Thursday, 30 August 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Young Adult Book Picks August 2018 - US Published Post

Katherine Marsh - Nowhere Boy - Published by Roaring Brook Press (August 7, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1250307576 - Hardback 

An "important and riveting story, masterfully told" of family, sacrifice and the friendship between a young Syrian refugee and an American boy living in Brussels. Nowhere Boy is a "captivating book" that focuses on the "discourse around the refugee crisis." The Center for Children's Books calls it a "perilous journey, tempered by the striking realism of obstacles refugees face daily."
Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Aleppo, Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope.
Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy from Washington, D.C. Lonely and homesick, Max is struggling at his new school and just can’t seem to do anything right. But with one startling discovery, Max and Ahmed’s lives collide and a friendship begins to grow. Together, Max and Ahmed will defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave and how hope can change your destiny. 
Set against the backdrop of the Syrian refugee crisis, award-winning author of Jepp, Who Defied the Stars Katherine Marsh delivers a gripping, heartwarming story of resilience, friendship and everyday heroes. Barbara O'Connor, author of Wish and Wonderland, says "Move Nowhere Boy to the top of your to-be-read pile immediately."

Ethan M. Aldridge - Estranged - Published by HarperCollins (August 7, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0062653864 - Paperback 

Rising star author-illustrator Ethan M. Aldridge delivers a fantasy adventure with all the makings of a classic. Illustrated with over two-hundred pages of watercolor paintings, this epic graphic novel is perfect for fans of Amulet.
Edmund and the Childe were swapped at birth. Now Edmund lives in secret as a changeling in the World Above, his fae powers hidden from his unsuspecting parents and his older sister, Alexis. The Childe lives among the fae in the World Below, where being a human makes him a curiosity at the royal palace.
But when the cruel sorceress Hawthorne seizes the throne, the Childe and Edmund must unite on a dangerous quest to save both worlds—even if they’re not sure which world they belong to.

Kristin O'Donnell Tubb (Author), Iacopo Bruno (Illustrator) - The Story Collector: A New York Public Library Book - Published by Henry Holt and Co. (August 28, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1250143808 - Hardback
"For every book lover who fantasized about getting locked in the library overnight,The Story Collector is a dream come true!" New York Times-bestselling author Alan Gratz
In the tradition of E. L. Konisburg, this middle-grade mystery adventure is inspired by the real life of Viviani Joffre Fedeler, born and raised in the New York Public Library. 
Eleven-year-old Viviani Fedeler has spent her whole life in the New York Public Library. She knows every room by heart, except the ones her father keeps locked. When Viviani becomes convinced that the library is haunted, new girl Merit Mubarak makes fun of her. So Viviani decides to play a harmless little prank, roping her older brothers and best friend Eva to help out.
But what begins as a joke quickly gets out of hand, and soon Viviani and her friends have to solve two big mysteries: Is the Library truly haunted? And what happened to the expensive new stamp collection? It's up to Viviani, Eva, and Merit (reluctantly) to findout.

Keir Graff - The Phantom Tower - Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (August 21, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1524739522 - Hardback

Twin brothers discover their new home is also a portal--for an hour a day--to a parallel dimension in this rollicking middle-grade adventure, perfect for fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society 

Colm and Mal are twins so identical their own mom can't tell them apart, but they're different in just about every other way. Mal's a pragmatist while Colm's a dreamer, and they bicker and battle constantly. Neither brother is excited to be moving to Chicago for a fresh start with their mom just after their dad's death. But nothing cures homesickness like intrigue--and their new home, Brunhild Tower, has plenty of it: mysterious elderly neighbors who warn against wandering the building at midday, strange sounds in the walls, and an elevator missing a button for the thirteenth floor. 

One day, that button appears--and when the doors open on the missing floor, the boys are greeted by the strangest puzzle yet: a twin building that is stuck in time and bustling with activity. All of Brunhild Tower's former residents live on in this phantom tower, where the rules of the real world don't apply. But when the brothers and their newfound friends discover they're all trapped by an ancient curse, they must band together to set everyone free before it's too late.

KR Alexander - The Collector - Published by Scholastic Press (August 28, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1338212242 - Paperback 


Josie always liked visiting her grandmother in the countryside. But when her mother loses her job in the city and they're forced to relocate along with Josie's sister, Annie, she realizes she doesn't like the country that much. Especially because Grandma Jeannie has some strange rules: Don't bring any dolls into the house. And never, ever go near the house in the woods behind their yard. Soon though, Josie manages to make friends with the most popular girl in the sixth grade, Vanessa. When Vanessa eventually invites Josie back to her house to hang out, Josie doesn't question it. Not even when Vanessa takes her into the woods, and down an old dirt road, toward the very house Grandma Jeannie had warned her about.

As Josie gets caught up in her illicit friendship with Vanessa, Annie is caught in the crossfire. What follows is a chilling tale of dark magic, friendship, and some verrrrrry creepy dolls. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Mal Peet - Mr Godley's Phantom - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books (David Fickling)

It's 1945 and Martin Heath, like many men at that time, is struggling to settle, to find his place again after the horrors of war. When an old comrade sends him a letter, telling of a position that's just come up with an elderly fellow called Mr Godley in the deepest and loneliest part of Devon. Martin travels there and so begins a dark mystery...

David Fickling Books proudly presents new fiction for adults. The first title to be published in October 2018 will be the last book ever finished by Mal Peet. The author sadly passed away in 2015 and is sorely missed by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. However, his memory continues through this marvellous book "Mr Godley's Phantom". It truly highlights his amazing and brilliant storytelling skills. 

This book has to be one of my favourite reads of the year and one I hope will get new readers to appreciate the other seven books that have already been published. He started to write his first novel at the age of 52 and produced some of the best books for teenagers. Like this book, he slowly sucks you into the narrative distilling a dark supernatural feeling that you have no idea where it will take you or leave you. The simplicity of the plot is laced with a mysterious edge comprising of part ghost/part crime novel and something slightly more seductive. 

The story harks back to the 1940's, just after the war. Mal Peet manages to effectively write a story very evocative of this time period. He really gets the emotions and dark feelings across in this story. You can almost feel the emotions of the characters who captivate you the more you get to know them, but you don't really know them. 

It's a very intelligent story which hangs in the realms of reality. It has a sharp and snappy no-nonsense dialogue. You WILL definitely turn the pages quickly which, in this case, will be at the speed of a fast Rolls Royce car. You'll journey comfortably across the Devon landscape before being led into a thrilling, but unsettling, ending that will make you truly squirm inside. This is a deep psychological look into two characters with traumatic previous lives. 

This book is one of the best atmospheric stories that I've read - it will come back to haunt you again and again. It is a truly brilliant book attributed to a truly brilliant man. Mal Peet. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks August 2018 - UK Post Two

Victoria Schwab - City of Ghosts - Published by Scholastic Press (28 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1338111002 - Hardback

Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn't like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost. 
So things are already pretty strange. But they're about to get much stranger. 
When Cass's parents start hosting a TV show about the world's most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her "gift," she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil -- and herself. 
And she'll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Catherine Johnson - Freedom - Published by Scholastic (2 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1407185484 - Paperback


An action-packed and pacey story about slavery in Britain. Nathaniel doesn't want to move to England with his master's family, leaving behind his mother and sister on the Jamaican plantation. But then he remembers what his mother told him: once a slave sets foot on English soil, they're free. Perhaps he can earn his fortune and buy his family's freedom, too. When Nat arrives in London, he soon discovers that his mother was wrong. Nat refuses to live like a caged bird, and seizes the first opportunity to escape. Alone on the streets of London, he hears the story of a nightmare ship, the Zong, where over a hundred slaves were thrown overboard. Now, those responsible face a trial. Will the world continue to turn a blind eye to the horrors of slavery? And can Nat really evade his masters forever?

Candy Gourlay - Bone Talk - Published by David Fickling Books (2 Aug. 2018) -  ISBN-13: 978-1788450171 - Hardback (Book Review HERE - Mr Ripley's Book of the Month)

Samkad dreams of becoming a mighty headhunter like his father, carrying his own weapons and etching tattoos across his chest to proclaim his greatness as a warrior. His best friend is a girl his age, Little Luki and Little Luki wants to become a mighty warrior too ... except in their culture, girls don't grow up to become warriors. The two friends have no idea about the world outside their isolated mountain village until a boy from the Lowlands turns up ... a boy who can speak many tongues and who tells stories about the world outside that seem ridiculous and unbelievable especially the part about invaders called 'Americans' who are coming to take over the village.
Sally Nicholls (Author), Brett Helquist (Illustrator) - A Chase In Time (The Time-Seekers) - Published by Nosy Crow (2 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0857638984 - Paperback 
From multi-award-winning author Sally Nicholls, A Chase In Time is the first in a brilliant time-slip adventure series for 9+ readers, beautifully illustrated by Brett Hellquist.
The old gilt-edged mirror has hung in Alex's aunt's house for as long as he can remember. Alex hardly notices it, until the day he and his sister are pulled through the mirror, back into 1912. It's the same house, but a very different place to live, and the people they meet need their help. Soon they're caught up in car chases and treasure hunts as they race to find a priceless golden cup - but will they ever be able to return to their own time?

Vanessa Harbour - Flight - Published by Firefly Press (1 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1910080764 - Paperback 

Austria 1945. After losing his family, Jakob shelters with Herr Engel in a rural stable, where they hide the precious Lipizzanner stallions they know Hitler wants to steal. When a German officer comes looking for Jakob and finds the horses, Jakob and his guardian know they must get the stallions to safety, but the only way is straight through Nazi territory. Joined by Kizzy, an orphan Roma girl, the three must guide the horses across the perilous Austrian mountains. Will they reach safety? What will be waiting for them on the other side?

Monday, 20 August 2018

Liz Flanagan - Dragon Daughter - Book Review - David Fickling (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

On the island of Arcosi, dragons and their riders used to rule the skies. But now they are only legends, found in bedtime stories, on beautiful murals and ancient jewellery. Then servant girl Milla witnesses a murder and finds herself caring for the last four dragon eggs. Forced to keep them secret amidst the growing tensions in the city, she begins to fear that the island's ruler, Duke Olvar, isn't all that he seems. But how can Milla and her friends keep the eggs safe when it means endangering everything she's ever loved? Fiery friendships, forgotten family and the struggle for power collide as Milla's fight to save the dragons leads her to discover her own hidden past.

The last book to be reviewed this month is in keeping with our theme of escapism. It is Dragon Daughter by Liz Flanagan which will be published by David Fickling Books on 4th October 2018 in glorious hardback. The cover has been fantastically illustrated by Angelo Rinaldi and deserves a closer inspection. It has a large blue dragon taking centre stage with three smaller dragons in the sky above. It is a very appealing look for this genre and has a similar look to that of Eragon (Christopher Paolini) and the original book cover for Dragon Rider (Cornelia Funke). It will certainly help to pull the readers in once it's been published later this year. 

Will it live up to the fantasy expectations when it flies off the shelves later this year?

For me, the answer is YES. The story inside is a fantastic middle-grade read that is full of rich detail and a great story concept. As soon as you turn the pages, you stumble into an epic adventure that is thrilling, captivating and covers one of my favourite fantasy themes, Dragons. The author's love for travelling has made the location of this book wonderful and imaginative. The small island of Arcosi feels like a magical timeless place that you would really want to explore yourself. If you take a magical pinch of Yorkshire, a splash of Rome and a very large Italian fishing village, this just about sums up the amazing location. 

I HEAR you say you need more than a great location and dragons to make a good story. Well, the story also has a fantastic set of characters. Each reader, I'm sure, will have their favourite which will make this book exciting to read. It also covers key themes that are relevant today like migration and belonging in society. You follow the characters with your heart as the struggle for power is a key element in this story. It's a fantastic blend of action, fleet of foot realism that coalesces into a brilliant and vibrant story. It makes you want to take flight on the wing of fantasy and adventure. Soaring on the thermals of friendship, forgotten family and war, it will take you to new literary delights like no story will have taken you so far this year. 

THE DRAGONS WILL RETURN ONE LAST TIME... One of the best aspects of the story was to follow the evolution of the Dragons from eggs to hatchlings and the bonding process with the four main characters. This was a very different and interesting take on events. All the characters personalities and traits came through with their respective dragons.

This is a very creative story that has been well written and is very different from Liz's first book Eden Summer.  It slowly builds into an epic adventure before finishing with a climatic and brilliant ending. This, for me, reflects the author's life and passion for stories that she has both read and loved. It really shows the power they can have on the reader. This is a story that stays with you for life and this one ends with a bang. Hopefully, there is still more to come.... 

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks August 2018 - UK Post One

Jeremy Lachlan - The Cradle of All Worlds: The Jane Doe Chronicles - Published by Egmont (9 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1405291330 - Paperback 

Fourteen years ago, Jane Doe and her father arrived on the steps of the Manor – the entrance to a dangerous labyrinth connecting the island of Bluehaven to many other worlds. That was the same night the earthquakes started, and Jane and her silent, troubled father, John have been feared and despised ever since. When the strongest quake yet strikes and John disappears back into the Manor, Jane embarks on a perilous adventure to find her father and save her world – perhaps all worlds – from destruction . . .
Fans of Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials, Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson adventures, Frances Hardinge and the Netflix blockbuster Stranger Things will love this heart-pounding and spell-binding middle-grade adventure with its nod to the classic 80s movies The Goonies and Indiana Jones.
Jeremy Lachlan, a Sydney bookseller, has always been obsessed with the big epic adventures such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones and The Chronicles of Narnia – and was inspired to write The Cradle of All Worlds while lost in the Cairo Museum. The first book in a duology, this is his debut novel.

Katherine Woodfine (Author), Karl James Mountford (Illustrator) - Peril in Paris (Taylor and Rose Secret Agents) - Published by Egmont (9 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1405287043 - Paperback 

It’s 1911, and the young detectives of TAYLOR & ROSE are turning their talents to ESPIONAGE. 
On a case for the mysterious SECRET SERVICE BUREAU, the daring MISS SOPHIE TAYLOR and MISS LILIAN ROSE must leave London for the boulevards and grand hotels of Paris.
But DANGER lurks beneath the bright lights of the city - and INTRIGUE and MURDER lie in store. As airplanes soar in the skies overhead, our heroines will need to put all their spy skills to the test to face the PERIL that awaits them...

Lindsay Galvin - The Secret Deep - Published by Chicken House (2 Aug. 2018) ISBN-13: 978-1911490029 - Paperback 

When Aster wakes alone on a tropical island, she has no idea what has happened, why she is there, or where to find her younger sister, Poppy. Meanwhile, Sam who once met the sisters on a plane makes links between the mystery of their disappearance and suspicious happenings in his own life. In a stunning dual narrative, the truth unravels with devastating effect - and the answer lies in the secret underwater world surrounding the desert island, populated by the beautiful and the impossible ...

Sam Hearn - Baker Street Academy: Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Curse - Published by Scholastic (2 Aug. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1407164069

Welcome to Baker Street Academy, where there's always a mystery to be solved! Told through Watson's diary, a top-secret detective dossier and energetic comic-strip illustrations, this introduction to Arthur Conan Doyle's classic characters will have every young super-sleuth hooked! Luckily Sherlock Holmes is on the case, with his friends John Watson and Martha Hudson. No crime is too big, no villain too cunning - especially if it's James Moriarty. This time, Sherlock and the gang are up against a centuries-old curse...

Monday, 6 August 2018

S. A. Patrick - A Darkness of Dragons - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

After playing a forbidden spell-song to save a village from rats, 12-year-old piper Patch Brightwater is thrown in jail. But there he meets Wren – a noble girl under a rat-shaped curse – and together they befriend Barver, a fearsome dracogriff, and set off on a grand adventure filled with sorcerers, dragons, bandits…and one very deadly enemy.
From the depths of the Tiviscan dungeons to the highest peak of Gemspar Mountain, this stunning book reminds us of the soaring joy of adventure, the captivating danger of magic, and of the delight of finding friends in unexpected places.

Since the middle ages, the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin has been passed down from generation to generation. The story originated from the days of the plague and has possibly changed in many ways since then. S. A. Patrick has based his story on the world of the Pied Piper and weaved a magical inventive story that incorporates the basic essence of that original idea. 
He has made it into a new modern-day fairy tale that will be loved by many for years to come. 

A Darkness of Dragons will be Seth's first book for children. It is set to be published on the 6th September 2018 by Usborne Publishing. The book is around 400 pages and is a substantial read. However, the very start of the plot has the power to place the reader in an adventure that will leave them gripped and hooked incredibly quickly. "The screams of the children brought the villagers running" and the readers too. 

The first character to love is Patch; the story really starts with this character. Without spoiling anything too much, he joins up with two more major characters. There is Wren, a girl cursed to live as a rat, and big bold Barver, a fire-breathing Dracogriff. All three characters in the book have personal journeys that they undertake but they all, inadvertently, link together. As a result, the three accidental heroes take us on an epic journey captivating our fantasy hearts as they go up against one epic villain.

The story is deeply immersive and has all the magical ingredients that I look for in a great book. A fantastic fantasy plot that pops and pings full of action as well as humour and heart, especially from the characters. It has a very pacey storyline full of creative imagination including spell-slinging, shape-shifting and fire-breathing battles. The split narratives will keep the readers on their toes. It has a lovely dark edge to it that slowly creeps into your soul - often slapping you in the face with horror like moments that will thrill and excite the reader in more ways than one. 

This is set to be a great new series for readers age 9 and upwards. With the next installment eagerly expected around mid-2019. So why not take up the quest by picking up the book and reading it. 
You will not be disappointed as it is full of twists and turns with a cracking climatic and up-lifting ending that will make you want more.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Young Adult Book Picks July 2018 - US Post

J. A. White - Nightbooks - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (July 24, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0062560087 - Hardback 

A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling.
Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending—and a way out of this twisted place.
This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm. With interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer’s block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales.

Alana Harrison & Drew Callander Mightier Than the Sword - Published by Penguin Workshop (July 10, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1524785093 - Hardback 

Wildly funny and inventive, this interactive book pulls you, the reader, into the action. Yes, YOU!

You wake up in the fictional land of Astorya, where stories from our world come to life. You're a real human being (we assume), and in this fictional world, that makes you a superhero. Armed with your trusty pencil you have the power to create: what you write, draw, or scribble in the book becomes part of the story!

Only you can rescue Prince S. from the evil Queen Rulette. Aided by the Couriers--a French stoat with dangerous dance moves, a giant dung beetle, a fire ninja, a Pegasus-centaur-cowgirl and a super-intelligent femalien chameleon--you must write, draw, and puzzle your way through a hilarious adventure that is unique to every reader! And most importantly, you must prove that the pencil is mightier than the sword.

David J Gibbs - Mad Maggie Dupree - Published by Clean Reads (July 3, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1621357728 - Paperback

When her dad's new job forces her family to live on the Stillwater Psychiatric Hospital grounds, twelve-year-old Mad Maggie Dupree resents everything about it. Between two brothers terrorizing the kids living on grounds and an annoying nerd, named Jackson, wanting to be her friend, she knows it'll be the worst summer of her life. But, when Maggie stumbles upon a secret, courtesy of the old suitcases left by discharged patients, things begin to get way more interesting. However, It's not until her father goes missing during a terrifying storm, Maggie begins to realize she might be in over her head. 
The first in his new series, award-winning author David J. Gibbs creates an exciting tale set on the creepy grounds of the Stillwater Psychiatric Hospital.

Kali Wallace - City of Islands - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (July 24, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0062499813 - Hardback 

A dark and riveting middle-grade fantasy from the critically acclaimed Kali Wallace about an archipelago of magical islands and one girl’s dangerous discovery on the ocean floor. Perfect for fans of Holly Black and Kate Milford. 
In a foggy archipelago called the City of Islands, twelve-year-old Mara has always been fascinated by the magic that drifts on the air as songs. But as a servant for the powerful Lady of the Tides, Mara must earn her keep by searching for magical treasures deep in the murky ocean.
Then Mara finds the skeletons of strange hybrid creatures that haven’t existed in the city for centuries—all humming with a powerful spell-song. Convinced her discovery will earn her the opportunity to study magic, Mara shares them with the Lady. But instead of a reward, the Lady gives Mara a new challenge: to sneak into the island fortress, the Winter Blade. 
Now Mara must dive deeper than ever before to survive her mission. The chilling truths that Mara uncovers along the way, about her past as well as about the secrets of her beloved city, are more dangerous—and magical—than she ever imagined.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Ross MacKenzie - The Elsewhere Emporium - Book Review (Kelpies) Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Step this way into the land of fantasy with the anticipated sequel to The Nowhere Emporium. This first book was published way back in 2015 and subsequently scooped up the Blue Peter Book Award as well as gaining some fantastic reviews. So what better way to introduce the new sequel, The Elsewhere Emporium, which sports a very similar book cover. I can hear you all CRY, when is this book PUBLISHED? Well, the book will be published on the 13th September 2018 by Floris Books of Edinburgh. Apologies for the early review, but I just couldn't wait to read it! 

Ross MacKenzie is back again with a BOOM. Before I turned the first page the anticipation was truly growing. I remember reading his first book and absolutely loving every moment of it. Therefore, I was hoping that this book would live up to my very high expectations. What do you think, did it?

Welcome one and all to the CARNIVAL of WONDERS.  As you turn the very first page you arrive in Mayfair (London) in 1967, where everything looks ordinary. However, you would be very wrong to think that as you suddenly find yourself walking the tightrope of mystery and fantasy. Each page draws you into a story full of magic and illusion which transports the reader to a place of pure joy and escapism. 

Everything I loved in the first book I found in this story as well. However, the author has gone one better by introducing a new element. A problem-solving mystery to unravel. The book flits between two brilliant narratives of present-day Keswick and a bygone era in Mayfair, London. Without spoiling the story for you and giving too much away, the plot threads really pull together and contort like elastic bands as they weave the storyline back and forth to keep the reader on their fantasy toes. 

Returning to the emporium is like reuniting with a long-lost friend. Each room presented magical delights full of mystery and majesty. It was absolutely thrilling to be back exploring all of the hidden wonders producing pure excitement and anticipation; like the unwrapping of presents on Christmas Day. The feeling you get from reading this book is absolute exhilaration and five star entertainment. 

The search for the lost emporium will capture your heart. However, be aware as the villain will steal your soul and slowly extract your shadow. You can not help but feel the brooding and dark side seep through your bones as the dangerous force attacks the emporium. It gives a scary punch to the adventure and intensifies the danger within. However, with the opportunity to ride on a magic carpet, visit magical bookshops and deserted islands as well as meet a host of magicians and a scary witch, what more could you possibly want?

This is easily one of the best books that I have read this year. I would have just loved for it to be 100+ pages longer so that I could have continued living and breathing in this wonderful place. It needed to permeate and ferment longer within my fantasy head, as I truly devoured this book in just a few hours. It's another showmanship of storytelling that will delight all readers. Now is a fantastic opportunity to read the first book before the sequel is published in September. What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Asia MacKay - Killing It: Bad Guys Can Wait. Bedtime Can't - Blog Tour (Short Book Extract) (Adult Post)

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books are part of the blog 'road' tour for Asia Mackay's debut book "Killing It :Bad Guys Can Wait. Bedtime Can't". This was a runner-up in the Richard and Judy's Search for a Bestseller competition in 2017. Recently, it has been published by Zaffre (12 July 2018) and has since gathered momentum. 

This book depicts real-life parenting intertwined with being a covert government agent "MUM". It's a new breed of hero: clutching a nappy bag in one hand and the latest gadgets in the other. The plot is thrilling and is laced with witty adult humour, fast-paced action WHILST BEING very observant about everyday life. Here is a small extract to pique your interest in picking up a copy. 

Every working mum has had to face it.
The guilt-fuelled, anxiety-filled first day back in the office after maternity leave.
But this working mum is one of a kind.

Meet Alexis Tyler.
An elite covert agent within Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Her first project back is a high-stakes hit of global significance and the old boys network of government espionage is far from ready for the return of an operational mother. But woe betide anyone who ever tells Alexis Tyler 'you can't'.

She will have it all. Or she'll die trying . . .

Packed into a full eastbound commuter train, I deeply missed the VIP status of Transport for London’s tacky ‘Baby on Board’ badge. I stood rammed up against the doors and looked around the carriage. It was all dark clothes and solemn faces. The only splash of bright colour came from a woman in a party dress with panda eyes and bed hair. She kept tugging down at the short frayed hem as suited men watched her over the top of their newspapers. 

I had forgotten how miserable the morning commute was. I pulled out my phone and clicked on my ‘GigiCam’ app. Up popped a live feed of Gigi, now indulging in a strawberry yogurt facial. I stroked the screen. I missed her already. But having access to an arsenal of government-issue surveillance equipment was definitely helping. 

Thanks to motion-activated cameras hidden all over the house and the GPS tracker in the pram I could not only keep an eye on what Beata was pureeing for Gigi’s lunch, but track their movements all over Chiswick. I had also tasked Bryan in R & D to work on a prototype tiny camera that could be hidden inside Gigi’s amber teething necklace. He had been making good progress although he had warned it was unlikely the image quality would be the requested HD. To make up for this disappointment he had added a sound sensor notification to the app – if Gigi’s crying reached a certain decibel I would immediately get an alert to my phone allowing me to check the cause of her tears and assess Beata’s reaction to them. Hands-free parenting made easy. 

Gigi was currently staring transfixed at Beata, who was balancing a 
bright pink plastic cup on her head and wobbling around the kitchen with more grace than I expected from someone of her build. Gigi had thankfully taken to the no-nonsense mother-of-four immediately. My own confidence in Beata was undoubtedly helped by the office undertaking several exhaustive background checks, a month of surveillance and even arranging for a local agent to visit her small hometown in Eastern Poland. 

The cup fell from Beata’s head and Gigi squealed with laughter. 
The worries I had quietened, the tight knot in my chest loosened. Gigi was being well looked after, I was getting back to work, this is what I always wanted. To have it all. And, one day, it would prove to my daughter that she could, too. 
But hopefully with a job that didn’t involve quite so much bloodshed. 
I looked around the carriage and saw nothing but glazed eyes and stifled yawns. Not me. I felt more awake than I had been since I entered the baby haze of sleep-deprivation. I felt ready. Fully prepared for my first day back. Excited, even. I could do this. I was an Assassa-Mum. 

I definitely needed to work more on the name.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Interview with Karl James Mountford - Freelance Children's Illustrator

Welcome, Karl James Mountford, to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. It's an absolute pleasure to host you on our little website. We loved your answers to our questions and finding out more about your amazing artwork, particularly for children's books. So without further ado, let me introduce Karl and his amazing post. I hope you all enjoy this. 
Karl James Mountford is an illustrator who works in both traditional and digital media. He has created artwork for such titles as ‘The Uncommoners ‘ by Jennifer Bell, published by Penguin Random House (2017), and ‘The Peculiars’ by Kieran Larwood with Chicken House publishing (2018), to name just a couple. Karl specialises in book cover design and chapter illustrations but also works on picture books, with recent titles including ‘Maurice the Unbeastly’ by Amy Dixon, published by Sterling Children’s Books (2017), and ‘The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth’ by Ellie Hattie with Little Tiger Press (2017).

Karl currently lives and works in Wales, where his sketch-books rarely get a day off.

How did you become an illustrator?
I went to art college and then Uni to study illustration. But I’ve been drawing since really young.
After uni I started freelancing, the first two years were a bit rough financially and work was few and far between. So I had many a part-time job then I started hunting for an illustration agent while building a whole new portfolio or work.

I didn’t apply to many as I was a bit nervous about rejection but you build a thick skin and after a while, I got signed up with the Bright agency (2nd time lucky) which was a game changer and have now been able to illustrate full time.

What is your favourite medium in which to draw/paint?
Pencil and paper. I know it sounds boring, but it’s always nice (for me) to just sketch using those tools.

Can you give us a good example of a great illustration and what makes it great to you?
A great illustration…anything by Shaun Tan, especially in the picture book ‘The Red Tree’. It’s stunning but his compositions and use of colours are on another level. I think he just delivers the emotion from the page to the reader, whatever that emotion is. Even if you were reading it in another language, the illustrations tell so much of the story.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
Work-wise… I'm not sure - I'm quietly proud of it all… I’m a bit proud that I didn’t give up on freelance and stuck it out. Even though some days I think, "Oh maybe you should have been a vet?”  But that thought is usually short-lived because I love what I do.

What would you like to say to the publishing world about illustrations?
Will have to be careful here, don’t bite the hand that feeds you and all that. Erm..the publishing world is a business at the end of the day BUT I think sometimes publishers and sales teams etc can over think the artwork. This is understandable as everyone wants the book to do well but the process can ‘clip the wings’ a bit of an artist, which isn’t great working conditions. However, when you find a client that gives you a bit of trust and freedom to create work that reflects the story inside and still be true to how the illustrator works, well that’s like a lottery win.
I think the most important thing regarding illustrations is that the artists/designers/illustrators are properly credited. For a long time, illustrators names were in a tiny font under the barcode - out of the way or not included at all! In some cases (especially in middle grade/YA and editorials) publishing houses, editors etc should strive to use their illustrator's names and artwork as a good tool to further a books longevity on the shelves. Whether it is credited on the front cover or clearly and visibly on the back.
I know there is a good argument that what's inside the book is the priority ..but 9/10 times people tend to pick up the book because of the cover and illustrations.

What projects get the creative juices flowing for you? 
I love stories that are set in the past or have a darker undertone. The style in past decades really resonates with me, from the clothes to the buildings, cars etc.

Could you tell us a bit about any of your upcoming projects?
I’m working on the cover and internal illustrations for a new middle-grade book, which I’ve really fallen in love with. I read the manuscript in one night - it was that GREAT!. 

It’s a noir mystery by Sophie Green. I think it’s her debut book? I just think the world is gonna fall in love with it too and the main characters. Especially if your reading taste is a little darker, it’s got some right scary chapters … as a 29-year-old, I probably shouldn’t say that - but it’s just great. I can’t tell you how chuffed I am to be apart of it.

I'm working on Katherine Woodfine’s 2nd book in the new series ‘Taylor and Rose’ as we speak. I'm also (slowly) working on my own picture book. But I’m taking my sweet time on it as I love it but it needs to be thought about a bit more as it’s not going to be directed towards children as it’s main audience.

Who are your favourite illustrators and why?
Alice and Martin Provensons, Shaun Tan, all screen printers and there are some stellar current illustrators too, such as Zoe Persico, Matt Saunders, Cally Conway, Sonny Ross. I could list hundreds.

Where should a person start if they want to pursue a career in illustration?
It sounds daft, but just open a sketch-book and start drawing what interests you, then tackle the rest as it comes. 

What's the strangest question you've ever been asked?
I went to art school - most questions were strange and wonderful. 

Karl is represented by The Bright Group.
For any work, enquiries give my agents Arabella or Freddie a shout. /

You can also find him lurking on Twitter: @karlj_mountford