Category Archives: Reviews

Rattle by Fiona Cummins

rattle

The Bone Collector
 
A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.
 
He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.
 
Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.
 
Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

Rattle is not the sort of book I usually review on TeenLibrarian, seeing as it is not a Teen, YA or children’s book. It does have children though – two delightfully vulnerable children with rare disabilities that become the focus of a serial killer’s twisted needs.

This book was an uncomfortable read for me – since becoming a parent I have become more squeamish, especially when it comes to children in thriller/serial killer fiction. I am sure that this is what Fiona Cummins was aiming for when she wrote this wonderfully, squirm-inducing book!

However… it is a cliche to say that I found it hard to put down (because I did) the war between the eww I don’t want to read this side and the gosh I have to read this and find out what happens part was won (obviously) by the ghoulish side of me that revels in dark crime fiction – and believe me Rattle is as dark and glorious as they come!

No serial killer crime thriller would be complete without the police that role is filled with the fantastically realised Detective Sergeant Etta Fitzroy a member of the Metropolitan Police haunted by a missing child case case that almost ended her career and Erdman Frith a desperate father who will do anything to find his son.

The Territory: Escape by Sarah Govett

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The year is 2059. Fifteen-year-old Noa Blake has passed the exam to stay in The Territory but her childhood friend Jack has been shipped off to the disease-ridden Wetlands, a death sentence in all but name. Noa and Raf have vowed to rescue him, but how? With an electric fence, gun towers and a police state monitoring their every move, getting into the Wetlands looks impossible, let alone getting home again. Second in The Territory trilogy, The Territory, Escape follows Noa, Raf and Jack as they battle through a world of raiders, mosquito swarms and psychopathic prisoners. Noa faces her own battle too is it just friendship that drives her and if not, is Jack still even hers to claim?

The Territory: Escape is the sequel to The Territory – my favourite dystopian novel of 2015.

As a follow-on novel, Escape does not disappoint continuing Noa and Raf’s quest to save their friend. One of the things that gripped me when I started this series was that Noa was not a gung-ho action heroine; actually none of her friends are they are just young people much like teens today doing their best to survive and overcome the odds (which are definitely not in their favour).

In this current age of political uncertainty and the ongoing talks on sacrificing of rights for safety, The Territory trilogy brings young readers face to face with serious questions about survival, choice and the type of world we want to live in.

It is also a damn good adventure and survival story!

Lie Kill Walk Away by Matt Dickinson

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LIE

I check the Range Rover dash. The keys are in there.
The sirens are closing in. There’s a police helicopter coming over the hospital.

KILL

I have to decide. Decide right now. I can keep out of trouble. Not get involved. Just run away through the park and go home and pretend none of this has happened.
Or I can help Becca.

WALK AWAY

I stare into her eyes. Those deep blue eyes. Just for a split second.
I tell her, ‘get in the car’.

If you have ever wondered what a high-octane YA thriller looks like, then take a look here! Lie Kill Walk Away is possibly the perfect example of a high stakes, heart in the throat, no holds barred thrill ride!

It is the kind of story that you would expect to see in a James Bond film – the Daniel Craig variety rather than the guys that came before him, although possibly Sean Connery’s Bond would be able to handle it as well!

But anyway I digress the story can be summed up as boy meets girl on the run and together they have to save the world and more importantly – not get killed!

This is a seriously fast-paced story that will shamelessly pull you along for the ride and leave you wanting more!.

Get it today! Actually get two! One for yourself and the second as a Christmas gift because you will no want to share your one until you are done!

The Tale of Kitty in Boots by Beatrix Potter – a Review

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Beatrix Potter is remembered fondly by many adults as the author of wonderfully written and illustrated books for children including The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck and The Tale of Mr Tod.

It is a little-known fact that Beatrix was a gifted scientific illustrator and amateur naturalist and had she been male may have been one of the greatest biological scientists of the Victorian era (the sexism and misogyny of that time being more repressive than it is now) the Linnean Society rejected her membership as women were not allowed to join or present papers (they issued a posthumous apology in 1997).

One of the things that is often forgotten is that she often includes the violence of nature in her stories, even though they are dressed as humans the animals are often red in tooth and claw. The violence is not just physical, there is often a ton of emotional upset that makes the books so readable! If you cannot remember – then take the time to reread her works – they are really phenomenal!

This ‘lost’ story was never published in Beatrix Potter’s lifetime and was resurrected in time for the 150th anniversary of the author’s birth, this is the first time an illustrated edition has been published. the artwork is by the incomparable Quentin Blake.

The Tale of Kitty in Boots is no exception, I felt during reading and after that if it is ever adapted into a film it should be shot in a Guy Ritchie Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels style.

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It is an excellent story involving identity swapping, poaching and a significant amount of violence that will appeal to children of all ages!

The illustrations by Sir Quentin Blake who is possibly the greatest living illustrator make a wonderful accompaniment to the text.

So if you are looking for a gift for a young reader or something excellent to read, reread and just to brighten up your shelves then The Tale of Kitty in Boots is for you! Buy it now!

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch a review

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Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of PC Peter Grant or the Folly, even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But Lady Ty’s daughter was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favour.

Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, where the basements are bigger than the house and dangerous, arcane items are bought and sold on the open market, a sensible young copper would keep his head down and his nose clean. But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about.
 
He’s been given an unparalleled opportunity to alienate old friends and create new enemies at the point where the world of magic and that of privilege intersect.
 
Assuming he survives the week . . .

 

Important notice to readers: If you are considering picking up this book without reading the first five in the series you will enjoy it but you will derive greater enjoyment if you start with Rivers of London – the first Peter Grant novel and read them in order because they are brilliant and you will avoid spoilers!

The presidential election and other gloom-inducing occurrences around the world last week left me at a rather low ebb! The Hanging Tree helped to restore my sense of humour and kept me going through the days with something to look forward; in this instance going to bed and reading about PC Peter Grant’s misadventures in policing the Demi-monde.

The Hanging Tree answered several questions that have been hanging around since the series started but unfortunately (for me) added about a dozen new questions and made me hungry to find out more about the history of English magic, how magical systems around the world differ and when Peter will be heading off overseas on an international Falcon case.

Look let me be perfectly honest with you, this series is brilliant! Like a fine wine or cheese the story and Ben’s writing style has matured and improved as the series has developed, now with The Hanging Tree Ben has displaced Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files as my favourite urban fantasy series. I often get accused of saying that the book I am currently reading is my favourite thing but with this series it is true, partially because it is set in and around London – and I recognise a number of the locations that Peter and his allies have been to, through or blown up and it has a lot to do with Ben’s writing, which has brought to mind the work Terry Pratchett; he is the first author that I have read since the great man passed away that has combined humour with serious intent in such a way that made me laugh out loud and then giggle for a few pages thereafter.

Trust me*, if you have even the slightest interest in urban fantasy or reading about a London imbued with magic, black British Goddesses and mixed race protagonists then Rivers of London is series you need in your life!

*I am a Librarian!

Click-Clack the Rattlebag by Neil Gaiman

I have been (and will be) using Click-Clack the Rattlebag by Neil Gaiman with students (years 7,8 and 9) that have Library lessons this week as part of my Halloween and Spooky Stories discussion.

Four classes visited the library today – two year 8 & 9 classes, with each we have discussed Halloween, where the customs of the festival originated, the importance of masks and why people enjoy being terrified with stories. I then turn out the light, make sure everyone is sitting comfortably and push play. It is a very short story, slightly over 10 minutes but the effect has been the same – dead silence during the performance and afterwards the entire class is still and thoughtful, it has taken a few minutes to get discussion going about the story and what they thought about it.

This is a great tale, and the effect it has on the audience is almost palpable; it starts out light and gets progressively spookier and darker as the the story progresses. Neil’s voice is almost hypnotic, drawing the listener in to the story and lulls you into a false sense of security and by the time you actually start figuring out what is happening it is too late and the warm languorous feeling that his voice has engendered within you dooms you to the horror of hearing the dark ending and leaves you feeling disturbed and spooked.

All in all a perfect tale for a Halloween evening spent terrifying your friends and family!

Boo! by Ben Newman

Ok this book is aimed at younger readers but it gets a review as I am a bit of a Ben Newman fan! Mostly down to his illustrations of the Professor Astrocat books!

boo

No one is as brave as me and nothing, I mean nothing, scares me… YOU’LL SEE!

How anyone can pick up a book that he has illustrated and fail to be impressed by his artwork I will never know (mainly because everyone I have met that has also read his works are also fans)!

Boo! is a circular tale of terror and how even those that think they are the bravest ever have something that will make them jump!

Perfect for reading out loud to groups of small children or just on a one to one basis Boo! is a story that can inspire fright or audience interaction during reads and rereads.

Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez

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Every night, tiny stars appear out of the darkness in little Sandy’s bedroom. She catches them and creates wonderful creatures to play with until she falls asleep, and in the morning brings them back to life in the whimsical drawings that cover her room.

One day, Morpie, a mysterious pale girl, appears at school. And she knows all about Sandy’s drawings…Nightlights is a beautiful story about fear, insecurity, and creativity, from the enchanting imagination of Lorena Alvarez.

It is hard to categorise Nightlights, an achingly beautiful graphic novel about a young girl, her imagination, school, friendship, belonging and a spiral into terror with phantasms coming to life to steal away her away for her creative spirit.

This is another book by Nobrow a publisher that is rapidly becoming known for the wonderful aesthetics and physical beauty of the books they publish as well as the quality story-telling found on the pages. Nightlights is a nigh perfect work of art! Lorena Alvarez is a superlative artist and the story she has crafted and created is a wonder to behold!

I have read Nightlights several times and each time I turn a page my eyes catch something new, there is so much detail I can lose ages just staring at the pages!

You need this book in your lives! It is suitable for readers of all ages and will make a wonderful (and creepy) shared reading experience if you have any small readers in your lives!

13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt

I have to make a confession: this review post is a year late! I do have a really good reason though, on Halloween last year my daughter was two days old and everything that I had planned to do went out the window in the run up to (and after) her birth so to Leo I do apologise, this has been weighing on me since then as 13 Days of Midnight is a truly excellent book and creepy as hell!

It was one of the few books I broke my ban on reading non Carnegie & Kate Greenaway books for last year and I have no regrets! It worked as a chilling break and I loved it!

Seriously if you want a book to keep you up all night and give you chills down your spine then 13 Days of Midnight is it!

Seriously how can you read this:

When Luke Manchett’s estranged father dies unexpectedly, he leaves his son a dark inheritance: a collection of eight restless spirits, known as his Host, who want revenge for their long enslavement. Once they figure out that Luke has no clue how to manage them, they become increasingly belligerent, and eventually mutiny. Halloween (the night when ghosts reach the height of their power) is fast approaching, and Luke knows his Host is planning something far more trick than treat. Armed with only his father’s indecipherable notes, a locked copy of The Book of Eight, and help from school outcast Elza Moss, Luke has just thirteen days to uncover the closely guarded secrets of black magic and send his unquiet spirits to their eternal rest—or join their ghostly ranks himself.

…and not want to read the book itself!

There is a sequel out already titled 8 Rivers of Shadow and, the third book 7 Trees of Stone is also on the way!

So grab a digital copy and start your Halloween reading tonight or find a bookstore and get a physical copy and maybe you can start reading it on Dia de Muertos!

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The Nightmare before Christmas by Tim Burton

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For many people of a certain age (if you grew up in or after the ’90’s), Tim Burton’s The Nightmare before Christmas is the quintessential Halloween movie!

For many years in the circles that I move in the title has been a topic of discussion when all others have been exhausted – the main bone of contention being why is it Tim Burton’s when it was directed by the awesome Harry Selick.

I recently learned the answer, and a very prosaic one it is at that! Tim Burton had actually written and illustrated a picture book of the same name and I am lucky enough to own a new edition with more illustrations, it is to put it simply: GLORIOUS!

Told in rhyming verse it is the story of Jack Skellington, his search for meaning beyond Halloween and how his journey takes him to Christmas Land and the near ruination of everything. If you have seen the film you will know the story but to read it and gaze upon the illustrations by Tim Burton takes it to another level! The illustrations are wonderful, sketchy and skeletal but imbued with a vitality that makes them leap off the page (sadly it is not a pop-up book).

Truly The Nightmare before Christmas is the perfect book for Halloween AND Christmas!

You should get it now – in fact get two, one for YOU and one for the rest of your family or friends!