Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Favourite Book Picks: Children's/Teens - May 2016 - UK Post Two

Stewart Foster - The Bubble Boy - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK (19 May 2016) - Book Review Here
Amir is mad. He’s crazy. But the hospital wouldn’t let a crazy person in. They must have interviewed him and checked his qualifications. But maybe he didn’t even meet them? Maybe he hasn’t even come from India. He might have arrived on an alien spaceship and snuck in here in the middle of the night. 

Eleven-year-old Joe can't remember a life outside of his hospital room, with its beeping machines and view of London's rooftops. His condition means he's not allowed outside, not even for a moment, and his few visitors risk bringing life-threatening germs inside his 'bubble'. But then someone new enters his world and changes it for ever.

THE BUBBLE BOY is the story of how Joe spends his days, copes with his loneliness and frustrations, and looks - with superhero-style bravery, curiosity and hope - to a future without limits. Expect superheroes, super nurses and a few tears from this truly unique story.

Curtis Jobling - Monster Hunter (Max Helsing) - Published by Orchard Books (5 May 2016)
Slaying.... and playing. All part of a day's work for Max Helsing.
Descended from a long line of monster hunters, Max Helsing does a pretty good job of being an eighth grader by day and keeping his town safe from demons, ghouls and the occasional mummy by night. That is, until he turns thirteen and discovers he's been cursed by an ancient vampire who wants him dead - at any cost. To save the world - and his life - Max must rely on his wise-cracking best friend, cantankerous mentor, computer genius neighbour, and brand-new puppy. He'll need all their help and more to break the Thirteenth Curse!

Mike Revell - Stormwalker - Published by Quercus Children's Books (19 May 2016)
Something strange is happening to Owen.
One minute, he's living a perfectly ordinary life: school, football, video games, hanging out with best friend Danny.
The next, he finds himself sucked into a terrifying dream world, a wasteland where a terrible Darkness plagues his hometown, threatening the lives of everyone in it.
Owen can't control when he enters this world, or when he gets to leave. All he knows is that he has to help fight this terrible Darkness.
But what is this world?
Kiran Millwood Hargrave - The Girl of Ink & Stars - Published by Chicken House Ltd (5 May 2016) - Book Review Here
Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her cartographer father once mapped. When her friend disappears, she volunteers to guide the search. The world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland - and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Amber Lee Dodd - We Are Giants - Author Q&A Interview

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books is really pleased to be sharing with you the following Q&A with Amber Lee Dodd. Her latest book, We Are Giants, was published on the 7th April 2016 by Quercus Children's Books. The book deals with topics that will be familiar to a lot of 9-12 year olds. It is a refreshing and a heartwarming story, and very sensitively written.  I hope that this interview piques your interest and encourages you to purchase a copy and read it. Thank you Amber. 

Tell us a little bit about We Are Giants? 
It’s about love, family and being proud of who you are. 
It’s the story of Sydney, her sister Jade and her mother Amy who has dwarfism. When the family are forced to leave home and move to a new city, Sydney worries she will forget her Dad (who died a few years before) without the memories of home around her. To add to that, her new home is barely a home, it’s more of a shoe box and her new school is clearly run by mad teachers. With everything changing around her Sydney is determined to keep some things the same. Namely she wants to stay little, just like her Mum. 

Who would love reading We Are Giants, and why? 

Anyone who’s ever wanted to be different.

We all need a hero! Tell us about your protagonist(s)? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her? 
Sydney is shy and thoughtful and has a huge imagination. But she also has a fierce side she call ‘The Wild Thing’. Jade is brave and bold and is never more than five minutes away from throwing a wobbly. And Amy is creative and stubborn and force to be reckoned with. 

I think all the characters where inspired by the children and teens I worked with, or people I knew. 
In the book Sydney and Jade have to deal with bullies. 

How much research did you do into this subject? 

I used to tell people I hardly did any research, but that’s not true! I researched everything; it just never felt like work because all the things I found out where so interesting. Most of the research went into Amy’s dwarfism and Sydney’s fairytales. Things like place, school and the bullies are all drawn from my own childhood. 

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

I think in creating a world you have to give a voice to it as much as you would a character. Even in the craziest fantasy you have to ground your story in a place that feels real. 

For me writing about Portsmouth, where We are Giants is set, was easy as I grew up here. It’s largely a working class city with a strong, proud identity and was the perfect setting for a family struggling in post recession Britain. 
Do you have any strange writing habits? 
I write in bed because I don’t have a desk I can use. I’m also a very messy writer. I once walked out the house with several sticky notes stuck to the back of my leg! 

What do you think makes a good story? 

Oh gosh, this is such a hard one. I think great stories have their own voice. They couldn’t have been written by anyone else but that person. 

What genre of books do you like to read? do you limit yourself to only the genre that you write yourself? 

I read everything! From plays to memoir, to short stories and literary fiction. My favourite books are Olive Kittredge by Elizabeth Strout, Matilda by Roald Dahl, The play The Memory of Water by Shelia Stevenson and the short story collection How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer. I come back to these books again and again. 
At the moment I have a tbr pile that includes the biographies of some lady adventures, a couple of crime novels (I love an Agatha Christie) and some smashing Middle grade books. 
If you were to look for me in a bookshop you would find me by the picture books. It is pretty much impossible to be unhappy flicking through a good picture book. 

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? 
The first thing I desperately want to do was be a surgeon. I like to think it was because I wanted to help people, but I think it might have been more to do with the fact that I loved blood and guts. But sadly I wasn’t very good at science or maths. However, I was very good at telling stories. So that’s what I decided to do instead. 

Is there anything else that you would like to tell us, like new writing projects? 
I’m working on some more short stories. You should hopefully get to listen to my story The Love Songs of Foxes on BBC radio 4 again soon. And I’m also working on a new children’s book, staring lady adventurers, Scottish islands and a dyslexic hero with a very unusual gift. But Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Book News: #1 New York Times Bestselling Veronica Roth's New Book, Carve the Mark Out January 17th 2017

Announcing Carve the Markby #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
Veronica Roth

Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth's stunning new series.

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others' control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra's currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother's hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra's world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

Carve the Mark is on sale January 17th, 2017—pre-order your copy now!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Favourite Book Picks: Children's/Teens - May 2016 - UK Post One

Taran Matharu - The Inquisition (Summoner BK2) - Published by Hodder Children's Books (5 May 2016)

More demons, epic battles, and fights to the death: introducing the unmissable next instalment in the Summoner Trilogy...
On trial for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must face the Inquisition who will decide his future - the process is gruelling, lead by those who will do anything to see him suffer and haunted by ghosts from the past with clues to Fletcher's tragic origins. 
But Fletcher has little time to dwell on these new revelations when the king announces a deadly challenge to the graduating students at Vocans. One that involves entering Orc territory to complete a risky mission. With loyal demons by their sides, commoners and nobles, dwarves and elves must overcome barriers of class and race and work together to triumph. The reward: a fortune in gold, the safety of an empire and PEACE.
With the entire empire watching, Fletcher has much to prove, but there are those out to get him and it soon becomes clear that there's a traitor in their midst, trying to thwart the mission and create unrest within the Empire. 
With everything stacked against him, Fletcher must use everything in his power to fight his way to victory.

Sophie Cleverly - The Lost Twin (Scarlet and Ivy, Book 1) - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (5 May 2016)

This is the story of how I became my sister…
A spine-tingling mystery set in a creepily atmospheric boarding school. Ivy must uncover the secrets behind her twin sister Scarlet’s disappearance before it’s too late.
When troublesome Scarlet mysteriously disappears from Rookwood School, terrifying Miss Fox invites her quiet twin sister Ivy to ‘take her place’.
Ivy reluctantly agrees in the hopes of finding out what happened to her missing sister. For only at Rookwood will Ivy be able to unlock the secrets of Scarlet’s disappearance, through a scattered trail of diary pages carefully hidden all over the school.
Can Ivy solve the mystery before Miss Fox suspects? Or before an even greater danger presents itself?

Caleb Krisp - Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket (Ivy Pocket 2) - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (5 May 2016)

Ivy is now the beloved daughter of Ezra and Mother Snagbsy, coffin makers, even if she does have to work rather like a maid. Their trade is roaring, and Ivy is as happy as a pig in clover. Especially when she escapes to the library to talk to the devastatingly sympathetic Miss Carnage. 
But then Ivy guesses that all is not as it seems with her new parents, and discovers that she can pass into the world of the Clock Diamond. There, she sees her friend Rebecca, horribly sad and desperate. 
Can Ivy save Rebecca, and what do a missing aristocrat, a forbidden love affair and a bullfrog have to do with her mission?
Illustrated in humorous gothic detail by John Kelly, Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket is the second tale in Ivy's deadly comic journey to discover who she really is ... Perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket. 

Claire Legrand - Some Kind of Happiness - Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (17 May 2016)

Reality and fantasy collide in this heartfelt and mysterious novel for fans of "Counting by 7s" and "Bridge to Terabithia," about a girl who must save a magical make-believe world in order to save herself. 
Things Finley Hart doesn t want to talk about: 
-Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they re not.)

-Being sent to her grandparents house for the summer.

-Never having met said grandparents.

-Her blue days when life feels overwhelming, and it s hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.) 

Finley s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents house and realizes the Everwood is "real" and holds more mysteries than she d ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones. 

With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she ll first have to save herself."

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Philip Caveney - The Calling - Book Review

A boy wakes up on a train to Edinburgh. He is shocked to discover that no idea who he is or how he came to be on the train - and once off it, he finds himself immersed in the chaos of the Edinburgh Fringe. After a day of wandering the crowded streets, he falls asleep and is woken by the sound of bells tolling midnight - only to discover that is the night of The Calling - a magical yearly event when all the statues of the city come alive. He is the only human ever to witness it. He quickly makes a couple of allies - the Colonel, the bronze cavalryman of the Scots Grey's monument, and the intrepid explorer David Livingstone. They christen the boy 'Ed Fest' and take him to Parliament Square to meet Charles II, the king of the statues, who isn't particularly fond of 'Softies' (humans).He assigns Sherlock Holmes to investigate the boy's case, to discover his real identity and to get back to his home and family. But as the bronze detective begins to decipher the clues, he discovers that 'Ed' is on the run from a sequence of terrible events; ones that could threaten his very existence.The Calling is a magical story set during Edinburgh's most exciting event - and nearly all of its characters can be observed, standing on plinths in the heart of the city, waiting for next year's Calling.

The Calling is a magical story that you are all going to love. Yes, you really are dear readers. The story to me is a nostalgic look at one of the best cities in the UK. Can you guess where that might be? From the veery first pages that you turn, you are soon asking questions about the mysterious character. You can not help follow the character with wide eyes and a buzzing mind as he leaves Waverley train station into the chaotic streets of Edinburgh. The Fringe is in full swing and performers are strutting their stuff on the streets. A rocked-up Scottish folk tune leaks from the pages as Philip sets up the backdrop and atmosphere like a seasoned pro. 

When day time moves over to night time, Edinburgh comes alive with a secret past. The bells toll midnight and the streets secrets soon come to light. Ed discovers something amazing as the statues come to life for twenty-four hours (
known as the Calling) and he is the only human to witness the event. It's a great concept and Philip takes this idea and runs with it. He brings many famous dead characters to life; those who normally stand so silently and are sometimes forgotten when walking around the city.  

This is a brilliant adventure loaded with historical characters. It is a fantastic introduction to the city for young readers and a fantastic advert for Edinburgh, in my opinion.  He weaves a story within a story as Ed struggles to find out who and where he comes from. The statue of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle comes to his aid, in the form of Sherlock Holmes, with the help from James Clerk Maxwell 
(scientist). There is also an unlikely Scottish hero as well as a terrier called Bobby.

The narrative gets very interesting and the plot thickens as the detective works his elementary sleuthing magic in true style. It's a cracking epic adventure full of period detail. One minute you're munching on Starbuck's treats and the next minute you're travelling through a portal to a pub in Manchester. It's a fantastic eclectic hit of ideas and history with some great witty banter between the characters which will definitely make you chuckle. 

This is the fourth book set in the city of Edinburgh and one of the best that Philip has written for Fledgling Press to date, in my opinion. I really think that there is scope to develop this idea into further books which would be a fantastic delight.

This is a brilliant five star entertaining read that will make you look at the city of Edinburgh in a new and different light.... 

Sunday, 1 May 2016


Are you a writer with an original and exciting story for 7-to-18-year-olds? If so, we  the Times/Chicken House run an annual competition. Every entry will be read by our team of experienced readers in order to draw up a longlist of the very best submissions. Barry Cunningham and the Chicken House editorial team will then narrow these down to a shortlist of five.

Here is this years shortlist:
ASTERIX CLEMENTINE by Janine Barnett-Phillips (@smithereens69)
A gritty love story between two teens with an unexpected twist. A contemporary YA tale about having the courage to live what you believe.

THE FIREFLY CAGE by Nicki Thornton (@nicki_thornton)
A middle-grade murder mystery with a magical twist: kitchen boy Seth must solve a murder at a convention of magicians in order to prove himself innocent.

FROSTSLIVER by Jamie Smith (@jamiehbsmith)
The story of one girl’s extraordinary survival when caught in a mountainside avalanche atop a sentient glacier. A highly original, wintry fantasy for ages 12+.

MILO AND OPERATION STEPDAD by Tracy Darnton (@tracydarnton)
Suitable for ages 7+, and follows Milo’s funny and heart-warming quest to find a partner for his single mum.

PROJECT CAT'S AWAY by Julie Mee (@meejuliemee)
Follows 12-year-old junior CIA agent, Emma, who struggles to maintain her work-life balance when a friend discovers her secret. Action and hilarity for middle-grade readers.
We're very excited to have such a stellar shortlist - look out for the winner announcement, coming in June. A huge congratulations to all our shortlisted authors!

Twitter: @chickenhsebooks 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Robin Jarvis - The Power of Dark Bk One - Book Review

Something is brewing in the town of Whitby. To best friends Lil and Verne, it just seems like a particularly bad storm. But Cherry Cerise, the last of the Whitby witches, fears that ancient forces are at work, reviving the curse of a long lost magical artefact.
The legend goes that the Nimius was created by magician Melchior Pyke, with the assistance of a young witch known as Scaur Annie. But they were both betrayed by Pyke’s villainous manservant, Mister Dark, causing a feud that has survived even beyond death.
As Mister Dark, with his horrific winged familiar, arises to mastermind Whitby’s very own apocalypse and take the Nimius for his own evil purposes, can Lil and Verne join with Cherry to quell his plans and save their home?

Robin Jarvis is back with a mighty bang and a fantastic new series. The first book "The Power of Dark" will be published at the end of June 2016 by Egmont. There are also a further three more books to come in the series which will be published in six-montly intervals, which I'm really looking forward to reading. The first book is set in the town of Whitby, North Yorkshire. This is a place that Robin knows very well from his previous visits as part of "The Whitby Witches" series. It is a perfect setting and backdrop full of myths and legends and is one of the finest gothic settings in England. 

The book follows two friends, Lil and Verne, who are inexplicably caught up in a supernatural adventure from the past. It will have you running up the 199 steps so fast that your feet won't touch the ground. You will be wrapped in a fantasy cocoon of magic, mayhem and horror. It's a genre busting novel that throws everything at you throughout the 255 pages. It will sweep you off your literary feet.  

From the very first page you are quickly introduced to one of the main characters, Verne Thistlewood, as he is chased by a group of bullies. This sets up the story and sucks you into a narrative that soon leads you astray.  A storm is brewing on the cliff tops, there is a change of wind and a storm of skeletons appear that will give you the heebie jeebies. This scene is so vivid and crazy that it really made me smile at the creative inventiveness and the idea. It's fantasy writing at its best. It really did set the atmospheric tale on fantasy fire and made the plot come alive with a big bang. 

You'll find yourself hurtling through this book in a fantasy frenzy. It is a yarn bombing experience of topics, magic and colour. The brooding darkness/evil slowly seeps through the story the more that you read. There is a fight against good and evil, but will the last surviving Witch of Whitby come out fighting with her Mary Quant bag in her hand? She will have you in stitches with her bizarre personality. She's not afraid to speak her mind and she certainly has a lot to say. She is a fantastically well written character with bags of personality;I hope that we will see more of her in the next books. 

The town slowly gets sucked into a big crazy battle which is action packed and totally bonkers. It brings a climatic ending to an ancient feud that has survived even beyond death. This is a story of betrayal, love and revenge like no other....

I loved every minute of this book which makes it one of my favourite reads this year. Check out the fantastic cover which has been illustrated by Nicholas Delort. He definitely draws on the power of Robin's story and makes you want to find out what is inside...  

Grab a copy as you will not be disappointed! 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Teens/Children's Book Picks US - April 2016 - Post Two

Jacob Grey - Ferals #2: The Swarm Descends - Published by HarperCollins (April 26, 2016)

Ferals #2: The Swarm Descends is the second book in a dark middle grade fantasy series that’s part Batman, part The Graveyard Book, and all page-turning adventure.
The sinister Spinning Man has been defeated—but a powerful new villain has risen from the shadows. The Mother of Flies has eyes everywhere, and she is searching for Caw. As the last survivor of a long line of crow ferals, Caw holds a crucial piece of Blackstone’s legacy—one the Mother of Flies will stop at nothing to find.
With his friend Lydia and his loyal crows by his side, Caw believes he can protect his city. But it will take more than crows to defeat this darkness....

Tracey Hecht (Author) Kate Liebman (Illustrator) - The Nocturnals: The Mysterious Abductions - Published by Fabled Films Press (April 19, 2016)

A flabbergastifying adventure under the stars!

"The characters are delightful and the nighttime landscape is captivating. It was just as I expected—because the best stories always take place in the dark!—R.L. Stine, author of Goosebumps

The Nocturnals features three unlikely friends: Dawn, a serious fox, Tobin, a sweet pangolin and Bismark, the loud mouthed, pint sized sugar glider. The stories all play out in their nighttime world with teamwork, friendship and humor in every adventure.

In The Mysterious Abductions, the animals form a brigade of the night after a random encounter with a blood-thirsty snake, and just in time because something is threatening their night realm. Animals are disappearing without a trace. Together with the help of a wombat, a band of coyotes and many others, Dawn, Tobin and Bismark journey to the depths of the earth in a wacky, high stakes game that will determine all of their survival.

Brian Farrey - The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse - Published by Algonquin Young Readers (April 19, 2016)

A princess and a peasant girl embark on a dangerous quest to outwit a warning foretelling the fall of the Monarchy.

In the center of the verdant Monarchy lies Dreadwillow Carse, a desolate bog the people of the land do their best to ignore. Little is known about it except an ominous warning: If any monarch enters Dreadwillow Carse, then the Monarchy will fall. Twelve-year-old Princess Jeniah yearns to know what the marsh could conceal that might topple her family’s thousand-year reign.

After a chance meeting, Princess Jeniah strikes a secret deal with Aon, a girl from a nearby village: Aon will explore the Carse on the princess’s behalf, and Jeniah will locate Aon’s missing father. But when Aon doesn’t return from the Carse, a guilt-stricken Jeniah must try and rescue her friend—even if it means risking the entire Monarchy.

In this thrilling modern fairytale, Brian Farrey has created an exciting new world where friendship is more powerful than fate and the most important thing is to question everything.

Sarah Rees Brennan - Tell the Wind and Fire - Published by Clarion Books (April 5, 2016)

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets. 

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised. Lucie alone knows the young men’s deadly connection, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Monday, 25 April 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Thomas Olde Heuvelt Interview - The HEX Blog Tour - Day One - Hodder & Stoughton

It has been said that HEX is a book that answers the question "Where does evil come from?" If you love a good horror novel and a clever narrative then this is surely the book for you. Please find below the questions that Thomas has answered about the release of his novel as part of his first UK blog stop. Hex is published by Hodder & Stoughton on the 28th April 2016.

How would you describe your book HEX, to potential future readers?
HEX is a creepy book about a modern day town, haunted day and night by a 17th century witch whose eyes are sewn shut. The town is quarantined by its elders to prevent her curse from exploding. Frustrated with being kept in lock down, the town's teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting, but in doing so, send the town spiraling into... well, into very dark times, to frame it nicely. Also, I'd say that with HEX, I set off to write the scariest book I could imagine. I took elements from classical horror and tried to turn them around in a modern, twisted way. The witch's haunting is very rock 'n roll. She's always there. She walks the streets day and night. She enters your home. She stands next to your bed for nights in a row. The town is bugged with cameras and there's this control centre that tries to hide her from sight all the time. But besides the supernatural power, it's a book mostly about human evil.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
First and foremost, I'd like to make them shudder. Or shiver. Or make them sleep with the lights on because they were too scared Katherine would pop up next to there beds. When the book came out in Holland and Belgium, I literally got hundreds of messages from readers who had to leave the lights on, or still had nightmares. Imagine the silly grin on my face as I was reading them. I am so looking forward to seeing if it has the same effect abroad... So yeah, my first goal with this book is to entertain you. Of course there's probably a lot in the book that will make you think, or reconsider your view on what's good and evil and where you stand yourself on that spectrum, and it's okay if you pick up on that. But after the nightmares. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 
I guess that my short fiction always turns out weird and humorous, and my novels are always very dark. I don't know why that is. I've tried to write short horror fiction, but it usually turns into a novel. Whereas I love the magical-realism that I use in my short fiction. Stories like The Boy Who Cast No Shadow and The Ink Readers of Doi Saket are very close to my heart. You can find them all online for free. And somehow, it got me a Hugo Award, for a story called The Day the World Turned Upside Down. That was kind of ironic, as I hardly ever read science fiction.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your book? 
Warner Bros. is currently developing a TV series based on the book, and I really don't care all that much who they will cast (of course, that will probably change once they made it public; I'd be like 'hey, he or she doesn't look like that character!') I never have famous actors in mind as I write about my characters, and I'd surely never say they look like a particular actor, as some writers do. Don't you just hate 
that? From then on, you'll always see that actor instead of what you imagined yourself, including all your opinions about that actor. It's even worse when the writer start screwing around with it: "She looked like a fat version of Victoria Beckam." Or: "She was an African-American Julia Roberts." I mean... really? Get back to writing school! 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? 
I used to be like Stephen King and let the story take me wherever it would go. But after about three novels I found that it was not me. I like to take more control. I discovered that you can put a lot more meaning to a story or a book if you sit down to think about it. Or in my case, not sit down, as that's the worst stimulation for my creativity (especially when there's a cumputer and Wifi at hand). So I go out and take a hike in the woods, or go for a swim, or joke about my story ideas with a few creative friends - joking usually gives the best ideas. 

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? 
When I'm extremely thrilled about the idea. In other words, when we've joked enough about it that I went through the stages of not taking it serious anymore, and then taking it even more serious because it got so good. You kind of feel at that stage that you're ready to start the actual writing. 

Can you pass on any tips regarding the writing process to other budding writers? 
Go online. You'll find zillions of tips by zillions of writers and they'll all tell you something else. So what do you do? Just go out and write the best book you can that you would want to read. 

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? 
Obviously. There are many books displayed at the bookstore that make you go, yuck, and then you don't pick it up and it's such a shame, because maybe there was some real beauty inside. But good publishers know how to make good covers. I am totally, head-over-heels in love with the HEX cover Hodder & Stoughton put on the book, made by Leo Nickolls. I think it's spectacular. Also, I love green.

 As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? 
At age three, I wanted to become Mommy. At ages four to six, I wanted to become a pirate. At seven, an interior designer. At eight, an airline pilot. I had a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings about plane crashes. At nine, Jeremy Jackson. At ten, an airline pilot again. At sixteen, a rock guitarist. At seventeen, pirate again. At eighteen, I more or less accidentally became a writer when my debut novel came out.

Is there anything else that you would like to tell us?
Definitely, now you provide me with the opportunity. Did you ever try a Banana Fower Salad? If not, go and try it. It's the best possible food on this planet. It's magical. It's from Thailand. Here's a video of me making one: www.youtube.com/watch?v=U05PifAlyHI. It's in Dutch, though, so probably not a good idea to follow the recipe if you want to get it right. At least it will give you a chance to hear me speak in my silly language.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Raymond Arroyo - Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls - Book Review

Will Wilder is a mischievous, headstrong twelve-year-old with an otherworldly gift—he alone can see the nefarious creatures encroaching on Perilous Falls. For nearly a century, a sacred relic has protected his hometown from the raging waters surrounding it. But when Will “borrows” the relic for his own purposes, he accidentally unleashes an ancient evil.
As boats sink and hideous creatures crawl from the rising waters, Will must set things right before it is too late. With the help of his sweet (if lethal) Great Aunt Lucille, the curator of a museum of powerful artifacts, Will proves that the actions of one twelve-year-old boy can change the world. 

Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous falls is the first book in a new series by Raymond Arroyo, who is the producer, lead anchor and managing editor of EWTN News. This intrepid hero was born into this world through nightly instalments magically created for his children at bath times.  These slapstick adventures have now been put to the test and tried on you, the dear reader.

This book has been compared to Percy Jackson and I can see why. It's pretty fast paced and easy going. Will Wilder is the main character, he is a very likeable twelve year old with a vivid personality.  At first glance he might not act or be your typical hero, but a secret family prophecy might turn him into one. Therefore, I would recommend you turn the pages to find out what happens. 

From the first few chapters of the book you will hurtle into a great captivating high-octane action fantasy adventure. This is a gripping read that is slightly reminiscent of a younger version of Indiana Jones. The plot delivers a strange mix of subjects and themes such as myths, religion and historical antiques found in museums and churches around the world. The book is a little quirky and all the elements just about work to keep the readers on their toes. 

The characters are written well. They all have distinctive personalities and traits that make them both interesting and somewhat mysterious. My personal favourite is Aunt Lucille, who is a little eccentric and a deadly sixty year old that you would not want to get on the wrong side of her. Another great aspect included the monsters who fill you with fear and dread. They are not stereotypical which was very refreshing. I really enjoyed reading this inventive story full of humour and suspense. This is a great book for the young at heart, as it is entertaining, full of action and very fun to read. It is a great battle between good and evil that will see another instalment, and one I will be looking forward to read. 

Check out the great black and white illustrations by Antonio Javier Caparo. This book has been published in the US by Crown Books for Young Readers in March 2016.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks US - April 2016

N. D. Wilson - Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (April 19, 2016)

This new fantasy-adventure series from N. D. Wilson, bestselling author of 100 Cupboards, pits a misfit twelve-year-old against a maniacal villain with a deadly vendetta. This one-of-a kind story is must read for fans of Brandon Mull and Soman Chainani, and the start of a thrilling tale from a masterful storyteller.      
Sam Miracle’s life is made up of dreams, dreams where he’s a courageous, legendary hero instead of a foster kid with two bad arms that can barely move. Sometimes these dreams feel so real, they seem like forgotten memories. And sometimes they make him believe that his arms might come alive again.
But Sam is about to discover that the world he knows and the world he imagines are separated by only one thing: time. And that separation is only an illusion. The laws of time can be bent and shifted by people with special magic that allows them to travel through the past, present, and future. But not all of these “time walkers” can be trusted. One is out to protect Sam so that he can accept his greatest destiny, and another is out to kill him so that a prophecy will never be fulfilled. However, it’s an adventurous girl named Glory and two peculiar snakes who show Sam the way through the dark paths of yesterday to help him make sure there will be a tomorrow for every last person on earth.

Peter Brown - The Wild Robot - Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 5, 2016)

When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is--but she knows she needs to survive. After battling a fierce storm and escaping a vicious bear attack, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings and learn from the island's unwelcoming animal inhabitants.

As Roz slowly befriends the animals, the island starts to feel like home--until, one day, the robot's mysterious past comes back to haunt her.

From bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Peter Brown comes a heartwarming and action-packed novel about what happens when nature and technology collide.

Jennifer Brody - The 13th Continuum: The Continuum Trilogy, Book 1 - Published by Turner (April 19, 2016)

One thousand years after a cataclysmic event leaves humanity on the brink of extinction, the descendants of the chosen survivors take refuge in thirteen contingency shelters buried deep underground, at the bottom of the ocean, and in the far reaches of outer space. In the underwater 13th Continuum, sixteen-year-old Myra Jackson has heard rumors and whisperings all her life of a magical place called "The Surface” where people could breathe fresh air, feel the warmth of something called sunlight on their skin, and see things known as stars and trees and mountains. Myra has never dared to ask whether the stories are true, since the act of speaking such words aloud is an offense punishable by death. But after she discovers that the air supply aboard her underwater colony is running out, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to find this mysterious place. To get there, she must first recover the only guide to the Surface―the Beacon, an ancient device that also connects her to Captain Aero Wright, a dashing young soldier from one of the only remaining space colonies. With the fate of all humankind depending on them, Myra and Aero must escape the tyrannical forces that rule their colonies, journey through the black depths of the ocean and across the cold void of space, to find each other on the Surface that their ancestors once called home.

Frank Beddor & Adrienne Kress - Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the Hatbox - Published by Automatic Publishing (April 19, 2016)

An exciting new adventure featuring a teenaged Hatter Madigan, one of the most popular character from the New York Times best-selling The Looking Glass Wars trilogy by Frank Beddor!
Combat training! Secret society initiations! Self-serving rivals! Welcome to Wonderland’s prestigious Millinery Academy: where those born to protect the queendom train to become spies, assassins, and bodyguards. With all that to contend with, not to mention following in his popular older brother’s footsteps, just getting through Imagination Class seems impossible already.

And that’s before he starts seeing ghosts lurking in the corridors…

When students begin behaving strangely throughout the academy, Hatter and his fellow cadets must unlock the mysteries behind the ghosts, and the headmaster’s suspicious behavior, before the entire student body finds itself possessed!

Join Hatter and his fellow cadets on their first adventures in Wonderland. Let’s just hope it isn’t their last!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Kiran Millwood Hargrave - The Girl of Ink & Stars - Book Review

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her cartographer father once mapped. When her friend disappears, she volunteers to guide the search. The world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland - and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.

Search the stars to find your dreams...  
Map the skies to find your way...
Three years ago this story was a seed which has now been recently born into this world. With an initial working title of "The Cartographer's Daughter",  the book has since evolved into " The Girl of Ink & Stars" and will hit the shops at the start of May 2016.

The book has come a long way as it has blossomed into twenty nine exciting chapters. All of which have been sumptuously decorated with detailed images and map graphical references. In fact the whole book has been very well designed by the team at Chicken House. They have produced a reading experience that you will really enjoy and savour. 

The book is told in a simple, but engaging way. The first two chapters, for me, dictated the pace of how I wanted to read the story. It magically draws you into the characters and the setting which, even though it is an island, is actually a character in it's own right. I wanted to take the details in slowly in order to breath and see through the eyes of the characters. I did just that as I escaped to the Isle of Joya with Isabella in a heady mix of adventure, magic and friendship. 

When Isabella's closest friend disappears into the Forgotten Territories, I found myself heading into a world of danger and intrigue.  It is a place full of mythical adventure and vivid monsters with sharp teeth. They will soon have you running for cover, as quick as ink running from a pen. The journey soon becomes mapped out, both literally and figuratively, from the smoking mountains to the bleak wastelands with a legendary fire demon slowly stirring from slumber to terrorise once again. Will you have the courage to carry on?

This is a great classic adventure inspired by the author's trips to the Spanish Island of La Gomera. Kiran has infused the plot with the golden age of map making which is particularly interesting and really enhances the plot. However, I wanted the story to be longer and have more twists and turns. I found myself galloping through this book in no time and really wanted to savour more of it. You will probably be able to read this book in one sitting, which could be a good or a bad sign. I'll let you decide.  

This is a really enjoyable debut book that has been artistically told. It has been well written with a gutsy heroine whom you will soon come to love. The story is a voyage of discovery and is full of wild adventure. It has a dramatic ending in order to try and save the island and it's people.  This is a very immersive story which is well supported by a fantastic backdrop and some mild violence suitable for 10+. Written full of energy and non stop action, this is a book for anyone who loves a good story at heart.  Read Chapter One Here