Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Author Interview with Jon Mayhew - The Curse of the Ice Serpent? (Bloomsbury)

I would like to thank my good friend Jon Mayhew for taking the time to answer some questions. Many of these relate to his brand new book 'The Curse of the Ice Serpent' which was published on the 15th January by Bloomsbury and is the third book in the Monster Odyssey series. I'm sure that you will have fun reading both the book and the below post.

Tell us a little bit about The Curse of the Ice Serpent? 

It’s the third adventure for Prince Dakkar and once again, he’s up against the evil organisation called Cryptos. This time, he and Georgia Fulton travel North to the frozen wastes of Greenland to stop Cryptos finding another meteor fragment called the Heart of Vulcan. With it the evil organisation will power a flying fortress that will rain fire and destruction down on the capitals of the world. This adventure is a real game-changer and leaves Dakkar isolated and dependent on his own wits. As ever, he is asking who can he trust, who is the real enemy and who is the real monster?

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Prince Dakkar is a young Captain Nemo, the tortured character from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Nemo struggles with trust and the urge to take revenge on the Empires that took away everything he loved. In a sense, I’m starting that journey and hopefully, showing how taking revenge is a destructive impulse. Dakkar is always wrestling with the notion that he could become as bad as the people he is chasing and whose plans he is trying to thwart.

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

Prince Dakkar is a ‘work in progress,’ he can be very proud and aware of his status but his friends bring him down to earth. He is loyal to anyone who shows kindness to him but can be vindictive towards his enemies and he is constantly having to keep his temper in check. Dakkar is a clever boy, inventive and intelligent. He’s an inventor and makes his own improvised weapons, can pick locks, fix and modify machinery. Often, however, sometimes, he needs his best friend Georgia to point the obvious to him. He’s a strong lad and a keen fighter too, he can use a sword and pistol if he needs to but does not like taking life.

What are you working on at the minute?

The fourth Monster Odyssey book is with the editor now and takes Dakkar to the deserts of North Africa to face, well, let’s just say ‘giant creepy crawlies…’

How much research do you do?

The stories run from 1814 to 1816, so I research key events in those years. I also like to have a good idea of setting so a while back, I went to Hartlepool and visited HMS Trincomalee, which is a Leda class frigate of the kind Dakkar might have sailed on. I also research online, especially to get images or information about the locations as I can’t really afford the time to go to Greenland! 

What books have most influenced your life?

There are books that have stayed with me, ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘Great Expectations’ for instance and some that have inspired me and influenced my work such as ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ or the stories of ‘M.R.James.’ I love ‘Holes’ by Louis Sachar, it’s such a clever plot and a simply-told story. There’s a book called ‘The Five and a half Club’ which was on the reading scheme in my primary school, waaaay back and that put me off reading at the age of nine for a long time. Then there’s ‘A Breed to Come’ by Andre Norton, which probably started me reading again when I was twelve or thirteen.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part is always the middles for me. I generally have a sense of the ending and the overall arc but sometimes I find it hard to find a way in the darkness of the midpoint of the story! Then there’s the redrafting once you’ve had it back from the editor, that can be tough, too, because you’ve written the story out of yourself and probably started falling in love with the next big thing you’re writing and sometimes, it’s hard to drag yourself back to the current work!

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

I learnt a lot of Inuit folktales and monsters. They’re brilliant, slimy and sneaky and they drag you into the freezing cold water before you know what’s happening!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I quite like K.M. Weiland’s website: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/write-character-arcs at the moment and, in particular, her advice on characters and asking, ‘what is the lie your character believes?’ I think there’s a lot of mileage in that, when you’re considering any character and how they develop.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us? 

Ice Serpent is available in all good book shops and probably some middling ones too (if there is such a thing!) 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Fantasy Book Picks - January 2015 (Older Reads)

Samantha Shannon - The Mime Order (The Bone Season) - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing (27 Jan. 2015)

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...
As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.
Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

Gareth L. Powell - Macaque Attack (Ack-Ack Macaque) - Published by Solaris (15 Jan. 2015)

This is the amazing conclusion to the award-winning series. The dangerous but charismatic Ack-Ack Macaque finds himself leading a dimension-hopping army of angry monkeys, facing an invading horde of implacable killer androids, and confronting the one challenge for which he was never prepared: impending fatherhood! Meanwhile, former journalist Victoria Valois fights to save the electronic ghost of her dead husband and reclaim his stolen soul from the sands of Mars.

Michael Moorcock - The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - Published by Tor Books (13 Jan. 2015)

Now return to London just after the war, a city desperately trying to get back on its feet. And one young boy, Michael Moorcock, who is about to discover a world of magic and wonder. Between his first tentative approaches to adulthood - a job on Fleet Street, the first stirrings of his interest in writing - and a chance encounter with a mysterious Carmelite Friar, we see a version of Moorcock's life that is simultaneously a biography and a story. Mixing elements of his real life with his adventures in a parallel London peopled with highwaywomen, musketeers and magicians, this is Moorcock at his dazzling, mercurial best.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Dan Smith - Big Game - Book Review & Trailer ( Chicken House)

The idea of this story started its young life as a film script; originally written by Jalmari Helander and Petri Jokiranta. With a sprinkling of author magic and creative direction by Dan Smith, it has been adapted from the original idea into an exciting adventure in book form. It should tie in nicely with the release of the movie, which will hit the big screens in May. Starring the super actor Samuel L. Jackson as the President of the United States, if it's anything like the book, it should be a blockbuster of a film.

The book is set in the wildness of Finland and after my recent visit to Norway last year, I could really relate to the extreme landscape and weather conditions described. It's a fast paced adventure with big time action that will both thrill and captivate you at the same time. 

As you skip and dance through the snowy wilderness, you will gain a powerful bond with the lead character Oskari, a 13 year old boy. He sets off into the forest to fulfill an ancient tradition as a test of his manhood. Armed with only a bow and arrow, he has to survive day and night using all of his experience and knowledge to bring back a hunting trophy - something that he did not envisage. 

Unfortunately, his adventure does not go to plan. At this point, the plot intensifies into a heart stopping adventure. It involves the US President running from a group of, shall we say, big game terrorist and, from this moment on, it's electrifying. You will be thrilled and gripped to the core.

This is an action packed story full of danger and explosive moments that will rock you all over the forest floor. I really loved certain pockets of the storyline such as the plane and helicopter. I'm not going to say anymore, as I may spoil your enjoyment of the story, but they are really well written and will definitely gain your attention. You may even find yourself at the point of holding your breath. 

The suggested audience for this book is 10+, but I definitely feel that it will find a comfortable home with older readers as well. If you are looking for adventure and suspense, then this book has it in spades. It is written with a film-like vision right until the brilliant ending. 

This is another great release from Chicken House and is available to purchase now. If you are game, then hunt a copy down. You won't be disappointed.

Book Trailer

Film Trailer

Mr Ripley's First look: The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone - Book Trailer

I am pleased to share with you the brilliant book trailer for Abi Elphinstone's new novel, The Dreamsnatcher. This is being published by Simon & Schuster on the 26th February. Check out my recent interview with the debut author Here. 

Book Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare - the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life. 

Because Moll is more important than she knows… The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher's dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Children's MG Book Picks - January 2015 - US Post

Jordan Stratford - The Case of the Missing Moonstone (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, Book 1) - Published by Knopf Books 

for Young Readers (January 6, 2015)

Jordan Stratford imagines an alternate 1826, where Ada Lovelace (the world’s first computer programmer) and Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) meet as girls and form a secret detective agency!
Lady Ada Byron, age eleven, is a genius. Isolated, awkward and a bit rude—but a genius. Mary Godwin, age fourteen, is a romantic. Adventurous, astute, and kind, Mary is to become Ada’s first true friend. And together, the girls conspire to form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency—a secret constabulary for the apprehension of clever criminals. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession, and an array of fishy suspects. But it’s no match for the deductive powers and bold hearts of Ada and Mary.
Mystery fans will love this tween girl riff on Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. History buffs will be delighted to see all the real figures who play a role in this story and appreciate the extensive backmatter that helps separate truth from fiction. Parents and educators hoping to promote the STEM fields for girls will be thrilled to have a series where two girls use math, science, and creative analytical thinking to solve crimes. But most especially--emerging readers will love this series filled with humour, action, intrigue and wonderful artwork from Kelly Murphy.

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - The War that Saved My Life - Published by Dial (January 8, 2015)

An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson’s Sons and for fans of Number the Stars.
Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.
So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?
This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.

Gregory Funaro - Alistair Grim's Odditorium - Published by Disney-Hyperion (January 6, 2015)

Grubb, age twelve (or thereabouts), has never known anything beyond his miserable existence as a chimney sweep, paid only in insults and abuse by his cruel master. 

All of that changes the day he stows away in the coach belonging to a mysterious guest at the inn that he is tasked with cleaning. Grubb emerges from Alistair Grim's trunk and into the wondrous world of the Odditorium. Fueled by a glowing blue energy that Grubb can only begin to understand, the Odditorium is home to countless enchanted objects and an eccentric crew that embraces Grubb as one of their own. 

There's no time for Grubb to settle into his new role as apprentice to the strange, secretive Mr. Grim. When the Odditorium comes under attack, Grubb is whisked off on a perilous adventure. Only he can prevent the Odditorium's magic from falling into evil hands-and his new family from suffering a terrible fate. 

Grubb knows he's no hero. He's just a chimney sweep. But armed with only his courage and wits, Grubb will confront the life-or-death battle he alone is destined to fight.

Stan Lee & Stuart Moore - The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence - Published by Disney Press (January 27, 2015)

Stan Lee presents a brand new, magical, super-powered adventure!

When twelve magical superpowers are unleashed on the world, a Chinese-America teenager named Steven will be thrown into the middle of an epic global chase. He'll have to master strange powers, outrun super-powered mercenaries, and unlock the mysterious powers of the Zodiac. 

James Riley - Story Thieves - Published by Aladdin (January 20, 2015)

A hilarious, action-packed series launches with a story-within-a-story, from the bestselling author of the Half Upon a Time trilogy. Life is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores.

But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen—his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany’s half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character.

Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makes her a deal: All she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite Kiel Gnomenfoot series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father…

…Or it might just destroy the Kiel Gnomenfoot series, reveal Bethany’s secret to the entire world, and force Owen to live out Kiel Gnomenfoot’s final (very final) adventure.

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
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.

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.