Monday, 4 September 2017

Guest Post - Father Figures By Jeff Norton - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books (Stomp School)

It's great to have one of my favourite authors on the blog today. With back to school looming, it's time to get the lovely picture books out to share with your kids or 'little monsters'. Jeff has already published a fantastic series, that I loved, which was in the futuristic world of 'MetaWars'. However, he has now turned his written hand into entertaining the younger ones with a fantastic picture book called "STOMP SCHOOL". It's a fantastically endearing story about a set of MONSTERS. 

You will meet Rikki, the little kaiju who just loves to build things. Find out what happens on his first day at Stomp School - he is in for a few surprises! It's a very bright and colourful book which is full of humour and fun specifically aimed at children from the age of 3 to 6. Jeff has written a guest post to give us some insight behind this book, which was published early August 2017 by Caterpillar Books.

It’s fair to say I’m a feminist. 

I believe that when women have equal access to opportunity we are all better off. One of the things that’s struck me since becoming a father is how pervasive gender stereotypes are in our society, starting with the very first exposure to pop culture that children encounter: picture books.

As the father of two young boys, I’ve been a voracious consumer and reader of picture books for seven years now. And I’ve noticed an assumed sexism in many of the books whereby mothers hold down the household and dads hold down an out-of-home job. Surely this normalises role expectations for much later in life. My major observation of parenting couples is that typically the man “klutzes out” of domestic duties while the woman is forced to be more competent in order to compensate. Thus, the burden of domestic life falls largely on female shoulders.

In the UK, the myth of the “useless husband” is so dominant, that’s a widely accepted norm that allows chaps to be let off the hook from domestic roles ranging from changing nappies to reading bedtime stories. But the useless husband myth holds back young women from achieving their potential because there is an often-unstated expectation that upon becoming mothers they will take on well over 50% of the domestic tasks. It’s an in-built sexism that stifles achievement and, I believe, economic potential. If dudes stepped up at home, Sheryl Sandberg wouldn’t have to urge women to ‘lean in’ at work. 

So, in moving from writing YA and middle-grade book to mounting my first picture book, I wanted to present a father figure who was engaged in the child’s life and pulling his own Godzilla-scale share of the domestic duties. 

The daddy kaiju in the book readies Rikki for school and pushes the pram. He still stomps off to Tokyo on a professional rampage, but then he’s back in time to for school pick up.

How does he do it?
He probably works late, after the kaiju kids have gone to bed. Maybe he “hides” the school run from his boss by tacking it onto an out-of-office meeting with King Kong? But his commitment to the kids allows his spouse to also have a fulfilling and important career decimating San Francisco. As a two-career kaiju family, daddio pulls his weight so that his partner can soar. 

It may not be a lot, but my hope is that since Stomp School portrays a father who is engaged and competent, we can start to make that role the norm.

Jeff Norton is the author of numerous books for older readers including the award-winning METAWARS series, the laugh-out-loud MEMOIRS OF A NEUROTIC ZOMBIE books, and is the creator and co-author of the best-selling PRINCESS PONIES chapter books (together with Julie Sykes, writing as “Chloe Ryder”). STOMP SCHOOL is his first picture book, which is brilliantly illustrated by artist Leo Antolini. Jeff is the father of two young boys, who inspired STOMP SCHOOL. 
Jeff is on the web at and social media as: @thejeffnorton.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Tommy Donbavand - Tommy v Cancer: One Man's Battle Against The Big C - Book Review

On Thursday, 10th of March 2016, I returned home from a hospital appointment and broke the news to my wife and children. I had throat cancer. Stage four. Inoperable.

Desperately needing some way to make sense of my situation, I set up a blog to chart my battle against the disease. I hoped it would allow me to understand more about this thing inside me, and what I would have to go through in terms of treatment to try to eradicate it. I also thought it might help other people who found themselves in similar circumstances.

I should warn you that parts of this book do not make for easy reading. I kept my promise to be honest, and wrote many of the blog entries when I was depressed and scared, certain I wouldn't live to see another dawn. I convinced myself that I would quickly perish, leaving my wife and two sons - then aged 9 and 17 - alone, and with no-one to protect them or provide for them.

I wouldn't get to see them grow up, develop into young men, and eventually have children of their own. The prospect terrified me.

For those of you who followed my blog and read the posts as I uploaded them, you haven't seen everything. This book contains plenty of new content, including updates from when I was either in hospital or simply too ill to write. I also explain how I'm coping now, and the ways in which my life has changed forever.

I really do have the utmost admiration for Tommy Donbovand. Faced with stage 4 unoperable cancer, the author wrote about his journey battling this illness through his BLOG. This has now been compiled into a book, but with additional and new content.

I was really shocked and saddened to hear that Tommy was ill. I have read a range of Tommy's books over the years and have thoroughly enjoyed the humour in each and everyone. Amazingly, he was still able to retain and capture this in his writing whilst undergoing treatment and writing his blog. 

This book really does give us an insight into Tommy's life and mind. He shares many personal feelings and thoughts throughout the different stages from finding out he has cancer, the treatments and the really cruel side effects. The rawness and the honesty were truly remarkable. It was very hard and upsetting to read at times, with many a tear shed but equally, in the face of adversity, Tommy's amazing resilience and sense of humour would also shine through and bring an unexpected smile.

This is a unique book by an amazing author. I have never read a book like this before - I was really moved and inspired by Tommy and his fight with cancer. I have recommended this already to family and friends. If you would like to read this then it can only be purchased from AMAZON.

Thank you Tommy for your sharing this chapter of your life with us. I really do wish you all the best for the future.

Friday, 25 August 2017

BOOK COVER ALERT - Sarah Baker - Eloise Undercover (Catnip Publishing)

On the 7th September 2017, Catnip will publish the second book by Sarah Baker. Here is a quick peek at the fantastic book-cover art work that has been exclusively revealed today across the social media network.

For any of you who are interested, this time last year I featured a BRILLANT post on the concept design of the first book "Through the Mirror Door". This SHOWED a fascinating insight into the final book-cover that we get to see and love - why not check it out here. 

Eloise is another example of Baker’s strong and memorable female characters. She yet again demonstrates how girls can take the lead as well as examining the very contemporary topics of war, loss and fear. This beautifully written story will be enjoyed by fans of detective fiction and authors Katherine Rundell, Emma Carroll and Robin Stevens.

Sarah Baker is a children’s writer based in London. Her previous book, Through the Mirror Door, has been very well received by bloggers, bookshops and readers. Sarah has worked extensively in film, with roles at Aardman Features, the Bermuda Film Festival and as Story Editor at Celador Films. She writes guest features for a number of online magazines and blogs, including the popular #vintage baker finds pieces for Bristol Vintage. ELOISE UNDERCOVER is Sarah’s second novel.

Find out more at  and follow Sarah on Instagram and twitter @bysarahbaker 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

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

Cassie Beasley - Tumble & Blue - Published by Dial Books (August 29, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0525428442

When the red moon rises over the heart of the Okefenokee swamp, legend says that the mysterious golden gator Munch will grant good luck to the poor soul foolish enough to face him.

But in 1817, when TWO fools reach him at the same time, the night’s fate is split. With disastrous consequences for both . . . and their descendants. Half of the descendants have great fates, and the other half have terrible ones.

Now, Tumble Wilson and Blue Montgomery are determined to fix their ancestors’ mistakes and banish the bad luck that’s followed them around for all of their lives. They’re going to face Munch the gator themselves, and they’re going to reclaim their destinies.

But what if the legend of Munch is nothing but a legend, after all?

Full of friendship, family, and the everyday magic and adventure that readers of Savvy and A Snicker of Magic love, Cassie Beasley’s newest middle grade book is another crowd-pleasing heart-warmer—perfect for reading by yourself, or sharing with someone you love.

William Alexander (Author), Kelly Murphy (Illustrator) - A Properly Unhaunted Place - Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books (August 22, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1481469159

Rosa Ramona Díaz has just moved to the small, un-haunted town of Ingot—the only ghost-free town in the world. She doesn’t want to be there. She doesn’t understand how her mother—a librarian who specializes in ghost-appeasement—could possibly want to live in a place with no ghosts. Frankly, she doesn’t understand why anyone would.

Jasper Chevalier has always lived in Ingot. His father plays a knight at the local Renaissance Festival, and his mother plays the queen. Jasper has never seen a ghost, and can’t imagine his un-haunted town any other way. Then an apparition thunders into the festival grounds and turns the quiet town upside down.

Something otherworldly is about to be unleashed, and Rosa will need all her ghost appeasement tools—and a little help from Jasper—to rein in the angry spirits and restore peace to Ingot before it’s too late. 

Todd Calgi Gallicano - Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw (A Sam London Adventure) - Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (August 29, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1524713652

A new action adventure series set in our famous national parks! Enter the world of the Department of Mythical Wildlife, where our protagonist, Sam London, is tasked with protecting legendary animals that secretly live amongst our treasured wildlife.
    Haunted by a dream of a mythical gryphon, Sam London uncovers an ancient secret that will change the way he sees the world forever. Recruited by Dr. Vance Vantana, an eccentric zoologist and park ranger sent by the government, Sam is whisked away on an adventure that takes him to the farthest reaches of the globe. Along this journey, Sam learns an incredible truth: mythical creatures are real and living among us in our national parks. A special department in the U.S. government ensures that their existence remains hidden. 
   But Sam’s dream is an omen that the secret may now be in danger. Someone seeks the power to expose these creatures and overthrow humankind—and that power can only be found in a magical talisman known as the gryphon’s claw. 

James Crowley - Monsterland - Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (August 15, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0399175893

A boy takes off on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure through a mysterious land, with the help of some monster friends
It’s Halloween, and everyone in Charlie’s small town is excited for this year’s festivities. Charlie's grandfather, Old Joe, is famous for his holiday haunts, and his pumpkin patch is the center of the town’s zealous celebrations. But for Charlie, Halloween’s just one more reminder that his cousin Billy isn’t around anymore. Charlie plans to keep to himself this year, hanging out in the haunted barn with his trusty dog Ringo.      

But when Charlie runs into some neighborhood bullies who are after his candy, he heads off into the woods to escape. He quickly gets lost, but spots a kid who he thinks is Billy. As Charlie chases after him deeper and deeper into the woods, he finds himself entering Monsterland—a mysterious place where werewolves live amongst trolls and goblins. Here he meets the Prime Minister, a vampire who tells Charlie he may be able to see his cousin again in this strange new land. Accompanied by a hulking monster chaperone, Charlie’s determined to find out just what happened to his cousin, and sets off to explore the secrets hiding in this uncharted territory.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017


Sci-fi props & costumes to go under the hammer in upcoming London auction on Tuesday 26th September 2017
  • The Alien Creature Costume from James Cameron’s sci-fi classic Aliens and Matt Damon’s spacesuit from Ridley Scott’s Academy Award-nominated film The Martian are estimated to sell between £20,000 – 30,000 each 
  • Incredible sci-fi props and costumes from will be sold as part of Prop Store’s Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction, featuring a collection of film memorabilia worth over £2-3 million 
  • A preview exhibition featuring over 300 auction lots will take place between 7th – 26th  September 2017 at the BFI IMAX in Waterloo, London
Stephen Lane, Prop Store CEO, commented on the upcoming auction – “The Alien creature from Aliens is one of cinema’s most well-recognised sci-fi creatures and we’re thrilled to be featuring this incredible costume in our upcoming auction alongside props and costumes from sci-fi films old and new, including Star WarsStar Trek and The Martian. These fantastic lots will be sold together with 600 props and costumes from over 230 films at Prop Store’s Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction on 26th September at London’s BFI IMAX proudly presented by ODEON.”

The Prop Store Live Auction will feature lots from sci-fi classics including:
  • Dr. Peter Venkman's (Bill Murray) Jumpsuit from Ghostbusters (1984). Estimate £6k – 8k 
  • C-3PO Special Effects Head from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Estimate £60k – 80k 
  • USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D "Pyro" Model Miniature from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Estimate £20k – 30k

The auction will be live-streamed online for fans to track the bidding on auction day. A free preview exhibition will be open to the public in the run up to the auction showcasing over 300 lots from the upcoming auction. Movie fans and collectors alike will be able to see these incredible pieces of movie history up-close.

Registration and bidding is now open. Bids can be placed online at, over the phone or in person.  
The free exhibition is open to the public at the BFI IMAX, Waterloo, London, England SE1 8XR from 10:00am to 9:30pm, 7th– 26th September 2017. Prop Store’s Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction, in partnership with the BFI IMAX proudly presented by ODEON, will also take place at the BFI IMAX Waterloo on Tuesday 26th September 2017 from 12:00pm.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

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

Patricia Forde - The List - Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (August 1, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1492647966

You are The Wordsmith now. Are you ready for the challenge?
The city of Ark is the last safe place on Earth. To make sure humans are able to survive, everyone in Ark must speak List, a language of only 500 words.
Everyone that is, except Letta. 
As apprentice to the Wordsmith, Letta can read all the words that have ever existed. Forbidden words like freedom, music, and even pineapple tell her about a world she's never known. 
One day her master disappears and the leaders of Ark tell Letta she is the new Wordsmith and must shorten List to fewer and fewer words. Then Letta meets a teenage boy who somehow knows all the words that have been banned. Letta's faced with a dangerous choice: sit idly by and watch language slowly slip away or follow a stranger on a path to freedom . . . or banishment.

Ronald Kidd - Room of Shadows - Published by Albert Whitman & Company (August 1, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0807568057

Ever since his dad left, David Cray has had anger issues. So after he beats up school bully Jake Bragg, his mom grounds him in their creepy new house. Bored, David discovers a secret room with an old-fashioned desk, a chest, and a carving of a raven. Suddenly he's having strange dreams about the room and the house, and violence seems to follow him wherever he goes. Who is the Raven who is taking responsibility for these violent pranks? And why do the pranks resemble Poe's?

Frank L. Cole - The World's Greatest Adventure Machine - Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (August 8, 2017) 

ISBN-13: 978-0399552823

An adventure novel about four lucky kids and a mysterious, but thrilling ride for fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Jurassic Park!
    CastleCorp and the famous Castleton brothers are unveiling the World’s Greatest Adventure Machine! The roller coaster is an experience like no other, and four lucky kids have won the chance to be the first to ride it. 
    There’s Trevor, whose latest stunt got him in trouble at school again. There’s Devin, whose father is pushing him to be the next Internet sensation. Nika’s wealthy grandfather isn’t too pleased about her participation. And Cameron, he’ll be the first to tell you, is a certified genius. 
    The whole world is watching. But as the kids set off on their journey, they begin to realize that there is perhaps more to their fellow contest winners than meets the eye. And the Adventure Machine? It might just have a mind of its own.
    Join the contestants on their wild ride if you dare. Your adventure starts now!

Joel Ross - Beast & Crown - Published by HarperCollins Children's (August 22, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0062484598

A thrilling new middle-grade fantasy from Texas Bluebonnet award winner Joel Ross, author of The Fog DiverPacked with adventure and humor and filled with goblins, royals, and magic, this is a tale of unlikely heroes who embark on a daring quest.
Boot boy Ji is tired of scrubbing soles and untangling shoelaces. He doesn’t want to bow and scrape. All he wants is freedom—for himself and his friends.
He decides to risk everything for a chance to accompany a young nobleman to the Diadem Rite, a magical ritual that chooses the heir to the Summer Crown. Ji doesn’t care about crowns or ceremonies, but he vows that this trip will grant him and his friends new lives, far away from boots and bowing. What Ji doesn’t know is that he and his friends have a dangerous part to play in the Diadem Rite. One that will change them forever.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Den Patrick - Witchsign - Signs New Three Book Deal In The Ashen Empire Series ( HarperVoyger)

Natasha Bardon, Publishing Director at HarperVoyager has bought UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) to three books including WITCHSIGN by Den Patrick from Julie Crisp Literary Agency. WITCHSIGN will be the first of three books in The Ashen Empire series.

It has been seventy-five years since the dragons’ rule of fire and magic was ended. Out of the ashes, the Solmindre Empire was born. Since then the tyrannical rulers have worked hard to banish all manifestations of the arcane from existence. However, children are still born bearing the taint of the arcane, known to all as ‘witchsign’. Vigilants of the Synod are sent out across the continent to find and capture all those bearing the mark.

No one knows when they’ll will appear and enforce the Empire’s laws.

But they’re coming. And gods help those who bear the sign of the witch.

Natasha Bardon said: ‘I’m delighted to welcome Den Patrick to the list. Den is a gifted writer and this new trilogy is packed full of the fantastically complicated and deep characters that readers have come to expect from Den’s work.’

Den Patrick is the author of the Erebus Sequence, published in 2014. The first installment, The Boy Who Wept Blood, was longlisted for British Fantasy Society Best Newcomer in 2015. He lives in London with his fiancée and their two cats.

Den Patrick says:  'I am delighted to sign with Harper Voyager and introduce readers to a world of Vinterkveld, with its many dangers, adventures, and surprises.'

Julie Crisp said: 'With all the grit and imagination fantasy readers of Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence love, Den's series is a perfect fit for Voyager. We're very excited to be working with Natasha and the team there.'

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview With A.P. Winter - The Boy Who Went Magic

Today, it's great to be interviewing A. P. Winter, debut author of The Boy Who Went Magic, to find out more about him and his writing. This is an amazing magical read that was recently published by Chicken House in June 2017.  I send a very warm welcome to A. P Winter - thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Let's talk about writing! How do you want your readers to react when they read the first and last page of The Boy Who Went Magic?
Really good question. I wanted the opening to tap into the excitement I always felt opening up an adventure story as a kid - that sense that anything might happen - and at the ending. I hope the reader feels they've been on a journey with Bert, with all the bittersweet feelings the end of a good journey brings. 

This is your debut book. What did you learn from writing it? 
It is my debut 9-12 novel. I think the most important thing I learned how useful it is to have a good bad guy. Prince Voss didn't exist in early drafts, but once he came to life, it really made a lot of things fall into place.  

I hear you have a discerning palette for chocolate, does this help you write a good story for children? 
I don't know about palette, but there are some complementary skills. Chocolate tasting relies heavily on a good memory, specifically a good memory for sensory experiences, and I think that does cross over with what you tap into when you're trying to create an evocative world. 

Can you remember an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I remember making a teacher cry with one of the earliest stories I wrote. It was about a ghost porpoise who'd had a sad life. I actually thought this meant I was in trouble until she explained it was a good thing. 

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I don't really think about it. All my main characters are an amalgamation of people I know and aspects of myself, so I never consider writing 'a woman' or 'a man' - it's more about figuring out who they are and what they want on a character by character basis. 

What did you edit out of this book?
Honest answer - tonnes of stuff. I take editing pretty seriously, and there was a lot that got cut and changed to become the novel it is now. My saddest omission was the pirate island. There was a whole middle section of the book where they hang out with some pirates and get into scrapes, but unfortunately, everything that happened there always felt like filler instead of an essential part of the story, and the pirates had to go. The last remnant of them is a couple of comments about how flamboyantly the crew dress on the Professor's ship (they were glam pirates). I miss those guys.

Has the city of York inspired any part of this book?
I don't want to spoil too much, but York has about two miles of medieval wall that is part of my regular running route -  descriptions of one of the key locations in the book are based on the feeling of running there when it's foggy, and you feel like you're up in the clouds. I mean, I said I wasn't going to spoil anything, but that doesn't take much detective work to piece together. There's a castle in the clouds. It's ace. That was York. 

I love the cover for The Boy Who Went Magic. Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Definitely (it also just occurred to me that the castle in the clouds is on the cover, so I don't know what I was thinking there). I was so grateful for Manual Sumberac's art on that cover. I work part-time in a bookshop, so I know how big a difference it makes to stand out from the crowd, especially when it comes to impulse buys - I don't think there's anything like that cover on the shelves. 

You're hosting a literary dinner party, which particular authors/illustrators would you invite and why? 
I tend to avoid writers like the plague in real life (obviously with the exception of the lovely people at Chickenhouse, or anyone else I follow on twitter, or work with, or anyone else I may have offended there), but I guess it would be fun to hang out with Cervantes. I love his Don Quixote, and he did a lot of prison time, so I'm pretty sure he'd be excited about whatever I cooked. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Tony Mitton - Potter's Boy - Book Review by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Tony Mitton is an award winning poet who lives in Cambridge. He has previously delighted children and adults alike with his lyrical and narrative verse which was featured in the brilliant book Wayland. This is a beautifully told tale reinventing the northern legend of Wayland the Blacksmith. It was fantastically decorated with lovely images by the talented John Lawrence and is a must-have book to track down and read.

Potter's Boy is Tony's first ever novel and will be published at the start of November (2017) by David Fickling Books. I'm sorry for the early review, but this is such a fantastic story that I couldn't stop myself from reviewing it. It is definitely one of my favourite reads of this year. I can't help but think that this book is based on Tony's childhood and his upbringing, from living in places like North Africa and Hong Kong. His dad served in the British army and Potter's Boy is heavenly influenced by Buddhism and the arts/traditions of China and Japan; it really makes this story special and a real joy to read. 

The story is a poignant one. It is told from the older perspective of the main character Ryo, now aging in life, who tells the story of his former young self and reflects on the journey that he set out on so many years ago. The story cascades through a picture of tranquility and an idyllic village life in medieval times. As a potter's son, he's destiny to take up his father's noble trade, but this all changes when Ryo witnesses a stranger scare a set of bandits away from the remote village. The mystery man moves so deftly and swiftly that he actually dances his way to tackling the brigands and scaring them away. Ryo is so mesmerized by this display that he wants to train to become a warrior and a hero. 

Leaving the safety of his family, and the sleepy village in the mountains of Chazan, he goes in search of his dreams. This path leads him on a journey to find his own way in the world and a deadly path of self-discovery. Three important encounters change his life forever and make this an epic fantasy filled adventureThe story reflects a way of life and traditions in a deep and rich Asian culture that you will soon become immersed in.

The historical reality has a deeper meaning that the reader will pick up on. It is an exciting and thrilling journey to the heart and soul; a book that will make you think and listen. I really loved the landscape the author has painted, not with brush strokes, but with beautifully artistic words. The narrative is molded like a vase that turns into a vision of a potter's son and the adventure that he took in finding the meaning of life. 

This is a traditional tale that I would really recommend to anyone and everyone to read. It is a very well-written story that flows like poetry and washes over the reader in so many ways. Get this on your reading list. It is published in November 2017 as a beautiful hardback book - you will not be disappointed. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Summer Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) August 2017 - UK Post Two

Mark Powers (Author) Tim Wesson (Illustrator) - Spy Toys: Out of Control! - Published by Bloomsbury Childrens (10 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1408870884

Toy Story meets James Bond in the second book in this incredible action-packed series!
Fresh from the success of their first mission, our heroes the Spy Toys - Dan the Snugaliffic Cuddlestar bear, Arabella the Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll and Flax the custom-made police robot rabbit - are ready for their next task. This time, the secret code that controls every Snaztacular Ultrafun toy has been stolen and all over the world toys are revolting and turning against the children who own them. 
Can Arabella disguise herself as a super-sweet little doll in order to find out more from the daughter of Snaztacular's top scientist? Can Dan and Flax chase down Jade the Jigsaw, the puzzling prime suspect for the robbery? And can they save the day before the mind-controlled toys forget what it means to play nice?
Featuring hilarious illustrations by Tim Wesson throughout, this series is perfect for fans of Pamela Butchart and David Solomons' My Brother is a Superhero.

Lari Don - The Witch's Guide to Magical Combat (Kelpies) - Published by Kelpies (17 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1782503071

Molly's shape-shifting curse is getting stronger and more unpredictable. Becoming a hare she could cope with. At least she could run... fast. But now she's turning into the prey of any predator she hears. Life's pretty dangerous if you become a worm whenever you hear a bird tweet. As Molly and her friends search for a stone that can curb the Promise Keeper's powers, and each one of them must face their own monster, Molly is forced to choose: is she prepared to use dark magic to break her curse? Will she become a witch and enter into magical combat? And if she does, will she lose the friendships she most cares about? In this third and final thrilling installment of the breathtaking Spellchasers trilogy the team faces a blizzard of powerful threats. Can they bring balance to the magical world, defeat the creatures that pursue them and finally break Molly's curse? Or will darkness triumph over friendship?

Maz Evans - Simply the Quest (Who Let the Gods Out?) - Published by Chicken House (3 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1910655511

Elliot Hooper's troubles are far from over: his mum's health worsens, he's struggling at school, and a bunch of anarchic Greek immortals have moved into his home - including teen goddess Virgo, who's in trouble with the Zodiac. What's more, death-daemon Thanatos and his scary mum are at large. As even more immortal allies and enemies emerge, Virgo and Elliot must learn how to be heroes ...

Katherine Rundell (Author) Hannah Horn (Illustrator) - The Explorer - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (10 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1408854877

From his seat in the tiny aeroplane, Fred watches as the mysteries of the Amazon jungle pass by below him. He has always dreamed of becoming an explorer, of making history and of reading his name amongst the lists of great discoveries. If only he could land and look about him.
As the plane crashes into the canopy, Fred is suddenly left without a choice. He and the three other children may be alive, but the jungle is a vast, untamed place. With no hope of rescue, the chance of getting home feels impossibly small.
Except, it seems, someone has been there before them.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Pam Smy - THORNHILL - Published by David Fickling - Book Review by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it's shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she's left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines - Mary's through intimate diary entries and Ella's in bold, striking art - Pam Smy's Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.

This will be one of the most impressive and eye catching books that you will see this year. It is set to be published by David Fickling Books in the UK on the 24th August 2017 and published in the US by Roaring Book Press on the 29th August 2017. Graphically, it is comparable to the work of Brian Selznick, but with a unique and dark, ghostly twist which is laced with edgy realism.
 A wonderful book crafted from an exciting voice of narratives.

This is the first book to be both written and illustrated by Pam Smy. It was developed out of an opportunity from her publisher, which resulted in the cultivation of her own ideas into this amazing book. Inspired by a walk around Cambridge in England, where the author/illustrator lives, she stumbled on an unusual abandoned house with a wall around it and a "KEEP OUT" sign. Armed with her sketch pad and brilliant imagination, this became the seed for the story.

On opening the book, the images and the words are outstandingly provocative and beautiful. The black and white illustrations lead the readers into a dark and fantasy parallel wonderland. The first diary entry is from the 8th February 1982 and begins with "I knew it was too good to last. She is back". From this moment we are gripped, as we turn the pages to a centerpiece of blackness with a brooding building providing an indication of the eerie ride that is to come. The magnificent feast of black and white illustrations (about half of the book) pop out at you and tell one part of the story which will plunge you into an atmospheric world of dark secrets, loss, loneliness, friendship and the lasting damage brought on by bullying and neglect.

This is an amazing story with a disturbing twin narrative that will glue you to the pages of two girls separated by 30 years who gravitate to one place, THORNHILL. This is an old institution for children with a hidden past that will leave you entranced and slightly disturbed. This is visually one of the best books you will find for the young (10+) as well as old. It's chilling, gripping and really makes you think.

The fantastic and unusual format will encourage and captivate children whilst the strange, and rather spine chilling story tackles everyday issues. It is beautifully expressive and commands the reader's attention throughout. I was instantly transported to this world. My fantasy mind was floating through a visual landscape that made me want to explore the house and the grounds, it was an absolute delight. The thought process and the amount of work that has gone into this book is incredible. You will look at it on the bookshelves and think WOW. It is definitely a book to cherish and keep.

I would love to see more books like this one being published. Many congratulations to Pam Smy and the David Fickling Team - I truly believe that this is a future classic.