Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Author Interview with Abi Elphinstone - The Dreamsnatcher




Today, I am very lucky to be interviewing Abi Elphinstone, who is the author of The Dreamsnatcher. The book is being published by Simon & Schuster on the 26th February 2015. Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books would like to thank Abi for agreeing to be interviewed - what a fantastic insight into a magical debut book. 
Tell us a little bit about your debut book, The Dreamsnatcher.

THE DREAMSNATCHER follows the story of twelve-year-old Romany gypsy, Moll. As an orphan she’s always felt like an outsider in Oak's camp but when a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks – lures her away from her wagon into the Deepwood, she discovers just how much of an outsider she is. The Dreamsnatcher has taken her dreams and now he wants her life… And together with a wildcat called Gryff, Moll must fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s curse and save the old magic rooted in the Oracle Bones.

Give us an insight into the main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

In the book, Moll tells another character that she’s ‘nippy and meddling’ and that sums her up pretty well. She’s energetic and adventurous but hopelessly headstrong and impatient and she almost always says the wrong thing at the wrong time. On the surface she’s brave and strong (there aren’t many twelve-year-olds who can fire a catapult like she does) but she finds it hard to let people in – so it’s just as well she’s got a wildcat by her side to see her right. What makes her special? By Chapter 3 she’s already catapulted someone in the head. 




Is this book part of a series?

Yes, THE DREAMSNATCHER is the first book in a trilogy, and the sequel, SOUL SPLINTER, comes out in 2016.

If you had to write the book again, would you change anything?

Right now I can’t think of any specific things I would change – but I’m sure that when I’ve written a few more books I’ll think ‘Wow, that chapter of my debut was so clunky and WHAT was I thinking making that character do that?!’ I’m looking forward to (hopefully) getting better as a writer as the years go on but with my debut I gave the best I have right now – and that’s all that really matters.


Where do your ideas come from?

THE DREAMSNATCHER is, in many ways, like an extension of my childhood (minus the witchdoctors and the tree ghouls). I grew up in the wilds of Scotland, where weekends were spent scrambling over the moors, building dens in the woods and jumping into icy rivers. I didn’t have to create Moll’s outdoor world; it grew out of my own. Then I filled it with characters I wanted to write about – gypsies, witchdoctors, wildcats, fortunetellers... I watched one of the last ‘real’ Romany gypsies, Peter Ingram, ‘play the bones’ and carve wooden flowers, I studied wildcats prowling, eating and sleeping in the New Forest Wildlife Park and I travelled to Zanzibar, in Africa, to research sinister witchdoctor masks. But lots of my ideas crop up in everyday life; I pinched a character name from a cocktail list the other day and I developed a plot point from a lyric in the musical, Into The Woods!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

After reading English at university, I moved to London to work in a PR firm. I was, without doubt, the most terrible PR girl imaginable (I just didn’t care about promoting luxury food and drink products to the uber rich) and one day I work up, quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Africa. Out in Tanzania, I began thinking back to my childhood adventures and the books I’d read and loved then. Before long, I was scribbling down ideas for my own story half way up a baobab tree…

Which books have influenced your life the most?

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden
Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
Skellig by David Almond
The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy
The BFG by Roald Dahl
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe by CS Lewis
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Can you share a little bit of information about your current work with us?

I’ve just finished a first draft of the sequel, SOUL SPLINTER (I was so nervous when emailing it to my editor that I gave myself hiccups!). In this book, the gypsies are outlawed from the forest and have to hide out in a secret cove by the sea. Moll’s got codes to crack, riddles to unravel, smugglers to sneak past and mer creatures to contend with now... It’ll be a while before I hear back from my editor so over the next few weeks I’ll start thinking about the third book (set up in the Scottish highlands) and my next series, about an Inuit called Eska and a grizzly bear cub.

What advice would you give to up and coming writers?

One of my favourite quotes is by Leonardo Da Vinci, who said: ‘Rarely do people of accomplishment sit back and let things happen to them. They go out and happen to things.’ And I believe that if you want to write a book, you’ve got to make it happen. Go on adventures, explore, travel, climb trees you’re not supposed to – because that’s where the stories are. Be humble enough to take criticism on your writing but be determined enough to bounce back from it. DON’T GIVE UP. I had 96 rejections on previous books (the stories were, admittedly, pretty pants) but as my Mum always says, ‘If you don’t fail, you’re just not trying hard enough.’


Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Ummmmmmm. I jumped 4metres 97centimetres in long-jump when I was fourteen. I’ve always been really proud of that. I like jumping. Starjumping is my favourite.


Monday, 12 January 2015

Peter Jay Black - Urban Outlaws: Blackout - Book Review - (Bloomsbury)


Book Synopsis: Power is out. Security is down. Computers hacked. The world's most destructive computer virus is out of control and the pressure is on for the Urban Outlaws to destroy it. Jack knows that it's not just the world's secrets that could end up in the wrong hands. The secret location of their bunker is at the fingertips of many and the identities of the Urban Outlaws are up for grabs. But capturing the virus feels like an almost impossible mission until they meet Hector. The Urban Outlaws know they need his help, but they have made some dangerous enemies. They could take a risk and win - or lose everything ...

Book Review: We are zipping straight into the next mission BLACKOUT with the URBAN OUTLAWS: Jack, Charlie, Slink, Obi and Wren. If you have read the first book in this series, then you might remember these bunch of quick-thinking, super-skilled kids who live to right societies wrongs from their secret bunker deep beneath the city of London. This sequel retains all of the great magical ingredients from the first book: action, suspense, surprises, spills and cool gadgets as well as the occasional and exhilarating chase scene.

This story plays like a fast-paced movie vision. It will give you a thrilling and exhilarating read right down to the very last page. However, the plot in this book is more established; the previous story history is only briefly touched upon and, in my opinion, makes this encounter a cracking sequel. 

I really liked the introduction to the new character Hector, who is an extremely talented hacker. He bursts onto the scene with a great deal of cunning moves and gusto actions. An extra element of excitement is added to the plot, which may actually pose more questions and create an air of mystery. 

The story also has a side plot running through it, which is clever, well written and totally absorbing. This makes for good reading and gives another dimension to a kaleidoscope of an adventure that will keep the reader entertained. The other good aspect about this book is that it will appeal to both boys and girls, as the story is written on so many levels. The characters are all different with unique talents enabling children to be able to relate them. 

I'm really pleased to say that this is another sure fire winner. It will engage any reader who loves a great story that is told in a no nonsense way. One strong point to mention are the detailed descriptions, which are all wrapped up in the author's imagination and highlight what it is like to be a kid. The other good point is the humour - the laughs and the crazy friendships between all of the characters is a strength in this plot. It is something that many authors just don't get right, but Peter Jay Black does. 

The book has a modern day hi-tech feel about it, from the cool gadgets, computers and surveillance to capture everyones imagination. Everything is included to keep the reluctant reader hanging on for more and, for me, makes this series one of may favourites that is currently around. 

This book is published by Bloomsbury and is out on February 5th - look out for it, in all cool bookshops.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: YA Book of January 2015 - Brandon Sanderson - Firefight ( The Reckoners)


(UK Book Cover Published by Gollancz 8 Jan. 2015) 

Newcago is free.
   They told David it was impossible, that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet Steelheart--invincible, immortal, unconquerable--is dead. And he died by David's hand.
   Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life simpler. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And no one in Newcago can give him answers.
   Babylon Restored, the city formerly known as the borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic Regalia, Babylon Restored is flooded and miserable, but David is sure it's the path that will lead him to what he needs to find. Entering a city oppressed by a High Epic despot is risky, but David's willing to take the gamble. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic--Firefight. And now he will go on a quest darker and
even more dangerous than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.



(US Book Cover Published by Delacorte Press January 6, 2015)

Also recommended short story Mitosis - Published by Gollancz (20 Nov. 2014)
Mitosis is a novelette set between books one and two of The Reckoners. If you enjoyed book one, Steelheart, I think you’ll enjoy this story—but I do have to warn you that it includes major spoilers for Steelheart itself, so I’d avoid reading it unless you’ve read the first novel. 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Interview with Danny Weston - The Piper


Following the sounds of the eerie piper, I found myself under the unbreakable spell of Danny Weston. Wherever he leads, I follow. In the shadows of the ancient gravestones, I approached the lonesome figure. The following cheeky interview soon began . . . . . 

Are you a real person?

What an extraordinary question! I like to think I’m real. There are certain people who claim that I died in 1874, but to them, I say, ‘Well, if I’m dead, who’s that lurking in your wardrobe?’

What are your current projects?

Aside from the irksome duties of writing yet another book, I have been conducting some interesting experiments on literary critics. It’s interesting to note that no matter what age or size they are, they all take roughly the same time to drown. Quite by coincidence, all of them are people who have written bad reviews of The Piper. Strange that.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I like to think that I have no peers, but of course dear long-lost Uncle Edgar was a great influence of my writing. His rib-tickling comedies The Premature Burial and The Fall of the House of Usher are still firm favourites at Weston Towers. We bring them out every Christmas and my goodness how we laugh!

How much of The Piper is realistic?

Well, the story deals with an ancient curse on a family home and a series of deaths that reoccur every sixty years… so I would say that it’s very realistic. I mean, there surely can’t be a house in the UK that hasn’t suffered similar problems at one time or another?

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned that if you wake up in the small hours of the morning to find little girls dancing to eerie music in your mist-wreathed garden, it’s probably not a good idea to go outside and join them. I also discovered that being an evacuee wasn’t a bed of roses.

When did you get the idea for your debut book The Piper?

Ah, now that was Uncle Victor’s fault. As I watched his figure hurtling over the cliff, two thoughts occurred to me. 1. What a good job he’d just changed his will in my favour and 2. There’s a book in this. As it transpires, I ended up cutting that scene but Victor, if you’re up there… ahem, I mean, if you’re down there watching this, thanks for the inspiration!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

As a young boy, I was left very much to my own devices. But, after a while, those devices broke down and because of a general shortage of wood, string and wire mesh, I started to doodle in a notebook. My Aunt Agatha discovered what I’d written and beat me soundly with a broom handle, but that only encouraged me! Poor Aunt Agatha. Such a shame, what happened to her…

When is your next book out?

My next book, Mr Sparks, will be released some time in 2015, though my publishers won’t commit to a date, no matter how much I tighten the thumbscrews. It’s called Mr Sparks and it’s about a psychopathic ventriloquist’s dummy, one that’s a little too convincing for comfort. He tells everyone that he used to be a real boy and the fact is, he just might have been, once upon a time…

As he departed into the mist, his final words were: "Did I really make it into Mr Ripley's Top Ten Favourite Reads 2014?"
"Yes," I replied.
"Well the supernatural gods must have been shining down on me on that day," he whispered. 
Without any further hesitation he vanished, apart from his cheeky chuckle which could still be heard trailing behind him.

Out now in all good bookshops, but beware of the haunting sounds of the piper!

Book review here......

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Children's/Teen Horror Book Picks - January 2015


William Hussey - Jekyll's Mirror - Published by OUP Oxford (1 Jan. 2015)
Sam is a tortured soul, but his darkest hour is yet to come, when he's invited to take part in 'Project Hyde'. A new social networking site where users can enjoy total anonymity . . . it's exhilarating at first, until Sam notices that the other users are becoming obsessed with the program . . . addicted to the cruelty they are inflicting online. Sam watches with a growing sense of horror as his classmates turn into something unrecognisable. For the truth behind Project Hyde is this: it doesn't simply change WHO you are, it changes WHAT you are.  One click away from Evil's new domain. Are you ready to face the truth? 


Lou Morgan - Sleepless (Red Eye) - Published by Stripes Publishing (5 Jan. 2015)
The real nightmare begins when you're awake...Young, rich and good-looking, Izzy and her friends lead seemingly perfect lives. But exams are looming - and at a school like Clerkenwell, failure is not an option. Luckily, Tigs has a solution. A small pill that will make revision a breeze and help them get the results they need. Desperate to succeed, the friends begin taking the study drug.


Shane Hegarty - Darkmouth - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (29 Jan. 2015) - Review Here
THEY’RE COMING!
Legends (also known as terrifying, human-eating monsters) have invaded the town of Darkmouth and aim to conquer the world.
But don’t panic! The last remaining Legend Hunter - Finn - will protect us.
Finn: twelve-years-old, loves animals, not a natural fighter, but tries really, really hard, and we all know good intentions are the best weapons against a hungry Minotaur, right?
On second thoughts, panic.
PANIC NOW!


Garth Jennings - The Deadly 7 - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (15 Jan. 2015) - Review Here
Who needs friends when you've got MONSTERS?
Everything was happening so fast and it was all so . . . mad. It was as if someone had taken reality, made it into a jigsaw, thrown the jigsaw on to the floor and then said, "Now, hurry up and put it all together!" as they danced all over the jigsaw pieces in a clown suit, blowing a trumpet.
When Nelson's beloved big sister goes missing on a school trip, Nelson is devastated - he's not that good at making friends and his sister is the only person he can talk to. His parents join the search party and leave Nelson in the care of his mad uncle Pogo. Uncle Pogo is the caretaker of St Paul's Cathedral and it is here that Nelson stumbles across a machine, invented by Christopher Wren and buried for hundreds of years. Designed to extract the 7 deadly sins, the machine had a fault - once extracted, the sins became living, breathing monsters who would then follow the sinner around for eternity (unless they ate him first, in the case of the particularly sinful). Nelson accidentally extracts 7 deadly monsters from his own little soul. Ugly, cantankerous, smelly and often the cause of much embarrassment, Nelson's monsters are the last thing he needed in his life, but at least they're fairly harmless (he's a pretty good kid, on the whole). When he learns of their individual powers he realises the monsters can be put to good use, and together Nelson and the Deadly 7 set out on a quest across the globe to find and rescue his big sister. Somewhere along the way, Nelson realises that he finally has friends, even if they are smelly, lazy friends who like smashing stuff up.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Alex Bell - Frozen Charlotte - Book Review (Red Eye)



Book Synopsis: Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind… Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lillias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there's her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn't be there. The girl that died.

If you are looking for a supernatural horror read this January, then look no further then Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell. It's the first book to be rolled out under the Red Eye imprint, who are set to publish a series of exciting new contemporary YA horror titles in 2015. They feature well-known established authors as well as rising stars that are guaranteed to chill you and thrill you at the same time. 


This book was fantastically gripping - written in a true classic horror style. The narrative was beguiling as it sucked me through the 340 or so pages in a blink of a toad's eye. The start of the book is set in 1910 on the Isle of Skye and invites the mind to play. The intense dark horror unfolds and turns into a fantastic ride of emotions. 



Zipping in time to the present day, Jay and Sophie are playing on a downloaded Ooija-board app; I loved the modern twist to this. Inexplicable things and tragic events soon follow Sophie to her cousins' remote house which is known for its gruesome history. This brings about a terrifying tale that will leave you feeling frozen. The story is certainly not for the feint of heart; it will strike fear in you making you want to dive for cover. Evil antique-looking dolls and a remote stately house that oozes with malignant spirits will have you leaping out of your self-controlled pants!

This is the best spooky horror story that I have read for a teenage audience in some time. The book is not overly predictable, which is actually really hard to find at the moment. The characters are mysterious and have a hidden past, which keeps the reader guessing throughout the adventure. The main setting is very well written and brings a gothic surreal element that intensifies the reading experience. 

I had no expectations about this book before receiving it, so I'm really pleased to say that this is a cracking entertaining start to a new series. It will freeze you to the bone and give you a reading experience to be definitely recommend. If you love a good horror story, then this is the book for you. If you love a fantastically well written story, then this is the book for you. If you want suspense, mystery AND something different, then this is the book for you. 

Dare you read a RED EYE? Out 5 Jan 2015 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Garth Jennings - The Deadly 7 - Book Review (Macmillan Children's Books)



Who needs friends when you've got MONSTERS?

When Nelson's beloved big sister goes missing on a school trip, he wants to go and find her. But while his parents join the search party Nelson is left at home with his mad uncle Pogo, a plumber working at St Paul’s Cathedral. In the dark catacombs of the cathedral Nelson stumbles across a strange and ancient machine, designed to extract the 7 deadly sins from a person’s soul as living, breathing monsters. Nelson accidentally extracts the sins from his own little soul and finds himself stuck with seven ugly, cantankerous, smelly and embarrassing new friends who help him form the best (and weirdest) plan ever: they will set out on a quest across the globe to find and rescue his big sister . . .


Are you having a bad day? If so, then you need look no further than this book as it will make your day and then some. It will lift your fantasy spirits up into space and beyond. This book was an absolute joy to read from the very first page. I was utterly stunned to have reached the final page so quickly; I really can't give this book a better endorsement than that. 

The first thing to tell you about this book is that it is monster bonkers. It's so crazy that I am still thinking what's just happened here. The author leads you skipping merrily through a plot of total mayhem. The language from the start was very cleverly woven into sentences and through paragraphs -the description and the comparisons were like poetry in motion. This could be a skill influenced by the authors time both writing and directing films. He is certainly multi-talented as he has also provided the illustrations for this book. The drawings really capture the tone of the story and make it fun for readers of all ages. 

The characters and monsters are very special; nothing like you have ever encountered before, in my opinion. Nelson is the main character. He might be considered as a 'normal' young boy on the outside, but on the inside . . . . . well, that is another story as he takes you on the ride of your imaginary life. 

On the other hand, Uncle Pogo could have just come off the set of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He is a wacky inventor who rattles around in your head for some time. The Deadly 7 are Nelson's monsters: there's HOOT (a golden bird with the wit and charm of a snake), NOSH who is a pink blob and as round as a butcher's belly with warm hands and MISER (a blue egg-shaped monster that shuffles on feet that flop like wet socks). Are you beginning to get the mad vibe yet? The final characters to introduce are Spike, Crush, Stan and MASTER PUFF who can blow you out with his rather windy disposition!

The story was brilliant from start to finish; it's a riot of wild imagination. You start off on one journey and then end up on another. You'll find yourself being part of a high speed chase in a limo one minute and then the next you'll be hurtling along on a cow and so on.  

I really hope that this book develops into a new series. It's original, full of idiotic behaviour and made me smile from ear to monster ear. Five star fun and a smashing adventure to kindle your heart. It's got all the makings of a good film. Make sure that you search out a copy when it's finally published, as you will not be disappointed. 

Who needs friends when you've got books like this to read! 

Both written and illustrated by Garth Jennings
Unleashed 15th January 2015
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Mr Ripley's New Children's/Teen Books Published January 2015 - Post One - UK


Sarah Benwell - The Last Leaves Falling - Published by Definitions (Young Adult) (29 Jan 2015)
A teen grapples with ALS and his decision to die in this devastatingly beautiful debut novel infused with the haunting grace of samurai death poetry and the noble importance of friendship. 

Abe Sora is going to die, and he’s only seventeen years old. Diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), he’s already lost the use of his legs, which means he can no longer attend school. Seeking a sense of normality, Sora visits teen chat rooms online and finally finds what he’s been longing for: friendship without pity. 

As much as he loves his new friends, he can’t ignore what’s ahead. He’s beginning to lose the function of his hands, and soon he’ll become even more of a burden to his mother. Inspired by the death poems of the legendary Japanese warriors known as samurai, Sora makes the decision to leave life on his own terms. And he needs his friends to help him. 




Donald Hounam - Gifted - Published by Corgi Children's (29 Jan 2015)
The Bishop of Oxford is very, very dead. At least the police think it’s the Bishop – it’s impossible to be sure, since someone has made off with his head.
Fifteen-year-old Frank Sampson is the forensic sorcerer on the case. But he is easily distracted. By Kazia, the supposed victim’s beautiful, and possibly dangerous, niece. By Marvo, his police colleague, who seems dead set on making his life difficult. By the terror that he's losing his Gift – the ability to work magic. And by all those stupid rules which get in the way of proving that everybody is wrong about the case . . . except Frank.

Polly Ho-Yen - Boy in The Tower - Published by Corgi Children's (29 Jan 2015)
When they first arrived, they came quietly and stealthily as if they tip-toed into the world when we were all looking the other way.
Ade loves living at the top of a tower block. From his window, he feels like he can see the whole world stretching out beneath him.
His mum doesn’t really like looking outside – but it’s going outside that she hates.
She’s happier sleeping all day inside their tower, where it’s safe.
But one day, other tower blocks on the estate start falling down around them and strange, menacing plants begin to appear.
Now their tower isn’t safe anymore. Ade and his mum are trapped and there’s no way out . . .


Fleur Hitchcock -  Ghosts on Board - Published by Hot Key Books (1 Jan 2015)
Victor, the ghost, is desperate to get off dreary Black Hall Island, so he steals a ride on an unsuspecting tourist boat back to Bywater-by-Sea. Two other ghosts - the terribly vain Flora Rose and the lonely but friendly Billy - know he is up to no good, so they follow him. Victor soon realises that the town is not what it seems, and his new ordinary friends, Tom, Jacob and Billy, have some very unusual powers. While Tom is distracted trying to stop a corporation from building a theme park over his Field Craft hut, Victor sees his opportunity to take over the world. This SHRUNK story was created on The Story Adventure website, where each week, Fleur wrote a new chapter inspired by ideas from hundreds of school children, whose names are printed in the back of the book.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Shane Hegarty - Darkmouth Illustrated by James de la Rue - Book Review (HarperCollins)


Synopsis: Around the world, there are various towns where the border between our dimension and the dimension of the monsters - properly called Legends - is weak. Legend Hunters keep the population safe. But for a while now, the Legends have stopped crossing over. Apart from in one place: Darkmouth, in Ireland where Legend Hunters are very much in demand. Our hero Finn is the son of the last remaining Legend Hunter. In a society where Legend Hunting skills are passed down through generations, Finn will carry on that tradition. The only problem? He's really not very good at it. And in a fabulous bit of timing, it turns out there's an extraordinary and disturbing reason that it's all gone a bit quiet everywhere else.

HarperCollins has always been known for its particularly strong connections with Irish horror writers both past and present. Shane Hegarty has recently joined the infamous corridor of fame alongside the likes of Darren Shan and Derek Landy. His recent book, Darkmouth, was hotly contested at this year's Bologna Book Fair. Shane Hegarty, the former Arts Editor for the Irish Times, has since negotiated a four-book deal in this series.


Darkmouth is an imaginative adventure for 8-12 year olds which is full of monster-hunting action. It definitely marks the arrival of a major new voice in children's books. Fresh, fun and very witty; it is incredibly cool and will pull in readers of all ages who love a good story. 

It was a real pleasure reading this fantastic story. Shane has forgone the more popular route in my opinion. There are NO Vampires, NO Zombies, NO Werewolves and NO mundane ghosts. In fact, it was a breath of putrid air reading this book. I'm sure that you are asking, so what will I find in this book? Well, you will find a range of monsters routed in folklore and others that have been dreamt up from the good old-fashioned imagination. Shane plays with the reader very cleverly feeding off your emotions. You will laugh your pants off one minute and then the dark explosive plot will scare the socks of you the next. 

Copyright © James de la Rue 2104 

You'll notice that another extra special element are the layered illustrations throughout this story. The fantastically detailed black and white pencil sketches are by the talented James de la Rue (aka PencilsMcDraw). These really enhance the fantasy horror shenanigans immensely as they create a parallel world between words and images. You will be easily transported between these two elements from the start of the book right until the very end.        



All images are subject to Copyright 2014 by James de la Rue. Always get permission before using any images. Contact  James de la Rue at the following website :http://www.jamesdelarue.co.uk/

It's a monster quest for Finn, a boy who must follow fifty generations of his family to become a Legend Hunter, and save the world from monsters who wish to destroy it. However, the huge problem is that Finn is not very good as a Legend Hunter - you might want to PANIC now! Fortunately, help is on hand from his dad and a mysterious girl called Emmie. The relationship between these two characters is captured incredibly well and adds extra appeal as it pulls you through a turbulent dimension. 

At the time, it felt that the beginning of the book perhaps started a little too slowly, but on reflection this was perhaps needed to create the world and introduce the story. I recognise that this is particularly important for the first book in a series in order to establish future books and storylines. 

I have to say that this is one of the most promising debut books that I have read for a long time. The tone has been set for a fantastic new series which I'm really looking forward to reading. MG horror is on the up with another name in Irish writing. 


I'd like to take this opportunity to thank James de la Rue for granting me special permission to share the above illustrations from the book.

Published by HarperCollinsChildren's Books (29 Jan 2015).

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Top Ten Favourite Reads 2014


Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books is coming to the end of yet another reading year. 
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of my favourite reads of 2014. 

The below books are in order of the publishing date and not in order of merit as I loved them all for different reasons. 

So here is the list.....

1) Simon Mason - Running Girl - Published by David Fickling - Jan 2014
The solving of the crime takes a fresh and non-stereotypical approach to keep you on your toes.

2) David Gilman - Monkey and Me - Published by Templar Publishing -  Feb 2014
There were times when I laughed out loud and times when I was on the verge of tears in this warm and moving tale. It would be a great read for youngsters however it does work very well on more than one level. 

3) Howard Sargent -  The Forgotten War - Published by Book Guild - Feb 2104 - (Adult Book)
This book is coming together like a cauldron full of magic; it's all binding together like a witches spell..... The ingredients are rapidly coming to boil as we plough further into the story. The action has intensified and a shock death in one of the many plots has slightly shocked me. As I progress further into the story it now feels like a well worn shoe. I love the complex structure of the story, it is very clever and must have taken some time to map out. 

4) Sophia McDougall - Mars Evacuees - Published by Egmont - March 2014
What you will find is a fresh, fast-paced space romp. A group of children fighting to save themselves from themselves in order to rescue the galaxy. This is science fiction where children rule. This book, in my opinion is one of the best reads for me this year and one of the most exciting books that you will find for both boys and girls.

5) Cameron McAllister - The Tin Snail - Published by Corgi Children's -  May 2014
In my opinion, this is a beautifully written story. I loved every minute that I spent reading this book. It is easily set to be a classic hit this summer. A fantastic family read; this is a story with a big heart based on an amazing idea. A poignant tale filled full of warmth, great characters and the coming together for the common good. 

6) Steve Feasey - Mutant City - Published by Bloomsbury Children's - May 2014
This is the best read in the teenage horror genre that I have read for some time. It will make you hair turn green. It has got everything that I look for in a story and more. It's very cool and one that boys will love and girls will come to love. In my humble opinion, this is a really well delivered story set in a fantastically dark and futuristic world with imagination and creativity at the height of the genre. This is amazing stuff; I am really looking forward to the next instalment.

7) Eoin Colfer - W.A.R.P - The Hangman's Revolution - Published by Puffin - June 2014
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.  

8) David Barnett - Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon - Published by Snowbooks - Sep 2014 - (Adult Book) 
This is a first class piece of literature. It depicts a highly imaginative world where the sense of adventure is written in abundance. The story is filled with adult humour and colourful language.  The characters are full of life and explode of every page. They are cocky, sharp, intense and very witty; a fantastic balance for a story of this nature. 

9) Garth Nix - Clariel - Published by Hot Key Books - October 2014
I have been looking forward to this: the latest of Garth Nix’ Old kingdom novels and I wasn’t disappointed. Five star fantasy entertainment.

10) Danny Weston - The Piper - Published by Andersen - October 2014
Just like the Pied Piper and the town rats, you are soon hypnotically drawn into the mysterious past. It is like an eerie melody that plays repetitively and alluringly until you finally wake up. Be aware though, as you might not be in the same place that you were before you started reading. It is a spooky fantasy that will hit you full in the face the more that you read 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all (readers, authors, illustrators and publishers) for your support in 2014. I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful start to the New Year.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Recommended: Minecraft Blockopedia Hardcover


Blockopedia is the ultimate reference guide, featuring information on every single block that makes up the Minecraft world. The world of Minecraft is made entirely of blocks. Some help you build, some help you stay alive. Every block you discover opens up new possibilities and exciting adventures.




This hexagonal book is a 'comprehensive reference tool for beginners and more experienced players alike', written by former Edge editor Alex Wiltshire and is accurate up to the latest 1.8 game update.
“Working closely with Mojang, we wanted to make sure this encyclopaedia was so much more than just an ordinary reference book, so it could truly reflect both the richness of the world and iconic visual identity of the game," said Sarah Bates, publishing director for licensed character books, Egmont Publishing.
"Blockopedia pushes the boundaries of what we expect a book to be. It’s totally unique and we’re extremely proud to be bringing such an innovative product to market."
Blockopedia is out on December 4th from all good book retailers, with an RRP of £30.
Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - The perfect present for any Minecraft addict. Full of tips to help with the game. Hours of addictive fun for all the family. Once you start, you will not be able to stop. Recommended purchase this christmas. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Danny Weston - The Piper - Book Review


'Please,' he whispers as he thrust a copy of his book at me. 'Read this,' the strange man grunts at me. He leaves me with no choice as he quickly vaporises into thin air; I can still feel the prickly sensation from the strange encounter on that unusual day in November. To be brutally honest, that surreal vision kept me up all night as I read 'The Piper' by Danny Weston. Could he be the vision and the voice that I heard? Ah well, we will perhaps never know.

This story landed in the hands of a reader who loved every minute spent reading each page. It's the best spine-tingling, atmospheric tale that I've read for some time - I really love to read good books like this. Just of late, I feel that this genre is becoming quite scarce to find. It is a good old-fashioned campfire ghost story, but with a twist to the tale.....

The story is set on the eve of World War Two. At this time, children were evacuated from busy cities to the safer countryside. Peter and Daisy are two such children who have been sent to a rather strange farmhouse in the middle of a desolate landscape. The house and the family have a dark secret. From the moment they arrive, they are aware that something evil and mysterious haunts the place.

Just like the Pied Piper and the town rats, you are soon hypnotically drawn into the mysterious past. It is like an eerie melody that plays repetitively and alluringly until you finally wake up. Be aware though, as you might not be in the same place that you were before you started reading. It is a spooky fantasy that will hit you full in the face the more that you read. Watch out for the floating cold hands that drag down weary people into the murky waters and children vanishing on mass.  Peter's sister finds herself in terrible danger; her last breath may soon become her final scream.

I thought that the plot was very well written and cleverly executed. It is a classic blend of Pied Piper meets The Machine Gunners. I read the whole book in one night as I couldn't put it down. The bleak sensation of war mixed with a hidden dark family history pulls you in to a vice-like grip. The loose ends are tied together in a satisfying climax that will stay with you for some time. If you like the ghost horror genre, then this book is a recommended read. Warning: be prepared to be up all night.

This book is out in all good book shops now ready to buy for the festive season.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars Final Winner 2014/15 - M. G. Harris/Gerry Anderson's - Gemini Force One


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

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

Altogether 1,800 votes were cast over five weeks, which just highlights the interest that this competition generates. In the final there were 918 votes in total, amazing. Thank you all once again.

Without further ado I'd like to award the title of 'Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars - Book Cover of the year 2014/15' to . . . . . . .  M. G. Harris/Gerry Anderson's Gemini Force One - Black Horizon - Cover by Blacksheep.
M.G. Harris/Gerry Anderson's book cover will be placed in the Ripley's Hall of Fame where it will accompany the following past winners:

2009/10 - Jon Mayhew 'Mortlock' 
2010/11 - Darren Shan 'Birth of a Killer' illustrated by David Wyatt
2011/12 - Curtis Jobling ''Werewolf: Shadow of the Hawk' illustrated by Andrew Farley
2012/13 - Thomas Taylor - 'Haunters' illustrated by Steve Wells 
2013/14 - Niel Bushnell - 'Timesmith' - illustrated by James Fraser & Kate Grove
2014/15  - M. G. Harris/Gerry Anderson's - 'Gemini Force One Black Horizon' - Cover by Blacksheep.

The winner of the signed Nick Park - Wallace and Gromit postcard competition is...... Lu Hersey. Congratulations to you - please get in touch with your postal details. 

Friday, 28 November 2014

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Picks December 2014 (Christmas Festive Written Delights )


Neil Gaiman & Lorenzo Mattotti - Hansel and Gretel - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (11 Dec 2014)
The enduring story of the children, the breadcrumb trail and the gingerbread house is brought to life by master storyteller, Neil Gaiman. Who better to retell the Brothers Grimm's greatest, and perhaps darkest, fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel? Coupled with breathtakingly haunting illustrations from Lorenzo Mattotti, you will be enticed into the world and into the woods . . . so beware.



Lisa Mantchev - Ticker - Published by Skyscape (1 Dec 2014)
A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.
When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.
On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings...or is the motive more sinister?
Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.




Doctor Who: 12 Doctors 12 Stories: 12-book, 12 postcard Gift Edition

A gorgeous twelve-book slipcase edition of twelve amazing adventures about the twelve Doctors written by twelve of the most exciting authors living in our galaxy today. This edition also comes with twelve exclusive postcards. A must-have gift edition for all Whovians!


Ian Edginton & I.N.J. Culbard - Brass Sun - Published by 2000 AD Graphic Novels (4 Dec 2014)
The Orrery is a fully functional, life-size clockwork solar system, a clutch of planets orbiting a vast Brass Sun via immense metal spars. But the once-unified collection of worlds has regressed into eccentric fiefdoms, and ice is encroaching on the outer planets as the sun is dying. Wren and Eptimus must find the key to restart the sun, but first must escape the world known as The Keep...This is a wholly original new SF-clockpunk series from the bestselling artist of New Deadwardians and The Mountains of Madness, and the writer of Scarlet Traces and Stickleback.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Guest Post - Di Toft - Cat Magick


Starting Over...

The end of November will see the publication of my fourth book. Cat Magick will sneak onto Amazon with no fanfare or launch, looking over it’s shoulder craftily, keen to blend in amongst all the ‘proper’ books.
It’s easy being published again, when you’ve done it three times already, right? WRONG!! How naive I was, as I handed my new novel over to wise agent, how eager I was to crack on with my next masterpiece. Two weeks later, wise agent rings, bubbling with good news. Two days later, not so good - the marketing department have put the kibosh on editor’s plans to give Cat a new home. Over the next year, wise agent becomes weary agent and I become not so confident writer.

Damn it, I was going to dedicate Cat Magick to my tiny new grandson Ted and to the memory of two dear friends. This was going to be their book. And what about my characters, whom I had so lovingly crafted? Their friendships and wild adventures would never be shared with anyone else. I couldn’t let that happen!
A couple of authors I know had gone down the Amazon White Glove road, also known as agent-assisted, self-publishing. Weary agent was quite keen, but I couldn’t really see the point. If I was going to self publish, I would do it myself!
‘What about editing, what about a decent cover?’, I hear you cry. That bit was easy. I’d already had my agent and a friendly editor look out for content, plot holes etc. I have another good friend, in the amazing artist Martin Simpson, who was responsible for the eye-catching, child friendly Wolven covers. I am beyond thrilled when I see the Cat Magick cover for the first time.

Now the hard bit. Cat Magick would be published as an ebook, but, more than anything, I wanted to be able to clasp it to my bosom as an ACTUAL paperback. So CreateSpace would also have to be navigated in order for this to happen.
ZZZZZzzzz, I just couldn’t get my head around all the instructions. Enter computer-savvy, pernickety husband, who would spend hours doing all the hard stuff it takes to make everything look good and read well. Thanks Phil.

So, will Cat Magick fly? Will it sell any copies, apart from those I buy myself for school visits, library copies, presents (whether they want them or not)? I don’t know. What’s the worst that can happen? The only cost involved was the cover, which was more than worth it - another first, my first commission! My characters Pye, Suki and Hodge will see the light of day, at least in a few homes. We’ll see...

Thanks Di for writing and sharing this post with us. It is never an easy road to getting published, even if you've already had other books published. Some authors may find themselves facing this future at some point. However, it's great to see platforms such as the White Glove and CreateSpace giving authors the opportunity for their voices to be heard. I will definitely be purchasing Cat Magik to grace my bookshelves and I believe that it will live on.... BUY IT HERE