Saturday, 4 June 2022

Alex Foulkes - Author Interview (Q&A) - Rules for Vampires - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #23


Hello to you all. It's time to flap your fantasy wings and crack out the garlic in our second fantastic interview. I'm delighted to be able to introduce Alex Foulkes, who is the author of a dark, funny series called Rules for Vampires. Ghosts Bite Back is the second book in the series and will be published later this year (Sept 2022 by Simon and Schuster). We thought we would ask the 'jammy' author and school librarian some questions on how to keep Vampires at bay and how she 'staked' a claim in writing horror fiction. We hope you enjoy this 'bleeding' marvellous interview; did you like what I did there? Enjoy! You can buy the book Here. 
  • Rules for Vampires is your first children's book, do you think Vampires actually have rules?
Yes! Vampires actually have loads of different rules throughout literary history - too many to include in one book. If you added in every vampire rule out there, you would have a very long story (and one that would contradict itself!) When I was writing Rules for Vampires, I wanted a clear set of Vampiric Laws to govern the world. I chose my faves and added a few of my own. My favourite Vampiric Law is probably concerning vampires being unable to enter uninvited, which I think is one of the coolest vampire limitations.
  • Would your younger self enjoy reading this book and why?
The character of Leo is actually based on myself when I was eleven, as well as children I've worked with in my time as a school librarian and a teaching assistant. I was a weird sort of kid and Rules for Vampires is definitely a very weird story! When I was a young reader, I definitely wanted something with a bit of bite, lots of fight scenes, scares and laughs. This has been my checklist for Rules for Vampires.
  • Are there any books that you have read that you think may have influenced your writing?
Oh, absolutely loads. A stand-out series is definitely Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, mostly for its gothic tone, amazing villain and eerie, unsettling atmosphere. I read these books growing up and absolutely wanted to be Violet Baudelaire! I think these stories have stayed with me all the way through to adulthood.
  • How do you think Sara Ogilvie's illustrations add another dimension to the storytelling and did she also illustrate the wonderful book cover?
Sara Ogilvie absolutely did illustrate the spine-chilling cover for Rules for Vampires! Her artwork takes this story to another level; her imagining of these characters and this world is so rich, so fun and so detailed. When you pick up a copy of Vampires, Sara brings you into the Dreadwald in a way that words on their own wouldn't do quite as well. She's seriously magical. Her work on Leo in particular added additional depth to the way I now write this important character. I think it's because I have Sara's strong picture of Leo's design in my head as I write her.
  • I read somewhere that "World Book Day would be your Jam." What would be your perfect World Book Day?
Hahaha! World Book Day is indeed my total jam - you've been on my author website! Fangs so much! World Book Day is an important day to librarians everywhere and I am no exception. My ideal WBD would definitely be in school, with lots of dress-up and fun activities. Of course an open, busy library. And - most important of all - sharing stories. Reading together. Talking about books. Of course, reading is for every day, but WBD is such an amazing celebration of reading for enjoyment, why not make a point of it? Discussing our favourite reads is so important.
  • Ghosts Bite Back will be the second book in the series (published this September 2022). What can readers expect in this book and is humour a key role in this story?
If readers have enjoyed Rules for Vampires, they will find that Ghosts Bite Back is even BIGGER, even GHOSTLIER, with oodles of fights and laughs and chills. I wanted to take everything I loved about writing Vampires and turn it up to eleven for Ghosts. Leo and Minna are facing some serious danger in this story! In spite of this, humour is absolutely still a key element to Ghosts Bite Back. I find that, no matter what I write, having a lightness and a sense of fun is always important.
  • What is the best thing about being a published author? 
The best thing about being a published author... is going into schools, libraries and bookshops and meeting readers. It's absolutely the best thing in the world. I also love talking to aspiring writers and hearing about their creativity and writing journeys.
  • What question were you hoping I might have asked? (Please could you answer from the perspective of one of your characters in the book)
I have spoken to Rodrigo, Leo's spidery roommate, and he had this to say:


"You must want to know what it's like being the secret TRUE HERO of this story! Of course Rules for Vampires should have been called Rules for Spiders, as I am clearly the most important character on the page. My chapters are clearly the best. I'm working on being included in EVERY chapter of Ghosts Bite Back, as I think this would improve the story eightfold.
"I've found fame tricky to deal with, ever since Rules for Vampires came out. Paparazzi chase me at every turn. Please understand - I know I am a big deal and you want to put me on the cover of every magazine - but I am just a humble spider. So humble."

Monday, 30 May 2022

David Solomons - Author Interview (Q&A) - A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books #21


Hello Everybody. I'm delighted to be able to announce that over the next two/three months there's going to be a whole host of exciting and interesting author Q&As. This week we're going to kick off with funnyman David Solomon. Here we find out that there is life after his brilliant series My Brother is a Superhero as he has a new book out on 7th July 2022 (published by Nosy Crow). It's called A Beginner's Guide to Building a Fart Machine - no, really it's A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy! 

It is a real pleasure and a privilege to share this first Q&A with you. So, let's begin by finding out more about the author, his writing and, of course, his amazing new book. What's it called again? 
 
  • A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy is your new book, please could you sum up this book in the craziest way possible? 

Space opera in the suburbs. It’s that old story of boy meets girl next door. Girl turns out to be heir to the galactic throne who’s on the run and hiding out on earth from… ah. No spoilers.

  • After writing five fantastic books in My Brother is a Superhero series, what challenges did you have starting with this new book? Did fresh ideas flow from the very first page? 

Thank-you for the compliment! I find that ideas flow in much the same way that blood does from an open wound. There’s a lot of them, but it’s a painful process. On the first question, enough time had passed since I’d closed the final chapter on the My Brother series that I didn’t feel those books hovering at my shoulder and peering at what I was doing now. Although, as I write this, I realise that everything I’ve ever written is shelved three feet behind me and could be said to be looming over me judgementally. 

  • Are laughter and humour always going to be David Solomons's key writing ingredients? Do you feel it is important that readers engage through laughter when reading your books? 

I don’t set out to write funny books, it’s just the way they come out. I’m an inveterate noodler when it comes to funny scenes – I find myself going over and over them like some mad scientist – word choice, sentence rhythm, electrodes – in an effort to draw out the maximum lols. I can’t envisage writing a book that doesn’t contain humour; to do so would require a level of self-restraint that I have thus far failed to demonstrate in my life. Though I would say that, in my own mind anyway, I pay as much attention to the other elements. I challenge myself to make the stories funny and exciting, funny and poignant. It’s a tricky balance. For example, putting a snarky line into a character’s mouth at the wrong time can undercut what could and should be a dramatic moment. After years working together my editor, Kirsty Stansfield at Nosy Crow, is very good at reigning in my overenthusiastic tendencies!

  • Most of the characters you write about have a superpower, what is your superpower? 

I can bend time so that deadlines just bounce off me.

  • Everybody loves an evil villain, which villain would you love to have a real-life conversation with and how do you think it would go?

First, one that comes to mind is Darth Vader, but it would be Eddie Izzard’s version of him from the legendary Death Star canteen routine. In which case our conversation would probably end with him killing me. With a tray.  

  • Which of your books would you like to see being turned into a film and why? 

Any of them! And as for the reason, are you hoping for something more meaningful than fame, glory and a thumping great first day principal photography fee? I’ve been endeavouring to get my books into development/production for years, with a modicum of success. Steve Coogan’s company optioned My Brother is a Superhero, and I wrote a script for a proposed TV series, but that went away. I continue, Charlie Brown-like, to put my work in front of producers. In my other career as a screenwriter, I’ve written the screenplays for three films, including a version of Five Children and It, which I’m pleased to say continues to enjoy a life long after its debut.

These days I write screenplays mostly with my wife, Natasha. And they’re mostly adaptations of her books (for grown-ups). So, the other answer to your question is I’d like to have a film made purely to justify all the hard work we’ve put into the process.

  • How important do you think it is to get children to read for enjoyment? 

I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old. For them there isn’t any other kind of reading. By which I mean they’ll only read if the experience is enjoyable. Our eldest is going through an interesting reading phase. I’m in the fortunate position that I’m aware of what’s brand new in the world of children’s fiction. It used to be I could put anything in front of him and he’d read it, but from hoovering up every kind of book, reading three or four a week, he’s slowing down. Still reading and enjoying, but I get the sense that he’s starting to form his own likes and dislikes. He’s happy to reject dad’s suggestions! The six-year-old is just finding her reading feet, but she already has strong opinions, especially when it comes to line readings. At bedtime, when Natasha or I are reading to her, she’ll make us stop if she thinks we’ve flubbed a line. Then she’ll read it the way it ought to be performed. 

To go back to the original question, it makes my heartache. Our whole industry ultimately relies on enough of these little people wanting to pick up a book. It’s why I get so angry when some publishers foist substandard fiction on them. Kid reads average book with huge marketing budget and shrugs: I’ll go back to YouTube thanks. Yes, publisher gets immediate sales, but what about the long-term? Is that kid going to turn into a lifelong reader if her early exposure to books is so flawed? I know it’s not as simple as that, but it doesn’t help.

  • What question were you hoping to be asked in this Q&A and why? 

Is the author who appears in ‘My Cousin is a Time Traveller’ based on you? 


So, in the last of the Superhero series our heroes get an author visit at school, a dismal presentation from a sweating, under-rehearsed children’s writer. I was quite emotional, writing the last of this series, and I knew I was saying goodbye to characters who’d had transformative effect on my life. So I wrote myself into the story in order to say goodbye to them ‘in person’. However, since I pantsed much of that novel (i.e. made it up as I went along) my character turned out to have a bigger role than I’d intended. Thanks for asking.

Monday, 23 May 2022

The Best Children's/Kids Book Picks May 2022 - US - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

Katherine Arden - Dark Waters (Small Spaces Quartet) - Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (May 10, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎978-0593109175 - Paperback - Age: 10+

Filled with chills and spooks galore, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Arden’s latest installment in the creep-tastic Small Spaces Quartet is sure to haunt. Now in paperback.

Until next time. That was the chilling promise the smiling man-made to Ollie, Coco, and Brian after they last outsmarted him. And as the trio knows, the smiling man always keeps his promises. So when the lights flicker and a knock sounds at the door, there can only be one explanation: he’s back and a frightening new game is afoot.
 
But before the three friends can unravel the smiling man’s latest nightmarish scheme, they set sail on Lake Champlain, where it’s said Vermont’s very own Loch Ness monster lives. Brian is thrilled. He hasn’t sailed since visiting family in Jamaica, and even the looming threat of the smiling man can’t put a damper on what is guaranteed to finally be a day of fun—even if it is awkward being stuck on a boat with his former best friend, Phil, and his new best friends, Coco and Ollie. But when this crew find themselves shipwrecked on a deserted island and hunted by a monster on both land and sea, fun becomes the last thing on their minds. The sm
iling man has at long last set the stage for a perilous rematch. But this time, Brian is ready to play.

Lynette Noni - The Prisoner Healer - Published by Clarion Books (May 10, 2022) -  ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎978-0358669432 - Paperback - Age: 11+

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.


Juliana Brandt - Monsters in the Mist - Published by Sourcebooks Young Readers (May 3, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎978-1728245447 - Hardback - Age: 8+ 

When 13-year-old Glennon McCue, his mom, and his fragile sister are left with their uncle at his lighthouse on Isle Philippeaux, Glennon desperately wants leave the desolate isle and return home. But his father is away, so Glennon is forced to spend his break surrounded by fog, rats, and chilling myths. Nothing seems quite right... with the island or with his family.

A storm rocks the island and a ship crashes near the lighthouse, leaving behind a group of sailors. Something is off about the survivors, who seem more monster than human. Soon it becomes clear that there won't be boats to take anyone home, and Glennon and his family are trapped.

It will take all Glennon's courage to save his family from the curse of the isle and the real monster in his life.


Sylvia Douyé (Author), Paola Antista (Illustrator) - Sorceline -  Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing (May 17, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1524871314 - Paperback - Age: 8+

Welcome to the Island of Vorn, where mythical creatures roam free and only the brightest students are invited to study them. In Book 1 of this riveting new middle-grade graphic novel series, a gifted young cryptozoologist-in-training must learn to tame powerful beasts—including her own inner demons.

For as long as she can remember, Sorceline has had a knack for the study of mythical creatures. Now a student at Professor Archibald Balzar’s prestigious school of cryptozoology, she’s eager to test her skills and earn a spot as one of Balzar’s apprentices.

But for all her knowledge of gorgons, vampires, and griffins, Sorceline is mystified by her fellow humans. While she excels in her studies, she quickly clashes with her classmates, revealing her fiery temper.

When one of her rivals suddenly disappears, Sorceline must set aside her anger and join the quest to find her. But the mystery only deepens, leading Sorceline on a journey far darker and more personal than she expected . . .



Thursday, 12 May 2022

The Best Children's/Kids Book Picks May 2022 - UK - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

 

Hannah Durkan - Zeina Starborn and the Sky Whale - Published by  Orion Children's Books (12 May 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1510109599 - Paperback - Age: 8+ 

    'A thrilling tale of intrigue and adventure in the clouds, full of wonderful creatures, mind-boggling gadgets, bravery, kindness and hope' Thomas Taylor, author of Malamander

    When Zeina Starborn's dream of exploring the skies becomes a reality, she finds herself in a daring adventure beyond her wildest imagination. Meet explorers, inventors, and mighty sky whales in this richly inventive fantasy, perfect for 9+ fans of BRIGHTSTORM and ORPHANS OF THE TIDE.

    Zeina Starborn spends her days dreaming of adventure in the sky and escaping the smog-filled city of Ravenport.

    So, when she wins the chance to visit the famous Willoughby Whale Hotel - a ginormous structure built on the back of a flying whale - Zeina grabs it. Even clashing with Jackson, spoiled heir to the Willoughby fortune, can't dampen her excitement.

    But a series of clues makes her question what she's been told about this dazzling world of inventors, explorers and mighty sky whales. Zeina and Jackson must put aside their differences to uncover the secret plot around them as they embark on the journey of a lifetime.

    Ross MacKenzie - The Colour of Hope - Published by Andersen Press (5 May 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1839132025 - Paperback - Age: 10+ 

    Years ago, the Emperor used dark magic to steal all the colour from the world. Now he keeps it for himself, enjoying its life-giving power while everyone else must exist in cold shades of grey. That is, until a miracle baby is born – everything she touches turns to colour. But the child’s life is in danger from her very first breath. Soon the Emperor’s murderous Ripper Dogs and Black Coats come hunting. Can the girl and her adopted father survive in the forest – and what will it take to return colour and hope to the world?

    Caryl Lewis (Author), George Ermos (Illustrator) - SEED - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (12 May 2022) -  ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1529077667 - Paperback - Age: 8+

    'Some books are about magic. Some books ARE magic. Seed will cast a spell on you' – Frank Cottrell-Boyce

    Seed is a funny, big-hearted story by award-winner Caryl Lewis about the power of hope and imagination when you believe in the impossible. Perfect for readers of 8-12. Illustrated in black and white throughout by George Ermos.

    The heart of Wonder meets the humour of The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates.

    Marty doesn't have much. Unlike his mum, who has billions of things: newspapers, holey shoes, rusty lawnmowers, broken picture frames – she keeps EVERYTHING! It's hard to leave the house. Marty does his best to look after her and wonders if anything will ever change. 

    But on Marty's birthday, Grandad, with a glint in his eye, gifts Marty a very special seed. Grandad hasn't been this excited since he invented the bum scratcher 2000 or thought he'd brewed wonder fuel from rhubarb
    leaves! The seed grows bigger and bigger, and launches Grandad, Marty and his best friend Gracie on an impossible, wondrous plan fuelled by love, hopes and dreams.

    Peter Bunzl - Magicborn - Published by Usborne Publishing (26 May 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1474964395 - Paperback - Age: 7+

    The Curse is changed. You'll never know. The truth is lost. The lie will grow. 

    The year is 1726 and the Royal Sorcerer of England is on the hunt for those who are magicborn. When Tempest is captured after accidentally unleashing a power she didn't know she had, she is taken to Kensington Palace alongside a boy like her, Thomas.

    Trapped, Tempest and Thomas find their magic flickering to life - and with it, long-buried memories. For they are the lost prince and princess of Fairyland, bound by a deadly curse...and now the fairies are coming to get them. A battle is building - one only they can end. But who will survive?

    Jasmine Richards - The Unmorrow Curse - Published by UCLan Publishing (5 May 2022) -  ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1912979882 - Paperback - Age: 8+

    Two friends awaken a world of myth and magic in this epic middle-grade fantasy perfect for fans of Rick Riordan. It's not every day that you find a famous weather woman bound by magic to a tree deep in the woods. Or discover that the weatherwoman is in fact Sunna, the Norse Goddess of the Sun, and one of the seven day guardians who keep time in order. But that's just what happens to new friends Buzz and Mari--and it's only the start of their adventure. Now, as humanity are forced into a lockdown called the Unmorrow Curse and are forced to repeat the same Saturday over and over again, Buzz and Mari must journey to collect the Runes of Valhalla and awaken the other day guardians, before vengeful god Loki can get to them first.

    Sunday, 8 May 2022

    Hana Tooke (Author), Ayesha L. Rubio (Illustrator) - THE MIDNIGHTERS - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

     


    The best stories feel like dreams... This is the second middle-grade book by Hana Tooke. THE MIDNIGHTERS has the power to transport you in your dreams to one of the best places in the world; the world of fantasy and make-believe. This book really is magnificent - you only need to hold and see the proof copy to know that it is going to be a great read. The book will be published on 23rd June 2022 by Puffin Books; the cover has been illustrated by Ayesha L. Rubio. I'm really looking forward to seeing the final hardback copy once it's been published. 

    Streetlamps looked like fallen stars is one of the first lines in the book. As soon as you read these words, the magic and the power instantly transport you into a world of awe and wonder. This is a gothic story full of magic, invention, and intrigue. The dark and unsettling nature is so delicious to read and savour, it really is spellbinding stuff. The reader follows in the footsteps of the leading character happily wandering the streets and alleyways.

    Ema Vaškov is the twelfth child to be born into an extraordinary family in extraordinary circumstances. She has the gift to predict events before they happen. However, will the bad omens come TRUE? Set in Prague in December 1877, the story uncovers secret midnight adventures with a mystery girl called Silvie. Unfortunately, she suddenly goes missing providing the opportunity to uncover the secrets of her disappearance and her identity. This story will really take your breath away; it'll steal your heartbeat as you cycle on one of Josef's handmade boneshaker bikes. It's full of places that will make your imagination explode and dazzle whilst the plot is so thick with possibilities you will not what to miss this adventure. 

    This book is a true delight and one of the best reads of the year. It's a story full of adventure, friendship, facing fears, and finding out who you really are. It's time for you to find the secret society and go behind the four different doors: The Dreamer, The Illusionist, The Bone Sculptor, and The Astronomer. Each place contains a pinch of magic, a splash of the macabre, a dollop of invention, and a world full of wonder. You will not be disappointed - this is a truly enchanting read that is up there with the very best. 


    You can buy the book HERE. 

    Thursday, 28 April 2022

    The Best Children's US Book Picks April 2022 - Picked by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

     

    Emily J . Taylor - Hotel Magnifique - Published by Razorbill (April 5, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎978-0593404515 - Hardback (Age: 11+)

    Hotel Magnifique opened the door to a sumptuous and glittering world of magic and mysteries and left me enchanted. Perfect for fans of Caraval and The Night Circus.” –Erin A. Craig, New York Times bestselling author of House of Salt and Sorrows and Small Favors
     
    Decadent and darkly enchanting, this lavish YA fantasy debut follows seventeen-year-old Jani as she uncovers the deeply disturbing secrets of the legendary Hotel Magnifique.


    All her life, Jani has dreamed of Elsewhere. Just barely scraping by with her job at a tannery, she’s resigned to a dreary life in the port town of Durc, caring for her younger sister Zosa. That is, until the Hotel Magnifique comes to town.
     
    The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel—appearing in a different destination every morning. While Jani and Zosa can’t afford the exorbitant costs of a guest’s stay, they can interview to join the staff, and are soon whisked away on the greatest adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets.
     
    With the vexingly handsome doorman Bel as her only ally, Jani embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of the magic at the heart of the hotel and free Zosa—and the other staff—from the cruelty of the ruthless maître d’hôtel. To succeed, she’ll have to risk everything she loves, but failure would mean a fate far worse than never returning home.



    Catherynne M. Valente - Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods - Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books (April 26, 2022) - ISBN-13:978-1481476997 - Hardback (Age: 7+)

    From New York Times bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente comes an inventive new fantasy following a boy journeying away from the only home he’s ever known and into the magical realm of the dead in order to fulfill a bargain for his people.

    Osmo Unknown hungers for the world beyond his small town. With the life that Littlebridge society has planned for him, the only taste Osmo will ever get are his visits to the edge of the Fourpenny Woods where his mother hunts. Until the unthinkable happens: his mother accidentally kills a Quidnunk, a fearsome and intelligent creature that lives deep in the forest.

    None of this should have anything to do with poor Osmo, except that a strange treaty was once formed between the Quidnunx and the people of Littlebridge to ensure that neither group would harm the other. Now that a Quidnunk is dead, as the firstborn child of the hunter who killed her, Osmo must embark on a quest to find the Eightpenny Woods—the mysterious kingdom where all wild forest creatures go when they die—and make amends.

    Accompanied by a very rude half-badger, half-wombat named Bonk and an antisocial pangolin girl called Nev
    er, it will take all of Osmo’s bravery and cleverness to survive the magic of the Eightpenny Woods to save his town…and make it out alive.

    Stacy Hackney - The Sisters of Luna Island - Published by Simon & Schuster Books (April 12, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎978-1534488694 - Hardback (Age: 7+) 

    Little Women gets a Nevermoor twist in this bewitching novel about a young girl tasked to break a centuries-old curse or risk losing her beloved sisters.

    Twelve-year-old Marigold Lafleur is the last of a long line of aromages: witches who blend scents into practical charms using aromagic. But ever since a terrible accident injured her father and damaged Luna Island, Marigold and her sisters, Birdie and Lou, have vowed to abandon their family legacy and mama’s way of life. Shunned by their neighbors and overlooked by their parents, Marigold relies on her big sisters above all else.

    But when Marigold discovers a secret curse that threatens her family, her sisters can’t stop the impending danger. It’s up to Marigold and her best friend, Sam, to uncover the origins of the curse and break the spell. To do so, she must learn to trust her instincts and believe in her own unique magic or risk losing her beloved sisters forever.

    Amy Kim Kibuishi - The Realm of the Blue Mist: A Graphic Novel (The Rema Chronicles) - Published by Graphix (April 5, 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎978-1338115130 - Paperback (Age: 7+) 

    Enter the rich and fantastical world of Rema in the first installment of this middle-grade graphic novel series with sweeping adventure and light romance!

    Tabby Simon is determined to learn what happened to her father, who was found dead after researching a tree that leaks a mysterious mist in her neighborhood. She is unexpectedly led to Rema, a distant world of magic and beauty that is periodically invaded by a nearby planet desperate for resources. While Tabby searches for the truth surrounding her father's death, she meets a handsome blue-haired boy named Philip. He has his own dangerous secrets, but has promised to help Tabby get home. As she learns more about this strange world, Tabby discovers that she is destined for something far greater than she ever could have imagined.

    Monday, 25 April 2022

    Alake Pilgrim - Zo and the Forest of Secrets - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books



    Are you looking for a fantastic read this summer? Then look no further as we definitely have the book for you. This is a fantastic middle-grade adventure - a Caribbean masterclass of storytelling - by debut children's author Alake Pilgrim. Zo and the Forest of Secrets will be the first book as part of a new series which will be published on 2nd June 2022 by inclusive publisher Knights Of. The story is based on the island of Trinidad & Tobago which gives this plot a wonderful backdrop to base the story. It really gives it a multicultural infusion as it breathes life into the story with descriptive panache.   

    The story has been inspired by the idea that "every child deserves to be the hero of their own stories". Lenny Henry raised a similar point recently stating that he wanted to create characters that young children could identify with as this was something he found difficult as a child. As an avid young reader, he often wanted to go on a fantasy journey with a character that looked and felt like him. Therefore, it's important that books provide children with a sense of enjoyment but also enable them to identify with the story whether this is through the characters, settings, story themes/topics etc. In this book, the author reflects the connections with different countries to her own island of Trinidad & Tobago. 

    There are a number of topical and important themes that are covered in this book such as family, friendship and eco-consciousness. However, what I really loved about this book is its brilliance and uniqueness - it's 100% bonkers. The story starts with a shroud of mystery and strange unexplained visions. When Zo finds a lost boy called Adri drowning in the river, she must uncover the mysteries of the forest to find their way home. The journey brings more surprises including a spider with a mechanical twitching arm called Cap'n Peg! This character actually brought tears to my eyes as I was laughing so much. I'm really looking forward to more antics in the next book through the eyes of the main character and their unusual cluster of spiders

    The synopsis does not really do this book justice in my opinion. What the story has to tell is a different narrative. It's a read for a seasoned armchair explorer willing to undertake a fantasy exploration through an exotic forest. Expect to encounter an abandoned facility that may hold a few answers whilst encountering a cavern full of disturbing nightmarish creatures called X. You'll dance, skip and hop from one dangerous situation to another whilst smelling the flora and fauna along the way. You'll fully immerse yourself in colour and song as you join one of the best imaginative fantasy journeys this year. Take my advice and give this book a read. You can pre-order from all good bookshops. 

    Tuesday, 12 April 2022

    The Best Children's Book UK Picks April 2022 - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

    Jamie Russell - SkyWake Battlefield - Published by Walker Books (7 April 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1406397529 - Paperback 

    Caught up in an alien war on a distant galaxy, Casey and her team are fighting for their lives – but which side should they be on? The second in an exciting and original debut sci-fi adventure trilogy for the gaming generation.

    Casey and hundreds of other SkyWakers are now stuck on the planet Hosin, thousands of miles out in space, forced by the Red Eyes to fight the elusive Squids. Casey and her squad, the Ghost Reapers, are determined to rescue the other gamers and return to Earth – but when the strangely compelling Squids enter Casey's mind, begging for help, Casey faces an impossible decision. With the team split in two and Casey's brother on the other side, home seems further away than ever. How can Casey save the planet if she can't keep her friends?


    Skye McKenna - Hedgewitch - Published by 
    Welbeck Flame (14 April 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1801300087 - Paperback 

    First in a five-book series for readers of NevermoorThe Worst Witch and The Dark Is Rising.

    Cassie Morgan has run away. After seven years spent waiting for her mother to return, she flees her dreary boarding school and sets out to find her. But the world outside her school is full of hidden magic and children have been going missing.

    With the help of a talking cat and a flying broom, Cassie escapes to the enchanted village of Hedgely. There she will begin her training in the practical skills of witchcraft with the Hedgewitch, who watches over the Hedge, the vast forest that marks the border between England and Faerie.


    Matthew Fox - The Sky Over Rebecca - Published by Hodder Children's Books (14 April 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1444964707 - Paperback 

    There was a single trail of footprints, the first I'd seen all morning. They were fresh tracks, I saw, the edges of the impressions in the snow quite hard. Small feet. Like mine. Someone my age. 
    Then they stopped.

    When mysterious footprints appear in the Stockholm snow, ten-year-old Kara must discover where they've come from - and who they belong to. They lead Kara to Rebecca, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl, and her younger brother Samuel. Kara realises they are refugees - from another time, World War Two - and are trying to find their way home.

    The grief and loneliness that Rebecca and Samuel have endured is something Kara can relate to - feeling like you're always on the outside looking in - and she finds herself compelled to help them. Through her eyes, we rediscover the magic that lies in the world around us, if only we have the courage to look for it.

    Kara is a heroine for modern times: fragile but fierce, in this utterly compelling story from a stellar new voice in children's literature, Matthew Fox.

    Justyn Edwards (Author), Flavia Sorrentino (Illustrator) - The Great Fox Illusion - Published by Walker Books (7 April 2022) - ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1529501940 - Paperback 

    Secrets and illusions abound as a group of young magicians competes for the prize of a lifetime in this gripping adventure, the first in an enthralling new series from debut author Justyn Edwards.

    Magic is about dreaming what is impossible and making it possible. It's the innocent young mind in all of us that loves it. We want to be filled with wonder. We want to believe. I want the winner of this competition and the recipient of my legacy to dare to dream big. So, let The Great Fox Hunt begin."

    Thirteen-year-old Flick Lions has won a place on a new television show, in which young people compete to win the legacy of the Great Fox, one of the world's most famous magicians. But Flick isn't interested in uncovering the Great Fox's tired old magic tricks – she's after something much more important. The magician destroyed her family, and this is Flick's only chance to put things right. Inside the Fox's house is a secret that will change the world of magic for ever, and Flick will go to any lengths to find it.

    Saturday, 9 April 2022

    Simon Packham - Has Anyone Seen Archie Ebbs? - Book Review Blog Tour - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

     

    I'm delighted to be able to introduce this debut middle-grade children's book by actor and musician Simon Packham. Has Anyone Seen Archie Ebbs? is a fantastic poignant read that will be published this April (2022) by the Welsh publisher Firefly Press. The book starts with the introduction of the main character, Archie Ebbs. Life is brilliant, the summer term has just begun and we find him watching YouTube, eating chocolate brownies, as well as laughing and joking with his friends. The PERFECT life, however, the script does not run to plan just like his recent YouTube hit video The Revenge of the Fruit.

     The story is a really intriguing one. It's very cleverly written and highlights a series of issues that some families and people might relate to. It highlights the devastating effect that homelessness can have on a family and children's lives. In this plot, the subject is tackled in a brilliant and somewhat surreal but imaginatively quirky way. The story cleverly reveals the stark realities of the situation in a sad and funny way. 

    The characters really danced and jumped off the page to bring one of the best stories that I've read so far this year. It's a modern and fresh take highlighting an important topic that doesn't feature much in stories. In fact, I loved this book so much that I couldn't help but go through a roller-coaster of emotions with all the characters - each and every one of them. This is a great class read for children to discuss but I would highly recommend it to everyone. 

    It's a real pleasure to be on the blog tour for this book. One of the characters you will come to love is Charlie Ebbs's sister Izzy. Her boyfriend is called Clint and he plays an important role in the book. Here we have a little fun character bio that has been put together for the book tour. However, as you're here why not check out all the other stops too by taking a look at the list above (on the right). BUY HERE.