Monday, 22 October 2018

Sarah Todd Taylor - Max the Detective Cat: The Phantom Portrait - Interview (Q&A) - Nosy Crow

Hello, everybody. Today, on Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books I have a lovely interview with Sarah Todd Taylor, author of Max The Detective Cat series. The Phantom Portrait is the second book to be published by Nosy Crow. Max is ready again to solve another case! The book is armed with humour and charm as he faces a case with some ghostly goings-on. If you are not familiar with the series, then please read my review of the first book HERE. Whilst the interview below should give you a brilliant insight into the author and her books. I hope you all enjoy a good start to the week.

Max the Detective Cat: The Phantom Portrait is the second book in the series, tell us a little about it and where it fits into the series?

In the first book, Max was finding a new home in The Theatre Royal and ‘finding his paws’ as a detective on his first case. He is a bit more confident in this one, but still has some of his old worries about whether he will be forgotten by his new family. The theatre company are invited to spend a week in a castle in the middle of the country, performing a new play on Halloween night to celebrate the birthday of Lord Fawley’s daughter, Arabella. The company soon find their rehearsals disrupted by ghostly goings on and talk of hauntings in the castle. But Max suspects that someone is playing tricks on the Fawley castle and that the peculiar happenings have more to do with old family jewels than old family curses. I loved being able to bring out Max and Oscar’s friendship more in this one. Instead of just having chats on the roof of the theatre, Oscar is right there in the middle of the action, helping Max solve the case. 

How do you select the names of your characters?

For some characters, the names came easily. I knew that I wanted to call Miss Julier after a good friend who I based the character on, and Oscar, Sylvia and Agnes just sprang to mind, but sometimes it can be so hard. I try to think about what my characters are like and then find names that sound a little like the adjectives that I might use to describe them. So Sylvia sounds light and silvery just like the sparkly character she is. I had a very specific reason for calling giving one character in The Disappearing Diva the surname ‘Spinel’. It’s a tiny hidden mystery in the book and I often wonder if any readers have worked it out....

What’s the most difficult thing about writing animal-based characters?

At the beginning of writing the Max books, I decided that I wanted Max to be ‘all cat’ so he doesn’t get to do anything a real cat couldn’t, including talk. That means that finding a way for him to communicate the solution to the humans so that the villain can be brought to justice can be a real challenge. It helps keep the books much more action based, though, which makes them lots of fun to write. 

The other challenge is doors - life would be much simpler for cats if us humans hadn’t invented doors. I am forever having to find inventive ways for Max and Oscar to creep into places they shouldn’t be. 

Let’s talk about writing! How do you want your readers to react when they read the first and last pages of your book?

At the start I want them to be intrigued and to know that this story is for them, that it will be fun. If a reader has been kind enough to pick my book up, I want to pay that back with a good read that they’ll enjoy. At the end, I hope they put the book down feeling satisfied that the mystery has been solved without feeling cheated. It’s so frustrating when a mystery lets you down by being solved too easily. I would never have the humans solve it ‘for’ Max and I don’t think my readers would be happy if I did. I hope they feel happy for Max and Oscar too. I’m very fond of both of them and hope that my readers are too. 

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Eek! I started writing books when I was a teenager. I wrote three books about a rather hapless king who was always coming up with terrible ideas that he thought were wonderful. As well as those I’ve got one finished and two half-finished books and a bundle of projects that never quite got off the first page. They all feed into the process, though. Nothing in the work we create is ever wasted. Bits of it will find their way into other projects, or into the way we view what we are working on. It all helps. 

The first two books have been illustrated by Nicola Kinnear. What's the process like between you both? What do you think the readers gain from the illustrations inside the books?

Nicola is amazing. When I see her illustrations it feels as though she has been looking at all the characters I can see in my head. I adore how she draws and the energy she gets into all the scenes. The illustrations add massively to the books. I love an illustrated book. They are so special and it feels very unfair that we don’t get to have illustrations in our books when we are grown ups. With Max, because it is set in the past, I think it’s doubly helpful to give that visual context for the reader. Nicola helps to show what the world Max lives in looks like, which helps them to understand the story better. 

Do you have anything else you would like to add?
Just a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who has read Max. I love hearing from readers and it’s an absolute honour and a joy to be allowed to create stories that go into bookshops and libraries and to work with amazing people like Nicola and everyone at Nosy Crow.

Sarah Todd Taylor is a children’s writer living in beautiful mid-Wales. Her first book, Arthur and Me, won the Firefly Children’s Book Competition 2014. She loves cats, puzzles and the theatre, three things that made their way into my Max the Detective Cat series which is published by Nosy Crow.  For more information check out her website here: or Twitter: @scraphamster 

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Steven Butler (Author), Steven Lenton (Illustrator) - You Ain't Seen Nothing Yeti! (Nothing to see Here Hotel) - Book Review

Having just saved the hotel from a goblin prince, Frankie Banisterand the guests are looking forward to enjoying themselves and celebrating the summer holiday of Trogmanay! But when a snow storm blows in (complete with Yeti family), and a number of mysterious guests arrive, something sinister seems to be taking over the hotel and celebrating is the last thing on anyone's mind...

The magical madness has come YETI again in a snowfall avalanche of monsters and madness. Here we have the second book in the Nothing to see Hotel series. You Ain't Seen Nothing Yeti! is the wonderful hilarious book from the mighty duo of Steven Butler and Steven Lenton. One of them provides the words and the laughter whilst the other provides an amazing amount of illustrations and pencil sharpening. The book will theatrically plop and splat into the shops on the 18 October 2018 published by Simon & Schuster. 

It's time to celebrate Trogmanay! with the Banister family. What possibly could go wrong? You only need to turn the pages and open the door to the strangest hotel in (YOU GUESSED IT), Brighton. It's an extravaganza of the most bizarre guests that you might find under one roof. It all starts with the entrance of Maudlin Maloney shivering in his unhappiness. There’s a blizzard on its way even though it's summer! Maudlin curses everyone and everything in the HOTEL; all he wanted was some warmth. 

You will find yourself feasting on a ghastly gastronomical amount of food. However, the menu will literally set your taste buds on fire and make you squirm with grossness - it's pretty hilarious. This story brings the craziness of the first book (PLEASE DON'T EAT ME) whilst exploring a more outlandish excursion into the authors' imagination. For me, this was fantastic as it leads nicely into some fantastically creative and amusing illustrations which tie in with the crazy plot. 

This is a fantastic imaginary world of monsters, magic and total mayhem from the very first page to the last. The story is unpredictable just like the guests and will have the reader engrossed in a laugh-a-minute ride that will lighten every reader's mood. It is definitely a journey worth taking, it's a story that will delight many readers in a world of doom and gloom. So pick up a copy, which can easily be read as a standalone novel. However, for full enjoyment then why not read both. This is both funny and disgustingly recommended - just add taste and maybe some slugs, but don't get them in your undergarments!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

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

Kate Milford - Bluecrowne: A Greenglass House Story - Published by Clarion Books (October 2, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1328466884 - Hardback 

Return to the world of the bestselling Greenglass House, where smugglers, magic, and pyrotechnics mix, in a new adventure from a New York Times best-selling, National Book Award–nominated, and Edgar Award–winning author.

Lucy Bluecrowne is beginning a new life ashore with her stepmother and half brother, though she’s certain the only place she’ll ever belong is with her father on a ship of war as part of the crew. She doesn’t care that living in a house is safer and the proper place for a twelve-year-old girl; it’s boring. But then two nefarious strangers identify her little brother as the pyrotechnical prodigy they need to enact an evil plan, and it will take all Lucy’s fighting instincts to keep her family together.

Set in the magical Greenglass House world, this action-packed tale of the house's first inhabitants reveals the origins of some of its many secrets.

Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller - OtherEarth (Last Reality) - Published by 
  •  Delacorte Press (October 30, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1101939369 - Hardback 
Simon would have done anything to save his best friend after a mysterious accident almost killed her--including follow her into a virtual world. And what he and Kat discovered there was more terrifying than they could have ever imagined. Unwitting hospital patients are being forced to test a device that lets VR be experienced with all five senses. The technology is so advanced that it's deadly.

Now the world's biggest tech corporation is hunting Simon and Kat while war rages in Otherworld, the virtual world it created. Determined to destroy the Company, Simon and Kat must join forces with a hacker, a gangster, and a digital entity. But as they battle to save two worlds, they uncover an all-new threat to our world: the Company's latest creation, an augmented-reality game called OtherEarth. Not only does OtherEarth kill, it has the power to erase the line between what's real and what's fantasy.

Jacqueline West - The Collectors - Published by Greenwillow Books (October 9, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0062691699 - Hardback 

The Collectors sweeps readers into a hidden world where wishes are stolen and dreams have a price. Fast-paced, witty, and riveting, this contemporary fantasy adventure has magic woven through every page.
It's the first book in a two-book series from Jacqueline West, the New York Times–bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere series. For fans of Serafina and the Black Cloak, The Isle of the Lost, and The Secret Keepers.
Van has always been an outsider. Most people don’t notice him. But he notices them. And he notices the small trinkets they drop, or lose, or throw away—that’s why his collection is full of treasures. Then one day, Van notices a girl stealing pennies from a fountain, and everything changes. He follows the girl, Pebble, and uncovers an underground world full of wishes and the people who collect them. Apparently not all wishes are good and even good wishes often have unintended consequences—and the Collectors have made it their duty to protect us. But they aren't the only ones who have their eyes on the world’s wishes—and they may not be the good guys, after all.  
Jacqueline West, author of the New York Times–bestselling Books of Elsewhere series, draws readers into a story about friendship, magic, and the gray area between good and evil. The Collectors is for fans of Cassie Beasley’s Circus Mirandus and Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener.

Jaclyn Moriarty - The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone - Published by Arthur A. Levine Books (October 9, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1338255843

Bronte Mettlestone is ten years old when her parents are killed by pirates.
This does not bother her particularly: her parents ran away to have adventures when she was a baby. She has been raised by her Aunt Isabelle, with assistance from the Butler, and has spent a pleasant childhood of afternoon teas and riding lessons. Now, however, her parents have left detailed instructions for Bronte in their will. (Instructions that, annoyingly, have been reinforced with faery cross-stitch, which means that if she doesn't complete them, terrible things could happen!) She travels the kingdoms, perfectly alone, delivering gifts to ten other aunts: a farmer aunt who owns an orange orchard, a veterinarian aunt who specializes in dragon care, a pair of aunts who captain a cruise ship, and a former rock star aunt who is now the reigning monarch of a small kingdom.

But as she travels from aunt to aunt, Bronte suspects there might be more to this journey than the simple delivery of treasure.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Mr Ripley's New Book Cover Wars Heat Two 2018/19 + Waterstones Gift Voucher Competition

We have now come to the end of week one and what an exciting start to the book cover wars it has been! Congratulations to our first heat winner, P. G. Bell 'The Train to Impossible Places'. Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (4 Oct. 2018) with the Cover Illustration By Flavia Sorrentino. 

Heat One: The winner of the Waterstone's £10 Gift Voucher is Tracey Beck - Congratulations!

This week is the second heat (four altogether) of the Book Cover Wars. For any follower of this site, I am going to select another five book covers for you to vote from. The winner of this heat will then go forward to the final round and get a chance to be crowned as 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Winner 2018/19'.

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover War Rules are as follows: 
  • There will be four weekly heats with five book covers to vote for.
  • One heat winner each week will make the grand final. 
  • The book cover with the most votes from the other four heats as the highest runner-up will also be entered into the final. 

As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the chance to win a different special book/gift voucher each week. This week is the chance to win a £10 Waterstone's gift voucher. 

If you are interested then all you need to do is:
  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll 
  • Leave a comment through this post or poll - HERE
  • Mention it on Twitter/Facebook any place you like!  #BOOKCOVERWARS 
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that the book/gift voucher competition is open to the UK only.
  • This poll will end 21st October 2018 at midnight UK time. 
    So here are the five book covers to vote for this week:

    BOOK ONE: Liz Flanagan - Dragon Daughter - Illustrated by Angelo Rinaldi - Published by David Fickling Books (4 Oct. 2018)

    BOOK TWO: David Almond - The Dam - Illustrated by Levi Pinfold - Published by Walker Studio (6 Sept. 2018)

    BOOK THREE: A. F. Harold - The Afterwards - Illustrated by Emily Gravett - Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books (1 Nov. 2018)

    BOOK FOUR: Sophie Green - Potkin and Stubbs - Illustrated by Karl Mountford - Published by Piccadilly Press (7 Mar. 2019)

    BOOK FIVE: Marcus Sedgwick - Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter - Illustrated by Thomas Taylor - Published by First Second (3 April 2018)

    Please make sure that you vote and enjoy the experience. Don't forget to share this exciting adventure with your friends and followers - everyone is welcome. #Bookcoverwars (Artwork is a Dream.)

    Tuesday, 9 October 2018

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

    Catherine Fisher - THE CLOCKWORK CROW - Published by FIREFLY PRESS (4 Oct. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1910080849 - Paperback 

    A magical story of snow and stars by Catherine Fisher. The Clockwork Crow is a mysterious gothic Christmas tale set in a frost-bound Victorian country mansion. When orphaned Seren Rees is given a mysterious package by a strange and frightened man on her way to her new home, she reluctantly takes it with her. But what is in the parcel? Who are the Family who must not be spoken of, and can the Crow help Seren find Tom, before the owner of the parcel finds her? The Clockwork Crow is a gripping Christmas tale of families and belonging set in snowy Wales from a master storyteller.

    Jan Eldredge (Author), Risa Rodil (Illustrator) - Witch Girl - Published by Scholastic (4 Oct. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1407181028 Paperback 

    Goth Girl meets Ghostbusters in this read-in-one-sitting mystery adventure with the perfect spine-tingling balance of fun and scares!
    Evangeline Clement spends her days learning the ways of magic from her witch grandmother. 
    When they are called to a creepy old mansion to solve an unusual case, Evangeline encounters an enemy unlike any of the terrifying monsters she has faced before. and a secret about her own family that will shake her to the tips of her silver-toed boots. Beware! This is a story to read with the lights on.

    Chris Priestley - Treasure of the Golden Skull (Maudlin Towers) - Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books (4 Oct. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1408873106 - Paperback

    Return to the weird and wonderful world of Maudlin Towers for a second adventure - brilliantly written and illustrated throughout by Chris Priestley in this striking and funny package.

    Mildew and Sponge don't think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom-laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when they are told the school might close, our heroes realise that being apart and somewhere else could be even worse!
    But what starts out as a secret hunt for buried treasure quickly becomes weirder than Mildew and Sponge could ever have imagined. Who is that new boy who can get people to do whatever he wants just by looking them intently in the eye? (A hypnotist!) Why does that strange teacher have tattoos and a beard? (He's really a pirate also looking for the treasure!) Could their heartbroken English teacher hold the key to this riddle of riddles? (Just maybe .)
    Most importantly, can Mildew and Sponge save the day - and the school - once more?

    Fleur Hitchcock - Murder At Twilight - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (4 Oct. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1788000628 - Paperback

    When Viv has a fight with Noah, she doesn't think it'll be the last time she sees him. But when she gets back from school, he's nowhere to be found and there are police cars everywhere, lights flashing and sirens blaring.
    Viv is sure Noah's run away to get attention. But it's really cold, and getting dark, and the rain just won't stop falling. So she sets off to look for him, furious at his selfishness, as the floodwaters rise. And then she finds him, and realises that a much more dangerous story is unfolding around them...

    Robin Stevens - Death in the Spotlight: A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery - Published by Puffin (4 Oct. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0141373829 - Paperback

    Someone will take their final bow . . .
    Fresh from their adventure in Hong Kong, Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells are off to the Rue Theatre in London to face an entirely new challenge: acting. 
    But the Detective Society is never far away from danger, and it's clear there's trouble afoot at the Rue. 

    Jealousy, threats and horrible pranks quickly spiral out of control - and then a body is found. 
    Now Hazel and Daisy must take centre stage and solve the crime . . . before the murderer strikes again.

    Monday, 8 October 2018

    Kiran Millwood Hargrave - The Way Past Winter - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

    If you are going to walk into a bookshop today then this perfectly formed little book will certainly capture your attention. It's a sparkling golden and green hardback published on the 4th October 2018 by Chicken House Books. The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a standalone novel that will delight readers whilst distilling a chill to the VERY hearts and minds. However, in places, the poetic writing will also sprinkle a charm that will envelope you with a big warm hug. 

    It was a winter they would tell tales about. A story they would shout about. A winter that arrived so suddenly, that the magical adventure leaves you unsettled and slightly disturbed. This is a festive literary cracker that will set the imagination going; a fairytale full of wonder that captures the harsh reality of winter. 

    Mila and her sisters live with their brother Oskar in a small forest cabin in the snow. One night, a fur-clad stranger arrives seeking shelter for himself and his men. But by the next morning, they’ve gone – taking Oskar with them. Fearful for his safety, Mila and her sisters set out to bring Oskar back – even it means going north, crossing frozen wild-lands to find a way past an eternal winter.

    The narrative will drag you on a sleigh ride of an adventure following three sisters in search of the truth and their missing brother Oskar. You will dance with wolves and escape the clutches of a spellcasting wizard into a landscape that will crush you with a snow avalanche. It's a poignant and searching story that almost distills a biblical-like feeling about it. 

    This poetic festive treat will be loved by everyone regardless of age and gender. Every word is carefully placed and every sentence delicately balanced. It's a book that sparkles with brilliance making it the author's best book to date. Engaged by the compelling narrative you'll soon want to explore deeper within the book. So settle down and serve with a large cup of Yorkshire tea ..... perhaps even a biscuit or two. 

    If you intrigued and you would like to read a small extract of the book the link is HERE

    Friday, 5 October 2018

    Mr Ripley's New Book Cover Wars Heat One 2018/19 - (The Power of Illustration) #Bookcoverwars

    It is a delight to have your company in the book cover war for 2018/2019. For any follower of this site, this is the chance for you to become part of the weekly book cover wars. Each week, starting from today and for the next 4 weeks, I am going to select five book covers for you to vote from. The winner of each heat will then go forward to the final round and get a chance to be crowned as 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Winner 2018/19'.

    Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover War Rules are as follows: 

    • There will be four weekly heats with five book covers to vote for.
    • One heat winner each week will make the grand final. 
    • The book cover with the most votes from the other four heats as the highest runner-up will also be entered into the final. 

    As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the chance to win a different special book/gift voucher each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week, we have a £10 Waterstone's gift voucher. 

    If you are interested then all you need to do is:
    • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll 
    • Leave a comment through this post or poll - HERE
    • Mention it on Twitter/Facebook any place you like!  #BOOKCOVERWARS 
    • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that the book/gift voucher competition is open to the UK only.
    • This poll will end 11th October 2018 at midnight UK time. 
    So here are the five book covers to vote for this week:

    BOOK ONE: Andy Briggs - Drone Racer - Published by Scholastic (6 Sept. 2018) - Cover Illustration by Matteo Cuccato 

    Book Two: Steven Butler - You Ain't Seen Nothing Yeti! (Nothing to see Here Hotel) - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK (18 Oct. 2018) - Cover Illustration by Steven Lenton 

    BOOK THREE: Peter Bunzl - Skycircus (The Cogheart Adventures #3)
    - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (4 Oct. 2018) - Cover Illustration by Becca Stadtlander & Kath Millichope (Cover Design) 

    BOOK FOUR: P. G. Bell - The Train to Impossible Places - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (4 Oct. 2018) - Cover Illustration By Flavia Sorrentino 

    Book Five: Neil Patrick Harris - The Magic Misfits (The Second Story) - Published by Egmont (4 Oct. 2018) - Cover Illustration by David Litchfield 

    Please make sure that you vote and enjoy the experience. Don't forget to share this exciting adventure with your friends and followers - everyone is welcome. #Bookcoverwars (The power of illustration.)

    Wednesday, 3 October 2018

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

    Jessica Townsend - Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow Book 2 (Nevermoor) - Published by Orion Children's Books (30 Oct. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1510104440 - Hardback 

    Morrigan Crow's adventures in the magical world of Nevermoor continue . . . The most anticipated sequel of the year - a treat for all fans of magic and 'wunder'. 
    Imagination, discovery and friendship await Morrigan Crow when she escapes her deadly curse and joins the Wundrous Society. It promises her protection and belonging for life - but then Morrigan doesn't receive the welcome she hoped for...
    Morrigan is a much-feared Wundersmith. So, instead of the Society helping Morrigan to embrace her power, she is only taught that all Wundersmiths are evil and she must suppress her mysterious ability at all costs.
    To make things worse, Nevermoor is quickly turning from a place of safety into one of danger. Society members are going missing, someone is blackmailing Morrigan's new friends, turning them against her. And Ezra Squall, the evillest man who ever lived, is determined to lure Morrigan from the Society by promising to reveal the true nature of the Wunder that calls to her, which is becoming ever harder to resist...
    Has Morrigan's dream of escaping her cursed life ended before it truly began?

    Amy Wilson - Snowglobe - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (18 Oct. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1509885800 - Paperback 

    When daydreamer Clementine discovers a mysterious house standing in the middle of town that was never there before, she is pulled towards it by the powerful sense of a mother she never knew. The place is full of snowglobes, swirling with stars and snow and each containing a trapped magician, watched over by Gan, the bitter keeper of the house. One of these is Dylan, a boy who teases her in the real world but who is now desperate for her help. 
    So Clem ventures into the snowglobes, rescuing Dylan and discovering her own powerful connection to the magic of these thousand worlds. Vowing to release the magicians from the control of their enchantments, Clem unknowingly unleashes a struggle for power that will not only put her family, but the future of magic itself in danger.

    Peter Bunzl - Skycircus (The Cogheart Adventures #3) - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (4 Oct. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1474940658 - Paperback 

    When a travelling skycircus arrives in Brackenbridge, Lily and Robert can't wait to step aboard... But there's something sinister about the hybrid children who appear as part of the act. And before Lily and Robert can do anything, they're captured by shadowy figures and whisked off in the mysterious flying circus to somewhere far, far away... Treachery, tight-ropes and trickery combine in this incredible third Cogheart adventure...

    Alexandra Bracken - The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding: Book 1 - Published by Quercus Children's Books (4 Oct. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1786540683 - Paperback 

    Every family has secrets - but not every family has a secret pact with a demon.

    A darkly comic tale with thrilling twists and turns that will keep every reader guessing. Perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket, Jonathan Stroud and Skulduggery Pleasant.

    Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his remarkable family. So, when he discovers that an 800-year-old demon called Alastor is responsible for their luck - and that this demon is currently living inside him - he's more than a little surprised.
    Alastor isn't keen to be banished back to the demon realm and will do anything to try and trick his unwilling host into a contract - from nasty insults to wild promises. And even more unnerving, his power over Prosper seems to be growing with each passing night. 
    Prosper has only days to break the curse - a feat that seems impossible. But with the help of a feisty witch-in-training, maybe he can do it?

    Monday, 1 October 2018

    Linda Newbery - The Key to Flambards - Book Review (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

    Grace Russell, at fourteen, has already had to adjust to a devastating accident from which she'll never recover. Now she and her newly-single mother are leaving their suburban home for Flambards house, out in the Essex countryside. The house has a long history, and Grace's mother is to work there for the summer - an exciting new opportunity. But, for Grace, everything feels wrong. She's doesn't want yet another change. However, in spite of herself, she find herself becoming involved with two boys: Jamie, who leads her down a path of thrilling freedom, and the deeply troubled Marcus, who is dealing with his difficult, potentially violent father. Over time, Grace discovers her own links to the house and landscape she has just arrived in, and in turn, her own place in the world.

    The Key to Flambards by Linda Newbery will be published by David Fickling Books on the 4th October in hardback.  The book is a fantastic extension to the setting and characters that were introduced to us back in the late 1960's. Kathleen Wendy Herald Peyton (known widely as K. M. Peyton) embarked on a trilogy that would delight and capture the heart and imagination of the readers across the world. So much so, that it was turned into a television series in the UK and the US. 

    Linda Newbery's friendship with the author and love of her writing has inspired her to breathe new life into the wonderful series. The old characters stand guard in the deathly shadows of the past, whilst we follow the new characters into present-day life. The author has captured the essence of the old books, but also cleverly placed the future in the reader's hands through her sparkling prose and human understanding. 

    In all honesty, this is not a book I would normally like. There are no dragons, magical wizards or an exaggerated world. It's a book that explores human emotions and reflects on the past, whilst still retaining an eye on the future. The world of family and friendships are explored all within the beautiful and captivating setting of Flambards (Essex Countryside). The story delights and captures the heart of the reader like a babbling brook washing over your senses. It's a country ramble into another person's life showing the fractured reality of life when the events of war and personal accidents change the course of the future forever. 

    All the characters are very well written well. We follow the main character Grace Russell, a 14 year-old girl, who had a devasting accident which resulted in her losing part of her leg.  The story is centered around Grace and her mum as they move from the hustle and bustle of London to the peaceful country estate of Flambards. It's a fantastic and evocative story that will be loved by many readers. It will take you on a breathtaking adventure full of wildlife, horses, and friendship. However, Flambards is at risk and needs to be saved before it is too late. 

    This is one of the most thoughtful and poignant books that I have read for some time. I really escaped to and was immersed fully in the narrative; time stopped and only started moving again once I'd turned the very last page. It is a fantastically timeless and moving story that highlights many social issues which we are faced with today. It's a book that instills peace, calm and a warm glow around the heart. It's a book that I hope you will all read and reflect on.