Monday, 23 November 2015

Guest Post: Superman, Batman and er.. Nick O’Teen by Tim Collins (Author of Adventures of a Wimpy Superhero).

My new book Adventures of a Wimpy Superhero is about a boy who loves comics so much he decides to become a masked crime-fighter himself. But he discovers that making the world a better place while wearing tight-fitting Lycra is harder than it looks. 

Comics played a huge part in turning me into a reader, as they did for so many others of my generation. While I associated books with the classroom and learning, comics were part of the colourful world of play. 

My first encounter with superhero comics was very odd. In the early eighties Saatchi and Saatchi produced an anti-smoking campaign featuring Superman and a villain called Nick O’Teen, who gave cigarettes to kids. After viewing a TV ad, I sent away for a free comic in which superman pretty much murdered him for his crime. As far as I was aware, Nick O’Teen could have been the most important baddie of the DC Universe, outranking Lex Luthor and The Joker in the underworld hierarchy. 

Harsh as Superman’s treatment of Nick O’Teen may have been, it did the job. I never took up smoking, though I did get addicted to comics. I’m down to just a couple a day now. 

Batman was the best, of course (Yes, I know Superman could beat him in a fight, but that’s not the point). Away from the giddy camp of the sixties show, still repeating on Saturday morning ITV, the Caped Crusader was becoming the Dark Knight. It helped that my school was very near to Manchester’s best comic shop Odyssey 7. We were reading Frank Miller and Alan Moore while others had to make do with Action Force. 

Batman was no longer cast as the world’s greatest detective, which was just as well, as his detective skills mainly involved dangling henchmen off high buildings until they gave up the whereabouts of a supervillain. Instead he was a brooding, tortured anti-hero. Some of his adventures were even recommended for mature readers, though the middle-aged men who collected them didn’t look very mature to me. 

My love for superhero comics was sealed in 1986 with the launch of Watchmen. At the time, I could hardly have known that the comic I was sneaking out to buy was more complex and challenging than the stuff they wanted me to read in school. 

Though much of it swooshed over my head, Watchmen raises some very disturbing questions about the very idea of superheroes. Why would someone want to take the law into their own hands? What kind of a right-wing psycho would distrust society so much they took to dispensing instant vigilante justice? 

Though my book is light-hearted, I’ve tried to include some of this debunking spirit. At one point the hero Josh wonders if it would be better to let a bank robbery take place than to foil it. There would be a lot less damage to property and risk to civilians if they just let the robbery go ahead and left it to the big insurance companies to pay out. And is it really worth putting on your mask and tights to protect a bank? It’s not as if those institutions have ever done much for us. 

In real life, it can be very difficult to work out who the actual supervillains are.

Tim Collins is originally from Manchester, but now lives near London. At first he wrote non-fiction books for adults, but five years ago he began to publish children's fiction. He has now published over fifty books that have been translated into over forty languages. These include series fiction like Wimpy Vampire, Cosmic Colin, Dorkius Maximus and Monstrous Maud. All his books are very funny; they are exactly what children want. Check out this article What Kids Want in Books.

Tim has also written many stories for reluctant readers such as Troll, Joke Shop, The Locals, Mr Perfect and Dawn of the Daves. He has also won several awards such as Manchester Fiction City, The Lincolnshire Young People's Book Award and The Kalbacher Klapperschlange. 

Author's Website:

Author's Twitter Page:  

Thursday, 19 November 2015

MR RIPLEY'S BOOK COVER AWARD: HEAT FOUR (Plus a Mystery Book Prize Competition)

Welcome all.....
Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Award Rules:
There will be four weekly heats with five book covers to vote for. All heat winners will make the grand final. However, one more entry will also be entered into the final - this will be the book cover with the most votes from the other four heats as the runner up. 

Heat One Winner: Darren Shan - Zom-B - Fugitive (US Cover) - 133 Votes. 
Heat Two Winner: M. G. Leonard/Juila Sarda - Beetle Boy - 86 Votes.
Heat Three Winner:  Alwyn Hamilton - Rebel of the Sands - 56 Votes

As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the chance to win a different special book each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week we have an amazing book, which is a mystery book/books. 

If you are interested then all you need to do is:
  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll - VOTE HERE
  • Leave a comment through this post or poll - VOTE HERE
  • Spread the word on Twitter/Facebook #BOOKCOVERWARS 
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that this competition is open to the UK only.
  • This poll will close 25th November 2015 (midnight UK time.) 
So here are the five book covers to vote for this week:

Book One: Danny Wallace - Hamish and the Neverpeople - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Books (1 Mar. 2016) - Book Cover Art by Jamie Littler - VOTE HERE 

Book Two: Alexander Gordon Smith - The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers - Published by  Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr) (Dec. 2015) - Book Cover Art by Andrew Arnold - VOTE HERE

Book Three: Lu Hersey - Deep Water - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (1 July 2015) - Book Cover Art by Will Steele - VOTE HERE

Book Four: Jim Carrington - Boy 23 - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (19 Nov. 2015) - Book Cover Art by Levente Szabo - VOTE HERE

Book Five: Andy Briggs - Villain.Net: Collision Course - Published by WhiteGlove Agency (Amazon) (1. Jan 2015) - Book Cover Art by Alex Thompson - Vote Here. 

Happy voting all.....

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Children's/Teen Book Picks - December 2015 - US Post

Victoria Schwab - Broken Ground (Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts, Book 2) - Published by Scholastic Inc. (December 22, 2015)
Something ancient and evil has awoken from beneath the world of Erdas. Shrouded in shadow and older than memory, just a sliver of its power can destroy with a touch. Even the spirit animal bond, the sacred link between humans and animals that keeps Erdas in balance, is under threat.

Four young heroes, Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan, are determined to stop it. Together with their spirit animals, they embark on a desperate journey that takes them deep underground and to the far corners of the world. As friends and allies fall around them, the four have no choice but to push forward and confront this darkness. If they stop to look back, they'll see the truth: Evil already has them surrounded.

Alexander Gordon Smith - The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers - Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (December 1, 2015) 
When a sixteen-year-old troublemaker named Marlow Green is trapped in a surreal firefight against nightmarish creatures in the middle of his New York City neighborhood, he unwittingly finds himself amid a squad of secret soldiers dedicated to battling the legions of the devil himself. Powering this army of young misfits is an ancient machine from the darkest parts of history. Known as the devil's engine, it can make any wish come true-as long as you are willing to put your life on the line. Promised powers beyond belief, and facing monstrous apparitions straight out of the netherworld, Marlow must decide if he's going to submit to a demonic deal with the infernal machine that will enable him to join the crusade-if it doesn't kill him first.
From the author of the Escape from Furnace series, here is the opening salvo in an explosive new horror trilogy about an ordinary American kid caught up in an invisible war against the very worst enemy imaginable.

Romina Russell - Wandering Star: A Zodiac Novel - Published by Razorbill (December 8, 2015)
Orphaned, disgraced, and stripped of her title, Rho is ready to live life quietly, as an aid worker in the Cancrian refugee camp on House Capricorn. 
But news has spread that the Marad--an unbalanced terrorist group determined to overturn harmony in the Galaxy--could strike any House at any moment.
Then, unwelcome nightmare that he is, Ochus appears to Rho, bearing a cryptic message that leaves her with no choice but to fight.     
Now Rho must embark on a high-stakes journey through an all-new set of Houses, where she discovers that there's much more to her Galaxy--and to herself--than she could have ever imagined. 
Eve Bunting - Forbidden - Published by Clarion Books (December 1, 2015)
In early-nineteenth century Scotland, sixteen-year-old Josie, an orphan, is sent to live with an aunt and uncle on the rocky, stormy northwest coast. Everything and everyone in her new surroundings, including her relatives, is sinister, threatening, and mysterious. She's told that Eli, the young man she's attracted to, is forbidden to her, but not why. Spirited, curious, and determined, Josie sets out to learn the village's secrets and discovers evil, fueled by heartless greed, as well as a ghostly presence eager for revenge. An author's note gives the historical inspiration for this story.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands - Book Review

Follow the clues. Crack the code. Stay alive.
Potions, puzzles and the occasional explosion are all in a day's work for young apothecary Christopher Rowe. Murder is another matter.
It's a dangerous time to be the apprentice of Benedict Blackthorn. A wave of mysterious murders has sent shockwaves through London, and soon Christopher finds himself on the run. His only allies are his best friend, Tom, courageous Molly, and a loyal feathered friend, Bridget. His only clues are a coded message about his master's most dangerous project, and a cryptic warning - 'Tell no one!'
The race is on for Christopher: crack the code and uncover its secret, or become the next victim . . .

It's time to set the course of your fantasy compass to this epic middle grade adventure written by Kevin Sands. This is a global debut novel that every imaginative young boy/girl will love to read. It is a book born out of pure dreaming; a fantastic page turner set among the apothecaries and secret alchemists of London in 1665. The hero of the day is Christopher Rowe, a clever young boy with a mischievous heart, who is apprenticed as an apothecary to Master Benedict Blackthorn. 

The story is highly interactive with codes to crack and secret doors to open or perhaps even close. You will find yourself hurtling through this high octane fuelled plot as you uncover and foil some nasty conspiracies. The historical touch feels period and is believable of the time. In my opinion, it has all been very well researched and thought out. It's an insight into a little time capsule of an era that has changed dramatically in comparison to now.  It's really engaging and easy to read with a a narrative that will sweep you off your fantasy feet. 

The story has a fantastic blend of mystery, violence and danger. You will find yourself prowling through the dangerous streets of London in search of whispers and hidden truths. The author has a great flair and an original way of disposing of some of the characters, which makes it engaging with a no nonsense attitude. I really liked this - it is a strong point of the book! However, parts of the story are very descriptive and slightly graphic, so use caution if you're a parent buying this book for a child as it might be too graphic for them to handle. 

The only negative element that I have to mention relates to the main characters. It might have added a new dimension and additional depth if one the characters had been an action female. 

This book ticks a lot of boxes that will leave everyone with a good feeling about this book. It's magical, full of action, pranks and has a playful heart. It also explores themes of astronomy, botany and most of all chemistry. It's very exciting; the setting is very engrossing and encapsulates this time period very well.The characters feel real, fun and very likeable which is a massive achievement. I would definitely give this book a solid recommendation for anyone who loves a well plotted adventure that will transport you into a world of secrets, which is full of conspiracy and action. 

Thursday, 12 November 2015

PUBLICATION DAY: Anne Booth & Sam Usher - Refuge - Nosy Crow

Nosy Crow publishes Refuge on 12th November. It is a book I dearly hope you will all support.
Like you, I suppose, all of us at Nosy Crow have watched the ongoing refugee crisis on the news – the terrible stories, the appalling pictures, the daily suffering and tragedies – and have wanted desperately to do something. Not just to raise money, but to help parents with young children asking difficult questions about the pictures they see of boys and girls their own age in unimaginable circumstances. But we did not know what we could do.
And then, just five weeks ago, Anne Booth, a picture book author on the Nosy Crow list, sent in a beautiful, careful, succinct text that we read. It made some of us cry with the beauty of the writing and the way it took a story that is already familiar and moving for many of us and cast it in a completely new light. We knew that this could be a book that helps. We matched Anne’s words with the hugely evocative and engaging illustrations of Sam Usher – who had recently visited the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp and met refugees for himself – and we had the book we will publish in just a few days’ time on November 12: Refuge.
Nosy Crow won’t make any money at all from Refuge. By absorbing everything other than our print costs, and through the generosity of all involved in producing, distributing and selling it (the list is on the copyright page of the book), we will be able to give £5 for every copy of this £7.99 book sold to our partner charity, War Child, to help care for Syrian refugee children and their families in camps and host communities in Jordan and Northern Iraq and other children displaced, orphaned and suffering as a result of war too. It’s a small, focussed charity, and they are delighted to be involved.
The Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, has called Refuge “an important Christmas book.” He says it is “a book to share with a lump in your throat and an ache in your heart until the beauty and hope of the very last page.”
I agree, and I hope you will too.
Buy Copies here please:

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

MR RIPLEY'S BOOK COVER AWARD: HEAT THREE: Plus win a copy Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School

For any follower of this site this is the chance for you to become part of the weekly book cover wars. I am going to select five book covers for you to vote for. The winner of each heat will then go forward to the final round and get a chance to be crowned as 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Winner 2015/16'.

Heat One Winner: Darren Shan - Zom-B - Fugitive (US Cover) - 133 Votes. 
Heat Two Winner: M. G. Leonard/Juila Sarda - Beetle Boy - 86 Votes.

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover War Rules:
There will be four weekly heats with five book covers to vote for. All heat winners will make the grand final. However, one more entry will also be entered into the final - this will be the book cover with the most votes from the other four heats as the runner up. 

As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the chance to win a different special book each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week we have an amazing book, which is a hardback copy of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney.

If you are interested then all you need to do is:
  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll - VOTE HERE
  • Leave a comment through this post or poll - VOTE HERE
  • Spread the word on Twitter/Facebook #BOOKCOVERWARS 
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that this competition is open to the UK only.
  • This poll will close 17th November 2015 (midnight UK time.) 
So here are the five book covers to vote for this week:

Book One: Alwyn Hamilton - Rebel of the Sands - Published by Viking Books for Young Readers (8 Mar. 2016) - Book Cover art by Will Steele - VOTE HERE

Book Two: Huw Powell - Spacejackers: The Lost Sword - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (2 July 2015) - Book Cover art by Alex Fuentes -  VOTE HERE

Book Three: Abi Elphinstone - The Dream Snatcher - Published by Simon & Schuster Ltd (26 Feb. 2015) - Book Cover art by Thomas Flintham - VOTE HERE

Book Four: Nicholas Gannon - The Doldrums - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (8 Oct. 2015) - Book Cover art by Nicholas Gannon/Paul Zakris - VOTE HERE

Book Five: Jon Mayhew - The Venom of the Scorpion (Monster Odyssey 4) published by Bloomsbury Children's (14 Jan. 2016) Book Cover art by Justin Goby Fields - VOTE HERE

Happy voting, please leave a comment on the post/poll, you might win that book! 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Mr Ripley's Interview with Alexander Gordon Smith - Author of the Escape from Furnace Series

Welcome to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. Today, I’m very lucky to be interviewing one of my favourite writers Alexander Gordon Smith, who is the author, of a number of great books, The Inventors series, and the Escape from Furnace series. Thank you for agreeing to this interview - it's wonderful to have you on the blog today. Some of the questions, put to you are courtesy of the nice people on social media, thank you all for that!
That genre of books do you like to read? do you limit yourself to only the genre that you write yourself? 
I love to read just about anything! I definitely prefer books with an element of horror or fantasy (it helps me escape!), but I think one of the most important things about being a writer is reading as much and as widely as possible. It's just part of your job, and you can learn so much by reading outside of your genre. Saying that, life is too short to read books you don't enjoy, so I've become pretty impatient – if I'm not enjoying a book after the first twenty pages I'll probably give up on it. That's pretty bad! But yes, I read mainly YA and horror, plus a bit of fantasy. Right now I've just finished Anything That Isn't This, by Chris Priestly (which was amazing!), and am part-way through several things including Scott Smith's The Ruins (terrifying!), and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series (beautiful!). 

What scares you?
Everything! It's why I write horror. I love horror, it's an incredibly powerful genre because it can help you overcome your fears and worries. Writing about something you are afraid of gives you ownership of it, it gives you control. It's remarkably empowering, and that's why I always recommend it to anyone. It's where I get most of my ideas from, by sitting down and writing a list of my worst fears, then adding 'what ifs' to those fears in order to explore and develop them. The Escape From Furnace series came from my fear of getting into serious trouble as a teenager (I was a bit of a hellraiser), my new series, The Devil's Engine, was inspired by my asthma, and the terror of not being able to breathe. Fears change as you go through life, and right now I guess my worst ones include something happening to my kids, plus forgetting how to write! I'm also terrified of slugs and porcelain dolls...

Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work? 

Not really. I write horror stories, and I see them as a kind of escapism – not just for the reader, but for me too. The headlines are a real-life horror story every single day, and it can get a bit too much. Horror is about being scared, yes, it's about that thrill. But horror, especially YA horror, is also about hope. I think that's at the heart of all good horror stories. Hope, humanity, and heroism. It's why the genre is so popular with younger readers, and it's certainly why I love it. So I don't really look to the outside world for inspiration in this way. Besides, I hate research, and real world stories need so much of it. I'm too lazy!

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I don't develop plots at all, but I do spend a lot of time developing characters. Characters are the heart and soul of any story, they need the most work. And characters are plot. If you can create realistic, believable characters that have a life story of their own, that have fears and dreams and loves and hopes, then their response to external events becomes the story. It isn't a case of you herding your characters from plot point A to plot point B and so on, it's more about you throwing them into the story and then trying to keep up with them as they negotiate their changing world. The idea of your characters writing the story for you is a bit of a cliche, but it's a cliche for a reason – it's true. So I'll spend days asking the characters questions, probing their psyches, exploring their histories. It takes a long time, but it's a fantastic investment because once you know the characters, the books do kind of write themselves. Google Proust's Questionnaire and start asking your characters some of those questions – you'll see how easy it is to turn them from vague outlines into (almost!) living, breathing people.

Did your books turn out the way you expect them too? (Question by G.A. Taylor.)
No! Well, sometimes. It's hard to say, because as I said before I don't really plan, and I certainly don't know what the end will be. I'm two books into a trilogy right now with The Devil's Engine, and I have literally no idea what is going to happen in the third and final part. None whatsoever. Which can be a bit worrying because the first two are already pretty much at the printers. I don't worry, though. I had the same thing with Furnace and that worked out fine! I am a huge believer in the power of the human brain to tell stories. I may not consciously know what's going to happen in a book, but I've spent so long living inside the world of the story, I've spent so much time with these characters, that I know my unconscious is working on solving the problems. The same way, I guess, that it helps solve problems in your actual life when you're asleep, by dreaming. That part of your brain doesn't necessarily know that the fictional problems aren't real (or maybe they are real, because the imagination is incredibly convincing), so it works just as hard to solve them. I know that when I start writing, the book will guide me. That sounds remarkably pretentious, but I don't know how else to say it!

How much involvement have you had with the graphic content of your books? 
I've been pretty lucky with my editors in that they haven't objected to much at all. I think I've only ever had them ask for one scene to be removed! Horror can be horrible, and yes there is gore in my books, but a reader's imagination is far more adept at creating horrors than a writer's, so it's always best to leave the work to them. I like to set the scene, sprinkle a few details, and then let them do the rest! 

What do you think makes a good story?
Wow, that's a tough question. There are so many elements that make up a good story, but it goes beyond that, a good story is more than just the sum of its parts. It's almost impossible to define a good story, but as a reader I need to fall in love with the character first and foremost. If I can do that, then I will follow them anywhere, I'll go through hell and back with them, just to find out what happens at their end of their story. If the characters are right, then it almost doesn't matter about the plot – like I said before, the characters are the plot. Again, as a reader, I want a story that picks me up and doesn't put me down until the end. It's why I love horror, because you have to keep reading, you have to find out what happens. I don't want to be able to breathe until I've turned that last page. It's what I try to do in my books too. Oh, and have fun! You can usually tell a good story by whether the author has had fun writing it – I mean, it's hard work, don't get me wrong, but an author should love the story, they should want to know what happens next. If I'm not feeling that way about a story, I won't be able to finish it. 

What do you think has the most impact on your reader - opening line or closing chapter/line? (Question by 
Bea Collyer)  
The closing line, for sure. The opening line is important, don't get me wrong, it's the hook that pulls people into the book. But it's just an introduction, it's the first step on that adventure, quickly forgotten. The last line is how we leave you, it's how we say goodbye. The last line is the one that will be going around and around in your head for days, hopefully. It might be there forever. There is something incredibly powerful, and poignant, about that last line. It's always bittersweet, because even if the book ends happily it's still a goodbye. It might be the last we ever hear from these characters. So yes, that closing line has so much impact, it's very important – and very, very hard to write.

What's the best word your editor has advised you to take out? (Question by Jim Carrington)
So many! Each book of mine always seems to have a word that I use again and again. With one, I remember, it was 'realised'. I was saying it on every page. He realised, she realised. I hadn't even noticed I was doing it. Adverbs always go, of course. Not all of them, but most. They are clumsy words, but I can't seem to stop myself using them. In my latest book I was overusing 'okay', the characters were constantly asking each other if they were okay. They were being chased by demons and monsters and enemy soldiers for most of the book, though, so it seemed like a good thing to be asking! The most valuable thing I have been asked to take out… Probably unnecessary actions. Things like 'He turned, then walked to the door.' 'He walked to the door' is so much quicker, and so much better. People always seem to be turning in books. Stop turning, people!

Are you currently involved in any writing projects?
I'm always writing something. I love writing, it's where I feel completely relaxed and happy. Starting a new book is like opening the door on a brand new adventure, not knowing where it will lead, or who I'll meet there. It's an incredible feeling, addictive. Right now I've got four books on the go, all in early stages. I tend to start quite a few projects at once, then see which one has got the most pull, which one I'm most interested in. I'll be starting the last book in the Devil's Trilogy soon, but there's a new one I have just started, a YA sci-fi, and I'm planning to finish that for Nanowrimo – whether I do or not is another matter! It's something a bit new for me, but I'm really enjoying it. I finished my first adult thriller / horror this year and my agent is currently sending it out, which is exciting! I'm trying to start a new adult horror as well, so I have something else in the pipeline. Maybe fifty percent of books I start never make it past 10,000 words, but hopefully these ones will! 

Will you ever win Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars?
I hope so!! I love the cover wars, and I am determined to win one day. Just so long as I'm not in the final again Thomas Taylor again...

Where can I buy your books? (Question by Tom Easton)

Everywhere! Most book shops will have them, or will order them, and they're everywhere online too. 

Monday, 9 November 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books; New Books Published by Hot Key Books - November 2015

C. R. Grey - Flight of the King (Animas) - Hot Key Books (5 Nov. 2015)
When animals and humans unite, amazing things can happen.
Bailey and his group of friends are back Fairmount academy, accompanied by Gwen, the Elder's apprentice. But all is not well. They quickly figure out that evil ruler Viviana has something planned for the day of her grand Progress Fair, and knowing Viviana, it won't be good.

But their plans to stop her are swiftly torn apart. Taleth, the last white tiger and Bailey's only kin, is kidnapped. Bailey and Hal must follow her trail deep into the Dust Plains, but they could never have predicted the danger that they will find there. Meanwhile, Gwen and Phi are on a quest of their own - having been entrusted with finding 'The Instrument of Change', they know their mission is an important one. But could Gwen be more special than she knows? Somehow, although they are separated, the friends must pull together. Because the fate of not just the kingdom, but the Animas bond itself, is in their hands..

Ruth Hatfield - The Colour of Darkness - Hot Key Books (5 Nov. 2015)
A vibrant, powerful follow-up to the electrifying THE BOOK OF STORMS.
Danny O'Neill hasn't had a single good night's sleep in the year since he discovered the book of storms. Exhausted and a social outcast, he wishes only to escape the shadowy figure of Sammael who controls his dreams and nightmares.

Cath Carrera, from the other side of town, dreams of escaping her brutish father and spiteful step-family. So when she meets Barshin, a talking hare who offers her protection from her dad's latest violent rage, she doesn't think twice about going with him. But she didn't expect to find a place like Chromos: a vibrant, addictive dreamland built from her imagination, in all its colours.

In return for his protection, Barshin wants Cath to deliver a message to Danny: he must rescue his cousin Tom from Sammael before it is too late.
Together, the three must find a way to stop Sammael before he destroys Tom. But even with the help of talking plants and creatures, and a friendly stag, the journey to Chromos and beyond is a dangerous, near-impossible mission, and Danny and Cath will have to muster every scrap of bravery and ingenuity to have a hope of succeeding. 

Keris Stainton - Lily and the Christmas Wish - Hot Key Books (5 Nov. 2015)
When a town's Christmas wishes get mixed-up, can one little girl and her dog put them right? The little town of Pinewood can't wait for Christmas this year. They're going to celebrate by putting up a giant Christmas tree in the town square, and asking all the townspeople to hang a Christmas wish on its branches. Everyone is feeling very festive, including nine-year-old Lily - although she's not sure she believes in wishes. Then a very strange storm blows in, scattering all the wishes...and Lily wakes up the next morning to a bit of a surprise. Bug, her adorable pug puppy, can talk! It's magic - and a wish come true! But it's not Lily's wish...Lily and her little brother James soon discover that something must have happened during the storm - the town's wishes have been granted, but to all the wrong people! Lily, James and Bug must work out which wish belongs to who, and sort everything out before Christmas Eve - otherwise no one will get what they want for Christmas.

Edward Carey - Lungdon (Iremonger trilogy) - Hot key Books (5 Nov. 2015)
The ghastly climax to the gothic Iremonger trilogy.
The dirt town of Foulsham has been destroyed, its ashes still smoldering. Darkness lies heavily over the city, the sun has not come up for days. Inside the houses throughout the capital, ordinary objects have begun to move. Strange new people run through the darkened streets. There are rumours of a terrible contagion. From the richest mansion to the poorest slum people have disappeared. The police have been instructed to carry arms. And rats, there are rats everywhere.

Someone has stolen a certain plug.
Someone is lighting a certain box of matches.
All will come tumbling down.

The Iremongers have come to London.

Why not subscribe to the Hot Key Books Newsletter: HERE

Friday, 6 November 2015

Jim Carrington - Boy 23 - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Review

Boy 23 isn't in My Place any more. He can't see The Screen, he can't hear The Voice. Boy 23 is alone. 
One dark night, Boy 23 is thrown in the back of the van and driven out of My Place - the only home he has ever known. He is abandoned in a forest with a rucksack containing the bare essentials for survival. Before the van drives away, a voice tells him he must run as far as he can. His life depends on it. Boy 23 has never known another human. Boy 23 has never even been outside. So who is he? Why do people want to kill him? And more to the point, who is the voice that wants to save him?

Boy 23 is Jim Carrington's eagerly awaited fourth book to be published by Bloomsbury on the 19th of November 2015. It's another adventure in the young adult world of fiction and my personal favourite, by Jim, to date. You only need to read the synopsis of the book to get your imagination going. It's very intriguing and makes you want to find out why/what happens. 

The basis of this book has been taken from a number of contemporary life stories; one of which turned out to be a hoax. A teenage boy turned up alone in the town of Nuremburg in Germany in 1828 claiming to have been brought up in a dark cell. This story becomes the setting for the book My Place. The start of the story is slow-paced but essential in drawing you into the plot of mystery and intrigue. It's very dark and atmospheric; a fantasy world that might just happen one day. 

Can you be saved from a deadly new disease?

It's a very good opener that leads you into dystopian world featuring a character with unique powers. It's very different in style from my recent reads which is actually really good. The story is told through the three main characters. There's Jesper, aka Boy 23, whose feelings and emotions are played out really well and leave lots of thought provoking questions. There's also Carina, who is very determined and mentally scarred. She has had a disturbing and troubled past which links and weaves the narrative together. The final perspective is the mysterious Mr Blake, who slowly unravels himself along the way and keeps the imagination ticking.

The science fiction twists lift the turn of events and deliver a frenzied action packed story. This will keep you engrossed right until the very end of the book. In fact the more that you read, the faster the pages will turn as you unravel the mysteries. You will find yourself hooked.

The challenges that Boy 23 face are very brutal and leave him alienated. It would be really good to follow up this book with a sequel and to find out Jesper's fate. There are so many unanswered questions left and a fantastic further plot to discover. I'm hoping that this is a possibility.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview with Danny Weston the Author of Mr Sparks

It's great to have the elusive cheeky chap, Danny Weston, on the blog once again talking about his latest novel "Mr Sparks". This is a spooky killer read featuring the best character in a book that I've read in a long time. Just look at that winning face. You'll soon find yourself dazzled by his good looks and humour. Look into my eyes reader and you will do as you're told...... 

What inspired you to write Mr Sparks? 
After such positive reactions to The Piper, (it’s shortlisted for the Scottish Book Awards) I wanted to do something fairly creepy… and I asked myself ‘what is the single thing in the world that most freaks you out?’ And the answer came back, ‘ventriloquist’s dummies!’ There’s just something about them… those horrible grins, those glassy eyes that seem to suggest they know much more than they really should. The idea grew from that starting point.

How did Mr Sparks as a character evolve in the writing process? 
Well, I wanted a character that you can’t really help liking. A reader needed to identify with Owen, the young boy who ends up risking everything for Charlie Sparks. And in order to do that, the reader has to care about Charlie too. But of course, once he’s established, then I start to introduce the less appealing aspects of his character. And you begin to realise why he’s been around as long as he has… that he’ll do what he has to in order to survive. 

What did you learn most from writing your second published book? 
Ah, the ‘difficult second novel!’ Well, I wanted the book to be quite different than The Piper and I believe I’ve achieved that. I don’t know if I learned anything other than the fact that I like writing spooky stories and I intend to do more of them.

How much research do you do in preparation for writing a book? 
Every book is different. This one is set just after the First World War and the historical background must be accurate. Luckily, the internet is a wonderful research tool and the answers to most questions are only a couple of clicks away. 

How have you found working with illustrators and cover designers? 
To be honest, I don’t have a lot of input into that. I usually get sent a rough sketch for approval. So far, I’ve been incredibly lucky with my covers. James Fraser, who did both of them, really knows how to create a striking image.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them if they are good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad? 
I do read my reviews, even though I suspect it’s not a great idea. Happily, they are usually positive. On the rare occasion that I get a bad one, I never respond to it, no matter how unfair I think it is. At the end of the day the reader is entitled to his or her opinion. Responding to it just makes you look needy. 

How would Mr Sparks respond to a good or bad book review? 
Charlie would deal with a bad review in the most severe fashion. The reviewer would end up regretting his or her words. A good review? He’d just say, ‘yes, of course!’ He’s his own biggest fan. 

What tips would Mr Sparks have for anyone seeking a life in entertainment? 
1. Always ensure you outlive your partner. 
2. Keep an eye open for a young replacement. 
3. Get them on your side quickly – then start laying down the law. 
4. When time comes to go your separate ways, don’t be sentimental. Be like Henry VIII – always chopping and changing! 

What do you think makes a good story? 
Interesting characters. You can have the most amazing plot ever, but unless you fill it with fascinating, conflicted characters then you have something that nobody wants to read. 

Are you currently involved in any writing projects that you can tell us about? 
I am currently trying to generate some interest in a stage/screen adaptation of The Piper – and I have started work on a new novel called The Haunting of Jessop Rise. As the title may suggest, it’s another ghost story.

Monday, 2 November 2015


Book Cover Wars is back again for another exciting year and we are looking for a new worthy winner. If you are returning to the site for another year, or you are new to this competition, then I send you a very warm welcome. It is a delight to have your company in the book cover war zone. Don't forget to share this exciting adventure with your friends and followers - everyone is welcome.

For any follower of this site this is the chance for you to become part of the weekly book cover wars. I am going to select five book covers for you to vote for. The winner of each heat will then go forward to the final round and get a chance to be crowned as 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Winner 2015/16'.

Congratulations! - Heat One Winner: Book Three - Darren Shan - Zom-B - Fugitive (US Cover) - 133 Votes. 

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover War Rules:
There will be four weekly heats with five book covers to vote for. All heat winners will make the grand final. However, one more entry will also be entered into the final - this will be the book cover with the most votes from the other four heats as the runner up. 

As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the chance to win a different special book each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week we have an amazing book, which is a hardback copy, of Philip Reeve's - RailHead. 

If you are interested then all you need to do is:
  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll - VOTE HERE
  • Leave a comment through this post or poll - VOTE HERE
  • Mention it on Twitter/Facebook #BOOKCOVERWARS 
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that this competition is open to the UK only.
  • This poll will close 9th November 2015 (midnight UK time.) 
So here are the five book covers to vote for this week:

Book One: Garth Nix - Clariel - Published by Allen & Unwin (1 October 2014) Book Cover by S Ciaffaglione/Sandra Nobes - VOTE HERE

Book Two: M. G. Leonard/Juila Sarda - Beetle Boy - Published by Chicken House Ltd (3 Mar. 2016) Book Cover by Julia Sarda - VOTE HERE

Book Three: Lucy Coats/David Roberts - Beasts of Olympus 3: Steeds of the Gods - Published by Piccadilly Press Ltd (7 May 2015) - Book Cover by David Roberts - VOTE HERE

Book Four: Katherine Rundell - The Wolf Wilder - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (10 Sept. 2015) - Book Cover by Gelrev Ongbico VOTE HERE

Book Five: Philip Reeve - RailHead - Published by OUP Oxford (1 Oct. 2015) - Book Cover by Shutterstock - VOTE HERE