Wednesday, 16 July 2014


Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books has decided to do a one off Book Cover Wars featuring some of Darren Shan's amazing book images. I have tried to pick a varied selection for you to consider. This is your chance to vote for your favourite BOOK COVER from the five that I have chosen. 

It's very easy to vote by clicking the links that you'll find at the end of this post. You have one month to vote as the Book Cover Wars will end on the 16th AUGUST 2014. Feel free to tell your friends and other like minded people about this post. 

As an incentive, I will give one lucky person who votes and leaves a comment on the post a Darren Shan book of my choice. This is open worldwide - I will choose one lucky winner at random. Enjoy and get voting.....

BOOK ONE: ZOM-B BABY - UK PAPERBACK COVER - PUBLISHED BY Simon & Schuster Childrens Books (27 Mar 2014) - VOTE HERE

BOOK TWO: ZOM-B ANGELS - TAIWAN BOOK COVER - PUBLISHED BY Crown Publishing Limited - ( 16 June 2014) - VOTE HERE


BY HarperCollins Children's Books (27 March 2014) - VOTE HERE

BOOK FIVE: BIRTH OF A KILLER - UK HARDBACK - PUBLISHED BY  HarperCollins Children's Books - ( 30 September 2010) - VOTE HERE

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Mr Ripley's New Children's/Teen Book Picks - August 2014 - US Post One

Kazu Kibuishi - Amulet #6 - Escape from Lucien - Published by Graphix (26 Aug 2014)
Kazu Kibuishi's #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series continues!
Navin and his classmates journey to Lucien, a city ravaged by war and plagued by mysterious creatures, where they search for a beacon essential to their fight against the Elf King. Meanwhile, Emily heads back into the Void with Max, one of the Elf King's loyal followers, where she learns his darkest secrets. The stakes, for both Emily and Navin, are higher than ever.

James Dashner - The Rule of Thoughts - Published by Delacorte Press (26 Aug 2014)
Michael completed the Path.What he found at the end turned everything he’d ever known about his life—and the world—completely upside down. He barely survived. But it was the only way VirtNet Security knew to find the cyber-terrorist Kaine—and to make the Sleep safe for gamers once again. And, the truth Michael discovered about Kaine is more complex than they anticipated, and more terrifying than even the worst of their fears. Kaine is a tangent, a computer program that has become sentient. And Michael’s completing the Path was the first stage in turning Kaine’s master plan, the Mortality Doctrine, into a reality. The Mortality Doctrine will populate Earth entirely with human bodies harboring tangent minds. Any gamer who sinks into the VirtNet risks coming out with a tangent intelligence in control of their body. And the takeover has already begun.

Madeleine Roux - Sanctum: An Asylum Novel - Published by HarperCollins (26 Aug 2014)
Haunting, fast-paced sequel to the New York Times bestselling photo-illustrated novel ASYLUM.
Perfect for fans of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Featuring real found photographs from vintage carnivals, SANCTUM is a mind-bending reading experience that blurs the lines between past and present, genius and insanity.
Dan, Abby, and Jordan were traumatised by the summer they shared at New Hampshire College, the former site of the Brookline asylum. They want to move on, but someone is determined to keep the terror alive by sending them anonymous photos of an old-time carnival.
Forsaking plans to never to go back, the teens return during a weekend for prospective students, and realise that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it's here on campus…
As Dan and his friends visit abandoned houses and hidden places of the surrounding town, they realise that Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the influence of the asylum runs deeper than they ever imagined.

Stephanie Diaz - Extraction - Published by St Martin's Griffin (1 Aug 2014)
Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her 16th birthday when she'll be tested for Extraction, in the hopes of being sent from Kiel's toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be "extracted," she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life. What she finds initially at the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface-it's free of hard labour, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid-but life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers-and that means Logan, too. Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet's leaders don't want her running - they want her subdued.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Review: Tim Hall - Shadow of the Wolf - David Fickling

Robin Hood has been reinvented like you've never imagined before in this thrilling debut by Tim Hall. There are no Merry Men, no maidens in distress and no stealing from the rich to give to the poor. This story is loaded with mystery, suspense and a large helping of fantastic atmospheric action. The plot will have you turning the pages in a whirlwind.  This is a savage telling about Robin of Loxley, who was left in the woods by his father at the age of seven years old, but when he returns to the village his family have disappeared without explanation. From this point on, Robin leaves the village to make his own way in life. He receives no help from anyone except nature and the wild lands of the Winter Forest.

This is a mouthwatering adventure that has been chosen as a launch title for the newly independent David Fickling Books. It's deliciously dark, twisted and very gritty. Robin soon sets out to find Marion Delbosque, his only friend, who was taken under mysterious circumstances. The rage boils inside him, as he sets out to find his only friend. Robin's character goes through many changes in this story, without giving too much away, it is a really fascinating read. Never mind the dark and nasty events that occur on the way to make your blood boil.

The surreal setting and elements of the plot feel like you are watching part of the story unfold inside a swirling mist - it really feeds your imagination. At times, I got a little lost from the complexity of it at times, but nevertheless, I really enjoyed it.

Nothing stirs without his notice - the vixen in the undergrowth, the woodcock in the bracken, every disturbance tells him a story.  Robin finds himself roaming around the Winter Forest amongst strange, powerful Gods and a host of dangerous monsters. The epic battles and skirmishes make the story sing with dark intensity that I really gulped up with gusto. This book is an epic adventure that you can't put down; it is a fast paced action with arrows whispering through the trees with magical intensity that never miss their target. Many a swinging axe, sword on flesh and spilled blood keep the reader gripped by revenge, death and survival.

This is perfect pitch book for the hungry teenager. The fantastic book cover image from Richard Collingridge will draw any reader into picking up this book and giving it a chance; it certainly won't let you down. Forget everything that you've ever heard about Robin Hood as the truth is a lot darker than you could ever imagine. Be prepared to witness a new series that has a new spin and a sting in its tale! This is a cracking read from Tim Hall - David Fickling fans of my blog should truly love this book. Grab yourself a copy now.... I'm looking forward to hearing your comments.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Picks:Teen/Adult Sci-Fi Fantasy - August 2014

John Hornor Jacobs - The Incorruptibles - Published by Gollancz (14 Aug 2014)
In the contested and unexplored territories at the edge of the Empire, a boat is making its laborious way up stream. Riding along the banks are the mercenaries hired to protect it - from raiders, bandits and, most of all, the stretchers, elf-like natives who kill any intruders into their territory. 

The mercenaries know this is dangerous, deadly work. But it is what they do.
In the boat the drunk governor of the territories and his sons and daughters make merry. They believe that their status makes them untouchable. They are wrong. And with them is a mysterious, beautiful young woman, who is the key to peace between warring nations and survival for the Empire. When a callow mercenary saves the life of the Governor on an ill-fated hunting party, the two groups are thrown together.

For Fisk and Shoe - two tough, honourable mercenaries surrounded by corruption, who know they can always and only rely on each other - their young companion appears to be playing with fire. The nobles have the power, and crossing them is always risky.
And although love is a wonderful thing, sometimes the best decision is to walk away. Because no matter how untouchable or deadly you may be, the stretchers have other plans.

Dan Abnett & Nik Vincent - Fiefdom: A Kingdom Novel - Published by Abaddon Books (14 Aug 2014)

New York Times best selling author Dan Abnett is to write an original novel set in the world of his hit 2000 AD comics series Kingdom. Co-written with Nik Vincent, Fiefdom is set one hundred years after the events of Kingdom, in which a geneticallyengineered dog-soldiers fought giant marauding insects in a post-apocalyptic future. Kingdom took us to the isolated wastelands of the southern hemisphere, where Gene the Hackman and his fellow Aux listen to the voices of The Masters as humanity hibernates, awaiting the destruction of the alien Them. In Fiefdom the action moves into the northern hemisphere, where Them are now a folk memory and the Aux war with one another in the ruins of what was once Berlin. Inspired by the legends of Gene, young Evelyn War begins to question the Aux's situation as she hears the first rumours about the return of Them...

Edgar Cantero - The Supernatural Enhancements - Published by Del Rey (14 Aug 2014)
Everybody loves a ghost story.
The heir to Axton House and his companion are delighted to find themselves living in one.
With it come nightmares, a secret society and a curse.
A ghost may soon be the least of their worries.

Part ghost story, part cerebral mystery, this is a dazzling and wholly original supernatural adventure.

Carrie Patel - The Buried Life - Published by Angry Robot (7 Aug 2014)

The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation - Recoletta's top-secret historical research facility. When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs -

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Preview: Lucy Inglis - City of Halves - Chicken House

Lucy Inglis - City of Halves - Published by Chicken House;  (7 Aug 2014)

London. Girls are disappearing. They've all got one thing in common; they just don't know it yet. Sixteen-year-old Lily was meant to be next, but she's saved by a stranger: a half-human boy with gold-flecked eyes. Regan is from an unseen world hidden within our own, where legendary creatures hide in plain sight. But now both worlds are under threat, and Lily and Regan must race to find the girls, and save their divided city.

Book Preview.

Okay, so what have we got?’ Lily’s dad paced the kitchen in
his shirt and tie, running his fingers through his fading blond
Lily put her chin in her hand and stared at her laptop. ‘I told
you, Dad. Not enough. The guy who sold her the papers is a
visa-passport-whatever faker. Facial recognition on the CCTV
has had him in the City a few times recently, but he doesn’t stay
anywhere long enough to get caught. And without him, we’re
not going to get any further.’ 
Her father rubbed his face, then folded his arms. ‘What’s he
doing in the City?’
She shrugged. ‘Pubs, mainly. Probably meeting clients.
Although there are a couple of places he goes that I can’t figure
out. Most likely dead drops, just leaving the papers for people
to come and collect. One derelict alley in Bow Lane in

Her father picked up his briefcase, a long black court gown
and the box containing his barrister’s wig. ‘We’ve only got a few
more days on this one. Till next week at the latest. If we can’t
find him, they’ll deport her.’
‘I know. But he’s left no online trail, and officially he doesn’t
exist. He accesses his email from random coffee shops. I’ll keep
trying, but . . .’ She shrugged and took a sip of tea from a large
white mug.
He rubbed her curly head as he passed. ‘Good girl. Wish me
She grinned. ‘You don’t need luck. You’ll ace it.’
‘Thanks to my star researcher.’ He winked.
‘For a big corporation with so much to hide, they were
sloppy. That firewall wouldn’t have kept out the cold, let alone
anyone who actually wanted to get into their system.’ She
smiled. ‘Besides, it was you who taught me how to find fraudulent transactions.’
Her father paused suddenly, looking at her.
‘What?’ she said. 
He hesitated before replying. ‘Nothing.’ He blinked. ‘You
looked so like your mother then, I . . . it just caught me up
short, that’s all.’

Lily glanced towards the photographs on the table against
the sitting-room wall. The most recent had been taken in
Temple Gardens on her sixteenth birthday, the vivid autumn
leaves behind her picked up by the colours in her hair. She was
a smaller, sharper version of the mother she had never met, but
they shared the same soft ringlets in a shiny mixture of gold and
bronze. They also shared pale skin and large green eyes framed
by dark lashes and eyebrows. 

Lily’s father turned for the door. ‘There’s money on the table
if you need anything. Why don’t you go and meet your friends?’
‘Thanks. I think Sam’s busy. Her cousins are over from
Canada or something.’ 
‘Right. Well, make sure you eat, please.’ He straightened his
tie in the hall mirror.
‘Yes, Dad. Go, or you’ll be late.’
He reached for the door handle. 
‘And good luck!’ she called after him. The latch clicked and
she turned back to her computer. Through the window the
gulls wheeled against a leaden midday sky. 
Lily and her father lived quietly, in a routine formed around
his work, her school and shared mealtimes. Their flat was
cramped and old, and Lily knew he didn’t earn that much, as
lawyering went. They lived in Middle Temple on the edge of the
City of London, a sort of ancient village full of lawyers with a
dining hall and library, right on the river. Lily’s bedroom had
white bedding, a desk and the Macbook her dad had given her
for Christmas. She adored it. Next to it was her brick of a
laptop, scuffed and scratched from too many accidents. It 
was full of tag ends of code, script written on long, quiet
Coding was something Lily had discovered she was good at
by accident, after her school had run a short course in
computer programming. But creating programs that compared
consumer interest in products through Facebook ‘likes’ had
soon morphed into hacking Facebook, then the school system,
then the systems of corporations her father was up against in
court. It had become like an addiction, one Lily and her father
tried to put to good use. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Big Idea Competition - Barry Cunningham/Tess Daly - Have You Got One?


Tess Daly joins nationwide search to discover the next big story idea for children

Judged by experts from the book, film, TV and theatre world

Challenging convention on how great ideas become stories today

Britain has created some of the greatest children’s stories in history. From J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the nation has produced ideas that have become part of our cultural heritage and captivated audiences around the world

Now the search is on to find Britain’s next ‘big idea’ with a major new competition to discover original story ideas for children. The Big Idea will be encouraging the nation to get creative this summer, giving participants the chance to see their ideas nurtured and developed by experts in the world of family entertainment. The competition challenges convention on how ideas can be brought to life and made into new narratives in book, film, TV, theatre or gaming.

The Big Idea is working with six respected judges who have a wealth of relevant industry experience between them:

·               Tess Daly – TV broadcaster
·               Neil Blair –  J.K. Rowling’s agent
·               Barry Cunningham OBE – Children’s publisher
·               Debra Hayward – Film producer
·               Sonia Friedman – Theatre producer
·               Philip Ardagh – Children’s author and literary critic

The judges will work together to choose six winning ideas. The winners will each receive £1000 plus the chance to see their idea come to life, with one overall winner offered the prize of a publishing contract and the promise of their idea being nurtured, developed and written by a well-known author. As Neil Blair explains, ‘The Big Idea is an exciting new way to bring new children’s stories to life by going to the heart of every one of them: the big idea at their core.’

The overall winner’s publishing contract will be in line with industry standards, with a shared royalty on every copy sold. The six winners could additionally see their idea work across a variety of media platforms, including film, TV, gaming, websites, apps and stage, with a commensurate royalty share.

Entering couldn’t be easier, and creative writing ability isn’t a requirement – entrants simply need to outline their original idea in up to 750 words, describing what happens in the story, who’s in it, where it takes place and the type of audience it’s intended for. Entrants can visit the website at for creative advice and look out for top tips and inspiration on The Big Idea’s social media channels. The competition opens on Monday July 7th and the winning ideas will be announced in early November.

Tess Daly adds, ‘All the best children’s books come from a great idea, and a great idea can come from anywhere! I’ve joined forces with The Big Idea to celebrate Britain’s talent for storytelling and creativity. There are so many people who have a seed of an idea for a book, film or TV programme but don’t know what to do with it, so this is their chance to get support from the best. I love sharing and making up my own stories with my children – so I can’t wait to help uncover the next big story idea to be loved by adults and children alike.’

Competition closing date: 2nd September 2014

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Review: Key to Kashdune by Claudia White - MP Publishing

This might be a pocket size book but inside is a super sized adventure for younger readers. One year on and Key to Kashdune is the next installment to Aesop's Secret featuring the Hutton family. Melinda is still able to transform into any animal that she can think of - sometimes with comical and crazy consequences. However once she discovers four mysterious journals, in a cave in Turkey, that reveal the secret to travelling to the Earth's music; the adventure soon sets off once again....

This is too freaky,” Felix sighed. “First, because I didn’t think that I believed that stuff about music in the air and second, because why would the music that supposedly identifies Paris be recorded in hieroglyphs found in journals written thousands of years ago in Turkey?”

The story is very imaginative, infact it floats off the page like a big dream as you suddenly find yourself fly off in the form of a kestrel to the fabled island of Kashdune. High above the clouds and, over the sparkling blue sea, the story establishes an adventure that no younger reader would be able to resist. Danger lurks around every corner through characters such as Professor Horace Stumpworthy. After learning about the Utopian Island, he soon attempts to use the ancient Athenite knowledge to exact his revenge upon the Hutton family. 

Augustina straightened up, a puzzled look on her face, “I didn’t mean change into other clothes…I was talking about changing into something like fur or even feathers…however you might be more comfortable.”

This is a thrilling little read with a big heart and lots of imagination. I really enjoyed reading this book as it transported me back to my 'carefree' childhood. I really think that Claudia has written a great story that allows the reader to explore the plot easily and comfortably. Elements of mythology, mystery and mayhem whip up a super story to ensure that we all love and enjoy it. 

“Augustina reads minds,” Melinda added while attempting handstands on the grass. “But she doesn’t do it all the time. She said that most people’s thoughts aren’t that interesting. All Athenites are supposed to be able to do it.”  Having failed at another handstand, Melinda lay crumpled on the grass. “Did you know that she can disappear too?”

This is a great entertaining read which has a hidden melody to lift you into the fantasy cloud for the duration of the story. A heartwarming, funny and charming family quest that will take you on a journey that you won't want to end. When it finally does, you'll definitely want to read the next installment very soon. This is Mr Ripley's Younger Read recommendation for all children but especially girls.

Published by MP Publishing (10 Jun 2014)

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Mr Ripley's Guest Post: Paul Durham - The Luck Uglies - HarperCollins - Happy Publication!


Dreams don’t come easy. I suppose they aren’t meant to.
Since I was a child, my dream was to see my fiction published. Sometimes I wished I’d aspired to be an astronaut or professional athlete instead. That’s how difficult the road to publication seemed at times.   
I started my first novel nineteen years ago. It was heavy-fisted, testosterone-laden stuff, filled with gritty characters and grimy settings. I labored over it for seven years until finally, finished work in hand, I braved the literary agencies’ slush piles. Most agents didn’t accept e-mail queries back then and the rejections mounted as fast as the postage.

It had been months when finally, unexpectedly, an agent at a great New York agency agreed to represent me. Needless to say, this was an exciting time and soon the agent was submitting my work to publishers with much optimism. Then another unexpected thing happened. Rejections began piling up again. They came with promising words and invitations to send my next book, but the ultimate message was always “no thank you.”  Eventually, there was nowhere left to go. I joked that I had been read and rejected by every major (and not-so-major) publisher in Manhattan.  

I promised to get the agent my next novel, and over the next few years I did—in a sense.  Fifty pages of one novel, a hundred pages of another. All of them stories started but never finished. With a wife, two young daughters, and a demanding career that already kept me away from them for too long, it grew harder and harder to justify even more hours toiling alone in front of a computer with the voices in my head. Finally, after so many stops and starts, I quit writing altogether.

In the years that followed, I focused on my family and my career, but a hollow remained.  I found myself tormented by the fact that I wasn’t creating much of anything at all. Then, upon reflection, I realized that I was. Every day, with two little girls who seemed to be bitten at birth by the same creative bug that I had, I sketched and painted and told stories. Lots of stories.  Late one fall, when my oldest was six and our thoughts turned to Christmas, I asked what she might want for a gift. She asked if I would write her a story. One we could read together. And, with that one simple request, everything changed. Little did she know that she was the one who had given a gift to me.

I was writing again. A children’s story. I truly had no aspirations to seek an agent for this work, nor to have it published. My goals were far more modest but at the same time all the more important. I simply wanted to finish a story for my daughter. I met that first deadline and my family gathered around the fireplace on Christmas Day as I read what would become the first chapters of my next novel. It was called The Luck Uglies and I completed it over the next three months, one chapter per week, each read aloud by the fire to my enthusiastic audience.

When the manuscript was done, those old aspirations started to creep back into my mind.  Dreams die hard I suppose. Either that or I’m a glutton for punishment. But this time things ended differently. As I write these words, HarperCollins has published The Luck Uglies in the United States and the United Kingdom. A Norwegian language version is in the works. It’s humbling to think that families around the world may soon be reading my little story around their own fireplaces.   

I never dreamed of writing books for children. Now I can’t imagine writing books for anyone else. As strange as it sounds, I am fortunate that my first novel was never published. I’m grateful for that twist of ugly luck so many years ago.
For those of you with similar dreams and aspirations, I wish you good writing, thick skin, and your own dose of ugly luck in unexpected places.  

Please check out Mr. Ripley's book review here:

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Mr Ripley's Adult Sci-fi Fantasy Book Picks - Solaris 2014 - UK Post (July, Sept, October)

James Lovegrove - World of Fire - Published by Solaris (11 Sep 2014)
Dev Harmer, reluctant agent of Interstellar Security Solutions, wakes up in a newly cloned host body on the planet Alighieri, ready for action. It's an infernal world, so close to its sun that its surface is regularly baked to 1,000 C, hot enough to turn rock to lava. But deep underground there are networks of tunnels connecting colonies of miners who dig for the precious helium-3 regolith deposits in Alighieri's crust. Polis+, the AI race who are humankind's great galactic rivals, want to claim the fiery planet's mineral wealth for their own. All that stands between them and this goal is Dev. But as well as Polis+'s agents, there are giant moleworms to contend with, and a spate of mysterious earthquakes, and the perils of the surface where a man can be burned to cinders if he gets caught unprotected on the day side...

Christopher Fowler - Nyctophobia -  Published by Solaris (7 Oct 2014)
There are two things you need to know about haunted houses. One, there's never been an actual authenticated haunted house. Two, it's not the house that's haunted, but the person. Callie is a young architectural student who marries Mateo, a wine importer, and moves to a grand old house in Southern Spain. Hyperion House is flooded with light, it also has a mute gardener, a sinister housekeeper and a sealed, dark servants' quarters that nobody has the keys for. And although initially happy, and taking care of Mateo's daughter, Callie can't help being drawn to the dark empty rooms at the back of the house, and becomes convinced that someone is living in there. Uncovering the house's history, she discovers the shocking truth.
As Callie's fear of the darkness returns, she comes to understand the true nature of evil...

Christopher Priest, Garth Nix & Other - Fearsome Magics - Published by Solaris (9 Oct 2014)
A cabinet of magic! A cavalcade of wonder! A collection of stories both strange and wondrous, of tales filled with wild adventure and strange imaginings. Fearsome Magics, the second New Solaris Book of Fantasy, is all these things and more. It is, we think the best book you will read all year. Award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan has invited some of the best and most exciting writers working in fantasy today to let their imaginations run wild and to deliver stories that will thrill and awe, delight and amuse. And above all, stories that are filled with fearsome magic! Authors committed to take part in Fearsome Magics include Christopher Priest, Garth Nix, Catherynne M. Valente, Ellen Klages, Isobelle Carmody, Nalo Hopkinson, Frances Hardinge, Scott Lynch, Robert Shearman, Justina Robson, Christopher Rowe, Karin Tidbeck, K J Parker, and Justina Robson.

Eric Brown - Jani and the Greater Game - Published by  Solaris (31 July 2014)
It's 1910 and the British rule the subcontinent with an iron fist - and with strange technology fuelled by a power source known as Annapurnite - discovered in the foothills of Mount Annapurna. But they rule but at the constant cost of their enemies, mainly the Russians and the Chinese, attempting to learn the secret of this technology...This political confrontation is known as The Greater Game. Into this conflict is pitched eighteen year old Janisha Chaterjee who discovers a strange device which leads her into the foothills of the Himalayas. When Russians spies and the evil priest Durja Das find out about the device, the chase is on to apprehend Janisha before she can reach the Himalayas. There she will learn the secret behind Annapurnite, and what she learns will change the destiny of the world for ever...Jani and the Greater Game is the first book in a rip-roaring, spice-laden, steampunk action adventure series set in India and featuring a heroine who subverts all the norms.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Review: Dawn Finch - Brotherhood of Shades

This is the debut book from Dawn Finch. Ever since she was a young girl, Dawn wanted to be a writer and librarian; her home was filled with books. She had a love for Edgar Allan Poe that soon turned from a small dream into a large vision once Dawn grew older. Her love of books and reading never went away; one day her dream turned into reality and the Brother of Shades was born.

I've wanted to read this book for quite some time now but, unfortunately, I've never seen this book in any bookshop to buy. I actually find this really hard to believe as it is a cracking read. I really do agree with the quote on the front of the book by Jonathan Stroud stating that this is "a wonderful new fantasy". I love the cover as it really does scream 'read me, pick me up, delve into my pages and read me word for word' - this is exactly what I did and I was not disappointed.

From the very first page, I was gripped by the opening of the story. I loved the feel of it and the excitement that was generated at the prospect of what was to come. I seemed to read this part of the story more slowly, as I was, perhaps, rather absorbed by the world and characters a little too much. However, the more that I read, the more I really loved this book. The author's love of reading oozed from every pore and helped to create a mental picture that held-fast like a good oil painting. Every detail was stored through the clever weaving of historical events, places and people which gave it a sense of reality as you zipped from the 1500's to the present time.

This is a great ghost story but with magical elements such as talking books, scary monsters and some very well-timed twist and turns. The plot is hinged around protecting the living from the world of the dead and mythical legends. The secret order was set up along time ago by a group of monks who named themselves Brotherhood of Shades. One of the first to be enlisted was enigmatic Toby D'Scover who is humorous, dapper and totally dead. He's a saviour of the world of the living - a protector of ancient books. This is an important role as one false move and this could lead to the dead rising again to bring havoc and chaos to the world. This is a dark fantasy, with some lip smacking moments, that will have you gripped and hooked to the point that you cannot put this book down.

The characters were convincing - not too many to get to grips with which really helped to keep the pace of the book flowing. The progressive complexity of the story and the realistic dialogue between the characters supported their role in travelling back in time/spectral realm. A great deal of research has gone into the plot, but the setting really comes to life as a result of this. The ending was an explosive triumph; the climatic battle really got you thinking. I think that both teenage boys and girls will love reading this book - it is a great reading experience full of action adventure, discovery and secrets.

When a book really is this good, it's always sad to get to the end. I do have a feeling that we will be seeing Adam, Toby, Edie and the Brotherhood of Shades again real ghostly soon. This is an author to watch and a series to get very excited about. Bring it on.....

Will you join the Brotherhood?

Published by Authonomy (26 Sep 2013)

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Review: Eoin Colfer - W.A.R.P BK 2 - The Hangman's Revolution

"The old maxim that every action has a reaction is true, but when you start messing with time travel, that reaction could take place in a whole different universe." —Professor Charles Smart 

This is the next instalment in the fantastic series 'W.A.R.P'  and what a sequel this book is. With an eye dropping cover, this is surely going to be snapped up by readers. I was incredibly pleased to receive this book in my mail box. It read incredibly well; I was not disappointed in any way. Well, only when it finally ended.

I warped with full speed into the story; my mental agility soon reached overload. From the very first page, the reader is flung straight into the action following young FBI agent Chevie bags-of-attitude Savano. Trapped in a nightmare future, she needs to return to 19th century London to change the course of history. Can she do it? Well, that you will have to find out.  Along the way she receives support and help from her 19th century friend Riley (boy magician) and the Victorian gangster Otto Malarkey (current leader of The Battering Ram's). All in all, these add up to a charming little gang of cutthroats, serial killers and petty theft merchants that you are ever likely to read about and follow.

Chevie becomes involved in a mission to save the world. The only problem with this is that she has to battle a group of crazy villains known as the Boxite Empire. These villains have brought the military technology of the future to the 19th century and want to use it to take over the world.  The storyline is full of explosive action. Rampaging all over Victorian London, tanks blow up historical buildings and important monuments. Never mind the couple of machine gun wielding warrior-nuns, known as the Thundercats, that  give the story a thumping great punch in the guts. It sounds very surreal, but it all adds up to a fantastic read.

I really loved the interaction of the characters: the ying and yang,  the villains and heroes, male and female partnerships. All of these elements bring about crashing twists and turns that will leave you on a knife edge. This book feels like an older read; looking back to the first book 'The Reluctant Assassin' this is told through the perspective of young characters and doesn't indulge in the same intellectual use of language. The humour is side splitting; it is almost slapstick in parts. You laugh once, you laugh twice and you'll easily laugh a third time as Eoin Colfer runs riot with the plot. The creative genius of this author is what only most of us can dream about writing.

This book is one of the best reads of this year. It might be crazy, but it is a joy to read. The reader's smile will grow stronger from start to finish. Although there is also a dark and bloody side to the story. Some scenes have so much energy and spirit that they will stay with you for some time, perhaps even into the next century!

This is a brilliantly written adventure - it is highly creative and a feast of fun. Houdini meets The Matrix with a Dickensian twist. Mr Ripley's Recommend read for June 2014.

"I knew a guy once who liked  to argue about time travel. He liked to line things up, consequences and so forth. This moron thought winning the argument made him right. The wormhole doesn't care about words. What happens, happens.  —Professor Charles Smart 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Mr Ripley's Children's/Teens Fantasy New Books - Post US Publication July 2014

Livia Blackburne - Midnight Thief - Published by Disney-Hyperion (July 8, 2014)
Growing up on Forge's streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that's not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs. But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she's not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he is persistent-and darkly attractive-and Kyra can't quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by the Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.
When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival-and vengeance-might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra's past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

In her arresting debut novel, Livia Blackburne creates a captivating world where intrigue prowls around every corner-and danger is a way of life.

Marianne Malone - The Secret of the Key: Sixty-Eight Rooms - Published by Random House Books  (July 22, 2014) 

Filled with magic, mystery, miniatures, and adventure, the Sixty-Eight Rooms is the perfect series for fans of Chasing Vermeer, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and The Dollpeople!
 Chicago sixth graders Ruthie and Jack think they’ve learned everything about the magic of the Art Institute’s Thorne Rooms. But the magic starts to act strangely when Ruthie and Jack discover two rings that are out of place—and out of time—and a portal that shouldn’t be open but somehow is. Ruthie and Jack follow the clues to seventeenth-century England and the Brownlow house, where they meet the Brownlow’s governess, Rebecca. But Rebecca has a few secrets of her own—and she might even be in the wrong century! Can Ruthie and Jack discover the truth about Rebecca’s mysterious past, or will they end up stuck in the wrong century themselves? Their quest for answers takes them from 1930s New York City and San Francisco to turn-of-the-century China. The only one who can truly answer their questions may be the woman who started it all: the room’s creator, Narcissa Thorne. But to talk to Mrs. Thorne, they’ll have to go back in time and find her!

Aprilynne Pike - Earthquake (Earthbound) - Published by Razorbill (July 8, 2014)
Tavia Michaels has discovered that she’s an Earthbound—a fallen goddess with the power to remake the Earth—and that a rival faction of Earthbounds, the Reduciata, has created a virus that is literally wiping swaths of the planet out of existence. 
 Tavia is captured and imprisoned before she can act on this information, along with her eternal lover, Logan. Huddled in a claustrophobic cell, they lose track of the days, their attempts to escape proving as ephemeral as Tavia’s newly gestating powers. But then Tavia and Logan are mysteriously rescued. 

They’re brought to the underground headquarters of the Curatoria, another group of Earthbounds that Tavia doesn’t fully trust. There, she’s told that she can save the Earth before it disappears. She agrees.
Tavia quickly realizes that she isn’t like other Earthbound, and as her abilities continue to awaken, they begin to threaten her centuries-long relationship with Logan. When Benson—Tavia’s former best friend and romantic interest—appears at Curatoria headquarters, Tavia will again have to make a choice about who to be with even as she tries to stop the virus that is destroying the world and uncover the truth about the two Earthbound organizations that have her tangled up in their webs.

Lex Thomas - Quarantine #2: The Saints - Published by Egmont USA (July 8, 2014)
New in paperback! A cross between the Gone series and Lord of the Flies, Quarantine #2: The Saints continues this frenetically paced and scary young adult series that illustrates just how deadly high school can be. Nothing was worse than being locked in--until they opened the door...

McKinley High has been a battleground for eighteen months since a virus outbreak led to a military quarantine of the school. When the doors finally open, Will and Lucy will think their nightmare is finished. But they are gravely mistaken.

As a new group of teens enters the school and gains popularity, Will and Lucy join new gangs. An epic party on the quad full of real food and drinks, where kids hook up and actually interact with members of other gangs seemed to signal a new, easier existence. Soon after, though, the world inside McKinley takes a startling turn for the worse, and Will and Lucy will have to fight harder than ever to survive.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Review - Nick Cook - Cloud Riders - Three Hares Publishing

I really loved the look of this book; from the fantastic eye catching cover, designed by Jennie Rawlings, to the interesting synopsis that I did actually read. When I was asked if I wanted to review this book I did not hesitate - I was really happy to say yes and I am very glad that I did.

Cloud Riders is the first book in a new series that will power your mind as it takes you on a journey that will deeply immerse you in a Sci-Fi/Steampunk fantasy. The story is told from the perspective of Dom. Living with his mom in Tornado Alley, this is the setting for the frantic action that follows.  After a year of long droughts, the family diner is on the verge of going bust, but then the first twister in months appears and, from nowhere, an airship emerges from the spout.

I was really drawn to the initial idea of the story; the chasing after and filming of a deadly twister. A tornado consisting of a violent rotating column of air that is in contact with the surface of the earth. This is a really fascinating natural phenomena and a refreshing idea that drew me into the story. However it didn't stop there as another dimension soon appeared, literally, in the form of a new world. 

As well as a fantastic idea, there are also a host of characters to intrigue the reader. There is Dom's long time best friend Jules and a feisty mysterious character known as Angelique. Both have a history with Dom that soon becomes known to the reader and allows us to relate to the emotional state of each character. We encounter a love triangle, as well as a range of mysteries and secrets with some timely twist and turns. The author is certainly not afraid to tackle the theme of tragedy within this story.

This book was a bag of tricks; it had the personality and blend of some of my favourite books. It was a very enjoyable read as it still brought something new to the literary table. Energetic spaceship battles, steampunk gadgets, and out of this world voyages have been very creatively written. The ending was incredibly frantic and explosive, which I wasn't too sure about. Nevertheless it created a great start for the next book which, I have to say, I am really looking forward to reading.

I would recommend this book, especially to readers who loved Philip Reeve's 'Mortal Engines' and Garth Nix's 'A confusion of Princess'. The only problem that you may have is being able to track down a copy, but it is out now for you to try.

Also check out his guest post, to the Moon and Beyond HERE

Published by Three Hares Publishing - (6 May 2014)