Wednesday, 23 January 2019

New Children's & Young Adult Book Picks February 2019 - Post One- Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Emma Carroll - When we were Warriors - Published by Faber & Faber (7 Feb. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0571350407 - Paperback

A body washed up on the beach...
Evacuation to an old house with forbidden rooms and dark secrets...
An animal rescue service...
Set in World War Two, Emma Carroll explores the resilience, resourcefulness and inventiveness of children when their lives fall to pieces. Introducing some compelling new characters, as well as revisiting some familiar settings, these adventures are sure to win over new readers, as well as fans of old favourites such as Letters from the Lighthouse and Frost Hollow Hall.

Vivian French (Author), Hannah Peck (Cover Design) The Steam Whistle Theatre Company - Published by Walker Books (7 Feb. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1406376319 - Paperback

The wonderful adventures of a family theatre-troupe, touring Victorian England by train – a high-octane, high-drama romp, with a colourful company of characters.
Dark and deadly deeds, piratical plots, lost heiresses and poor little orphans – Vivian French conjures up the very spirit of Victorian theatre in a fabulous new novel for middle-grade readers. To avoid financial ruin, the Bottle family’s theatre-troupe has left London behind, travelling to the north of England by train. With new audiences to play to, and less competition, they hope to make enough money to pay off their debts back home. But will their plans be foiled by the odious Olio Sleevery? It’s time for young actors Rosie and Charlie to save the day, and, with the help of their new friend Edie Boiler, ensure the thunderous success of the company's first performance. A wonderful gallery of eccentric characters and an exuberant plot with a twist at the end ... this is storytelling at its theatrical best!

Lynne Kelly - Song for A Whale - Published by Piccadilly Press (5 Feb. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1848126916 - Paperback

A stirring and heart-warming tale of a young deaf girl who is determined to make a difference, the perfect read for fans of Wonder.

Iris was born deaf, but she's never let that define her; after all, it's the only life she's ever known. And until recently she wasn't even very lonely, because her grandparents are both deaf, too. But Grandpa has just died and Grandma's not the same without him. The only place Iris really feels at home anymore is in her electronics workshop where she loves taking apart antique radios.

Then, during a science lesson about sound waves, Iris finds out about a whale who is unable to communicate with other whales. The lonely whale awakens something in Iris. She's determined to show him that someone in the world knows he's there.

Iris works on a foolproof plan to help the whale but she soon realises that that is not enough: Iris wants to find the whale herself.

One stolen credit card, two cruise ship tickets, and the adventure of a lifetime later, Iris and the whale each break through isolation to help one another be truly heard in ways that neither had ever expected.

Claire Fayers - Storm Hound - Macmillan Children's Books (21 Feb. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1509895045 - Paperback - Read Book Review Here...
Storm of Odin is the youngest stormhound of the Wild Hunt that haunts lightning-filled skies. He has longed for the time when he will be able to join his brothers and sisters but on his very first hunt, he finds he can't keep up and falls to earth, landing on the A40 just outside Abergavenny.
Enter twelve-year-old Jessica Price, who finds and adopts a cute puppy from an animal rescue centre. And suddenly, a number of strange people seem very interested in her and her new pet, Storm. People who seem to know a lot about magic . . . 
In Claire Fayers' electrifying adventure Storm Hound, Jessica starts to see that there's something different about her beloved dog and will need to work out which of her new friends she can trust.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Sinéad O’Hart - The Star-Spun Web - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

With her passion for scientific experimentation and her pet tarantula Violet, Tess de Sousa is no ordinary orphan. When a stranger shows up at Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, claiming to be a distant relative come to adopt her, Tess hopes to find some answers to her mysterious origins. But as she adjusts to her new life at Roedeer Lodge, it becomes clear that Norton F. Cleat knows more about Tess – and the strange device left with her when she was abandoned as a baby – than he’s letting on. And when Tess discovers that the Starspinner is the gateway between her world and a parallel world in which war rages, she realizes she may be the key to a terrible plan. A plan she must stop at all costs...

The Star-Spun Web is another fantastic page turner from Irish-born author Sinéad O’Hart. This will be her second book, her acclaimed debut was another favourite of mine - The Eye of the North came out early last year. This new book will be published on the 7th February 2019 by Stripes Publishing. The book cover is very appealing and captivating; it certainly catches your attention on the bookshelf. This has been brillantly illustrated by Sara Mulvanny who is a talented and renowned illustrator. If you want to read more about her then check out the Q&A we did HERE

Unlike many other books, the prologue gained my attention very quickly. It sets up the story brilliantly enabling the reader to become enraptured with the story instantly. It certainly encouraged me to read further with ease and interest which is something that I don't always find with other books.

The story is very imaginative as it pulls the fantasty silk threads into a sense of mystery. The reader is left constantly asking questions as to what lies ahead, how situations will be resolved and the characters' intentions etc. These provide the reader with an active role in the book rather than being a passive bystander within the narrative.

This magical adventure is about parallel words and highlighting all of the possibilities that might lie within. The book features a brilliant cast of characters including orphan Tess and her pet tarantula as they embark on an adventure like no other. The relationship between them is very interesting as it adds humour and fun whilst also exploring the feelings that Tess experiences through their dialogue. It was both lighthearted yet touching as she tries to navigate her way through life and the tangled web that she finds herself in.

I easily designated five stars to this book as I thoroughly enjoyed it. The blend of science-fiction and time travel through the expoloration of parallel universes was engaging and thrilling. There was a real contrast between the dark elements within the story (e.g. loneliness and grief) in comparison to the love and warmth portrayed by some of the characters. It has been very well written with some fantastic plot ideas that are perhaps not overly used at the moment, especially for the intended audience age (8-12).

I would love to be able to read more from this author and to join these characters on another adventure. Hopefully, this book stages the possibility of opening other doors and staging a fantastic series ahead.

Author Website:

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Gabriel Dylan Author of Whiteout (Red Eye) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Guest Post

Hello Everybody. It is a pleasure to welcome the debut author Gabriel Dylan to Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books. He has written a fantastic post sharing his story ideas and some background history to the book. All of which gives a cracking insight into what you might expect when you read it. 

The story is a fantastically scary and thrilling horror adventure which is set in a remote ski village. It has recently been published under the Red Eye imprint which is part of the wonderful Stripes Publishing Company (10th January 2019).  Have a read to see what you think and pop it onto your book list. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The idea for Whiteout came to me a few years ago, on a hotel balcony, high above the Austrian Alps. 

I stood there, watching the sky fade to black, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off the trees and forests that covered the nearby mountains. There was a huge blizzard forecast, so much snow that it was going to block the roads in out and of the lonely resort for a day or two, and I looked into the woods and thought:

What if there’s something down there, in the trees, something evil, that doesn’t want us to leave?

Whilst this introduction might make me sound like some globe-trotting international man of mystery, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it was the first time I’d ever seen real snow, and soon after the idea for Whiteout popped into my brain I had to abandon my lovely view, start to patrol the hotel corridors, and make sure none of the students I was in charge of were sneaking out after dark, smuggling alcohol into their rooms, or engaged in any other illicit activities.

The real reason I was on that balcony is that I teach English at a huge secondary school in Gloucestershire, and a few months earlier I’d been invited to help run a ski trip for a bunch of sixth formers. As I’d spent my teenage years living by the sea and surfing whenever I had a free minute, snowboarding came pretty easy, and although I’d never been on a ski trip I really fancied the idea of the Alpine lifestyle. So I said ‘yes’, and a few months later I found myself yawning on a hellish twenty seven hour coach journey to a remote corner of the Austrian Alps, whilst the students surrounding me all seemed to be getting some sleep. Getting there was no fun, but the resort we arrived at more than made up for it.

Hochkar, deep in the Austrian mountains, felt like it had been forgotten by the modern world. It was rustic, remote, isolated, and the snow was so deep you could sink in up to your chest in places. It was also somehow very creepy, and perhaps that was what made the idea for Whiteout come to me as I was standing there wishing that something would slip out of the trees after dark and drag away some of the more irritating students on the trip. And with the fact that the impending storm meant we were going to be trapped there, it just really got me thinking.

I’ve always written, although I’d never dared to show my stuff to anyone else (or even tell anyone!), and at the time I was working on an epic fantasy that I just couldn’t get to come together (it definitely wasn’t Game of Thrones). But once the idea came to me that there might be something in the trees, something supernatural, fantasy was dumped in favour of horror. 

I’m a huge fan of the horror genre, and spent lots of my childhood freaking myself out by way of Stephen King, James Herbert, and Richard Laymon. And vampires were always my favourite, but not the handsome Twilight type, more the bald, vicious, long finger nailed Nosferatu of Salem’s Lot. And once I got home from Austria, I started writing Whiteout, and it just kind of poured out of me.

I’m also a huge film fan, and John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of my favourites, with its remote Antarctic setting. 

That definitely played a part, with the isolation and the paranoia and the creature out lurking in the snow. The other film that fed into Whiteout was John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club – about a bunch of mismatched teens locked in a Saturday morning detention. 

I wanted the same kind of ensemble of criminals, outcasts, princesses, geeks, and jocks in Whiteout, but I wanted mine to be in fear of their lives. And once I put them into a situation where they were being hunted down by terrifying vampires in an isolated ski resort, as silly as it sounds the characters just did the rest themselves. 

The other thing I wanted was for people to care about the characters in Whiteout, or at least the important ones who don’t get eaten in the first few pages. There’s two main protagonists, Hanna, a haunted teenage ski guide who finds herself drawn back to the mountains by her tragic past, and Charlie, one of the students that find themselves trapped in the resort. Hanna was the character who arrived first, and she’s my Buffy, Sarah Conner, and Lisbeth Salander all rolled into one feisty horror heroine – I found her a joy to write. And Charlie was based on a lot of different students I’ve taught, the outcasts and underdogs who have had a bad hand dealt to them but still refuse to give up.

It took a few months to get Whiteout written, and once it was done I think I would have probably just put it away in a drawer and left it there. Except for my wife, who hates all things horror and sci-fi, took a peek at the first few pages. Unbelievably she liked it, and she started to chip away at me to send it off to an agent or two.

In October 2017 I buckled and sent Whiteout off. I was sitting at school supervising a detention on the evening I pressed ‘send’. I googled a few agents, and really liked Polly Nolan’s biography, and what she said about needing characters to care about. I just thought ‘why not?’, sent her the first five pages, and never expected to hear back. 

The next day Polly asked for the whole manuscript. 
I was in shock. 
Two weeks later Polly told me she’d finished Whiteout, liked it, and wanted to meet up. Before I knew it, she’d showed it to a couple of publishers, an offer was on the table, and Whiteout, this crazy idea that came to me as I stood on that balcony in Austria, was on its way into the world.

So… if you like snow, vampires, scares, kick-ass heroines, and remote Alpine settings, Whiteout might be worth a look… 

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Fleur Hitchcock - The Boy Who Flew - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Athan Wilde dreams of flight. When his friend, Mr Chen, is murdered, Athan must rescue the flying machine they were building together and stop it falling into the wrong hands. But keeping the machine safe puts his family in terrible danger. What will Athan choose – flight or family?
From the acclaimed author of Murder In Midwinter, Fleur Hitchcock’s The Boy Who Flew is a thrilling, murderous tale set among the steep rooftops and slippery characters of Athan’s intricately imagined world. Perfect for fans of Philip Pullman, Peter Bunzl and Philip Reeve.
Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books is having a fantastic start to the New Year. We've had so many fantastic new books through the postbox to read already. Most of these are due to be published early this year, so make sure you check my other book reviews and add these to your list. We are looking forward to many more book adventures very soon. However, in the meantime, this is a review for the latest cracking book from Fleur Hitchcock. The Boy Who Flew is due to be published on 24th March 2019 in paperback by Nosy Crow. The book cover image (by Ben Mantle) is absolutely brilliant and invites the reader to enter a world that is so thrilling that they'll be instantly transported into an entertaining fantasy world. 

The story begins with a heart-thumping moment with the reader entering a world of wonder and murder. Athan Wilde's friend and mentor, Mr. Chen, has shockingly being murdered in a brutal way. The motive is to gain access to his plans for his latest invention .... a FLYING MACHINE. It's a thrilling period story full of danger. However, this does not deter Athan and his best friend, who are determined to find the murderers and protect the flying machine at all costs. The story flies across the rooftops with an exhilarating plot of danger and intrigue. Even Athan's family are pulled into danger, although this is unbeknown to them at the time. As a result, Athan has may choices to make and lots of unanswered questions to consider if he is going to stop the machine falling into the wrong hands.

This is a book that is carved out of science and history. Set in a time of great discoveries, the story is full of heroic adventures and dastardly deeds. The book's beating heart is powered by family and friendship. The brilliant depiction of Athan highlights the choices he has to make; his caring, brave and thoughtful nature turns this story into an epic roller-coaster of emotion as he dreams of freedom. 

The author has carved out a great collection of Dickensian-type characters that fit the setting particularly well and reflect a brilliant story. The murderous Colonel Blade is the best villainous character that I have read for some time. You'll come to both love and hate him at the same time. Full of dramatic and climatic action, the story is set in a brilliant dark and atmospheric world of corruption, lies and secrets. It throws you headfirst into the poverty-stricken crowded streets with the rich looking on from a more mighty and superior height. This is a dark narrative that is not shy; it pulls some mighty and unexpected punches for a middle-grade audience. As a result, it will be loved by anyone and everyone - you'll find yourself eagerly being sucked into its fantasy charms. This is a book that is definitely well worth the wait. Don't forget to pre-order it today! 

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Children's and Young Adult Book Picks - Jan 2019 US Published Post - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Roshani Chokshi - The Gilded Wolves - Published by Wednesday Books (January 15, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1250144546 - Hardback

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them. 
It's 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. 
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood. 
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history--but only if they can stay alive.

Kara Barbieri - White Stag: A Novel (Permafrost) - Wednesday Books (January 8, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1250149589 - Hardback 
White Stag, the first book in a brutally stunning series by Kara Barbieri, involves a young girl who finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home. 

A Wattpad break out star with over a million reads! Now expanded, revised and available in print and eBook. 
As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke―as the only survivor―was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.
Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad―especially when it comes to those you care about.
Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

Paul Noth - How to Properly Dispose of Planet Earth - Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books (January 15, 2019) -  ISBN-13: 978-1681196596 - Hardback

Popular New Yorker cartoonist Paul Noth continues his illustrated middle-grade series about a boy, his wacky family, and an out-of-this-world adventure in this laugh-out-loud sequel to How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens.
Happy Conklin Jr. is still the only 10-year-old who has to shave three times a day, thanks to being tested on by his inventor father. And it's safe to say Hap is the only 10-year-old who accidentally sold his entire family to aliens. The good news is that Hap managed to save his family--including his tyrannical Grandma--but now the Conklins face a problem that might put the whole world in danger . . . 
Hap wants a girl in his sixth-grade science class to be his lab partner but lacks the courage to even talk to her. Through the mysterious powers of Squeep! the lizard, he finds a way to overcome this fear but also, unfortunately, opens a black hole in his middle school that will swallow the solar system unless he's able to stop it. In his race against time to save everything, he's helped by his sister Kayla, greatly hindered by his sister Alice, and uncovers the truth about Grandma's plan to take over the Galaxy.

J. R. Krause - Dragon Night -  Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (January 22, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0525514244 - Hardback 

A boy and his dragon embark on a dazzling nighttime journey in this heartwarming friendship story about facing fears and helping others.

Georgie is afraid of the night. It's too dark with the lights off. Too quiet with everyone asleep. And being alone makes everything worse. The dragon is afraid of the knight. After all, the knight carries a heavy sword, and he always wants to fight. The dragon knows just what to do to help Georgie overcome his fear, and the two set off on an unforgettable magical adventure. But when the morning comes, the dragon is still afraid of the knight. How can Georgie help his friend? With kindness and empathy--and a little creativity--maybe Georgie can work some magic of his own.

J. R. Krause, an award-winning animator of The Simpsons and Futurama, has created a visually stunning story with incredible emotional depth, which addresses the needs of children to express their feelings and be received with kindness and empathy.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Claire Fayers - Storm Hound - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Storm of Odin is the youngest storm hound of the Wild Hunt that haunts lightning-filled skies. He has longed for the time when he will be able to join his brothers and sisters but on his very first hunt, he finds he can't keep up and falls to earth, landing on the A40 just outside Abergavenny.
Enter twelve-year-old Jessica Price, who finds and adopts a cute puppy from an animal rescue center. And suddenly, a number of strange people seem very interested in her and her new pet, Storm. People who seem to know a lot about magic . . . 
In Claire Fayers' electrifying adventure Storm Hound, Jessica starts to see that there's something different about her beloved dog and will need to work out which of her new friends she can trust.

We are storming into the new year with another book review. This time it is for Storm Hound by Claire Fayers which will be published by Macmillan Children's Books on the 21st February 2019. It is certainly sporting an amazingly striking and eye-catching cover which has been designed by Becka Moor.  

Contrary to my initial thoughts, I really enjoyed reading this book. My expectations were lifted after reading just a few pages as I soon became immersed in a mythical reality full of wit, charm and fantastic humour. This was not what I expected by reading, what I thought was, a rather underwhelming preface for this book. However, don't be fooled by this as it is a fantastic read.

You will meet my favourite character, Storm of Odin, as he falls out of the sky and finds himself a long way from the hunting pack. He is fantastically written with the most charismatic personality. He is a fierce little ball of mischevious fur, who is constantly frustrated and is really a rather unlikely hero. However, this makes the story all the more entertaining. Full of wild adventure, shape-shifting and some 'mild' magical moments (i.e. not overly used), this book will be loved by the younger audience (9-12).

The story features a displaced family, who are finding their feet in new surroundings, having moved from London to the more rural setting outside Abergavenny. This gives the story some substance and will be relatable to some readers, especially those starting a new school, making new friends and trying to fit in etc. It's an easy going read that has a moral at the heart of the adventure whilst still retaining a punchy plot.  

The story is a rollercoaster of trouble, a dodgem ride of mystery and a big dipper of troublesome characters who all want to gain magical powers. It's a story based on myths and legends, but with a reality spin that makes it very intriguing. With so many twists, turns and possibilities, the reader hurtles through the pages on a funfair ride of despair and delight.

On finishing the book, your mood will be uplifted. This cleverly written heartfelt story will make you feel better about the world that you live in. What a great start to the year with a wonderful book to read.

Friday, 11 January 2019

New Children's & Young Adult Book Picks January 2019 - Post Two - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Lisa Thompson - The Day I Was Erased - Published by Scholastic (3 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1407185125 - Paperback

The brand new read-in-one-sitting mystery from the author of unforgettable bestseller The Goldfish Boy.
Maxwell is always in trouble. He's a total menace to his teachers and big sister, but has a soft side, too: he rescued his dog, Monster, from being run over and checks on his elderly neighbour after school. 
One day, while looking through a mysterious cabinet of curiosities, Maxwell finds himself erased from his life: it's as if he's never been born. At first, being able to walk around without being yelled at is great, but Maxwell starts to miss his old life. And, if he'd never existed, then he wouldn't have swooped Monster out of the path of that car... A story of family, friendship and finding your place in the world.

Yoon Ha Lee - Dragon Pearl - Published by Rick Riordan Presents (17 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1368013352 - Hardback 

Rick Riordan Presents Yoon Ha Lee's space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you'd never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min's mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She's counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.

Andy Shepherd (Author), Sara Ogilvie (Illustrator)The Boy Who Flew with Dragons - Published by Piccadilly Press (10 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1848127357 - Paperback 

Tomas can't imagine life without his little dragon Flicker. He's become more than a pet - he's a friend like no other. And growing dragons on the dragonfruit tree in the garden with his friends Ted, Kat and Kai is the most amazing thing ever. But Tomas has promised Grandad something - that he and his friends will let their dragons go back to where they belong. The only problem is - that isn't such an easy thing to do. Not when they are still having so much fun with dragons Flicker, Sunny, Crystal and Dodger. Not when they still have to work out where the dragons' home is, and how to get the dragons to leave. And not when Tomas is so close to uncovering the true story of the mysterious dragonfruit tree ...

Samuel J. Halpin (Author), Hannah Peck (Illustrator) - The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods - Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd (10 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1474945660 - Paperback 

This is the story of a sleepy town called Suds. A place where stories fill the air of children who keep turning grey and disappearing without a trace… 
Poppy and Erasmus are certain there's something peculiar going on in Suds, and they're determined to unravel its secrets. But when they discover the answers might lie in the darking and twisting woods, can they find the courage to creep inside and solve this riddling mystery?

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Sophie Green - Potkin and Stubbs - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Lil Potkin lives in bleak Peligan City. Her mum works in City Hall and is rarely at home, so aspiring journalist Lil has all the time she needs to explore the city in her bright yellow raincoat, investigating unsolved stories.

One rainy evening Lil meets a sad-looking boy sitting by himself in the bus station and buys him a hot chocolate. That night Lil wakes to find him in her bedroom. He doesn't want to admit to being a ghost, but when he finally remembers his name (Nedly ... possibly) he explains that he needs Lil's help to find out what happened to him after he disappeared from his orphanage a year ago.

So Lil and Nedly - aka Potkin and Stubbs - team up to solve their mystery, and they call in the reluctant help of once-famous detective Abe Mandrel. He agrees to help them with the Stubbs case if they help him find the criminal who escaped justice and cost him his career.

Except - Mandrel thinks it's only Lil he's working with. And Lil realises she is the only person in the whole of Peligan City who can see Nedly. Which can come in handy when trying to solve crime...

As we dip our fantasy toes into 2019, there are some fantastic new reads to whet our appetite. Looking into the immediate future, there is an eye-catching new book by Sophie Green called Potkin and Stubbs. This book first grabbed my attention when it was featured in my little book cover wars 2018 competition. It has to be one of my favourites and looks amazing in the flesh; a bundle of green and golden joy. The superb illustrations are from the talented Karl James Mountford which are delightfully in keeping with the story and add some timely atmospheric detail.  Unfortunately for you, dear reader, you will have to wait until the beginning of March 2019 to get your eager mitts on a copy. However, good things come to people who wait and this book is not just good ... it's BRILLIANT. So put it on your pre-order list. 

Sophie Green's favourite film is Ghost Busters. Bearing this in mind, it is clear that some of the influence has rubbed off and can be seen within this story. The plot is filled with some fantastically spooky shenanigans as you venture through, if you dare, as it will both scare and delight you. The book instantly plunges the reader into an atmospheric dark journey that will capture the imagination and pull the threads of the fantasy soul. It will leave you fully engrossed and turning the pages like a demon possessed. 

The detective story starts with the introduction of the fantastic protagonist, twelve-year-old, Lil Potkin. Looking for a story and ready for action, she is armed with a small rucksack, notepad and a nest of chewed pencils. Something soon captures her attention through a missing toy advert and a mystery sad looking boy. She decides to investigate, but what could possibly go wrong?

Catapulted into a dark world of corruption and deceit, the storyline makes an amazing read. The author has come up with some cracking ideas blending it with a creative and unusual concept. It has all the ingredients I love: drama, tension, mystery and a very disturbing eerie quality like walking into a spider's web and breaking the macabre tension with a fantasy knife. 

It's a fantastic story. Although slightly sad, it is layered with mystery and an unlikely investigation trio of Potkin, Stubbs, and Mandrel (who is my favourite character) the walking Swiss army knife. The book is littered with humour, heart and some fantastic plot moments that everyone will absolutely love. I read this book so quickly; I could not put it down. 

The setting feels monochrome and atmospheric which encapsulates the story giving it a timeless, vintage quality and a slightly unique feel. It will easily hook you in and then sucker punch you at the end. Excitingly, this might be the beautiful start to an amazing new series. If so, it will certainly be at the top of my list for 2019. 

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Benjamin Read & Laura Trinder - The Midnight Hour - Book Review (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

They must have come from under beds, out of mirrors, up from caves, and down from attics; all out of the darkness and into the moonlight. They were the Night Folk, and this was their world.
Emily's parents have vanished into the secret world of the Midnight Hour – a Victorian London frozen in time, home to magic and monsters. Emily must find them in the city of the Night Folk, armed only with a packed lunch, a stowaway hedgehog, and her infamously big mouth.
With bloodthirsty creatures on her tail, Emily has to discover the truth to rescue her parents. What family secret connects her to the Midnight Hour? And can she save both worlds before she runs out of sandwiches?

The world of fantasy is floating high in the sky of London with this debut novel which has been written by two ex-book sellers Benjamin Read & Laura Trinder. The Midnight Hour will strike into publication on the 7th February 2019. Published by Chicken House and developed in association with Altitude Films this book has very exciting prospects. 

You'll love the fantastic book cover illustration by Hannah Peck capturing the story inside and shimmering particularly well in the light. However, dear reader, what can you expect from this little marvel? Well, when the clock strikes twelve a fantastically written heroine called Emily will come out to play. She will make you smile from ear to ear as she marches into a world of danger and intrigue with Hoggins the hedgehog and her runaway mouth. Together, they prickle with pluckiness and courage, as they face perilous danger from some very nasty characters. If you are expecting a midnight delivery over the next few weeks, then lock your DOOR and hide behind the sofa. 

You'll be whisked on a magical bike ride into a fantasy full of mystery and postal madness, from the Daylight realm into the magical world of the Night Folk. What will you see? Take a peek through the letterbox and you will be entertained and thrilled from the very start. It sparkles and dazzles with a quirky narrative that is layered with magical spookiness and a large bit of kookiness. All it takes is a lick of a postage stamp to let your imagination run wild; it's all set in a breathtaking and wildly immersive Pratchett-like world that feels very much like home. 

The clock ticks as the action unfolds in a dramatic way that will keep the reader on their big POOKA toes. Overall, it is slightly bonkers, very clever and a fantastic book to read. It enables the reader to escape whilst riding the coattails of danger and adventure. Watch out for the creative use of naming the characters, which I found very amusing. This is a performance that surpasses all expectations by a very talented duo who have learned a thing or two from selling and reading books. Keep a watch out for the film - it should be good! 

Anyone fancy a sandwich?


Monday, 7 January 2019

New Children's & Young Adult Book Picks January 2019 - Post One - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Lucy Strange - Our Castle by the Sea - Published by Chicken House (3 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1911077831 - Paperback - Read Full Extract HERE
England is at war. Growing up in a lighthouse, Pet's world has been one of storms, secret tunnels and stories about sea monsters. But now the clifftops are a terrifying battleground, and her family is torn apart. This is the story of a girl who is small, afraid and unnoticed. A girl who freezes with fear at the enemy planes ripping through the skies overhead. A girl who is somehow destined to become part of the strange, ancient legend of the Daughters of Stone ...
Ross Welford - The Dog Who Saved the World - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (10 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0008256975 - Paperback
The astounding new novel from the bestselling and Costa-shortlisted author of Time Travelling with a Hamster, this is a story for everyone of ten and older who loves adventure, laughs and tears.
When eleven-year-old Georgie befriends an eccentric retired scientist, she becomes the test subject for a thrilling new experiment: a virtual-reality 3D version of the future.
But then a deadly disease threatens the life of every dog in the country and Georgie’s beloved dog, Mr Mash, gets sick. And that’s only the start of her troubles.
Soon, Georgie and Mr Mash must embark on a desperate quest: to save every dog on earth, and maybe even all of humanity …
… without actually leaving the room.
An extraordinary quest with the biggest stakes of all, and a huge idea at its heart, this is time travel – but not as you know it.

Alex Gardiner - Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom - Published by Andersen Press (3 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1783447916 - Paperback

Roger is just an ordinary boy, in an ordinary world – or so he thinks, until a grumpy dwarf warrior, Mossbelly MacFearsome, appears out of thin air and saves him from the school bully. If that isn’t incredible enough, now Moss has decided that Roger is the perfect human companion for his daring quest to defeat the dwarves’ arch-enemy Leatherhead Barnstorm and his horrifying horde of monstrous (but very polite) gorefiends. If Roger doesn’t help Moss, the world as we know it will be destroyed by ogres and dragons and the race of humans will be annihilated. If he does help, he will be late for his tea and his mum will be going mad with worry. A Highland castle, a trainee witch who knows karate, and an ancient spell to be broken – by King Golmar’s braces, just what has Roger got himself into?

A hilarious action-packed fish-out-of-water adventure, perfect for young fans of Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Cressida Cowell.

Melissa Savage - The Truth About Martians - Published by Chicken House (3 Jan. 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1911490821 - Paperback - Read Full Extract HERE 

Mylo never really believed in Martians, unless they had a starring role in one of his comic books. But then a flying saucer crash-lands next to his Roswell, New Mexico, ranch, and he starts to hear voices--like someone is asking for his help. 
With his best friend Dibs and crush Gracie by his side, and his Cracker Jack superhero membership card, a slingshot, and a small American flag--for peace--in tow, Mylo sets out on an epic adventure to investigate the crash and find the Martians. But he and his friends end up discovering more about the universe than they ever could have imagined.