieval Europe.  They enabled people to find their exact positions, even at sea, for the first time.  They were analogue computers – like the GPS of their day!

I found a beautiful catalogue of Astrolabes put together by the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich!csearch;searchTerm=astrolabe
which has a fantastic collection of them.  Again, this book stayed in front of me while I was writing.  Then, when I was done, I passed it on to Dave, who found it as breathtakingly beautiful as I had.  And again, I think he did something extraordinary with it.

Perhaps the hardest part of Phoenix to get right was the idea of the Twelve Astraeus.  In the story, these are the astral origins of all the ancient gods and mythologies.  It was very hard to write about beings of such mystery in ordinary prose.  Very late in the writing process, at the urging of my editor David Fickling, I found another way of describing them.

I realised that information about the Twelve Astraeus could be communicated in a series of song fragments, accompanied by illustrations.  I imagined Dave doing a series of portraits, depicting each of the Twelve Astraeus in turn, along with their attributes.  Through these images and fragments, readers might just glimpse them, and form their own ideas about who they were.  This seemed like it could be much more powerful and resonant than simply being told.

I'm happy to say that when Dave's portraits came through, they had exactly the numinous luminous glow I was after.  They gave me the sense of awe and wonder that I always wanted my story to have.  I can't really thank him enough, because in truth, although there were many inspirations behind this book, perhaps the biggest was Dave himself, and his infinite imagination!

SF Said Website:
Twitter: @WhatSFSaid
David Mckean Website:

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars Final Winner 2013/14 - Niel Bushnell - Timesmith


Mr Ripley's book cover wars has now come to a climatic end. After four exciting heats, we now have a worthy winner.......

As usual I would like to thank the many people who have supported the
 book cover wars. Although this idea is now in its fifth year I still find the whole process tremendously exciting! I hope that you too have had as much fun as I have - either as an observer or a contender.

Altogether 1,700 votes were cast over five weeks, which just highlights the passion that this competition generates. In the final there were 678 votes in total. An epic last minute battle saw only two votes stand between Roderick and Niel's respective book covers. However there can only be one winner. . . . . 

Book One: Niel Bushnell - Timesmith19428.61%28.61%
Book Two: Alexander Gordon Smith - The Fury
Book Three: Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams - Terminal
Book Four: Thomas Taylor - Dan and the Caverns of Bone
Book Five: Ian Johnstone - The Bell Between the Worlds

Without further ado I'd like to award the title of 'Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars 2013/14' to . . . . . . .  Niel Bushnell for 'Timesmith'. 

Niel's book cover will be placed in the Ripley's Hall of Fame where it will accompany the following past winners:

2009/10 - Jon Mayhew 'Mortlock' 
2010/11 - Darren Shan 'Birth of a Killer' illustrated by David Wyatt
2011/12 - Curtis Jobling ''Werewolf: Shadow of the Hawk' illustrated by Andrew Farley
2012/13 - Thomas Taylor - Haunters illustrated by Steve Wells 
2013/14 - Niel Bushnell - Timesmith - illustrated by James Fraser & Kate Grove

The winner of the book competition is...... Karen Everitt. Congratulations to you - please get in touch with your postal details.