Monday, 9 June 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Cover Preview: Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull: Book 2 by Jonathan Stroud - UK/ US COVER and GERMAN

UK COVER - Published by Doubleday Children's (25 Sep 2014) -  This is to tie in with this summer (July) release of The Screaming Staircase in paperback in the UK and across the world. For the UK market, Random House has designed a new look – a striking image of Lockwood  himself slightly silhouetted with the moon behind him. This bold new look promises to attract a new sets of fans, and is sure to grab the eye of younger readers too.

Book Synopsis: 
When the dead return to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in.
A series of grisly thefts have been taking place across the capital: powerful supernatural artefacts have been stolen, and their warders murdered. In an atmosphere of mounting panic, a mysterious skull in an iron box is unearthed in Kensal Green Cemetery.
Witnesses hear it whispering urgently, but the words cannot be understood. Lockwood & Co. will have to use all their ingenuity and skill to uncover the secret of the whispering skull.

US COVER - Published by  Disney Press (16 Sep 2014) - So what do we think?  

German Cover - Published by cbj (27. Oktober 2014) - Another interesting book cover.

Wenn Londons Geisterwelt erwacht
Dank des spektakulären Erfolgs im Fall der seufzenden Wendeltreppe ist Lockwood & Co. nun eine der angesagtesten Geisteragenturen Londons. Doch inzwischen wird die Metropole bereits von einer Reihe neuer grausiger Ereignisse erschüttert: In einer beispiellosen Diebstahlserie werden mächtige magische Artefakte entwendet und deren Hüter grausam ermordet. Als dann auch noch auf einem Friedhof ein schauerlich eiserner Sarg geborgen wird, dessen Inhalt unter mysteriösen Umständen verschwindet, steht fest: Ein klarer Fall für Lockwood & Co.! Nur wenn das Team um Anthony Lockwood, Lucy und George ihre ganze Genialität im Umgang mit übernatürlichen Ereignissen in die Wagschale wirft, kann es ihnen gelingen, die Verschwörung, die hinter all dem steckt, aufzudecken.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Mr Ripley's Recommended Book Read: Jan Siegel - The Devil's Apprentice - Ravenstone

The Devil is retiring... but who’s taking over? When teenage Pen inherits the job of caretaker for a London building with no doors and only a secret entrance from the caretaker’s lodge – which she must never use – little does she know it will lead her into unbelievable danger. For Azmordis, also known as Satan, a spirit as old as time and as powerful as the Dark, Immortality is running out.

In the house with no front door, a group of teenagers are trapped in assorted dimensions of myth and history, undergoing the trials that will shape them to step into his cloven footwear – or destroy them. Assisted by only by an aspiring teenage chef called Gavin and Jinx, a young witch with more face-piercing than fae-power, Pen must try to stop the Devil’s deadly game plan – before it’s too late.

By turns very funny, very scary and always thrilling, this is an incredible return to YA for Siegel. Brilliant five star entertainment. 

Published by Ravenstone (10 Oct 2013)

About The Author: Jan Siegel is a pseudonym of Amanda Hemingway (born 1955 in London, UK). Jan Siegel has written in several different genres under several different pseudonyms, but fantastical realism remains her preferred form of fiction. She also works as a poet, journalist, freelance editor, and occasional teacher, her interests covering a wide range of subjects including horse riding, adventure travel and wildlife conservation. First published at an early age, she has spent her life accumulating assorted experiences and then not writing about them. It has been said that an academic is someone who knows a lot about a little, while a writer is someone who knows a little about a lot. Siegel claims she knows very little about a hell of a lot. An idealist, she is continuously surprised to find fact stranger than fiction and real human beings even more bizarre than any character in a book.

Other Books:
  1. Prospero's Children (1999)
  2. The Dragon-Charmer (2000)
  3. The Witch's Honour, published in US as The Witch Queen (2002)

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Guest Post by Lisa Glass - Blue - Published by Quercus Children’s Books

Writing and surfing: basically the same thing.
Writing, I decided one night, after consuming two Stellas, is a lot like surfing. Nonsense, you might say, writing is nothing like surfing, but you would be wrong. In fact, I would go even further and say that writing is like pro-surfing.
For a start, your friends will be watching your career with great scepticism. Being a pro-surfer, just like being a writer, seems to many people a ludicrous dream. The first time you state your intention of making a living in either of these fields, you will be discouraged and possibly even laughed at. And with good reason: it is very hard to make money out of surfing or writing; lots of people enjoy doing these things, but as a hobby rather than a career, and just who the hell do you think you are? There might be some opportunities to teach these things (surf coach, creative writing tutor) if you’re good enough or know the right people, but the available jobs are few and far between and competition for them is fierce. 

If you do happen to get sponsored/a book deal you will find that there are many critics in the world. Lots of them will be lovely and make excellent points, which you will take on board, but others will make cutting (often hilarious) remarks about your surfing/writing technique, call you all sorts of unpleasant names and beseech you to stop, for the sake of their eyes, which will be bleeding.
You will attend events where the order of business is to promote your brand and sometimes you will be asked to sign books/posters and on a good day you’ll make new friends who will enrich your life and you might even be offered complimentary wine.

In the back of my book, I thank my family for ‘helping me to the surface so many times when I was drowning in the impact zone of modern publishing’. The impact zone in surfing is where the waves break and it can be almost impossible to push through those turbulent waters to the calm of the line-up, which is where surfers wait to catch waves. For a time you have to put up with wave after wave breaking on your head and pushing you backwards, which is sort of how it feels to receive agent and publisher rejections. But, eventually, you’ll either give up and retreat back to shore or reach the line-up where you might just surf the most amazing wave of your life. Or, uh, something.

Lisa Glass is the author of Blue, a YA surf romance published by Quercus Children’s Books, 5 June 2014. 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Book Review: Dan Smith - My Brother's Secret - Published by Chicken House

The first book that I read by Dan Smith was 'My Friend the Enemy'. At large it showed the developments and the perspective of what it was like to be living in Britain in World War Two. The hardships and the reality of death; a strong sense of communities pulling together and friendships developing but war always has two sides to it. What if you flipped that on it's head and showed the same reality living in Germany in 1941? Would there still be the same problems, questions and opinions, not everyone shares the same beliefs and opinions of Adolf Hitler?

In my humble opinion, this books explores the theme of war in a sensitive and understanding nature. The story takes inspiration from the original Edelweiss Pirates, a loosely organised youth movement, where groups arose in response to the strict paramilitary of Hitler Youth and initially rebelled against the government's control of leisure time. It is based on real Second World War events; the author has weaved in both fact and fiction to deliver a narrative that will provoke deep thoughts, feelings and give the reader a greater understanding as to how the fight for freedom was one of the hardest times that Europe went through.

Told through the eyes of a twelve year old boy from Germany, Karl wants his country to win the war. His father has gone away to fight, but will he ever return to his family? The book is full of family love and conversations that reflect the difficult and testing time. I really did enjoy following Karl and learning about his views, opinions and feelings throughout the book. I thought these were beautifully portrayed in the story. I could visualise the narrative and see what was happening through the character's eyes.

I did feel that the book was slightly too short, but nevertheless I really did enjoy the reading experience of what it was like to be a child gripped in the face of evil and conflict in war.  I really loved the start of the first chapter which is entitled War Games. From that moment, I saw the rapid change in Karl's mindset which to me was the highlight of the book. I would really love for more people to read this type of book, especially as you can discuss the issues faced by the characters and begin to understand and recognise the historical events of that time in 1941.

From the words of Barry Cunningham, 'fighting for our freedom - who knows if it may be something we have to choose again one day!' To me that sums up the book, so take a copy off the bookshelves to read as you will not be disappointed.

Published by  Chicken House; 1 edition (1 May 2014)

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Guest Post by Sarah Sky - Code Red Lipstick - Published by Scholastic

JESSICA Cole’s an average teenager, except when she’s modelling and helping out her private investigator dad on surveillance jobs.
When the former MI6 spy vanishes mysteriously, the 14-year-old takes matters into her own hands.
Following her dad’s trail to Paris, her investigation leads her to AKSC, the beauty headquarters of former supermodel, Allegra Knight, and a conspiracy involving an MI6 double agent.
Jessica needs her wits about her - as well as lots of gadgets to give her the upper hand against dangerous adversaries.

But what gadgets do spies really use? I’d asked a “security expert” friend for advice while researching Code Red Lipstick.  Without skipping a beat, he replied: "If you can imagine it, so can MI6 and every other security service. In fact they're probably already using it."
In fact, nothing is too implausible in the real world from lipstick guns designed by the KGB at the height of the Cold War to tiny, insect-sized spy drones already being developed by the US army.
What about a “Cheetah” robot that could outrun the fastest man on Earth? Check. It’s under development in America and will be able to sprint, zigzag and be precise enough to stop on a dime.

How about enabling a spy or a soldier to run at Olympic speeds and go for days without food or sleep? 
Again, that's taken care of if new research into gene manipulation is successful in the US. Injured operatives and soldiers could eventually be able to grow back limbs blown apart by bombs.
The truth is that governments across the world are conducting jaw-dropping research, which sounds like science fiction but could mean the difference between life and death in espionage, as well as wars.
Even the Ministry of Defence's own think-tank, the Development Concepts and Doctrine Centre, predicts that by 2045, advances in medical technology could create a class of genetically superior humans – similar to characters like Wolverine from X Men.

It believes that brain implants may be developed that 'either augment or enhance vision, language, auditory and memory capabilities'.  With all this in mind, I've twice ventured to a West London annual security conference - heavily vetted, never widely advertised and visited by 'spooks' - as research for my Jessica Cole: Model Spy series, being launched by Scholastic. I've experimented with the latest tactical ladders used in hostage situations and the high-tech grapnels used to scale submarines as well as encrypted mobile phones and facial recognition technology, which can spot even the partly obscured face of a target in a crowd. 

I've been taught how to use the hidden gadgets in high-tech armoured car to disable or even destroy a vehicle in pursuit. I'd be long gone before a villain in one of my books managed to catch up.
I’ve learnt that surveillance robots and mini-helicopters are a vital tool on covert missions and that electro-magnetic pulses will kill an engine instantly if a target attempts to escape by car or speed boat.
What has my research taught me? That the gadgets Jessica uses can never be too far-fetched or unrealistic.

The teenager could quite easily wear taser trainers, designed by MI6, and have a powder compact that enables her to see through walls. After all, she wouldn't be a very good spy, if she wasn't well-equipped and ready for the equally well-equipped baddies she encounters.  I'll be back at the conference again next year, looking out for the latest mind-blowing gadgets.  But it’s the top secret ones which will never be on display that interest me most. Fact, as they say, will always be stranger than fiction.

* Code Red Lipstick by Sarah Sky is published by Scholastic on 5 June 2014

Twitter @sarahsky23

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Guest Publication Day Post: Matt Brown - Compton Valance: The Most Powerful Boy In The Universe

I like to welcome Matt Brown to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. Thank you for taking the time to write this insightful blog post. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you and your book a Happy Publication Day... 

How It Feels To See Your Book On A Shelf

When I first tried my hand at writing and getting a book published, the signs were not good.  Bad, even.  The first story I wrote and sent to agents came back with letters that began with “we are sorry to say” and “at the moment we have a large number of works on file” and “how dare you send me this putrid effluent you hideous waste of a pair of trousers” (I may have been reading between the lines here.) That was in 2004, so it has taken ten years to finally get to the day that I sometimes thought would never come. Drumroll please.  Today is PUBLICATION DAY! 

Compton Valance: The Most Powerful Boy In The Universe is a story about two ordinary boys who accidentally create a time machine.  Ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated with the idea of time travel and the kind of possibilities that would stretch out before you if you had a time machine.  I loved books about time travel like Tom’s Midnight garden and Stig of the Dump.  I loved TV shows about time travel like Dr Who and Sapphire and Steel.  And I loved Back To The Future more than just about anything else in the whole world.  After spending three quarters of my life thinking about where and when I would visit if I could travel through time it seemed only fitting that my first book be about that very notion. 

So, how does it feel to finally have a book in the shops?  It feels AWESOME!  Like a gold badger surfing a twenty-foot high wave whilst he’s high-fiving a hedgehog.  Only better!  My days at the moment are spent doing one of three things.  

  • Signing books in bookshops with wonderful, enthusiastic booksellers.
  • Chatting in schools about where I would go to if I had a time machine.
  • Frantically checking my author rating on Amazon. 

Now I just need to write the next book so I can keep doing this forever.  Or perhaps I just need to create my own time machine.  Hmmmmm, now there’s a thought.

Book Synopsis: When Compton Valance and his best friend Bryan Nylon discover the world's first TIME MACHINE (aka a mouldy, thirteen-week-old-cheese-and-pickled-egg sandwich), they become the most powerful boys in the universe. But how will Compton and Bryan decide to use their incredible new time-travelling powers? Will they use them for good? Will they use them for evil? Or will they just focus their efforts on perfecting a formula for the world's first pair of custard trousers? Things are about to get totally scrambled for Compton Valance.

Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (1 Jun 2014) 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

New Young Bond title and cover revealed at Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts 2014

Lights. Camera. Murder…

Shoot to Kill

New Young Bond title and cover revealed at Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts 2014

Young Bond is Back - Authors Steve Cole and Charlie Higson meet for official handover 

Today, on what would have been Ian Fleming’s 106th birthday, Penguin Random House Children’s announced Shoot to Kill as the title of the new Young Bond novel by Steve Cole.

In front of a Hay Festival audience of Bond fans young and old, Steve Cole and the first Young Bond author Charlie Higson came together to mark the official handover of the authorship. Together they unveiled a giant replica book revealing the cover of Shoot to Kill, a striking black and metallic design which gives a few hints as to what will unfold in Bond’s next adventure. 

Steve Cole says: 'As a boy I played James Bond in the playground; what a rush to be writing Bond now in the playgrounds of his youth for new generations. I am both honoured and hugely excited to be taking on Young Bond from Charlie. I am having a fantastic time shaping a new era in the life of this truly iconic character – readers can expect many firsts, surprises and dangers to come as James´s exploits continue.’

Charlie Higson says: ‘As a lifelong Bond fan, having the opportunity to write five Young Bond books and bring the most famous secret agent in the world to life for a younger generation was a total blast. Being a part of the James Bond legacy, and being allowed to play in his world, was a real honour and I know only too well what excitement is in store for Steve as he begins a new chapter for Young Bond.’  

Shoot to Kill, publishing on 6 November 2014, follows teenage James in the aftermath of his expulsion from Eton and features a cross-Atlantic adventure taking James to Hollywood, where it doesn’t take long for him to realise that something terrible is happening in Tinseltown… 

Monday, 26 May 2014

Book Review: Paul Durham - The Luck Uglies

Book review: The Luck Uglies is the first book in a fantasy adventure trilogy which will be published by HarperCollins UK, this coming July. However, if you're reading this review from the US then you're very lucky as this has already been published, but with another snazzy book cover. 

From the very first page, the words conjure up a special moment in fantasy. There is a sense that something good is going to happen. That gut feeling pulls you into the author's magical world through every word that you read, and with every page that you breath. The pages are turned more quickly as the reader hurtles along the path revealing a world full of secrets, mystery and mayhem. There are sparks of very inventive imagination that really work for me. 

Written by a debut voice, this first book promises to develop into a great trilogy. It is a middle grade adventure but I feel that everyone will love this on so many different levels. Some of the great characters feel rather real - some you will easily love whilst others you'll run screaming from, especially the Bog Noblins. However the feisty female character will leave you willing and rooting for her.

The plot is dark and twisted - it will leave you sinking in the bog on a dark and shady night. Full of great places with amazing names such as The Dead Fish Inn, which is worth a lingering visit, and The Willow's Wares which is a shopping haven for the stupid or the superstitious. The world is potentially a magical and dangerous place. Action packed, full of scary monsters and unsavoury people, this story is filled with a great dollop of horror, a dash of humour and a twirl of heroic midnight adventures 

I really loved this story; I was captivated by the quirky twists and turns. It brought me back to my childhood once again and reinforced that "the bad guys sometimes can be good guys". 

"Luck Uglies was a name whispered around the docks and the darkest taverns....." In the dark alleyways, the whisper is that this book is a cracking good read. It is definitely recommended by me.

Strange things are happening in Village Drowning. Not that there’s much eleven-year-old Rye O’Chanter hasn’t already seen. Rye has grown up on Drowning’s treacherous streets—its twisted rooftops and forgotten cemeteries are her playground. But a terrifying encounter on the night of the Black Moon has Rye half-convinced that the monstrous Bog Noblins have returned from the forest Beyond the Shale. It's the same forest that mysteriously swallowed Rye’s father soon after she was born.

Rye’s mother insists the Bog Noblins are extinct…but what if she’s wrong? There’s nobody left who can protect the village from the vile creatures. There was once—an exiled secret society so notorious that their name can’t be spoken out loud.

The Luck Uglies.

Now a stranger named Harmless has stepped from the shadows, leading Rye to question everything she’s been told as she dives into Drowning’s maze of secrets, rules, and lies. What she’ll find is the truth behind Drowning’s legend of outlaws and beasts…and realize that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Kids/YA Literary Agent- Ben Illis - Spring/Summer Book Recommendations 2014

H. L Dennis - Secret Breakers: The Pirate's Sword - Published by Hodder Children's Books (1 May 2014) - Series is also Carnegie-Nominated.

Team Veritas have been searching for the truth. But sometimes the truth is hard to handle. No longer safe in England, the team from Station X must escape to the United States of America where they embark on an epic treasure hunt. It starts in New York City where they track down a precious ring once owned by a Knight of Neustria. From there, on to Washington DC to look for clues in the largest library in the world - and then a trek across the Blue Ridge Mountains in search for treasure hidden in a long forgotten cavern.

Claire Furniss - The Year of the Rat - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Books (24 April 2014) - Fantastic Read.
I always thought you'd know, somehow, if something terrible was going to happen. I thought you'd sense it, like when the air goes damp and heavy before a storm and you know you'd better hide yourself away somewhere safe until it all blows over. But it turns out it's not like that at all. There's no scary music playing in the background like in films. No warning signs. Not even a lonely magpie. One for sorrow, Mum used to say. Quick, look for another. The world can tip at any moment … a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mum dies after giving birth to her baby sister. Told across the year following her mother's death, Pearl's story is full of bittersweet humour and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mum, but also the fact that her sister - The Rat - is a constant reminder of why her mum is no longer around…

Lisa Glass - Blue - Published by Quercus (5 Jun 2014)  The summeriest YA surfer chick romance you will read all year, with Zeke. Just Zeke. Everyone loves a bit of Zeke.
Surfing is sixteen-year-old Iris's world, and when the ultra-talented Zeke walks into her life, it soon becomes her passion.
Over one amazing summer, as she is drawn into his sphere, she experiences love, new friendships, but also loss, with an intensity she never dreamed of.
But is Zeke all he seems? What hides beneath his glamorous and mysterious past? When Iris decides to try for her own surfing success, just as her ex-boyfriend comes back into her life, she will test her talent, and her feelings for Zeke, to the limit.

Brian Conaghan - When Mr Dog Bites - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing (3 July 2014) Critically acclaimed, touching and hilarious.
Dylan Mint has Tourette's. His life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in - the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that seems to escape whenever he gets stressed. But a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mum, Dylan discovers that he's going to die in March. So he makes a list of things he must do before he dies: first, he wants to have real sex with gorgeous Michelle Malloy; second, he's got to find his autistic best friend Amir a new best bud; third, he's got to get his dad back home from the army so they can say goodbye properly. It's not a long list, but it's ambitious, and he doesn't have much time. Sometimes you've just got to go for it - no holding back - and see what happens . . .
This is the launch of a major new writing talent. Brian Conaghan makes you travel every step of the way in Dylan's shoes, laughing and crying - often at the same time - as Dylan faces the twists and turns of an unfair world with glorious optimism and wit.

Matt Brown - Compton Valance The Most Powerful Boy in the Universe - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (1 Jun 2014)  (Side-splittingly funny and rather stinky and gross MG humour)
When Compton Valance and his best friend Bryan Nylon discover the world's first TIME MACHINE (aka a mouldy, thirteen-week-old-cheese-and-pickled-egg sandwich), they become the most powerful boys in the universe. But how will Compton and Bryan decide to use their incredible new time-travelling powers? Will they use them for good? Will they use them for evil? Or will they just focus their efforts on perfecting a formula for the world's first pair of custard trousers? Things are about to get totally scrambled for Compton Valance.

Many thanks Ben for the interesting and varied recommendations; it looks like there's a book for everyone here. Check out Ben's online independent shop to view these titles and many more at the following link: 
For every book that you buy from Ben's shelves, hive will share a percentage of the sale with their chosen independent bookshop.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Mr Ripley's Guest Post: Q&A with Steve Wells - Graphic Designer and Illustrator - Chicken House

Thanks Steve, for taking the time out to answer some questions for - Mr Ripley's Enchanted,  about you and your work. Enjoy everybody.

Q1 How did it all start? 
I have been a graphic designer for ages. As a tiny child I loved drawing, and when I discovered American comics at the age of about 9 or 10 I became a huge fan and really wanted a job drawing comics (although I don’t think my draftmanship would ever have been strong enough). That ambition drifted into graphic design (a great way of combining an interest in words and pictures). And that’s what I’ve done my whole working life.

About 10 years ago I started designing book jackets for Chicken House and it’s been a part of my working life ever since. I do about 15 a year for them, and have probably done 150 by now. 

I also do illustration and marketing design.

Q2 What Inspires you? 
When I’m working on a jacket it has to be what the author has written.

I think a book jacket has to both reflect the content or mood of the book and put that message across very speedily and dramatically. You have a fraction of a second to get someones attention, to intrigue or appeal.

It’s quite a difficult combination, you also have to make the book appealing as an object. It’s quite a hard design job – but that’s what makes it interesting. 

Q3 What are you most proud of?
About 5 years ago I started doing a bit of illustration as well as design, I did a book called Muncle Trogg which has been sold to publishers in 19 countries. That’s probably the closest thing I’ve done to my childhood ambitions. It’s also more personal than doing cover designs, it’s actually in my style. When you design a cover you are trying to serve the author’s vision (or your interpretation of that) – and you put your ego to one side, and you try to work in whatever style you think will suit.

Q4 What are the best bits of your job? 
I really like it when I think I’ve found a good idea, there is a great feeling of tension lifting. I’m self employed, so I can organise my day how I like, walking into town and looking round bookshops is part of my job!

Q5 Do you read for pleasure, if so what do you enjoy reading? 
I’m a big bibliophile and have far too many books. I love big glossy art, design and illustration books.
I read a lot of non-fiction of the Malcolm Gladwell sort. I still read the occasional graphic novel, recently I liked The Property by Rutu Modan, and am a fan of Guy Delisle. 

Q6 Who inspires you?
A short list of design heroes would include:
Paul Rand, Alexey Brodovitch, Tibor Kalman, Chip Kidd.

I like Tom Gauld, I really like Christoph Niemann, an illustrator and designer. The mid 20th century was a great period for illustration: Maurice Sendak, Ronald Searle, R.O Blechman, Saul Steinberg. Loads of others.

Q7 What is your ultimate aim? 
Well it has to be carry on making a living and doing work that my clients like! It’s a great privilege to do a job you enjoy doing, and I’d like to carry on as long as possible.

Steve Wells website can be found at He is on twitter at @stevewellsart

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Mr Ripley's Adult Book Review: Enter Wildthyme by Paul Magrs

I'd like to think that this book came from The Great Book Exchange in Darlington, but to be honest it was Oxfam in York. They are not worlds apart really, unlike the galactic voyages that take part in this little adventure. One of the main characters in the book has been around for some time, but this is the first full length appearance for them in this trans-temporal adventure. Iris Wildthyme might be familiar to some, as a character from Paul's first book, as well as appearing in the Dr Who escapades but to me, she will always be a special character in fantasy. She's the  feisty granny that you would have loved to have been related to. The gin and tonic drinking time traveller with a mysterious past.

The first part of the book is set in a dusty secondhand bookshop in Darlington. Add in to the mix a celestial red, route master double decker bus and the scene is set for a normal life, but how wrong you would be.  Undeniably, Paul has the most amazing world building skills at his finger tips in this book - the story writing is very cleverly executed. Immediately, the reader is thrown into the action with a whole host of crazy and well imagined characters.  There is Iris, as well as her sidekick (a stuffed panda) originally known as Panda who is about 10 inches high and cooks a very mean breakfast. As well as a talking vending machine called Barbra, an evil poet called Marvelle and many more crazy folk.

I've never had so much fun reading an adult novel before; this was a perfect read for me. It's so crazy and surreal that it was an absolute joy to read. The story is about an object; a glass jar filled with mysterious contents which soon form the focus of a chase. It takes then to the outlandish world of Hyspero, the throne room of the Scarlet Empress and the very brink of the strange pocket dimension called . . . . . The Obverse.

This story is an adventure of good and evil - it is a book to read with a very large gin and tonic. It's fast paced; in a blink of an eye the story moves from the mundane life in Darlington to Montmartre in Paris where an alien invasion is witnessed. Never mind being catapulted to the Hammersmith Odeon to a glam rock concert in the 1970's.  It really is a breathtaking read; a roller coaster ride of mayhem and madness.

This book is very cleverly written and highly imaginative - it is full of zany off-the-wall moments. I connected with this story through the music references as well as the ideas behind the events. I found myself deeply immersed in this adventure; it is a read that I will savour until the next instalment. Five star entertainment - looking forward to the next book very soon ....

Friday, 16 May 2014

Mr Ripley's New Children and Teen Book Book Picks - June 2014 - UK Post

Nigel McDowell - The Black North - Published by Hot Key Books - (5 Jun 2014)
The Divided Isle, once a place of peace and tranquillity, has been ravaged by war. Twins Oona and Morris live with their grandmother in a stone cottage in the quiet southern county of Drumbroken, but the threat of the Invaders of the Black North - the ravaged northern part of the island - is coming ever closer. When Morris, fighting against the Invaders, is kidnapped by one of the evil Briar Witches, Oona must journey to the unknown realms of the Black North in search of her brother. She is accompanied only by Merrigutt, a jackdaw with mysterious transformative powers, and a treasured secret possession: a small stone in the shape of a plum, but a stone that reveals truths and nightmares, and which the Invaders and their ruler, the King of the North, seek more than anything. Oona must keep the stone safe at all costs, and find her brother, before the King of the North extends his evil hold over the whole island and destroys it forever.

Amy Plum - After the End - Published by HarperTeen (5 Jun 2014) 
Juneau grew up fearing the outside world. The elders told her that beyond the borders of their land in the Alaskan wilderness, nuclear war had destroyed everything. But when Juneau returns from a hunting trip one day and discovers her people have been abducted, she sets off to find them. And leaving the boundaries for the very first time, she learns the horrifying truth: World War III never happened. Nothing was destroyed. Everything she'd ever been taught was a lie.
As Juneau comes to terms with an unfathomable deception, she is forced to survive in a completely foreign world, using only the skills and abilities she developed in the wild. But while she's struggling to rescue her friends and family, someone else is after her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about her secret past.

Curtis Jobling - Haunt - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Books (5 Jun 2014)
When Will finds himself in hospital, but unable to make anyone see or hear him, he realises that he never made it home from his first kiss with the school hottie. Knocked off his bike in a road traffic accident, Will is now officially dead - and a ghost. But somehow his best mate, Dougie, can still see him, and, what is more, increasingly Will seems bound to Dougie, going only where Dougie goes. Once they've exhausted all the comic possibilities of being invisible, they set about unravelling the mystery of Will's predicament. Is it something to do with that kiss, or the driver of the car that killed him and didn't stop? Maybe they will find an answer by investigating the rumour that there is an unhappy spirit haunting the ruins in the school grounds, and if so, why? What they discover is a long-buried mystery, which stretches its fingers right into the present…

Tim O'Rourke -  Flashes - Published by Chicken House (5 Jun 2014)
Charley has visions: flashes of things she can't explain. A girl in trouble. The sound of trains in her head. She feels certain they are clues to a crime. But no one will believe her. Until she meets Tom, a young policeman on his first case: an accidental death on railway tracks, not far from where Charley lives. Their attraction is instant, but can they discover what has happened? Accident, suicide or murder: and will it happen again?

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mr Ripley's Horror Book Picks Published In June 2014 - UK Post

Will Hill - Department 19: Zero Hour - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (5 Jun 2014)
Department 19 still stands against the darkness. But for how much longer? Book four in the explosive series from bestselling author, Will Hill.
As Dracula continues his rise, the men and women of Department 19 wait for good news. But hope is in short supply – the country is beginning to fall apart as the public comes to terms with the horror in their midst; a cure for vampirism remains years, even decades away; and their supposed ally Valentin Rusmanov has not been heard from in weeks.
Jamie Carpenter and his friends are working hard to keep the forces of evil at bay, but it is beginning to feel like a lost cause…Until familiar faces from the past bring news that could turn the tide. News that takes Matt Browning to America on a desperate search for a miracle, and sends Jamie and Larissa Kinley into the darkest corners of eastern Europe, where something old and impossibly powerful waits for them.
Something that could stop Dracula for good.
But the clock is ticking.
Night is falling. And Zero Hour is almost here…

James Dawson - Say Her Name - Published by Hot Key Books (5 Jun 2014)
Roberta 'Bobbie' Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of 'Bloody Mary': say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear...But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it? Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror...five days...but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before...

Jon Mayhew - Monster Odyssey: The Wrath of the Lizard Lord (Monster Odyssey 2) -  Published by Bloomsbury Children's (5 Jun 2014)

Prince Dakkar and his mentor Count Oginski discover a plot by arch-enemy Cryptos to kill Napoleon. Arriving on their revolutionary submersible to intercept Cryptos, they glimpse a terrifying monster that seems to escape back into the bowels of the Earth. It leads them to discover an amazing underground world, and a plan more nefarious than they could ever have believed - even from Cryptos.
The stage is set for an epic showdown complete with a giant reptilian cavalry and the Battle of Waterloo, in another breathlessly paced and endlessly inventive adventure for fans of Percy Jackson.

Emerald Fennell - Shiverton Hall: The Creeper - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (5 Jun 2014)
Don't look behind you. Resist with all your power. He'll go away, perhaps, as long as you don't look.
Arthur Bannister is back for another term at Shiverton Hall, where eerie events are unfolding. First, a burned stranger shows up in the middle of the night uttering dire warnings. Then a young boy disappears, leaving behind only an ancient book as a clue. And then there's that dreadful feeling Arthur has that he's being watched . . .

Monday, 12 May 2014

Book Review: Steve Cole - Aliens Stink! - (Recommended Read May 2014)

Book Review:
Here comes another madcap adventure from Steve Cole flying high into the crazy world of Space and back. It is a mission of a rather unusual nature, if you ask me. If you carefully sniff the pages of this book you may get a faint whiff of wet fish. As one brave goldfish takes centre stage in this rather hilarious adventure that had me in stitches. 

Seriously weird stuff is happening on planet earth. Like pollution being cleaned up overnight. A sweet smell fills the air, SMELLY Vision AGAIN… Strange lights are seen in the skies. Could it be UFOs? Have aliens come to fix our world? I'm not going to tell you, you'll have to read the book….

Only one boy and his dad, and possibly his goldfish, might just save the world from DOOM. Over dramatic I know, but stay with me! Kidnapped and taken to a super-secret base, Tim soon discovers the full extent of the alien threat. Tim Goosheart, his highly intelligent friends and a babbling alien, called little G, take the battle to the aliens. Remember that goldfish? Well he also has a big part to play in this. 

This book delivers a yarn with the coolest possible intentions. The fantastic black and white embellishments by Jim Field and the great oversize character fonts will keep you focused on the plot. It is a perfect book for reluctant readers as it is so much fun. It's really fast paced with oodles of chaotic moments that everyone will love. In fact, it is a book that the family could read together as it is very interactive and engaging. Children will talk about this story long after the last page has been turned. This is Mr Ripley's recommended Younger Person read for May 2014.

Book Synopsis:
Some seriously weird stuff is happening on Planet Earth. Pollution is cleaned up overnight. A sweet smell fills the air. Strange lights are seen in the skies...Could they possibly be UFOs? Have aliens come to fix our world? Only one boy and his dad - and possibly his goldfish - know that the truth is stranger, scarier - and a whole lot smellier...Kidnapped and taken to a super-secret base, Tim discovers the full extent of the alien threat ...and the extraordinary kids fighting it. With the aid of a little huggy alien, and a depressed guard, Tim and his weird new friends take the battle to the aliens. Oh, and that goldfish has a big part to play...!

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books (8 May 2014)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Mr Ripley's New Children's Fantasy Books Choices Published June 2014 - US Post Two

Heather Mackey - Dreamwood - Published Putnam Juvenile (June 12, 2014) Age 10+
Lucy Darrington has no choice but to run away from boarding school. Her father, an expert on the supernatural, has been away for too long while doing research in Saarthe, a remote territory in the Pacific Northwest populated by towering redwoods, timber barons, and the Lupine people. But upon arriving, she learns her father is missing: Rumor has it he’s gone in search of dreamwood, a rare tree with magical properties that just might hold the cure for the blight that’s ravaging the forests of Saarthe.

Determined to find her father (and possibly save Saarthe), Lucy and her vexingly stubborn friend Pete follow William Darrington’s trail to the deadly woods on Devil’s Thumb. As they encounter Lupine princesses, giant sea serpents, and all manner of terrifying creatures, Lucy hasn’t reckoned that the dreamwood itself might be the greatest threat of all.

John David Anderson - Minion - Published by Walden Pond Press (June 24, 2014) Age 8+
The world of superheroes he created in Sidekicked with an entirely new cast of characters in Minion, a funny and emotional companion to his first breakout tween novel—perfect for superhero fans who also love the work of bestselling authors Rick Riordan, Louis Sachar, and Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Michael Morn might be a villain, but he's really not a bad guy. When you live in New Liberty, known across the country as the City without a Super, there are only two kinds of people, after all: those who turn to crime and those who suffer. Michael and his adoptive father spend their days building boxes—special devices with mysterious abilities—which they sell to the mob at a price. They provide for each other, they look out for each other, and they'd never betray each other.
But then a Super comes to town, and Michael's world is thrown into disarray. The Comet could destroy everything Michael and his dad have built, the safe and secure life they've made for themselves. And now Michael and his father face a choice: to hold tight to their life or to let it unravel.

Z. Fraillon - Monstrum House - Published by Hardie Grant Egmont (June 1, 2014) Age 9+
A bind-up of four Monstrum House series titles
Jasper McPhee has been expelled from schools countless times. The Monstrum House School for Troubled Children is his last chance. It looks like a normal school. All the parents who send their kids there think it's a normal school. What everyone doesn't realize is that Monstrum House is actually a place that trains kids to be monster hunters. And the monsters aren't cute and cuddly. They lurk under beds and in the school basement; some scare kids, some eat kids, and some morph them into stone. It's no use telling your parents that the school is making you catch monsters. After being expelled from schools time and time again, who would believe you?

Claudia White - Key to Kashdune - Published by MP Publishing (June 10, 2014) Age 9+
Key to Kashdune picks up the year after Aesop’s Secret ends. An earthquake in the exotic countryside of Turkey has uncovered an ancient cave full of relics of the shape-shifting Athenite people, and two present-day Athenites, Dr. Harmony Melpot and her uncle Joe Wiltshire (previously Aesop the rabbit), are eager to discover its secrets. When they meet with disaster in the form of another frightening earthquake, Melinda convinces her family to go to her friend Joe’s rescue. In the process she discovers four mysterious journals that reveal the secret to traveling by the Earth’s music. Captivated by the melodies she hears, Melinda flies off as a kestrel to the fabled island of Kashdune, rumored to be a place where Athenites and humans live together in peace. Unfortunately, the Huttons’ old nemesis Professor Horace Stumpworthy has learned of the utopian island, and he attempts to use the ancient Athenite knowledge there to exact his revenge upon the Hutton family. The Huttons, Harmony, and Joe set off after Melinda, parting a veil of magical mist that hides Kashdune from the outside world. Jake is separated from the rest of the group, but the others successfully make their way to the hidden island.

Key to Kashdune--Spring 2014

Thursday, 8 May 2014


(Last years book winner 2013 - Beasts and Gods, by Denise Mina)

Giants of the genre are pitted against each other as the longlist is announced for the tenth Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award.
One of the most prestigious crime writing prizes in the country, 2014 sees past winners Lee Child, Mark Billingham and Denise Mina in the running.

Lee Child who won the Award in 2011 returns to the longlist with his 17th Jack Reacher novel, A Wanted Man. Sizing up to the phenomenal bestseller is two-time award winner, Mark Billingham for his Tom Thorne novel, The Dying Hours.

Denise Mina, who has won the past two years’ could make it a hat trick and defend her title with her brilliantly plotted The Red Road, said to rival Ian Rankin’s best. Number one bestseller Ian Rankin also represents Tartan Noir, with Standing in Another Man’s Grave, his first new Rebus novel in five years.
A new Scot is on the block to take on the old guard, Malcolm Mackay is one of just two debut authors to feature on the longlist with The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter. The first in a trilogy, it’s been praised as an intriguingly odd, remarkably original debut.

South African author Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls was a phenomenal bestseller and after being praised by Stephen King, it’s a hot contender.
Irish author Stuart Neville’s first three novels were previously longlisted for this award, and he’s back this year with his hugely gripping thriller, Ratlines. Stav Sherez is also back on the longlist with Eleven Days, his superior police procedural and sequel to A Dark Redemption.

No stranger to awards Belinda Bauer is the CWA 2010 Gold Dagger Award-winning author; her latest novel Rubbernecker has received glowing reviews.
Elly Griffiths also makes an appearance with her intriguing crime story, Dying Fall, which effortlessly brings together neo-Nazis, New Age hippies in Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Now in its tenth year, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award was created to celebrate the very best in crime writing and is open to crime authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2013 to 30 April 2014. The 2014 Award is run in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and Radio Times.

The long list, comprising 18 titles, is selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee and representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd and WHSmith.

The longlist in full:
Rubbernecker, Belinda Bauer, Transworld Publishers
The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes, HarperCollins
The Dying Hours, Mark Billingham, Little, Brown Book Group
Like This, For Ever, Sharon Bolton, Transworld Publishers
A Wanted Man Lee Child, Transworld Publishers
The Honey Guide, Richard Crompton, Orion
The Cry, Helen Fitzgerald, Faber & Faber
Dying Fall, Elly Griffiths, Quercus
Until You're Mine, Samantha Hayes, Random House
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter, Malcolm Mackay, Pan Macmillan
The Chessmen, Peter May, Quercus
I Hear The Sirens In The Street, Adrian McKinty, Profile Books
The Red Road, Denise Mina, Orion
Ratlines, Stuart Neville, Vintage, Random House
Standing in Another Man's Grave, Ian Rankin, Orion
Children of the Revolution, Peter Robinson, Hodder & Stoughton
Eleven Days, Stav Sherez, Faber & Faber
Weirdo, Cathi Unsworth, Profile Books

From 22 May to 19 June, longlisted titles will feature in a four-week campaign across all 600 WHSmith stores and 80 library services, representing a total of 1645 library branches. The longlist will be whittled down to a shortlist of six titles which will be announced on 30 June.

The overall winner will be decided by a panel of Judges which this year comprises of Executive Director of T&R Theakston Ltd. and title sponsor Simon Theakston, Festival Chair Steve Mosby, Radio Times’ Alison Graham, and Head of Fiction at WHSmith, Dave Swillman, as well as members of the public. The public vote opens on 3 July and closes 15 July at