Tuesday, 5 July 2016

ADAM GIDWITZ (AUTHOR) HATEM ALY (ILLUSTRATOR) -THE INQUISITOR'S TALE (CHAPTER ONE)


The bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm takes on medieval times in an exciting and hilarious new adventure about history, religion . . . and farting dragons.
 
1242. On a dark night, travellers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children: William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead.
As the narrator collects their tales, the story of these three unlikely allies begins to come together. 

Their adventures take them on a chase through France to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned. They’re taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. And as their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

Beloved bestselling author Adam Gidwitz makes his long awaited return with his first new world since his hilarious and critically acclaimed Grimm series. Featuring manuscript illuminations throughout by illustrator Hatem Aly and filled with Adam’s trademark style and humor, The Inquisitor’s Tale is bold storytelling that’s richly researched and adventure-packed.
CHAPTER ONE - Pre Order Here
Jeanne’s story starts when she was a baby.
Her mother and father were regular peasants. Spent all day in the fields, just like most of the folks in our town. But there was one thing that made them special. They had this dog. A beautiful dog. A white greyhound, with a copper blaze down its nose. They called her Gwenforte—which is a ridiculous name for a dog, if you ask me. But they never did ask me, so that’s what they called her.
They loved Gwenforte. And they trusted her.
And so one day they went off to the fields to work, and they left baby Jeanne with Gwenforte.
“What?” I interrupt. “They used a dog as a babysitter?” 
“Well . . . Yes. I suppose they did.” 
“Is that normal? For peasants? To use dogs as babysitters?”
“No. I suppose it ain’t. But she was a real good dog.” 
“Oh. That explains it.” 
You gotta understand: Gwenforte loved that little girl so much, and was so protective of her, that nobody worried about it.
But maybe we should have.
For as Jeanne’s folks were out in the fields, work­ing in the hot sun, a snake slithered into their house. It was an adder, with beady eyes and black triangles down its back. The day was hot, as I said, but the house was cool and dark because the walls in our houses are thick, made of mud and straw, and the only window is the round hole in the roof, where the smoke from the cooking fire escapes.
The adder, poisonous and silent as the Devil himself, slithered in through the space between the thin wooden door and the mud floor.
The baby girl lay asleep in her bed of straw. Gwen­forte, the greyhound, was curled up around her.
But when the snake came in, Gwenforte sat up.
She growled.
She leapt onto the mud floor, right in front of the snake.
The adder stopped. Its forked tongue tested the air.
Gwenforte’s fur stood up on her back. She growled, low and deep in her throat.
The adder recoiled. He became a zigzag on the floor.
Gwenforte growled again.
The adder struck.
Adders, as you may know, are very fast.
But so are greyhounds.
Gwenforte shimmied out of the way just in time and snapped her jaws shut on the back of the adder’s neck. Then she began to shake the snake. She danced around the one-room house, shaking and shaking that snake, un­til the hay of the beds was scattered and the stone circle of the fire was ruined and the adder’s back was broken. Finally she tossed its carcass into a corner.
Jeanne’s parents were coming home from the fields just then. They were sweaty and tired. They had been up since long before sunrise. Their eyelids were heavy, and their arms and backs ached.
They pushed open the door of their little house. As the yellow light of summer streamed into the darkness, they saw the straw of the beds scattered all over the floor. They saw the fire circle, ruined. They saw Gwenforte, standing in the center of the dark room, panting, her tail wagging, her head high with pride—completely covered in blood.
What they did not see was their baby girl.
Well, they got panicked. They figured the worst. So they took that dog outside. And they killed her.
“Wait!” I cry. “But the dog—the dog isn’t dead! It’s alive!”
“It was dead,” says Marie. “Now it’s alive.” 
I open my mouth and no sound comes out.
They come back into that house and try to put their lives back together. They were crying, a-course, because they loved that dog, and they loved their little girl even more. But we peasants know that life ain’t gonna stop for our tears. So they clean up. They put the embers back in the fire pit, they pick up the straw from the beds. And that’s when they see her. Baby Jeanne. Lying asleep in the hay. And in a corner, the dead snake.
Well, they picked up their daughter and held her tight and cried for joy. And after a little bit of that, they looked at each other, mother and father, and realized the horrible mistake they had made.
So they took the body of Gwenforte, and they buried her out in a beautiful grove in the forest, a short walk from the village. They dug up purple crocuses and planted them all around her grave. As the years went by, we started to venerate that dog proper, like the saint she is. Every time a new baby was born, they’d always go out to the Holy Grove, and pray to Saint Gwenforte, the Holy Greyhound, to keep that baby safe.
Well, years passed, and baby Jeanne grew and grew. She was a happy little thing. She liked to run down the long dirt road of the village, stopping into the dark doorways, wav­ing to the people who lived inside each house. She came and saw me and helped me stir the hops in my old oak barrel. She visited Peter the priest, who lived with his wife, Ygraine—even though he’s not supposed to have a wife, on account of him being a priest. She would stop by and see Marc son of Marc, who had a little boy named Marc, too. She didn’t visit with Charles the bailiff, though—who’s my brother-in-law—because in addition to being our officer of the peace, he’s also about as kind as an old stick.
But of all the peasants in our town—and there were more than that, but I don’t want to bore you with long lists of people who don’t come into the story—Jeanne’s favorite was Old Theresa.
Old Theresa was a strange one. She collected frogs from the streams in the forest and put their blood in jars, to give to people when they were sick. She stared at the stars at night and told us our futures by how they moved. She was, I think it’s fair to say, a witch. But she was a nice old witch, and she was always kind to little Jeanne.
And then, one day, it turned out little Jeanne was just as strange as Theresa.
I was there the first time it happened. She couldn’t have been more than three years old. She was chasing Marc son-of-Marc son-of-Marc around my yard—when she stopped cold. She pulled up straight, like a stack of stones, and her eyes rolled back in her head. Then she went toppling to the ground, like somebody tipped that stack of stones over. She lay on the ground, and I saw her pudgy little arms and legs shaking, and her teeth grind­ing in her head. Scared the life out of me, it did. I ran screaming to Old Theresa, because she’s the only one not out in the fields. So we huddled over little Jeanne.
And then, the fit stopped. Jeanne’s breathing was ragged, but she weren’t shaking no more. Theresa bent over and roused the little girl. Cupped her wrinkled hand behind Jeanne’s head. Jeanne opened her eyes. Old Theresa asked her what happened, how she was feeling, that sort of thing. I’m leaning over them, wondering if Jeanne’s gonna be all right. And then Theresa asks, “Did you see something, little one?” I don’t know what she means.
But finally Jeanne’s face clears up, and she answers, “I saw the rain.”
And then, at that very moment, there’s a clap of thunder overhead and the sky opens up and the rain starts to fall.
I swear it on my very life.
I crossed myself about a hundred times, and was about to go tell the world the miracle I just witnessed, when Theresa grabbed my wrist.
She had milky blue eyes, Theresa did. She held my wrist tight. And she said, “Don’t you tell no one about what just happened.” The rain was running down the wrinkles in her face like they was streambeds. “Don’t you tell a soul. Not even her parents. Let me deal with it. Swear to me.”
Well, that’s a hard thing to ask—see a little girl per­form a miracle and not tell her parents or no one about it. But when Old Theresa grabs your wrist and stares at you with those pale blue eyes . . . Well, I swore.
After that, Jeanne spent a lot of time with Theresa. She had more fits, but she never did see the future again. Or if she did, she didn’t tell no one what she saw.
Until one day, a few years later. I was with her and Theresa when Jeanne had another one of her fits—falling down, shaking, eyes rolling back in her head—and when she woke up, she said there was a giant coming. Theresa said that was nonsense and to hush. There were no giants in this part of France. But she said it again and again. I couldn’t figure out why she was saying all this in front of me. Hadn’t Theresa told her to keep her mouth shut?
But then Jeanne said that the giant was coming to take away Old Theresa.
That scared us. I admit it. Theresa got real quiet when she heard that.
The next day, sure enough, the giant came. I don’t know if he were really a giant or just the biggest man I’d ever seen. But Marc son-of-Marc father-of-Marc, who’s the tallest man in our town, only came up to the middle of his chest. The giant had wild red hair sticking up from his pate and wild red whiskers sticking out from his jowls. And he wore black robes—the black robes of a monk.
He called himself Michelangelo. Michelangelo di Bologna.
Little Jeanne had been working with her parents in the fields when word spread that the giant was come. She came to the edge of the fields. She saw the giant striding toward the village, his black robes billowing behind him.
Walking toward the giant, through the village, was my idiot brother-in-law, Charles the bailiff. He had Theresa by the arm, and he was bellowing some nonsense about new laws about rooting out heresy and pagan sor­cery and some other fancy phrases he had just learned that week, I reckoned. He bowed deeply to the giant and then shoved Theresa at him, like she were a leper. The giant grabbed her thin wrist and began dragging Old Theresa out of town.
Jeanne ran down from the edge of fields. “Charles!” she shouted. “What’s happening? What’s he doing with Theresa?”
Charles spoke as if Jeanne were a small child. “I don’t know. But I imagine Michelangelo di Bologna is going to take her back to the holy Monastery Saint-Denis and burn her at the stake for pagan magic—for witchcraft. Burn her alive. Which is good and right and as it should be, my little pear pie.”
Little Jeanne cast a look of hatred so pure and deep at Charles that I don’t think he’s forgotten it to this day. I know I haven’t. Then she went sprinting out onto the road after the giant and Theresa, screaming and shouting, telling that giant to give Theresa back. You’ve never seen a girl so fierce and ferocious. “Give her back!” she cried. “Give her back!”
Old Theresa turned around. Her wrinkled face con­torted with fear when she saw what little Jeanne was doing. “Jeanne!” she hissed. “Go! Quiet! Go back!”
But Jeanne would not quiet. “You stupid giant!” she screamed. She came up right behind them. “Stop it! Stop it you . . . you red . . . fat . . . wicked . . . giant!”
Slowly, the monk turned around.
His shadow engulfed the little girl.
He gazed down at her, his pale red eyes vaguely curious.
Jeanne looked right back up at him, like David facing Goliath. Except this Goliath looked like he was on fire.
And then the monk did something very frightening indeed.
He laughed.
He laughed at little Jeanne.
Then he dragged Old Theresa away.
And we never saw her again.
Jeanne ran home, her tears flying behind her. She threw open the thin wooden door of her house, collapsed on her bed, and cried.
Her mother came in just after her. Her footsteps were soft and reassuring on the dirt floor. She lowered herself onto the hay beside Jeanne and began to stroke her hair. “What’s wrong, my girl?” she asked. “Are you scared for Theresa?” She ran her fingers through Jeanne’s tangled locks.
Jeanne turned over and looked through tears up at her mother. Her mother had a skin-colored mole just to the left of her mouth and mousy, messy hair like her daughter’s. After a moment, Jeanne said, “I don’t want to be burned alive.”
Her mother’s face changed. “Why would you be burned alive, Jeanne?”
Jeanne stared up at her mother. Her vision had come true. Wasn’t that witchcraft?
Her mother’s face came into focus. It wasn’t com­forting anymore. It looked . . . angry. “Why would you be burned, Jeanne? Tell me!”
Jeanne hesitated. “I don’t know,” she mumbled. And she buried her face in the hay again.
“Why, Jeanne? Jeanne, answer me!”
But Jeanne was too afraid to speak.
From that day on, Jeanne was different. She still had her fits, a-course, but she never opened her mouth about what she saw. Not once. More than that, she weren’t the happy little girl anymore. No more pok­ing her head in our huts or chasing Marc son-of-Marc son-of-Marc around. She got seriouser. More watchful. Almost like she were scared. Not of other people, though.
Like she were scared of herself.
And then, about a week ago, some men came to our village, and they took Jeanne away.
“And that’s the end of my story.” 
I’m in the midst of taking a quaff of my ale and I nearly spit it all over the table. 
“What?! That’s it? They took her away? Why?” I sputter. “Who were they? And what about the dog? How did it come back to life?!” 
“I can tell you.” 
This isn’t Marie’s voice. It’s a nun at the next table. She’s been listening to the story, obviously, and now she’s leaning back on her little stool. “I know about Gwenforte and about the men who took little Jeanne.” She’s a tiny old woman, with silvery hair and bright blue eyes. And her accent is strange. It’s as proper as any I’ve ever heard. But it’s a little . . . off. I can’t quite say why. 
“How would you know about Gwenforte and Jeanne?” Marie says. “You ain’t never even been in our village!” 
“But I do know,” answers the nun. 
“Then please,” I say, “tell us.”

Monday, 4 July 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Teen Book Picks UK Published - July 2016 - Post Two

David Solomons (Author) Laura Ellen Anderson (Illustrator)  - My Gym Teacher is An Alien Overlord (My Brother is a Superhero) - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (7 July 2016) - Book Review Here

Sequel to the bestselling My Brother is a Superhero - over 47,000 copies sold to date! David Solomons is a meteoric new voice in children's fiction - perfect for fans of Frank Cottrell Boyce Zack and Lara have superpowers. Luke has new school shoes and a burning sense of resentment. He KNOWS that aliens disguised as gym teachers are about to attack Earth but will anyone listen? No. So one dodgy pact with a self-styled supervillain later, and Luke is ready to save the world. He just needs to find his trainers...
Caroline Clough - Silver Storm: Red Fever 3 (Kelpies) - Published by Kelpies (21 July 2016) - Buy Book Here.
A terrible virus has wiped out most of the human population and Scotland is now a wasteland. Toby and his family are being held hostage on the island of Orkney by a terrifying militia group called the Corporation. Toby knows he and his friend Tash must escape and find their way to Edinburgh if they are ever to bring about an end to the carnage that the red fever has caused. Arriving in Edinburgh, things are even worse than they feared: the city is deserted, and overrun with wild animals. All they have is a name - but can they find the one person who could help them save not only their friends and family, but the whole world?
Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell - Scavenger: Mind Warp - Published by Macmillan Children's Books 14 July 2016) 
My name is York. I'm a scavenger. I'm fourteen years old . . . I am on a mission to save mankind.
The zoids have taken over the Biosphere and it is up to York to journey back into the memory banks of the central computer to discover the glitch that first corrupted the zoids and threatened humanity. In danger of losing himself in this warped world, York must battle his own mind to find the answers he needs. 
With the fate of mankind in his hands, is York strong enough to hold on to himself?
The final book in this exciting series, Scavenger: Mind Warp is a gripping futuristic advetnure from the award-winning Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.


Fleur Hitchcock - Bus Stop Baby - Published by - Piccadilly Press (28 July 2016)

On her way home from school, 13-year-old Amy finds a newborn baby abandoned at the village bus stop. It's wrong, just like when Mum walked out on Amy and her sister ten years ago - so she tries to fix it, by finding the baby's mother. But as Amy searches, she uncovers another story, a secret even closer to home. A thought-provoking story exploring the complexities of family, friends and making difficult choices.
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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: JAMES NICOL - THE APPRENTICE WITCH - BOOK INTERVIEW (Chicken House)


      Tell us about your self?

Oh golly - thats a bit like a job interview isn’t it! Well when I’m not busy writing I spend the rest of my time surrounded by books in libraries across Cambridgeshire (and they pay me to do that!)  or walking my dog. I really don’t have much more time for anything else besides that at the moment. Also I’m quite tall and I have curly hair. I’m terrible at spelling, I love tea. My favourite colour is blue and I wanted to be a dalmatian when i was about 8 years old! (after reading 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith)
Who would love reading The Apprentice Witch, and why?
I really hope everyone will love The Apprentice Witch, even though I wrote it just for children it’s quite alright for some grown ups to want to read it as well I think. 

I really wanted to write a book full of magic and characters that have fun adventures and do brave things even when they are scared. Those were the types of books I loved as a child, like the Narnia books. Reading about other children being brave made me feel braver - as i was a terrible scaredy cat as a child (and i still am a little bit  - especially if it involves siders!!!) 

I hope readers will fall in love with the world and with the cast of characters that are in the book. I hope its a place readers will want to escape to - even with the scary bits!
Describe the dreary town of Lull from a witches eye?
Lull looks like its going to be quite dull and boring at first glance, despite its closeness to the Great Wood which is full of wondrous magical creatures. Very few people ever go beyond the edge of the wood and so Lull just sort of gets on with being a bit sleepy and quiet and tucked out of the way. It doesn’t look like its going to be much excitement for an eager young witch! But we all know appearances can be deceptive . . .
We all need a hero! Tell us about your protagonist(s)? 
Well the main hero is Arianwyn Gribble who is a young witch. She’s quite ambitious and has only ever wanted to be a witch like her mother and her grandmother. But she has a terrible secret that she can’t share with anyone and at the very beginning of the book this secret sets off a chain of events that leads her on a slightly different path than the one she imagined for herself. She’s a kind and thoughtful person, but she has a set back and that knocks her confidence quite a lot. She has to use her skill as well as her own personal reserves and nature to overcome everything that is thrown at her. 
What did you learn from writing your debut book that will help you to write future books?
That it’s easier (for me!) to write my very first draft in long hand with a pencil in lots of notebooks! 

I would just sit and stare blankly at the computer screen for ages, type a line then delete it. (then cry a bit)  But actually physically writing it all down felt much easier in a way and I knew nobody was ever going to read the notebooks and I don’t edit what I write there it's just to tell the bare basics of the story. 

Also its good to have a plan rather than to stumble about aimlessly - I thought a plan would make it too rigid and not leave space for creativity but I got into such a muddle without a plan! So an outline is good to have and find whatever works for you to get the first draft down - hand-written or typed it doesn’t really matter - just write! 
How important are stories to you? What do you like to read?
So important - I’ve been in love with stories forever. I was a bit of a reluctant reader as a young child but I could see the potential of all the stories in the school library and I wanted to be part of that. I love the way you can become totally lost in stories to the point it becomes physically impossible to put the book down. 

I love reading fiction mainly but I also enjoy biography and memoir - anything thats a really interesting tale really. I’m a massive Emma Carroll fan and I am rationing myself on her books at the moment as I’m tempted to just read them all in one go! I really enjoyed the Jonathan Stroud ‘Lockwood & Co’  series - just brilliant! And I’m currently reading The Girl of Ink & Stars by fellow chicken house author Kiran Millwood Hargrave. I am also a massive Alice Hoffman fan and love her books for adults, teens and children, she’s an amazing writer. 
What made you want to start writing, not just reading?
I think it’s the ultimate game of make believe isn’t it? As the story teller you are entirely in control of the world you are creating, you speak the words of the characters, you decide what the sky looks like and which way the wind blows and that has always appealed to me as someone with possibly to much imagination for my own good! Writing was a way to carry on being allowed to play long past the point where we have abandoned our toys and are supposed to do grown up things - which quite frankly are horrendously tedious most of the time! ;) 
Do you have a mentor for writing, and if so, how did you get that mentor?
I did have a mentor when I was working with The Golden Egg Academy and it was Bella Pearson from David Fickling Books. Bella was amazing and she just immediately got my story and me and was so clever in the way she worked with me, asking lots of questions - never telling me what to do or how to fix something so that it all came from me as a writer. She is amazing. Of course now I get to work with an awesome team of editors at Chicken House as well and that’s just an incredible experience as well. Editors are the best! 
If you found a time travel machine where would you go and what would you do?
I don’t think i’d want to go too far back as I’d be worried I’d get sat on by a dinosaur or catch the plague or something daft like that. I’d like to go back to the time my Great Grandfather was alive and find out more about him as he was a bit of an enigma! 
Last question, what five things would you take on a desert Island and why?
Pencils and notebooks, a never ending supply of midget gems, my dog (Bonnie!)  and a copy of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier as I could read that book a million times and never grow tired of it. 



The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol is a debut children’s fantasy novel full of adventure, mystery, magic and witches. Here is Mr Ripley's Book Review Here. 
 Published by Chicken House on 7th July 2016.
You can also find out more about James and his debut book on his website: 
http://www.jamesnicolbooks.com

 and you can follow him on twitter: @jamesENicol

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this brilliant post!

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison - Book Review


What happens when a tale with real magic, that was supposed to be finished, never was? This is a story about one of those stories . . .

Midge loves riddles, his cat, Twitch, and – most of all – stories. Especially because he's grown up being read to by his sister Alice, a brilliant writer.

When Alice goes missing and a talking cat turns up in her bedroom, Midge searches Alice’s stories for a clue. Soon he discovers that her secret book, The Museum of Unfinished Stories, is much more than just a story. In fact, he finds two of its characters wandering around town.

But every tale has its villains – and with them leaping off the page, Midge, Gypsy and Piper must use all their wits and cunning to work out how the story ends and find Alice. If they fail, a more sinister finale threatens them all . . .


The Other Alice is a story about unfinished stories, should every book have a ending? 
What about all of those stories hidden away, never to get that finishing chapter, a world unloved with characters stuck in limbo, forgotten and never to see the fantasy light of day? When the magical, written world comes in search of endings and the characters manifest into a physical presence and take over your life with a deadly outcome; what would you do? 

The narrative will certainly grab your undivided attention like no other book. This is a fantastic story, wonderfully captivating and straight from the heart. The author sets out the world and her intention with the very first line in the book. ALICE SILVER HAD NEVER MET ANYONE WHO HAD KILLED BEFORE. It's a very dark start and leads you into an unexpected troubled world. It will certainly pull you into a vice-like fantasy grip that will immerse you on so many levels. The thrilling intensity of the plot will certainly give you the chills, even on a warm summer's day. 


The books influence is certainly from the author's love of reading. In my opinion, Cornelia Funke's Inkheart influences are here and leeches into the pores of the story; very subtly but particularly effectively. You will certainly plunge into the deep, creative imagination of the author in this book. The ideas, passion and the author's personality have really excitingly evolved onto paper to make this a magical story. It is very psychological and so thrilling to read with a focus on family, reality as well as make believe and one killing deranged villain. The author has introduced her love of cats into the story. It's paws a way for a talking, cheeky cat that is very infectious as a character.  

I really loved the concept of this story and really connect with it. I always love a dark and disturbing read that will unsettle the reader and put you on edge with every page turned. The characters are a varied mixture, very vague and in need of more work, especially in the detail department.  Dorothy Grimes stole the show for me, she leapt out from the pages and would be very at home within the pages of a Darren Shan novel. 

This is a fantastic five star read for me; really engrossing and one of the best books that I've read so far from Michelle Harrison.   


  • Paperback: 352 Pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's UK (28 July 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471124274
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Monday, 27 June 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Teen Book Picks UK Published - July 2016

Emma Carroll - Strange Star - Published by Faber & Faber (7 July 2016) -  Author website here. 
They were coming tonight to tell ghost stories. 'A tale to freeze the blood,' was the only rule.
Switzerland, 1816. On a stormy summer night, Lord Byron and his guests are gathered round the fire. Felix, their serving boy, can't wait to hear their creepy tales. Yet real life is about to take a chilling turn- more chilling than any tale. Frantic pounding at the front door reveals a stranger, a girl covered in the most unusual scars. She claims to be looking for her sister, supposedly snatched from England by a woman called Mary Shelley. Someone else has followed her here too, she says. And the girl is terrified.
Peter F . Hamilton - The Hunting of the Princes - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (28 July 2016) 
The Hunting of the Princes is the second title in the Queen of Dreams trilogy. Featuring black and white illustrations, this fantastic series from the UK's best-selling sci-fi author, Peter F. Hamilton is a future classic in the making.
It had been a big year for Taggie Paganuzzi. From learning that she was actually the Queen-to-be of a magical realm, to learning to use magic, to fighting for her life against the King of Night, there had been a lot of 'firsts'. And when someone tried to assassinate her as she was cycling home from the local pool in Stamford, England. Well, that was a first too.
It turns out that someone has been killing royal heirs throughout the magical kingdoms, and every leader from every realm believes the King of Night's army, the Karraks, are responsible. War seems inevitable . . . and yet Taggie has just discovered two very interesting facts. Firstly, that the Karraks come from a cold, dark universe, and they cannot abide warmth and light. And secondly, that there was once a gate to this universe . . . now lost in the mists of time.
But where do you begin to look for a gate which was deliberately hidden centuries ago? To find out, Taggie must rescue the one Karrak Lord who also hopes for peace. Who happens to be imprisoned in an impenetrable fortress . . .
Polly Ho-Yen - Where Monsters Lie - Published by Corgi Children's (7 July 2016)
The children of Mivtown have grown up hearing the legend of the monsters of the loch. But it’s only a story – a warning to stay away from the water.

Then strange things start happening in the village. Effie’s rabbit Buster escapes from a locked hutch, her mum disappears without trace and slugs start to infest her home.

Along with her best friend Finn, Effie begins to hunt for clues to solve the mysteries of Mivtown. Could this all be connected to the legend? Is it really just a story or is there something lurking in those deep, dark waters?
Jacob Grey - The White Widow's Revenge - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (28 July 2016) 
The third book in this gripping, high-impact, high-energy new series.
Orphan boy Caw has done battle with the most terrifying villains ever to stalk the city of Blackstone. But now he must face his toughest adversary yet – his friend Selina, bitten by the Spinning Man’s spider and transformed into the White Widow.
The city is drowning in a crime wave masterminded by Selina – Caw must stop her before the Spinning Man consumes her completely – and regains all of his terrible powers.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Jeremy de Quidt - The Wrong Train - Book Review Published by David Fickling


It’s late. Dark. A boy rushes to catch a train, leaping aboard just before it pulls away. Suddenly he realises that it’s the wrong train. He’s annoyed, of course, but not scared.
. . . Yet.
He gets off at the next station, but the platform’s empty, and it doesn’t look like any station he’s seen before. But he’s still not scared.
. . . Yet.
Then a stranger arrives - someone with stories to help pass the time. Only these aren’t any old stories. These are nightmares, and they come with a price to pay.
. . . Scared yet?
You will be.

I'm not a great fan of short stories as I love the journey that you take with a longer read. I like to feel, smell and touch the characters. For me, all of this takes time to build up; the devil is in the detail and to me it's very important in a story. It leaves a really pleasant feeling in my brain which I cannot describe. Maybe I will find a magical book one day with endless pages that keep on turning and being produced each time that I breathe - that would be really cool!

I do, however, love the idea of connecting short stories to a central theme. A platform, pardon the pun, that you can come back to which pulls the narrative together like a steam train and makes a connection. It's a story within a story, shall we say. In this book it's the mystery around an old man on a railway station platform, who is in the middle of nowhere with his scruffy, grey dog called Toby. There is a very spooky side to the old man; it might be the way he looks at the reader without ever really looking at you. He will definitely get inside your head and play with your mind as he starts to wickedly weave his stories that might not just be stories....

You are subtly pulled along in powerful vice-like grip the more that you read this book. The short stories are very dark and have a naive mischievous quality about them. They are very surreal nightmares that giggle through your brain, but they will also suddenly set you on edge and make your spine tingle. At the half way point of the book, there is a short story entitled Babysitting which is fantastic to read. It is immersive, chilling, cleverly written and really enjoyable to read. It will certainly put you on edge and make sure that you never get on the wrong train at night time or get off at the wrong station. 

At the end of the book, there is a real a sting in the tale that you really will love. I will say no more as there are no spoilers to be found here. I love the idea that readers might try to read this book in a similar situation. If not, then maybe you need to try it as this is something that I would have liked to have done. A dark night, in an isolated spot will certainly ramp up the chill factor. However, if you can't do that and IF YOU DARE then read it under the bedcovers by torch light, regardless of age, that should still do it. 

When you do get to read this book, you will also have the privilege of seeing the illustrations. There is one for each story header that has been produced by the talented Dave Shelton. I have not seen these myself, but I am looking forward to seeing them in the finished copy. This is a cracking read; top entertainment and an up and coming Halloween treat... 

Published by : David Fickling Books
ISBN: 978-1910200810
Format: Hardback
Available : 01 September 2016 - Pre-order now
Price : £10.99

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

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

Shirley Hughes - Whistling in the Dark - Published by Walker Books (2 Jun. 2016)

From much-loved author Shirley Hughes comes a compelling World War Two wartime adventure for readers aged 10+ set during the Liverpool Blitz. In the hardship of war, everything is rationed - except true friendship. Joan and best friend Doreen love going to the cinema until the Blitz intensifies and then even that becomes too dangerous, especially when an army deserter is found lurking near their home. Who is he and why does he think Joan can help him? As the Blitz worsens, Joan and her friends make a discovery that will tear the whole community apart. Check out the website for the historical background to the story: www.whistlinginthedarkbook.com.


Justin Fisher - Ned's Circus of Marvels - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (30 Jun. 2016) 

From exciting debut author, Justin Fisher, comes this rip-roaring, page-turning new magical adventure. Perfect for fans of House of Secrets.
Ned Waddlesworth has always considered his world to be exceptionally ordinary. Until the day he discovers it ISN’T. AT ALL. Because on Ned’s thirteenth birthday he discovers that everything magical he’s ever read about or imagined is REAL.
And without him, the world will soon be engulfed in monstrous beasts and beings.
So with the help of a robot mouse, a girl witch and a flying circus unlike any other, it’s up to Ned to swoop in and save the day!
Roll up, roll up, and prepare to be AMAZED by Ned and the marvellous, magical, monstrous flying circus!

Lauren Wolk - Wolf Hollow - Published by Corgi Childrens (30 Jun. 2016)

Annabelle has lived in Wolf Hollow all her life: a quiet place, still scarred by two world wars. But when cruel, manipulative Betty arrives in town, Annabelle's calm world is shattered, along with everything she's ever known about right and wrong.

When Betty accuses gentle loner Toby - a traumatised ex-soldier - of a terrible act, Annabelle knows he's innocent. Then Betty disappears . . . 

Now Annabelle must protect Toby from the spiralling accusations and hysteria, until she can prove to Wolf Hollow what really happened to Betty.

Powerful, poignant and lyrical, Wolf Hollow is an unforgettable story.

Sofi Croft - Indigo's Dragon (Indigos Dragon 1) - Published by Accent Press Ltd (23 Jun. 2016) - Book Review Here - Guest Post Here 

Fans of How to Train your Dragon, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson will love the debut novel Indigo's Dragon, a tale of adventure, mystery, and a legendary trip where he encounters a monster or two ...Indigo lives in the Lake District, and spends his time exploring the mountains he loves. An unexpected parcel arrives containing a first aid kit inside his grandfather's satchel. Indigo's curiosity is raised as he looks through his grandfather's notebook to discover drawings of mythical creatures. Strange things begin to happen and Indigo finds himself treating an injured magpie-cat, curing a cockatrice of its death-darting gaze, and defending a dragon. Indigo realises he must uncover the secrets his family have kept hidden, and travels alone to the Polish mountains to search for his grandfather and the truth. Danger looms as events spiral out of control, and Indigo needs to make choices that change him, his world, and his future forever...
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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Lyn Gardner - Rose Campion and the Stolen Secret - Book Review (Nosy Crow)


Murder, mystery and musical thrills in the shadowy streets of Victorian London in this new series from Lyn Gardner. This is historical fiction with a popular twist: murders and mysteries set in the glitzy world of the Victorian music hall which will appeal to fans of Jacqueline Wilson's Hetty Feather but with added detective drama!Rose was left by her mother at the door of Campion's Palace of Variety and Wonders as a baby. It is her home, and she loves it, but she never stops wondering who she really is. When murder threatens to destroy the music hall, Rose will need all her performance skills to crack the crime and delve into a murky past of blackmail, subterfuge and abduction...

You only need to skip and dance through the first page before you find yourself straight into a dark narrative not for the feint of heart. You'll be ceremoniously whipped into a murderous storm as you visit Easingford Hall. The plot is a dark maelstrom of treachery, seen through even darker eyes than the devil himself, the new Lord of Easingford, Henry Edgar Easingford. He will stop at nothing to claim the title and wealth that he so desires. The Stolen Secret is a cracking start to a new series from the author of the Olivia books and theatre critic from the Guardian. 

This is a brilliant story that you will really struggle to put down. It is complex and cunning like the characters themselves. You will easily take to Rose Campion, as she is very determined, lively and head strong, but she has a heart of solid gold. You first meet Rose escaping from the top floor window of Miss Pecksniff's Academy for Young Ladies. Shinning down the drainpipe, Rose will hurtle you into a non-stop adventure of danger, discovery, a world full of crime, colourful characters and MURDER.

This book reminded me of the fantastic times that I spent reading Julia Golding's Cat Royal series. In my opinion it is equally enchanting and holds many similarities. It's a historical snapshot of Victorian London with a fantastic theatrical flourish that oozes period charm. When a brilliant young actor goes missing, Rose and her friends from the music hall get on the case and try to solve the mystery afoot. The music hall is a fantastic place to visit, it's almost a character in itself. It superglues the narrative to engaging heights resulting in a brilliant and captivating read.

The story is a fantastic and dramatic mystery that will sweep the curtains down on your fantasy feet as you flit along the dark and deadly squalor of Victorian streets. You need to make sure that you do not find yourself being pick-pocketed in the process. It's full of shady villains found lurking down the poverty stricken alleyways. However, some humour can be seen through the horror - it will leave you thinking about the possible outcomes and lighten the intentions for any younger readers. Will Rose Campion and her acting friends get to the final act? Will they fail to work out the solution to the biggest mystery in London? Roll up and find out...

This is another great read from Nosy Crow, a publisher on the rise picking a range of fantastic books and bringing them to the world for readers to enjoy. It is a great start to the series; I will certainly be looking out for the next instalment. Out now.... so what are you waiting for?