Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview with Author Huw Powell (Spacejackers) The Pirate King (Bloomsbury Kids)


Here we are, as promised, Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books interview with Huw Powell, the author of the Spacejackers trilogy. The Pirate King is the latest, and final, book to be published in the trilogy on the 12th January by Bloomsbury Kids Books. Here is my recent review of The Pirate King if you would like to know more about this book. Welcome, Huw, and thank you for taking the time out to answer some personal questions about your writing career and The Pirate King. 

Here are the questions and answers to the interview. I hope that you enjoy these and that they entice new readers to the series. 
  1. The Pirate King is the third and final adventure, what can we expect?

    Friendship, space pirates and a galaxy load of adventure! Teenage tearaway, Jake Cutler, returns in The Pirate King to search for his father and save his friends. The galaxy is now at war and Jake is right at the heart of it. He needs to lead the independent colonies into battle, but will anyone trust to a spacejacker? Jake has to prove himself as a leader, so he can take down the corrupt Interstellar Government once and for all.

  2. How would you best describe a swashbuckling adventure? 
    Fast and furious, where daring heroes use their courage, wits and sword skills to defeat sinister villains and save the day. Swashbuckling spans several genres, featuring pirates, musketeers, knights and outlaws – with heroes such as The Three Musketeers, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Princess Bride, Robin Hood, Zorro, Blackbeard, Jack Sparrow, Morgan Adams and (of course) Jake Cutler.

  3. How did you feel, when you had written the last word?
    I knew at the time that the writing process wasn’t quite finished, that there would be edits and re-writes, but typing that final full stop was like finally solving a very long and complicated puzzle, or finishing an epic game of chess. It was over, the first draft was complete. I was mentally exhausted, but buzzing from the achievement, as well as relieved to hit the deadline. I remember that there was a strange emptiness in my head, where before there had been a relentless hive of activity and trains of thought spanning three novels. But it didn’t last long – because writers move on; our brains becomes restless and we get itchy fingers. A question suddenly popped into my head: “What’s next?”

  4. Is this really the end? What's next?
    For now, this is the end of Spacejackers, or at least the end of this particular trilogy. However, you never know when adventure might call again for Jake Cutler. It has been a lot of fun writing the three Spacejackers novels, but it’s time for a change. I’m going to work on a few new ideas this year and see where they take me. But who knows, there might be a fourth Spacejackers novel one day.

  5. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
    Swear words. When you’re a child, there’s nothing more intriguing than a collection of forbidden words. The fact that these words are kept secret from children, that they are reserved for adult use only, makes them as notorious as Lord Voldemort. What really gives swear words power is the reaction of those who hear them. The level of offence and upset that these words can cause made me realise that language must be used with respect.

  6. What dreams have been realised as a result of your writing?
    It’s always special to get published, to see your name in print, to see your ideas on a page, to discover your book on a shelf, to hold it in your hands, to smell its print, to hear the audio book, to download the e-book, to visit schools and speak at literature festivals, to sign copies for excited children, to receive positive reviews and to be short-listed for an award. Writing a trilogy was a massive challenge and a journey of discovery. It’s still hard to believe that all three books are now published. I’ve still got a few more writing dreams to realise, including winning an award, improving sales in the USA and having my books adapted as films.

  7. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
    Yes, I started writing a YA novel before Spacejackers, but I stopped half-way through the final chapter. The story is dark and gritty, however it’s not easy to describe and I knew it would struggle to find a mass market, therefore I decided to park that particular manuscript and make my name with a space pirate adventure instead, before taking another look at it.

  8. Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
    Absolutely. They say that you should not judge a book by its cover, but the cover can help a book to stand out on a crowded shelf. Awards, reviews and recommendations are useful when searching for the best books to read, however a good cover can often tell you everything you need to know. I was adamant that the Spacejackers cover would feature a skull in a space helmet over crossbones, because this would tell readers exactly the sort of book they were buying.

  9. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
    For children’s books, it’s important to make things easy for the readers, so they can immerse themselves in the plot and enjoy the experience. Yes, books should challenge your imagination and vocabulary, but not to the extent that readers have to work for every sentence. For me, quirky sentence structures and excessive ‘wow’ words disrupt the narrative flow, which can burst the reading bubble and get in the way of the story. There are other important elements, such as tone, pace, spelling and grammar, as well as avoiding obvious clichés and tropes. But most of all, children’s books should be engaging and exciting (and if possible, fun)! 

  10. You're hosting a literary dinner party, which authors/illustrators would you invite? 
    Everyone has their favourites, however I would include those whose works have touched me the most, as well as those who would make fascinating dinner guests (assuming we can go back in time). My list of children’s authors and illustrators would include JRR Tolkien, Sir Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, JK Rowling, Richard Adams, Douglas Adams, CS Lewis, Roald Dahl, Julia Donaldson, Quentin Blake and Raymond Briggs. I would also have David Baddiel and David Walliams on standby, in case the dinner conversation became too serious.

  11. Anything else you would like to share with us? 

    I’ve discovered a lot over the last few years as I’ve written the Spacejackers trilogy. I’ve discovered that the average author earns £11k a year (according to the Society of Authors); that girls read more than boys (according to the Literacy Trust); that reading for pleasure helps children to do better at school (according to the Institute of Education); that school and public librarians are literary saints; that book bloggers are massively important for the industry; that you should trust your agent and publisher; that writing is not a gift, it’s hard work; that commercial novels are less likely to be short-listed for awards; that family time is precious; and that I love writing children’s books!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) January 2017 - US Published Post One

Here we have four hand-picked books to munch away for your reading pleasure in January 2017 all published in the US. 


Keir Graff - The Matchstick Castle -  Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (January 10, 2017)

A wild and whimsical adventure story, perfect for fans of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Brian can think of a few places he'd rather spend his summer than with his aunt and uncle in Boring, Illinois. Jail, for example. Or an earplug factory. Anything would be better than doing summer school on a computer while his scientist dad is stationed at the South Pole.
 
Boring lives up to its name until Brian and his cousin Nora have a fight, get lost, and discover a huge, wooden house in the forest. With balconies, turrets, and windows seemingly stuck on at random, it looks ready to fall over in the next stiff breeze. To the madcap, eccentric family that lives inside, it’s not just a home—it’s a castle. 
 
Suddenly, summer gets a lot more exciting. With their new friends, Brian and Nora tangle with giant wasps, sharp-tusked wild boars, and a crazed bureaucrat intent on bringing the dangerously dilapidated old house down with a wrecking ball.
 
This funny, fantastical story will resonate with any reader who’s ever wished a little adventure would find them.

"For boys and girls alike, this story sings.”—Blue Balliett, award-winning author of Chasing Vermeer 

Dan Gemeinhart - Scar Island - Published by Scholastic Press (January 3, 2017)

Jonathan Grisby is the newest arrival at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys--an ancient, crumbling fortress of gray stone rising up from the ocean. It is dark, damp, and dismal. And it is just the place Jonathan figures he deserves.

Because Jonathan has done something terrible. And he's willing to accept whatever punishment he has coming.

Just as he's getting used to his new situation, however, a freak accident leaves the troubled boys of Slabhenge without any adult supervision. Suddenly the kids are free, with an entire island to themselves. But freedom brings unexpected danger. And if Jonathan can't come to terms with the sins of his past and lead his new friends to safety... then every boy on the island is doomed.

Dan Gemeinhart's most gripping novel yet, this is a tale of misfits and outcasts at odds and in peril, and a redemption story that shines a light on dark truths to reveal that the strongest prisons of all are the ones we build for ourselves.

Watt Key - Terror at Bottle Creek - Published by Square Fish; Reprint edition (January 10, 2017)

In this gritty, realistic wilderness adventure, thirteen-year-old Cort is caught in a battle against a Gulf Coast hurricane. Cort's father is a local expert on hunting and swamp lore in lower Alabama who has been teaching his son everything he knows. But when a deadly Category 3 storm makes landfall, Cort must unexpectedly put all his skills―and bravery―to the test. One catastrophe seems to lead to another, leaving Cort and two neighbor girls to face the storm as best they can. Amid miles of storm-thrashed wetlands filled with dangerous, desperate wild animals, it's up to Cort to win―or lose―the fight for their lives.
Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key is a harrowing survival story set in a gripping, man vs. nature situation.

Holly Goldberg Sloan - Short - Published by Dial Books (January 31, 2017)
In this heartwarming, funny middle-grade novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s, Julia grows into herself while playing a Munchkin in a production of  The Wizard of Oz
 
Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she'll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn't ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive--one of the adults with dwarfism who've joined the production's motley crew of Munchkins. With her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia's own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn't want to fade into the background--and it's a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!
 
Bubbling over with humor and tenderness, while emphasizing the importance of role models, this is an irresistible story of self-discovery.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Huw Powell - The Pirate King (Spacejackers) - Book Review - Published by Bloomsbury Children's


The galaxy is at war and Jake Cutler is at the heart of it. With his friends and allies captured, it's up to teenage space pirate Jake to go into battle and take down the corrupt Interstellar Government once and for all. But in order to win this battle, Jake must find his father and confront secrets from his own past …


Prepare for blast-off with the explosive third book in the Spacejackers series – perfect for fans of Star Wars, pirates and space adventures of all shapes and sizes.

The Pirate King has been published today and, sadly, this is the last instalment of the Spacejackers series. This has been one of my favourite on-going series, but it has now come to a galactic supernova end. It has been a fantastic series, but the question everyone wants the answer to is: will we ever see Jake Cutler and the crew again? Well, you will have to buy the book and turn the pages as fast as a rocket launching to find out. So go on, what are you waiting for? This fabulous book is out now in all good bookshops across the galaxy.  


The third book follows on seamlessly from the second book 'The Lost Sword'. Jake finds himself searching for the answers about his father and whether he is alive or not. This leads him into interesting scenarios and dangerous situations. However, you'll have to read the book to find out more. 

Jake forms the group The Independent Alliance to unite the galaxies to fight the corrupt Interstellar Government. He leads the independent colonies into battle which results in a climatic battle that will fill your space boots full of swashbuckling capers.


From start to finish the story is brilliantly engaging. It has been injected with a gravitational pull that super-charges your imagination and will capture the mind of all readers regardless of age and gender. Any loose ends are neatly tied up by the end of the book to create a satisfying reading experience.

You could read this book as a standalone story but, if you do, then it should make you read the other books with gravitational force. It will fill you with humour and action battles as well as giving a massively explosive space opera. It has a great setting full of brilliantly executed, imaginative characters as well as a wonderful plot straight from a childhood dream. Will you be sucked into a black hole (or two!) or as a reader will you come out fighting fit? This is a fantastic series. In fact, it is one of the very best to keep your attention from the first book until the very last page of this book. MAGNIFTY!!!

Please keep an eye out for the interview with Huw Powell which explores The Pirate King (book 3) and his writing career. This will be available on Mr Ripley's Enchanted books website early next week.

Read an extract here: http://media.bloomsbury.com/rep/files/the-pirate-king-extract.pdf


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Cathryn Constable - The White Tower - Blog Tour 2017 - (Top 5 Distractions Blog Post)


As part of the White Tower blog tour for Chicken House, I'm very pleased to welcome author, Cathryn Constable, to the blog today to tell us about here top 5 distractions. Have you ever been distracted from your writing? 


The perfect writing day will leave plenty of time for a bit of distraction, either at the start when you want to ease yourself back into your story or at any point when you begin to feel that the writing isn’t fluid. These distractions might be something to do with what I’m writing, but sometimes they’re things which keep me in an attentive mood but are nothing to do with the book. 


1 Old films on Youtube 
This can be a bit like going down the rabbit hole (in fact, I’ve watched quite a few versions of Alice whilst writing The White Tower). A recent discovery was Morgiana, a strange, Czech film made in the 1970s where the two sisters, one bad, one evil, are played by the same actress. Amazing makeup and costumes. 



2 Korean drama 
A terrible admission, but I’m hooked. There’s something so satisfying about getting lost in Korean dramas because they just go on and on and on… And there’s every genre. Recent faves included a mermaid, an immortal alien (that one was heartbreaking) or a sorceress concubine. Not standard Netflix fare. 

3 If the writing is really not going well, I’ll go for a manicure. This is risky because you’re stepping away from your desk and can get doubly distracted going to buy flowers on the way home (although I’m very strict not to keep walking and go to the excellent vintage shop a bit further up the road). But keeping the nails piano teacher short is essential for quick typing. 

4 Tarot 
I’m hopeless and will cheat to get a decent reading. 

5 The London Review of Books 
Only to be risked on the days when falling into a vortex is not the worst thing that can happen. I can spend hours in the online archive. HOURS…



Synopsis: Alchemy meets dreamy reality in this new atmospheric adventure from the author of the bestselling debut, The Wolf Princess. 
The White Tower is the uplifting and magical story of Livy, a young girl lost in throws of grief and forced to move schools. Struggling to cope with life, Livy finds solace high up on the rooftop amongst the domes and spires of her new home. With the perfect blend of science and dreamy reality, Constable paints a rich and atmospheric story of a lonely girl coming to terms with the death of her best friend and finding a way to let go of her pain. My Book Review Here. 



Cathryn Constable’s debut novel, The Wolf Princess, was one of the best-selling debuts of 2012. It swept the board with gorgeous reviews and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and the Specsavers National Book Awards.
To find out more about Cathryn Constable:

Published 5th January 2017 in paperback by Chicken House. 

Monday, 9 January 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) January 2017 - UK Published Post Two

Julia Lee - Nancy Parker's Spooky Speculations (Nancy Parker 2) - Published by OUP Oxford (5 Jan.2017)

Maidservants, Mystery, and Murder! Everyone's favourite housemaid-detective is back! Now Nancy has a new job working at Oxcoombe Grange. It's great except for one thing - Nancy is convinced the house is haunted! Ella Otter, now a reluctant pupil at nearby Seabourne Grammar School for Girls, demands a scientific investigation. Together, Nancy and Ella set out to do some spooky snooping, and to uncover the mysteries of the Grange's cellars. But in doing so they make a few enemies, discover a few surprising secrets, and put themselves into a little more danger than they were bargaining for . . . 
A funny and energetic middle-grade mystery, narrated part in the third person and part through Nancy's illustrated journal. Perfect for fans of Murder Most Unladylike and The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow.

David Grimstone - Thunderbolt: Book 2 (Outcasts) - Published by Hodder Children's Books (12 Jan. 2017) 

Self-named The Outcasts; Jake (Dealmo) and his friends Kellogg, Lemon and Fatyak like to spend their spare time playing role playing games. But things are about to get a little more interesting ...
Armed with new superpowers, the friends are on a mission to stop a ruthless organisation from ruining the world. 
This time, it's God of the Sky, Zeus's Thunderbolt they must save. 
But will their superpowers be enough to win the battle ... and tame the storm...

Barry Hutchison (Author) Katie Abey (Illustrator) - Worst Ever School Trip (Beaky Malone 2) - Published by Stripes Publishing (12 Jan. 2017) - Book Review Here


A hilarious new series from best-selling author, Barry Hutchison, perfect for fans of Tom Gates, Wimpy Kid and Barry Loser. 
“I like to smell my own farts…” Gah! Someone shut me up! 
It’s been 92 hours since Beaky last told a lie. So far he’s survived two full days of school with only three light beatings, two telling-offs and one wedgie ... but the annual school trip is going to take Beaky’s survival skills to a whole other level – especially as a mix up in the school office means that Beaky and his class are on a trip to Learning Land, an educational theme park aimed at eight-year-olds. And home to cheery-but-creepy Clumso the Clued-up Clown whose job is to dish out fascinating facts to one and all. 
But there is worse to come when Beaky’s partnered with Wayne, a.k.a the school bully, who has a morbid fear of clowns. With Beaky unable to tell a lie and Wayne intent on beating him up, things aren’t looking good. And that’s before they find themselves on the run from a manic clown who’ll seemingly stop at nothing to track them down…

Rob Lloyd Jones - Jake Atlas and the Tomb of the Emerald Snake - Published by Walker Books (5 Jan. 2017)

The Atlas family is in trouble: Jake hides an addiction to stealing; his twin sister, Pan, has to conceal her genius, for fear of bullies. The siblings can't stop fighting - with each other and with their parents, stuffy professors of Ancient History. But Jake's and Pan's lives take a dramatic turn the day they discover the truth about their boring mum and dad. When the family go to Cairo on holiday, Jake and Pan's parents mysteriously vanish and it's up to the twins to find them. They must team up with shady tomb robbers, master high-tech gadgets and locate a lost tomb in this story of a family that finds itself in the deserts of Egypt.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

The Phoenix Comic is Five Years Old Today - HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (David Fickling)


The weekly British children’s comic, The Phoenix, is celebrating its fifth birthday on Saturday 7th January 2017


Having launched in 2012, The Phoenix was rated ‘the second best comic in the world’ by Time Magazine. And in 2015 it became the first independent comic in the country to reach Issue 200 since 1969. Now in 2017, The Phoenix is celebrating its fifth birthday.


For five years The Phoenix has been enjoyed by thousands of families across the nation and received celebrity endorsements from some of Britain’s best-loved personalities and children’s writers, including Philip Pullman, Michael Morpurgo, Lauren Laverne, Chris Addison and Jacqueline Wilson. 


The Phoenix has been bringing award-winning stories to children every Friday for five years. To celebrate, The Phoenix have published a fifth birthday issue with a special cover signed by all the contributors who have been involved in making The Phoenix what is it today, including author Philip Pullman and young comic superstars Jordan Vigay and Jonny Toons, who have both had their work published in The Phoenix.


More and more research shows that comics are great for getting children reading and increasing their literacy levels. The Phoenix comic and The Phoenix Presents book series, in association with David Fickling Books, are leading the charge to get comics into the classroom and to get children reading at home.


The Phoenix Comic Achievements

General
  • The Phoenix is the first independent comic in the country to reach 200 issues since 1969.

2013
  • The Phoenix was quoted by Time magazine to be the “2nd best comic in the world”.

2014
  • David Fickling Books, the sister company to The Phoenix, started publishing bind-ups of comic content from The Phoenix to create the award-winning Phoenix Presents series.
  • Von Doogan and the Curse of the Golden Monkey by Lorenzo Etherington was picked for the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge.
  • Bunny vs Monkey: Book 1 by Jamie Smart was picked for the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge.


2015
  • Pirates of Pangaea by Neill Cameron was picked for the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge.
  • Corpse Talk: Book 1 by Adam Murphy was the first ever comic to make the Blue Peter Best Non-Fiction Award shortlist.
  • Gary’s Garden by Gary Northfield was nominated for the British Young People’s Comic Award.
  • Star Cat by James Turner won the British Young People’s Comic Award.

2016
  • Mega Robo Bros by Neill Cameron was nominated for the British Young People’s Comic Award.
  • Tamsin and the Deep by Neill Cameron and Kate brown were nominated for the British Young People Comic award.
  • Lost Tales by Adam Murphy won the British Young People’s Comic Award.
  • Evil Emperor Penguin by Laura Ellen Anderson was picked for the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge.


2017 
  • In 2017, Lost Tales by Adam Murphy has already become the first ever comic to make the Blue Peter Best Story Award shortlist.


Friday, 6 January 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) January 2017 - UK Published Post One

Lisa Thompson - The Goldfish Boy - Published by Scholastic; (5 Jan. 2017) 

Twelve-year-old Matthew is trapped in his bedroom by crippling OCD, spending most of his time staring out of his window as the inhabitants of Chestnut Close go about their business. Until the day he is the last person to see his next door neighbour's toddler, Teddy, before he goes missing. Matthew must turn detective and unravel the mystery of Teddy's disappearance - with the help of a brilliant cast of supporting characters. Page-turning, heartbreaking, but ultimately life-affirming, this story is perfect for fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and Wonder. It is a book that will make you laugh and cry.

Cathryn Constable - The White Tower - Published by Chicken House; 1 edition (5 Jan. 2017) Check Out Book Review Here

When Livy's accepted at Temple College, a school for the very brightest, no one is more surprised than her, though she has always felt different. Recently, Livy's been drawn to the roof, where, among its towering stone angels, she has the strangest desire to fly. But her behaviour is noticed by others, for whom the ability to defy gravity is a possible reality ... one that they'll stop at nothing to use for their own ends.

Amy Wilson - A Girl Called Owl - Published by Macmillan Children's Books; (26 Jan. 2017)

It's bad enough having a mum dippy enough to name you Owl, but when you've got a dad you've never met, a best friend who needs you more than ever, and a new boy at school giving you weird looks, there's not a lot of room for much else. 
So when Owl starts seeing strange frost patterns on her skin, she's tempted to just burrow down under the duvet and forget all about it. Could her strange new powers be linked to her mysterious father?And what will happen when she enters the magical world of winter for the first time?
A glittering story of frost and friendship, with writing full of magic and heart, A Girl Called Owl is a stunning debut about family, responsibility and the beauty of the natural world.

Jason Rohan - The Stone of Kuromori (The Kuromori Series) - Published by Egmont (12 Jan. 2017) 

Ever since Kenny learned that he’d been chosen as bearer of a magical sword, he and best friend Kiyomi have been protecting the human world from ancient Japanese monsters. But Kiyomi’s human soul has been taken from her and only the restoration of the three sacred treasures – the sword, the mirror and the jewel – can save her from transforming into a monster herself.
Yet as they complete their mission, they discover that all their actions have been manipulated and an undead army is about to be unleashed upon humankind. The forces of life, with Kenny as their champion, gather their allies for a final showdown.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Maria Turtschaninoff - Maresi (Red Abbey Chronicles 1) - Book Review - Paperback Pushkin Children's Books (5 Jan. 2017)

Maresi came to the Red Abbey when she was thirteen, in the Hunger Winter. Before then, she had only heard rumours of its existence in secret folk tales. In a world where girls aren't allowed to learn or do as they please, an island inhabited solely by women sounded like a fantasy. But now Maresi is here, and she knows it is real. She is safe.
Then one day Jai tangled fair hair, clothes stiff with dirt, scars on her back arrives on a ship. She has fled to the island to escape terrible danger and unimaginable cruelty. And the men who hurt her will stop at nothing to find her.Now the women and girls of the Red Abbey must use all their powers and ancient knowledge to combat the forces that wish to destroy them. And Maresi, haunted by her own nightmares, must confront her very deepest, darkest fears.

This is a very magical and inspiring story that will take you on an amazing ride. It pursues a feminine path, purely because all the characters happen to be female.The author has skilfully written this brilliant story without alienating male readers, in my opinion. It's not overpowering instead it delivers a magical awe of wonder. It's a story about women being powerful, strong, intelligent and treated as equals, and even more importantly, highlighting that they matter and are valued as human beings. It's a good lesson in life and one the author has put across very well.

This is a great contemporary fairy tale which is set in a different world to our own. However, you will be able to relate to it as being a time gone by or a time/place of solitude. This is reminiscent of the author's visit to Mount Athos (an all-male monastic community) which prohibits women from visiting. This was the seed of the story - it takes a similar path, but only in reverse.  


Some of the scenes that play out are very dark and harrowing, which may leave some readers feeling uncomfortable, especially for younger readers under the age of 13. The content makes for a thought-provoking ride of enlightenment in the face of a dangerous world. The story is told with courage, bravery and unity; the fantastic characters will capture your heart.


This is a thrilling and mesmerising story of friendship, with a slight religious undertone, that is layered with a fantastic punch of magical fantasy. The amazing backdrop will suck you into an atmospheric world of escapism. You will not be able to put this book down until the very last page has been turned. 


This is a great vivid time capsule of what's to come in the next book - drawing on deep issues and highlighting them to new readers....
The next instalment in The Red Abbey Chronicles, Naondel, will be published in April 2017…

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Favourite Book Reads (Full End of Year Review 2016)


Favourite Children's Reads 2016!
  • M. G. Leonard - Beetle Boy (The Battle of the Beetles) - Chicken House
  • Cat Mantra - Actual Reality - Book Guild Publishing Ltd
  • Stewart Foster - Bubble Boy - Simon & Schuster Children's
  • Christopher Edge - The Many Worlds of Albie Bright - Nosy Crow 
  •  Philip Caveney - The Calling - Fledgling Press
  • Michelle Harrison - The Other Alice - Simon & Schuster Children's
  • Jennifer Bell - The Crooked Sixpence - Corgi Childrens
  • Robin Jarvis - The Power of Dark (The Witching Legacy) - Egmont
  • Cameron McAllister - The Demon Undertaker - Corgi Childrens 
  • Eugene Lambert - The Sign of One (Sign of One 1) - Electric Monkey
  • Ali Benjamin - The Thing about Jellyfish - Macmillan Children's Books
  • Dave Rudden - Knights of the Borrowed Dark - Puffin                                     

Favourite Children's Book Series 2016!
  • Peter Jay Black - Urban Outlaws - Bloomsbury Children's
  • Huw Powell - Space Jackers - Bloomsbury Children's
  • Ellen Caldecott - Marsh Road Mysteries - Bloomsbury Children's  



Favourite Adult Book Reads 2016!
  • H. P Wood - Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet - Sourcebooks Landmark
  • Peter Newman - The Vagrant - Harper Voyage 
  • Brandon Sanderson - Calamity (Reckoners) - Gollancz  
Favourite Children's Publisher 2016!
  • Chicken House
  • Bloomsbury
  • Simon & Shuster
Favourite Book Cover 2016!
  • Roderick Gordon - Summerhouse Land - Book Cover by Stanley Donwood
Favourite Comic 2016!
  • The Phoenix Comic - David Fickling

Favourite Picture Book 2016!
  • David Litchfield - The Bear and the Piano -  Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Favourite Event 2016!
  • Comic Art Festival Kendal
Favourite Interview Post 2016!
  • Joe Craig 
Favourite Guest Post!
  • Philip Caveney
Favourite Pro-active Authors!
  • SF Said
  • Andy Briggs
  • Abi Elphinstone
Favourite Blog 2016!
Favourite Illustrator 2016!
  • Chris Mould
  • Chris Riddell
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the publishers, authors/illustrators, readers and everyone who has supported Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books throughout 2016. Without you, there is no blog. I hope you all having a cracking 2017. Keep reading and believing the imagination is a wonder of the world.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Favourite Book Reads 2016 - End of Year Review (Part One)


Here we are at the end of another year. In retrospect, it has been a good year in 2016 for books. There was a fantastic start to the reading year with some of my favourite reads being published early on. I was hoping to read many more books in 2016 than I actually managed. I will try and do better in 2017! This year's "Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars" award was won by Roderick Gordon with the Summerhouse Land book cover which was fantastically illustrated by Stanley Donwood. I would also like to mention in this post Chicken House Ltd as my favourite children's publisher of 2016. They have such a fantastically passionate and talented team; every book is a fantastic read, so well done all of you. 

Below are the first five of my favourite books - another post is to follow. 


Jennifer Bell - The Crooked Sixpence (THE UNCOMMONERS) - Corgi Children's 
This book cover will catch your eye across a crowded bookshop, so much so, that you will find yourself slowly gravitating towards it for a closer inspection. The brilliant cover image has been illustrated by Karl James Mountford and has been very playfully and artfully produced. It has an amazing use and choice of colours as well as enchanting images that invite the reader in to explore more. As you start to turn the pages, you will enter the world like no other, where nothing is quite as it seems... More Book Review Here

Christopher Edge - The Many Worlds of Albie Bright - Published by Nosy Crow

Traditionally, January is a very strong month for book releases. I've read so many great books already, especially in the middle-grade genre. I've loved every reading minute so far and this book has been no exception. It is another fantastic outing by Christopher Edge; this is his fifth published novel (I believe) and one that resonated with me very much. The book cover is very inviting. Produced by Matt Saunders, it will grab your attention and make you want to read it. More Book Review Here

Stewart Foster - The Bubble Boy - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's 

If you're going to blow bubbles today, then it would be best for you to do it before you read this book. Behind the bold sky blue cover, there is a fantastic story waiting for every reader to discover. So blow some superhero bubbles for Joe and get ready to ride a fantastically inspirational story that you will want to visit again and again. This book will make you think who the real superheroes are, and it's not the ones who wear capes, have superpowers or fight bad guys in Marvel or DC comics. No, it's people like Joe, who have to fight an everyday battle but they do so with a smile on their face, and hope in their hearts. More Book Review Here

Philip Caveney - The Calling - Published by Fledgling Press 
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. More Book Review Here

Robin Jarvis - The Power of Dark (The Witching Legacy) - Published by Egmont
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-monthly 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. More Book Review Here