Friday, 22 May 2015

Review: Red Dragon by Thomas Harris


Publisher: Arrow
Format: Paperback
Released: May 7th, 2009 (reprint)
Rating: 8/10


Amazon summary:

Sexual hunger; demonic violence; sinister logic - the lethal components of a deadly formula driving a psychopath in the grip of an unimagin-able delusion; a boastful killer who sends the police tormenting notes; a tortured, torturing monster who finds ultimate pleasure in viciously murdering happy families, and calls himself. . . The Red Dragon. 

Review:

I've had a little obsession with Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham ever since watching the TV show Hannibal. With Season 3 fast approaching - a season that is said to follow Red Dragon very closely - I thought it was about time I started to read the original source material. I really enjoyed this book and finished it pretty quickly considering I haven't felt like doing much reading recently. It's fast-paced and addictive, grisly and, at times, truly terrifying. Just like the show!

I'm sure most people know the story of Hannibal Lecter in one form or another, so I won't bore you all with a synopsis of Red Dragon's goings on. Instead I want to talk about how every character in this book is engaging and realistic, which I often find unusual for a novel of this type. Crime style books rarely draw me in enough to finish them, though this one did the trick. I was genuinely engrossed in the story of the Tooth Fairy killer and Will Graham's task to find him, and I was on the edge of my seat on more than one occasion.

Thomas Harris paints an excellent picture when it comes to Francis Dolarhyde and his extreme creepiness. I loved him as a character, many flaws and all, and I thought he was a great serial killer to have roaming the streets. He's unsettling to a very high degree and Harris explores this through a series of disturbing flashbacks throughout the novel, which makes it somewhat easier to understand Dolarhyde and why he is the way he is. I can't wait to see Richard Armitage play him in the show!

Red Dragon is a brilliant introduction to Hannibal and Will, and it's succeeded in making me want to read the other three books in the series. It's taken me a long time to read these books and I'm glad I've finally dipped my toe into this horrific world of killers and the men chasing them. I'm now looking forward to reading The Silence of the Lambs!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Review: Lenore - Pink Bellies by Roman Dirge


Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Large hardcover
Released: March 3rd, 2015
Rating: 8/10


Amazon summary:

Collecting together issues 8-11, this four-issue story arc slowly reveals Taxidermy's sinister past while pitching Lenore into a series of increasingly silly and ridiculous adventures, from avoiding the attentions of a Ghost Busting film crew while battling with a squid-bodied Lenore from another dimension, to giving a mayfly the best day of its short life.

Review: 

Pink Bellies is my first foray into the world of Roman Dirge and Lenore, and it certainly won't be my last. The unusual, kooky artwork caught my eye immediately, followed by Dirge's wacky characters and I fell in love pretty much instantly. This is an adult graphic novel and contains adult content, but believe me, it's brilliant!

Lenore, I've now learned, is a cute living dead girl who hangs around in Nevermore with her odd friends Ragamuffin and Pooty and her weird neighbour Taxidermy. Pink Bellies tells the origin story of Taxidermy and also introduces new readers to Lenore's world and characters, which is great if, like me, you've never read any of this series before. It's a good starting point and really does make you want to read more!

Pink Bellies is dark and rather macabre, which I kind of expected from the cover art alone. It's all death and blood and darkly comic humour, which is right up my street - I love anything like that, particularly when it involves cute undead characters too. Dirge's artwork is amazing to look at and I really enjoyed reading his work - I can see why he's so popular!

Pink Bellies is my first introduction to Lenore and I already can't wait to read more of her stories. I don't often read graphic novels that make me laugh, but this one definitely did that and it's all down to Dirge's gothic humour found throughout Lenore's story. I can't wait to read more!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Arrow - Vengeance


Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.


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Arrow: Vengeance 

by Oscar Balderrama and Lauren Certo


* Published by: Titan Books (US and UK) 
* Format: Paperback (US and UK) 
* Release Date: September 29th, 2015 (US) / October 2nd, 2015 (UK)

* On Amazon: here


Summary from Amazon.co.uk:

The first novel based on the hit Warner Bros. TV show Arrow, currently airing its third season on The CW network. Based on the DC Comics character, the American TV series Arrow follows billionaire Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell - Heartland, Private Practice) who, after spending five years marooned on a remote island, returns home and secretly creates the persona of Arrow to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society.


I love Arrow and I love TV tie-in novels... count me in!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Review: Creature Teacher by Sam Watkins


Publisher: OUP
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: April 2nd, 2015
Rating: 7.5/10


Amazon summary:

Jake's class finally has the best teacher in the whole world, Mr Hyde. He doesn't make them clean toilet bowls with toothbrushes and his lessons are always fun. There is just one teeny, tiny, HUGE problem. Mr Hyde transforms into a naughty, little creature whenever he becomes upset. The creature has some amazing abilities but being well-behaved isn't one of them! Jake's class will have to use all their ingenuity to hide the creature, so they can keep their brilliant teacher. But Mrs Blunt, their headmistress, is never far off the scent...

Review: 

What would you have done if your teacher had suddenly turned into a funny little creature one day during class? Would you run away? Stay and look after it? I'm not sure what I would have done, but Jake and the class of 5b launch into action and hide monstrous little Mr Hyde before he can be found out and taken away - after all, he is the best teacher ever!

This is the genius plot of Creature Teacher, the latest children's offering from Sam Watkins. In turns funny and downright daft, Creature Teacher is an entertaining read from start to finish, and is a fantastic length for those more reluctant to pick up a book. It's illustrated too, which is even better!

I thoroughly enjoyed this mad tale of a teacher turning into a creature; I chuckled, gasped and was genuinely concerned about how Mr Hyde would explain away his rather strange situation. Suffice to say it's all above board and, frankly, makes a lot of sense in the end - and who wouldn't want a teacher as cool as him?!

Creature Teacher is a great book for younger readers, particularly those who like the Undead Pets and Scream Street series. No doubt creature teachers everywhere are worried now that their secret is out, but don't worry - their secret is safe with us. Well, at least until the second book, Creature Teacher Goes Wild, is published in August. Then who knows what will happen!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Review: Superhero School - Alien Attack! by Alan MacDonald


Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: April 9th, 2015
Rating: 7.5/10


Amazon summary:

Welcome back to Mighty High - the school for superheroes. Stan and his friends are so busy preparing for their Heroes exams and having flying lessons that no one seems to realise that Miles has been abducted by aliens! Can fully-fledged superhero Captain Courageous lend a hand or will their fates be decided by a piece of bionic bubble gum? 

Review: 

Alien Attack! is the second instalment in the Superhero School series for younger readers, and it's just as fun as the first book. I can't help but think that attending a school to learn how to be a superhero would be amazing, so I'm a little bit sad that it doesn't actually exist. Unless it does...

Mighty High is the same as always, and the students are preparing for their Heroes exams. Stan, Minnie, Miles and Pudding the Wonderdog are all pre-occupied with revision, so when Miles starts to act a bit weirdly, it goes unnoticed. Obviously aliens are to blame, and Stan and his friends are suddenly thrust into an adventure like no other!

I enjoyed my second visit to Mighty High, especially because there are aliens and a spaceship involved. Also, Miles made me laugh with his unusual behaviour, although I'm sure he didn't find it all that funny. There are some fantastic Nigel Baines illustrations to stare at too, and they compliment Alan MacDonald's story really well. Trust me, the aliens look ace!

Alien Attack! is a great read for children and is very topical at the moment, what with Marvel and DC dominating the universe and superheroes being as amazing as they are. I'm looking forward to more books in this series and I hope they'll be as good as this one!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Review: Don't Chew the Royal Shoe by Kate Leake


Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Large hardcover / paperback
Released: January 1st, 2015
Rating: 8/10


Amazon summary:

Chips the Royal Dog is always getting into trouble. He just can't stop chewing the Queen's shoes. Then, one night, Chips captures a burglar by chewing his boots, and suddenly he's a Royal Doggy Hero!

Review:

Don't Chew the Royal Shoe is the story of Lord Chippington, a royal dog who's very fond of chewing royal shoes. He doesn't like the royal toys but instead must chew the Queen's shoes, the Duke's rollerskates and the princess's glass slippers - anything he can get his teeth on! Obviously this isn't ideal for the Queen of England, and so poor Chips is banned from chewing any more shoes.

This book is a great little read featuring the royal family and a host of Corgies. Dog lovers will delight in Chips and his naughty behaviour, while anyone who has an interest in the Queen's footwear will be thrilled to take a peek into her shoe cupboard. Kate Leake has written and illustrated this book and it's both funny and exciting. Chips is a fantastic doggy hero to have around the palace and the illustrations are charmingly royal - I'm not quite used to seeing the royal family like this!

Don't Chew the Royal Shoe will appeal to lots of little children and their parents too, thanks to its humour and warmth. The royal family will always be a topical subject but the dogs are a rare viewpoint we don't see, so this story is even more fun than expected. I'll look out for more picture books by Kate Leake, and hopefully they'll be just as entertaining as this one!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Review: Circus of Thieves on the Rampage by William Sutcliffe


Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: February 26th, 2015
Rating: 6/10


Amazon summary:

Shank's Impossible Circus is back...There are 7,362 things that Armitage Shank hates and at the top of the list (which includes puppies, rainbows, lifts and flashing trainers...) is being made a fool of. So, when he thinks his old nemesis, Queenie Bombazine, ringmaster of Bombazine's Ecstatic Aquatic Splashtastic Circus, is trying to do just that, he sets out on a revenge rampage! Meanwhile, a HUGE revelation sends Hannah and Granny on their own journey to find Queenie, it's only a matter of time before they all collide... 

Review: 

I absolutely loved the first book in this series - Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom - and while I did enjoy this one, I didn't think it was as good as the previous instalment. I still laughed of course, and I'll continue to read the series, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations!

Circus of Thieves on the Rampage continues pretty much where the last book left off, with horrible Armitage Shanks still up to his old tricks and Hannah and Billy trying to fix things. There are many (fairly shocking!) revelations in this book that I wasn't expecting, as well as some sticky situations that need to be read to be believed. It's a mad adventure story centred around a circus, so of course it's going to be eye-poppingly crackers!

David Tazzyman's illustrations are, as always, a crazy delight. They really suit the madcap nature of the story and add a certain flair to it, which I like. I'll not talk too much about the footnotes because they're not my favourite thing in literature, but in this instance they do fit in well. I find them very distracting though!

Circus of Thieves on the Rampage isn't the best book in this series so far but it's still an entertaining book that younger readers will enjoy. Luckily it hasn't made me want to join a local circus, though I do suddenly have an unusual interest in walking a tightrope. Uh-oh...