Friday, 12 February 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Most Wanted Read 2016 - Tahereh Mafi - Furthermore (Penguin)

I think that this is a cracking book cover, but what do you think? From what I have read about this book, it sounds like a fantastic story and one that I'm very much looking forward to reading. The wife of Ransom Riggs and bestselling author of the Shatter Me series has written this middle-grade-like fairytale, where magic is a must, adventure is inevitable and friendship is found in the most unexpected places. Just like the book cover, it sounds like a very colourful plot; it might radiate like a rainbow once under the cover.

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is a boy named Oliver whose own magical ability is based in lies and deceit—and with a liar by her side in land where nothing is as it seems, it will take all of Alice's wits (and every limb she's got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

Twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow has only three things in the world that matter: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; triplet brothers, who never knew her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him, so some said he’d gone to measure the sea. Others said the sky. The moon. Maybe he’d learned to fly and had forgotten how to come back down. But it’s been almost six years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other. No matter the cost.

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781101994764
  • 416 Pages
  • Dutton Books for Young Readers
  • 9-12 years

Tahereh Mafi is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Shatter Me series. She can usually be found over-caffeinated and stuck in a book. You can find her online just about anywhere at @TaherehMafi or on her website,

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Favourite Book Picks: Children's/Teens - February 2016 - UK Published (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

Steve Feasey - Mutant Rising - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (25 Feb. 2016)         
The world has changed for Rush since he discovered that he wasn't the only one. A Mutant with powers that the Pure government would kill for, there are five kids like him on Scorched Earth, hidden from the world until now. Rush: telekinetic; Anya: shapeshifter; Jax: mind reader; Flea: time-stopper; Brick: healer.
As their powers grow, Rush knows that they have a mission that means more than their own survival. Together, they're like the ultimate weapon - they might just beat the evil government of President Melk. But someone will stop at nothing to break them up. And as Melk threatens to destroy the entire Mutant city, Rush's feelings for Tia, one of the Pure, threaten to complicate everything 

Will McIntosh - Burning Midnight - Macmillan Children's Books (11 Feb. 2016)
Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn't pay much - Alex Holliday's stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers - but it helps him and his mum make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-coloured spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at maths, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement - and the more expensive the sphere.
When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. What they find will change more than just their lives . . . Because the entire world fights over spheres, but no one knows why they're here or what their powers are . . . until now.

Jo Cotterill (Author) Cathy Brett (Illustrator) Electrigirl - OUP Oxford (4 Feb. 2016)
Holly Sparkes is just your average 12-year-old, that is, until she's hit by a bolt of lightning. Now Holly is EXTRAordinary.  
Like a human battery Holly can generate a massive amount of electricity in seconds, which could come in handy if she's ever going to solve the mystery of her best friend's disappearance. Because when you're dealing with the likes of Professor Macavity and her mysterious CyberSky corporation, you need all the help you can get! 
This exciting story includes black and white graphic novel style illustrations.
Dan Smith - Boy X - Published by Chicken House Ltd (4 Feb. 2016) Book Review Here
Kidnapped and drugged, Ash wakes up on a remote tropical island. His mum - a genetic scientist - has been imprisoned and infected with a deadly virus. Where is he, and what's he doing there? He sets out to cross the jungle to find out and rescue his mother. Soon he realises he's quicker and sharper than before. But there's something else ...why are the animals watching him, and how can he use the jungle to his advantage?

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Dave Rudden - The Knights of the Borrowed Dark - Book Review

The first book in a new series about an orphan boy who discovers he is part of a secret army that protects the world from a race of shadowy monsters.
Grey placed his finger in the middle of the shadow.
'What's this?' he asked.
Denizen frowned. 'It's a shadow.'
'No, it isn't,' Grey said. 'It's a door.'
Denizen Hardwick doesn't believe in magic - until he's ambushed by a monster created from shadows and sees it destroyed by a word made of sunlight.
That kind of thing can really change your perspective.
Now Denizen is about to discover that there's a world beyond the one he knows. A world of living darkness where an unseen enemy awaits.
Fortunately for humanity, between us and the shadows stand the Knights of the Borrowed Dark.
Unfortunately for Denizen, he's one of them . . .

Sorry for the early review. I know that I'm very naughty, but I really wanted to share this book with you .....

What can you expect from this debut Irish author? Well, come a little closer and I will tell you my dear reader. Let's turn the opening pages to this Irish fantasy and walk the thrilling tight rope of The Knights of the Borrowed Dark. This first instalment is an epic 11+ fantasy adventure trilogy based around a boy called Denizen Hardwick. It will be published by the mighty Puffin books in the UK on the 7th April 2016 and much later in the US by Random House Books (16th August 2016). Make sure that you check out the brilliant book cover by Owen Freeman. 

If you put all your favourite Irish childrens' authors into a bowl and give it a mighty whisk, then this is the type of story that I would expect to unfold. There are many trademark features of fantastic authors all under the cover of this great book.The first amazing ingredient is a fantasy plot brimming with great imagination. The likes of such that we would often associate with the great Eoin Colfer. Then there is the creative art of making up the scary monsters - ones that are not your normal mundane type that you may find in some books. I am talking about real monsters that appear on the edges of your subconscious mind leaving you feeling very unsettled. In my opinion, Darren Shan does it better than anyone else, especially within The Demonata series which will always be one of my favourite series and the monsters in this book match up to this quality. Then we mix in a big dollop of dark magic which is topped off with a chilling and skittish atmosphere. Again, resonant of the great Derek Landy, who is a master of this and is incorporated very well into this plot. 

Denizen is an orphan boy, who finds himself caught up in an ancient and secret battle between an order of magic-wielding humans. A shadowy race of monsters, known as the Tenebrous, and their powerful master, the Endless King, are locked in battle with the humans as they try to wreak havoc over the human world. Denizen is not a natural hero; he is very much a loner - he reads far too many books, questions everything and lacks confidence in the real world. 

On a particularly dark night, the electric energy flows and the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open. A car growls with power into the driveway of the Orphanage and the mysterious adventure begins. The car and the man in it retrieve Denizen with the promise of introducing him to a long-lost aunt. But on the ride into the city, they are attacked. Denizen soon learns that wicked angelic-like monsters can grow out of the shadows. Once you start to read this exceedingly good adventure, you will soon be compelled to turn the pages. Like a maelstrom, you will be swirled and sucked into a vortex of monsters, a magical world and a secret order that might change your perspective.           

This book is very cool. It has a very effective plot which is blended with humour and memorable monsters playing havoc in an atmospheric world of darkness. I loved the aloofness of some of the characters. This leaves you never really knowing them or what they are thinking or doing, which makes you guess what's coming next. This book will have you running from your shadow and fleeing from the darkness of your imagination. It is a story to read at your peril and a fantastic start to a trilogy. Can you keep this high standard and amazing story writing flowing, Dave? I am sure that you can and I look forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Mr Ripley's Children's/Teenage UK Book Picks For February 2016 - Post Two

Aimée Carter - Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den (Simon Thorn 1) - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (11 Feb. 2016)
Twelve-year-old Simon Thorn's life has never been easy, but being bullied at school and living in a cramped Manhattan apartment with his Uncle Darrell is nothing compared to his biggest secret: he can talk to animals. When his mum is kidnapped by a herd of terrifying rats, Simon finds out that he, his mum and his uncle are all Animalgams - people who can change into an animal at will. In search of his mother he discovers the Animalgam Academy located underneath Central Park Zoo. There he learns about the fractured five kingdoms that make up this secret world - Mammals, Birds, Insects, Reptiles and Underwater. And Simon Thorn is the only one who can save them.
Imaginative and vivid with themes of bravery, loyalty, and finding one's true self, this exciting, five-book adventure series is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and Beast Quest.

Elen Caldecott - Spooks and Scooters (Marsh Road Mysteries 3) - Published by  Bloomsbury Children's (11 Feb. 2016)
Meet Piotr, Minnie, Andrew, Flora and Sylvie - true friends and even better mystery-solvers! 
Flora and Sylvie are going on the holiday of a lifetime with their dad. But - WHAT? - Dad cancels the trip only hours before the flight because - OH MY GOODNESS - someone has stolen precious blueprints of Dad's latest invention: an amazing new scooter. But who? And why? Time to call on the only five people who can possibly solve the crime!

Phil Earle (Author) Sara Ogilvie (Illustrator) - Superhero Street (Storey Street) - Published by Orion Children's Books (25 Feb. 2016)

Mouse is desperate to be a superhero. To find that power that will make him stand out in the crowd. 
But his every attempt ends in failure. He can't even get any attention at home as his five brothers (triplets AND twins) take every second of mum and dad's attention. When mum foils a bank robbery while on duty as a lollipop lady, she and Mouse are lauded as superheroes. Joining forces with Mouse are The Z List - a group of unlikely crime-fighters. But in their midst is a traitor hell-bent on revenge. 
Will Mouse be super enough to spot this danger, and is he brave enough to do anything about it?
The second laugh-out-loud Storey Street novel from award-winning author of DEMOLITION DAD, Phil Earle, with each book focusing on a different character living on the same street.

Nobody knows it yet, but the people of Earth are in big, big trouble.

Like - HUGE trouble. Oh, come on, where's your imagination? Double what you're thinking!
And it's all got to do with a shadowy figure, an enormous tower, some sinister monsters, huge clanking and thundering metal oddballs, and people who are just like you… but not like you at all.
Luckily Hamish and the PDF are around to help save the day! Aren't they??

Friday, 5 February 2016

Guest Post by Will Steele - What Does a Book Designer Do? (The Jungle Book)

The challenge for any cover designer, is to try to condense the atmosphere, feeling or message within a book down into a single image. Not only that, it is sometimes required to be beautiful, impactful, or be intriguing enough to make someone want to pick it up in the first place. Then hold their attention long enough to turn over to be hooked by the blurb and eventually buy, read and share.

So when you break it down like that, and you consider how many books are released every single week of the year, it can sound like bit of a tall order to stand out from the crowd!
Luckily however, we have a lot of creative people within the publishing industry to call upon to help in trying to create this perfect storm, and we try to come up with something that not only works as an appealing piece of stand alone design, but also acts as a kind of sales poster or branding for the series of books by the same author.

The starting point for any book cover lies in creating and visually interpreting a brief. The brief is typically supplied from the editor on a book, and can also include thoughts directly from the author.

Once I’ve read the brief, I usually always try and read at least a few chapters of the book, sometimes I read the whole book, however time permitting this just isn’t physically possible due to the length of some of them and with all the other design work that needs to be done on a daily basis.

I often start by brainstorming with the editor and publisher, then I create a mood board, drawing inspiration from all aspects of other media like film, TV, music, the internet and of course other books.

Working at Faber is a great privilege, it’s a company with a wealth of history and is known for producing new and re-producing old classics.
Faber have re-issued and packaged classic titles for years. Here’s an example of those published in recent years. 
So when I was given the opportunity to design new covers for some well-known classic titles, and given the freedom to pick and choose who to work with, it really is a dream job for any designer.

One of the titles on the list for 2016 was The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

We chose David Litchfield, as a potential match for The Jungle Book, as we had been working together on another middle-grade fiction book cover (Perijee & Me – 3 March 16) and a picture book (The Building Boy – Sept 16), both written by Ross Montgomery. And I knew that we would be able to bring the right atmosphere and still look child-friendly enough for those discovering The Jungle Book for the first time.

Click here to see more of David’s work and his stunning debut picture book (The Bear and the Piano - Frances Lincoln) -

With The Jungle Book being such a well-established text. I didn’t really need to supply a written brief to the illustrator. I discussed with him that we were aiming to create something that had the feeling of a classic, but with a modern twist.

My only stipulations were to make it intriguing and appealing, but not look too ‘Disney’.

I created a mood board.

And included examples of early editions and a few more recent, along with some posters and artwork. I had noted that the strongest visuals seemed to work with dramatic light and bold silhouettes. And the key figures to feature were Mowgli and at least 2-3 animal characters.

From that point, I leave the visualisation in the illustrators capable hands, while I work on ideas for the typography. I toyed with the idea of using something quite classic and a serif style font. And I experimented with combining lower and upper case letters. While researching I could see the early release of film visuals and posters of the upcoming hollywood movie. So I could see that something with more character and a slight hand drawn feel that reflects the setting would be more in keeping. So I basically drew something similar to that.

The illustrator supplied some early thoughts roughly sketched out and we discussed which direction had the most potential. 

From those ideas, we agreed that a jungle scene which played with the perspective of an animals face within the undergrowth could make a striking visual. I asked whether we could also work in the other characters around the edge of the scene, so they might not be immediately obvious at first and act as a kind of border.

He then created a digital colour rough.

which I could show the team in-house and get them excited about what we were working on.
The illustrator then supplied a more worked up visual. 
which I laid over the title and author name and the Faber Classics brand tag to check the placement of all the elements and that there was a balance between type and image.

From that point, I present the cover look back to the wider team again, and act as a mediator between the publisher, editorial, sales and marketing teams and the illustrator, until we agree we have the strongest cover visual possible.

On this occasion, luckily everyone loved the direction and how strong the visual was. All we had to alter for the final illustration was a few colours and
the position of some animals, but beyond that, I knew we were close to having our cover image.

I then gave David the go ahead to work up the scene in a lot more detail and I tweaked a few colours and levels on his final illustration to arrive at the finished cover.

And here is the final cover:
The Jungle Book – Faber Children’s – Out May 2016

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Mr Ripley's Children's/Teenage UK Book Picks For February 2016 - Post One

Katherine Woodfine - The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth - Published by Egmont (25 Feb. 2016)

 Wonder at the puzzling disappearance of the Jewelled Moth! Marvel as our heroines, Sophie and Lil, don cunning disguises, mingle in high society and munch many cucumber sandwiches to solve this curious case! Applaud their bravery as they follow a trail of terrible secrets that leads straight to London’s most dangerous criminal mastermind, and could put their own lives at risk . . .
It will be the most thrilling event of the season!

Will Mabbitt (Author) Ross Collins (Illustrator) - Mabel Jones and the Forbidden City - Puffin (4 Feb. 2016)
Mabel Jones is ready for her second unlikely adventure - another hilarious story by Will Mabbitt. What would you do if hungry vines emerged from your wardrobe and stole your baby sister? If you're Mabel Jones and afraid of nothing, you'd follow! Between Mabel and her goal is a dangerous jungle, filled with deadly monsters and poisoned jelly babies. Can she defeat the Witch Queen and rescue her sister, or is this the last we'll see of Mabel Jones...?

Abi Elphinstone - The Shadow Keeper - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK (25 Feb. 2016) Book Review Here. 
Moll Pecksniff and her friends are living as outlaws in a secret cave by the sea, desperate to stay hidden from the Shadowmasks. But further along the coast lies the Amulet of Truth, the only thing powerful enough to force the Shadowmasks back and contain their dark magic. So, together with Gryff, the wildcat that’s always by her side, and her best friends Alfie and Sid, Moll must sneak past smugglers, outwit mer creatures and crack secret codes to save the Old Magic. With more at stake than ever before and the dark magic rising fast, can Moll and her friends stop the Shadowmasks before it’s too late?
Sara Pennypacker (Author) Jon Klassen - (Illustrator) - Pax - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (25 Feb. 2016) 
A moving story of the extraordinary friendship between a boy and his fox, and their epic journey to be reunited. Beautifully illustrated by multi-award winner, Jon Klassen.
Pax was only a kit when his family was killed and he was rescued by ‘his boy’, Peter. Now the country is at war and when his father enlists, Peter has no choice but to move in with his grandfather. Far worse than leaving home is the fact that he has to leave Pax behind. But before Peter spends even one night under his grandfather’s roof he sneaks out into the night, determined to find his beloved friend. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their journeys back to each other as war rampages throughout the country.
A profound and moving story with stunning illustrations by award-winning illustrator, Jon Klassen. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Alex Bell - The Haunting (Red Eye) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Review

Some curses grow stronger with time...People say that all Cornish inns are haunted, but the Waterwitch's history is particularly chilling. Built from the salvaged timber of a cursed ship, the guest house's dark secrets go further back than anyone can remember. Emma is permanently confined to a wheelchair after an accident at the Waterwitch which took place when she was ten. Seven years later, she decides to return to the place where the awful event occurred. But the ancient inn still has its ghosts, and one particular spirit is more vengeful than ever...

Back in 2014, the Red Eye series by Stripes Publishing was born. This is a new home for horror genre with a fantastic contemporary makeover for a young adult audience. I've very much enjoyed ever book in this series and always look forward to the next read. This is the second outing for Alex Bell - the previous release was FROZEN CHARLOTTE, which kicked of the series. The Haunting will be the sixth title to be published 11th Feb 2016 and is another fantastic read.

We are indeed all in for another literary treat. Dare you read a Red Eye? It has all the fantastic trade mark characteristics of previous books and much more in my opinion.  Lovers of dark and scary books will enjoy flying down the path of this chilling plot. It will have you hooked on a fantasy path that teen readers will love. You'll find an original plot that explores the greater imagination and will transport you to the Waterwitch, and back, in the blink of a frog's eye.   

The book alternates between the three main characters perspective of Emma, Shell and Jem. It did take me a little time to warm to this type of narrative, after reading a lot of books told in first person. However, it was fantastic to follow Emma (and her narrative) and slightly refreshing to see how she struggled with daily life, and performing normal tasks that most abled bodied people take for granted. Having to cope with being confined to a wheelchair made this plot capture a great sense of realism and was really gripping. It will certainly pull at your heartstrings in an unpredictable way. 

This is a cracking bleak Cornish tale, which is based on a witches curse and traditional folklore. It will have you scared out of your whits, as you never really know what you are up against. It will pick you up and throw you head first into the spooky past and grizzly future. You'll have to be brave, or mad, to navigate the pages, as the chilling aura will morph around you unwittingly and suck you into a characters world. Unfortunately, this may not end in a traditionally happy way. 

The book will lead you to enter the Waterwitch building with it's dramatic history like no other. To me it is the biggest character in the book, as it takes on a mysterious nebulous persona of its own. I really loved visiting this spooky building and exploring its nooks and crannies. The author produced a really detailed account which was loosely inspired by a visit to Smugglers Cot Restaurant (an old historic building from 1420). This to me instilled an electric and foreboding energy that helped to develop a fantastic climatic and dramatic ending. This is another brilliant read that might just get you screaming for more....

Other Red Eye Books: 
Alex Bell - Frozen Charlotte -  5th Jan 2015
Lou Morgan - Sleepless - 5th Jan 2015
Simon Cheshire - Flesh and Blood - 2nd March 2015
Graham Marks - Bad Bones - 4th May 2015

Tom Becker - Dark Room - 10 Sept  2015
Alex Bell - The Haunting - 1st Feb 2016 

Monday, 1 February 2016

Guest Author Interview with Joseph Delaney -The Wardstone Chronicles/Arena 13/The Starblade Chronicles

It is very cool having the opportunity to ask Joseph Delaney some questions about his book and writing career. Joseph is the author of the spectacularly dark fantasy series known as The Wardstone Chronicles and The Starblade Chronicles. His latest action fantasy series, Arena 13, is set in the city Midgard which is terrorised by Hob - a terrifying and evil creature who tortures at will and has the rulers of the city completely under his control. This is another brilliant series and I'm delighted to introduce the below interview which I hope you will read and enjoy.

What can we expect in Arena 13: The Prey? 
I can’t say too much because it would spoil things for a lot of readers. But Leif will visit his own people, the Genthai, and there will be revelations that tell us more about this world. Then we return to fighting in Arena 13 and Hob will visit there at least once before the end of that book. 

Demon Hob is one of my personal favourite characters, what can you tell us about him that we don't already know? 
Again we find more out about Hob in the book. We find out his true role and why he is within the barrier. 

How much did you learn from writing Mercer's Whore? 
‘Mercer’s Whore’ was the first big book I’d ever finished and the second thing I’d had published (the first was a short story). It got me into the method I use now for writing. Once I have the initial idea I begin to write without being sure where it will take me. It is a process of discovery. That was the first book which was written in that way.

At what point did you start to think about writing books for children? 
This happened in the Year 1999, when my agent suggested it. At first I felt reluctant to do that feeling I was giving up on adult writing and would have ‘failed’. But I quickly realised that writing for children had lots of possibilities and I really enjoy it now. I suppose that inside my head I’m still a thirteen year old so I’m writing for myself! 

How important is it, for us as readers, to believe in the worlds that you write about? 
I think it is vital. When I read a book I want to engage fully with the world of the writer so I try to create the possibility for that in my own work. I think attention to detail is vital and I use a glossary to flesh out the world including things that might not even be in the actual narrative. I also usually use a first person narration; I think that helps the reader get into the head of a character. 

What tips can you share when writing a believable world/background? 

You have to work out the rules of that world in detail and keep to them. You can only deviate under exceptional circumstances and with a credible reason. For example Grimalkin, the witch assassin, can cross running water whereas most witches can’t. Why? That’s because she trains herself to tolerate the pain and is fanatical about developing her strengths and combat abilities. So for her the rule can be bent. 

Where is your favourite place to write? 

My favourite place to write used to be my study at home (where two of my children used to sleep before they left home). Now it’s a case of ‘have laptop will travel’! I can write anywhere and even on a book tour spend at least an hour a day writing in my hotel room. I usually post a ‘deskie’ on social media to show my current writing base. 

What do you think has the most impact on your reader - the opening line or the closing chapter/line? 
Both are important, but I think the opening paragraph is vital in grabbing the attention of the reader and making them want to read on. But the end is also vital particularly when writing a series. It has to be made clear which issues have been settled in the present book with hints of where the narrative is likely to go next. Tom Ward routinely sums up the situation at the end of each book. But in ‘A New Darkness’ I used a shock ending which was only made possible because I used two narrators. 

What do you think makes a good story? 
I think the central idea has to be relatively novel but above all the reader must care about the main characters. The reader has to identify with him/her or a least care about what happens to them. There has to be a conflict with clear goals and an uncertain outcome. I also think that uncertainty has to be built in; things cannot be predictable. It has to be clear that anything can happen, anybody can die and it may not be a happy ending. 

Which author has recently inspired you? 

I don’t really get inspired by other authors. I draw my inspiration from dreams, daydreams, situations, people and particularly places encountered in the real world. Generally, reading books inspired me to begin writing. I would read a book and wish that I’d written it. Frank Herbert and Tolkien first made me think I’d like to be a writer. 

Are you currently involved in any writing projects that you can tell us about? 
I have decisions to make. Do I write another Spook’s book after ‘The Dark Assassin’ (published next year). Or do I write a fourth Arena 13 book (soon I will start writing the third). Or do I first finish a completely new SF book (written about half of it so far). I have to discuss this with my publisher and make up my mind before the end of May this year. 

Have you got anything else that you would you like to reveal or share with us? 
Yes this is a new addition to the glossary and will feature in ‘Arena 13: the Prey’. 
Ada Augusta 
The High Adept of the Imperial Academy who was slain by djinn terrorists at the beginning of the First Insurrection. Her soul was placed in Containment. She was named after Ada Augusta, the Countess of Lovelace, who wrote the very first computer algorithm.

Friday, 29 January 2016

EXCITING NEWS: Usborne has bought the UK/Commonwealth Rights for Will Hill - After the Fire New YA Novel

After the Fire is about a girl who, after growing up in an isolated community, starts to discover that everything she once believed is a lie. 17-year-old girl called Moonbeam. A desert religious cult. Psychiatrists and FBI Agents. Sounds Really good Will!
Hill, who previously wrote the Department 19 series (Harper Collins Children's Books), was inspired by the story of the 1993 Waco siege, which was when the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms attempted to raid the property of the Branch Davidians, a religious group in Waco, Texas, resulting in deaths on both sides.
Fiction director Rebecca Hill, who bought the rights from Charlie Campbell at Kingsford Campbell, said: “Will Hill is currently known for his action-packed plots in Department 19, and with After the Fire he will become known for writing a literary novel which is absorbing, truthful, and beautiful too. A story of identity and vulnerability, where freedom is denied at every turn – this book will break your heart and make you question: would I have the strength to act in the same way?”
Publication is scheduled for February 2017.

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Recommendation: James King - Jungle Jim and the Shadows of Kinabalu

I just wanted to highlight this book from last year, as I really loved it and wanted to take this opportunity to recommend it to you all. It has everything required, and more, in an extremely good read. It is:

  • Fast paced;
  • Action packed and non-stop; 
  • A wild jungle and very descriptive; 
  • Superhero, cool characters, monsters and bad villains;
  • Dark, mysterious and engaging plot;
  • Monsters, myths and madness;
  • Middle Grade Read 9+.
It has absolutely everything needed to make this an amazing read, so make sure that you check out the synopsis below.  If it sounds like your kind of book then please track a copy down and help a fantastic debut author on his way. Buy Book Here

‘Jungle’ Jim swings into action in his first exciting adventure, as the superpowered simian tries to shed some light on the mysterious Shadows of Kinabalu. In this hilarious modern spin on the timeless werewolf myth, young ice-hockey star, ‘Jungle’ Jim Regent travels to Borneo looking for lost love and adventure, getting more than he bargained for after he is cursed by a tribe of mysterious Iban Headhunters. Now, whenever the moon turns orange, he transforms into an eight-foot-tall, walking, talking orangutan! He’s not a werewolf, he’s a werangutan. He’s not a monster, but an Ancient Protector of Borneo – and the world beyond.

The cursed Jim now finds himself living the double life of a superhero as he battles the forces of the Shadow Emperor, an evil overlord who has been dragged into our universe by the reckless Dark Matter experiments of the mad scientist Doctor Gila. These diabolical villains command their army of Dark Matter Shadows from the ruins of a top-secret US government laboratory buried deep beneath the mighty Mount Kinabalu. 

But Jim is not alone in his battle against the darkness. Fighting alongside him is an oddball group of friends and colleagues: Rufus McFly, a young academic whose expert knowledge of ancient civilisations is invaluable to Jim; Ruthie Moo, a beautiful and resourceful British Secret Agent, and Jim’s childhood sweetheart, Sengalang, the ancient shaman of the Iban Headhunters; Wira, a highly intelligent baby orangutan fully trained in espionage; and a team of specially trained monkeys!

This band of unlikely heroes must survive a crazy, colourful, ancient, dangerous world, where nothing is what it seems and where everything, from the other-dimensional bad guys to the creepy crawlies, are out to get you. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Danny Wallace (Author) & Jamie Littler (Illustrator) - Hamish and the Neverpeople - Mr Ripley's Book Review

Nobody knows it yet, but the people of Earth are in big, big trouble.
Like - HUGE trouble. Oh, come on, where's your imagination? Double what you're thinking!
And it's all got to do with a shadowy figure, an enormous tower, some sinister monsters, huge clanking and thundering metal oddballs, and people who are just like you… but not like you at all.
Luckily Hamish and the PDF are around to help save the day! Aren't they??

Anything is possible when you read a good book. One minute you can fly to the moon in a hot air balloon made of Swiss cheese. The next, you can sail the seven seas on a floating cracker, whilst wrestling a ten foot long shark. We all can dream the dream and walk the tight rope of fantasy and, in this book, we can also share the laughter with Danny Wallace. This is the second outing for Hamish and the Pause Defence Force who are back again to foil an another evil plan. The PDF gang need to have their whits about them if they are going to succeed.

This is one of my personal favourite ongoing book series. Hamish and the WorldStoppers was a fantastic first book and it was also one of the best selling children's fiction debuts of 2015. The second instalment, Hamish and the Neverpeople is as equally as good as the first book. We still have Jamie Littler (the creator and writer of Cogg and Sprokit) onboard, whose work was serialised in The Phoenix Comics. His fantastic full page and half page illustrations makes the book come alive, as well as the brilliant cover and eye catching graphical endpapers, which will help it fly off the bookshelves once again. 

So what makes this a great book? Well, it makes me grin from ear to ear. It is an expanding ball of silliness, just like a fart, when you are a child. It's infectious and makes you laugh all of the time. The plot is zany and totally crazy. It is a "BIG SECRET" and you, the reader, only know what's going on. Are you ready to face the MEGAPOCALYPSE?  You will have to be brave like Hamish and the gang and turn the pages on a non stop action rollercoaster, which will have you doing a loop de loop of excitement.

It's very cool, very original and is built on big plot ideas and huge amounts of quirky imagination. You will encounter many characters with silly names, visit a strange parallel world and a city like no other! You will travel to Otherearth and locate Scarmarsh, the evil one, and do battle with some sinister crazy monsters. The next minute you will be running away screaming in the face of huge clanking metal oddballs. Only then you will need to rescue the King whilst saving the world. We are actually in HUGE trouble!

It's very action packed, fully immersive and an absolute joy to read. Additionally, it is full of great characters, who are well written and some of whom we only get a tantalising, fleeting glimpse of. King Les the Second is one my favourite characters, as he is unusual and very talkative. He also has a very bizarre fashion sense, so do watch out for him.You will never read a book as quick as this one, in my opinion, it's pure middle grade madness! A great book to pick up for reluctant readers with a true sense of adventure that will brighten your day.  

Published by Simon and Schuster 11th February 2016, get your order in NOW! 


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Mr Ripley's Interview with Tamsin Cooke - Author of Cat Burglar - Published by OUP

Welcome Tamsin to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. Thank you very much for taking the time out to answer some questions about your writing career and your latest book Cat Burglar. This is due to hit the shops on 7th January and will be published by OUP. If you would like to read the brilliant first chapter read it Here.  

Who would love reading The Scarlet Files: Cat Burglar, and why? 
I think both girls and boys aged 9+ would love to read Cat Burglar. It’s fast paced and full of adventure and humour. There are daring heists, mystical happenings and exciting characters.

Give us an insight into the main character, Scarlet McCall? 
Scarlet is an ordinary schoolgirl by day (trying to blend into the background, not making friends) but at night she is a trainee cat burglar. She and her father are on a mission to return priceless treasures to their rightful owners. Scarlet is brave and feisty but has huge issues around trust. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, apart from her father. She’s desperate to prove herself to him. 

What tips do you have for a would-be Cat Burglar? 
You need to keep a low profile – you can’t let people get too close in case they learn your secrets. 
You need to be very fit – able to scale walls and run away from guard dogs. 
If you have a fear of heights, you probably shouldn’t go into this line of work! 

Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work? 
I’m always on the lookout for stories about heists. And I like seeing how people have managed to get into buildings. Scarlet and her father have poached some of the more elaborate ways to access a house.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 
Whenever I need a break from writing, I go into my kitchen and pull down the blinds. Then I put on my headphones and dance. I’ve been known to dance for an hour non-stop! 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? 
How many rubbish cat burglars there are! 
Two men decided to paint masks on their faces with permanent marker rather than wear balaclavas. Funnily enough, the police managed to catch two men covered in fading felt-tip. 

A burglar was upstairs when the family came home. He managed to stay quiet until the husband told a funny joke. The burglar burst out laughing, giving himself away!

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they? 
It took me twelve years to get published. Certain things helped me get better - mainly practice and listening to what professionals had to say. I got so many rejection letters, but luckily they often included gems of advice. The literary agents could see where I was going wrong. When I first got these rejection letters, the temptation was to rage and throw them away. But after I got over the initial devastation, what they told me proved to be invaluable. So I would say - listen to constructive criticism from professionals. 

At the same time – keep believing in yourself. No one can tell your story as well as you can.

What helps you be creative? 
I pay attention to my dreams. I go for dog walks on my own (well - I do take my dog!) and just let my mind wander. If my story isn’t working and I’m stuck going round in circles, I’ll take a shower. I don’t know how it works – but having the hot water drip down my head unlocks ideas. On some days, I am very, very clean! 

What question have you never been asked in an interview? 
Am I writing from experience? Have I ever been a cat burglar? 
Obviously there is no way I can answer that!!!! ;)

Monday, 25 January 2016

Mr Ripley's Favourite Children's/Teenage US Book Picks For February 2016 - Post One

Victoria Scott - Titans - Published by Scholastic Press (February 23, 2016) - Age 11+
Ever since the Titans appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan's world has revolved around the mechanical horses. It's not just the thrill of the race. It's the engineering of the horses themselves and the way they're programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she'll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid's who wager on them.

But when Astrid's offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year's derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it's more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.

Kate O'Hearn - Valkyrie - Published by Aladdin (February 2, 2016) Age 8+
Freya is dreading her upcoming birthday when she’ll officially have to take up her duties as a Valkyrie. She doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of the legends before her—legends including her mother and sisters. And she certainly doesn’t want anything to do with humans!

Freya thinks humans are cruel, hate-filled creatures, but as she observes their world, she begins to wonder what it would be like to make friends with the girls or laugh with the boys she sees. And what would it be like to live without the fear that she could cause someone’s death with a single touch?

Then when she’s sent on her first mission, she reaps the soul of a fallen soldier with unfinished business…business that sends her on an epic quest to the mortal world. Will Freya find the true meaning of being a human, or will she finally accept the legend she is destined to become?

Pseudonymous Bosch - Bad Luck (The Bad Books) - Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (February 9, 2016) Age 8+
At Earth Ranch, things can get a little magical (some might say strange). Intrepid readers will discover a runaway boy, fishy cruise ship, strange cave paintings, dragon-like footprints, and other mysteries that Clay and his friends need to solve. Danger, adventure, mischief, mystery, llamas, and a delightfully irreverent and hilarious narrator make bestselling author Pseudonymous Bosch's anticipated new novel irresistible.
J. A. White - The Thickety: Well of Witches - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (February 23, 2016) Age 10+
J. A. White’s The Thickety: Well of Witches is an epic quest into an enchanted kingdom with new kinds of magic, an old enemy, and only one way out. Fans of Neil Gaiman will love this third novel in the spectacular and twisty fantasy series that has readers and reviewers raving.
Kara and Taff know that only Grace Stone has the power to reverse her Last Spell on their father, and that in order to save him, they have to rescue their foe from the Well of Witches first. Forgiving Grace should be the hardest part of their journey . . . but soon the children are confronted by creatures called the Faceless, mysteries as old as magic, and an ancient secret that threatens their very lives. Back in the World, a war against magic is brewing that endangers everyone they care about. Can Kara and Taff find Grace and make it back to their father in time?