The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy by Tim Burton (Review)

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton

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About the author

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Tim Burton was born in August 1958 and is an American filmmaker, artist, writer and animator. He is famous for his dark, gothic and eccentric horror and fantasy films. He often works with Johnny Depp and Danny Elfman.

Blurb

Twenty-three illustrated gothic tales from the dark corridors of the imagination of Tim Burton. Burton – the creative genius behind Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and Nightmare Before Christmas, among others – now gives birth to a cast of gruesomely sympathetic children: misunderstood outcasts who struggle to find love and belonging in their cruel, cruel worlds. His lovingly lurid illustrations evoke both the sweetness and tragedy of these hopeful, yet hapless beings.

Review

When I saw this book in the bookshop a few days ago I grabbed it and immediately had to buy it. I love all the work of Tim Burton but I did not know he had done a book. I was so happy to find this book and very excited to read it. Yesterday I finally had time to sit down with a mug of tea and read it.

This book is a collection of short tales illustrated by Tim Burton himself, what is not to like? All the tales feel like children’s stories with the short little paragraphs and illustrations, however this is far too gothic and gruesome in places for children so Young Adults and upwards is a must.

The book is depressing, gruesome, gothic but most of all hilarious but naughty hilarious because you feel like you should not be laughing at these tales. I found The Melancholy Death of the Oyster Boy to be very depressing, I felt very sad about the fate of the Oyster Boy and I was rather shocked about how he died.

Another element that surprised me was how many tales contained parents who hate their children. It made me wonder what Burton feels about his own children to be honest. I am not complaining though as it made for good reading.

Nearly all the tales are my favourites but a few are my absolute favourites. Stain Boy is one because this reminds me of some of my nephews who no matter what get dirt everywhere and clean clothes do not stay clean for long. Sue was another favourite, the idea of someone walking around with a tissue attached to their face made me giggle.

I loved everything about this book, the illustrations, the stories everything is just brilliant. The book took less than half an hour to read, I found I wanted it to last longer. I definitely plan on re-reading this on halloween. This book has a massive 5 out 5 Dragons.

Purchase this book from Waterstones

Lady Book Dragon.

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Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot (Review)

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, illustrated by Edward Gorey

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About the author

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Edward Stearns Eliot born 1888 in St Louis, Missouri, USA. He settled in England in 1915 and published his book of poems in 1917. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats began life as a collection of poems dedicated to his godchildren, it was published in 1939. Eliot received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 and sadly died in 1965.

About the Illustrator

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Edward Gorey (1925-2000) was an American writer and artist well known for his macabre and humorous illustrations. His first book, The Unstrung Harp; or, My Earbrass Writes a Novel (1953) was followed by many more. He illustrated work by T. S. Eliot, Edward Lear and Saki, among others.

Blurb

Cats! Some are sane and some are mad. And some are good and some are bad.

Review

I read this book as soon as I brought it home, but I read it in a very special way. I put on the musical movie starring Elaine Paige and John Mills and read the poems along with the musical, I might have also sang along as well. In short I had way too much fun and my poor husband had to endure a great deal.

I absolutely loved this book, I love the poems and I love the illustrations. It is all wonderful and I’m not sure I can choose a favourite poem because how can anyone choose a favourite cat?

The main thing I love is how all the different cats have attributes you can see in real life cats. I can certainly see many familiarities with the cats in the book with my own cats. T. S. Eliot clearly owned and had a lot of love for cats in his lifetime.

My favourite poem and cat was The Rum Tum Tugger he is just the epitome of cats. When you offer a cat some yummy food they would rather have something else, when you offer them fresh water they would rather drink from a puddle and so on.

I had amazing fun with this book and to be honest I keep going back to it now and reading my favourites. I also loved how the illustrations perfectly complimented the poems. I can not recommend this book enough to people especially if they are cat lovers, a quick read and would make a perfect gift to the cat lover in your life. I gave this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Lady Book Dragon.

Purchase from Waterstones

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The Endgame by Jeffrey Archer (Review)

The Endgame by Jeffrey Archer

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About the author

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Jeffrey Archer was born in England in 1940, he is a former politician and author. Archer was a member of parliament from 1969-1974 but did not seek re-election due to a financial scandal that almost bankrupt him. Facing bankruptcy Archer began to write and in so doing revived his fortunes. Archer’s political career has been filled with scandal and in 2001 he was sent to jail for perjury and perverting the course of justice, in 2003 he was released. All his life experiences influence his writing and make for interesting reading.

Blurb

Taken from To Cut a Long Story Short, Jeffrey Archer’s fourth collection of short stories, The Endgame is an irresistible, witty and ingenious short read.

After he becomes a widower, wealthy Cornelius Barrington decides to test the loyalty of his family and friends to himself, or his money, by declaring himself bankrupt, enlisting the help of his old friend and trusted lawyer, Frank Vintcent, to make the ruse authentic. Soon though, Barrington is left pondering whether blood really is thicker than water . . .

Review

Today I had a very gap filled day teaching so I thought I would read a short story in the little gaps. This made a nice change from the recent short stories by Jeffrey Archer that I have read as the recent ones have all involved men dropping everything to run after a young pretty woman.

This is a beautiful little story where the main character Cornelius needs to rewrite his will but first he wants to see who deserves his wealth. Cornelius has always suspected that certain members of his family and friends prefer his money rather than himself, so he decided to put his theory to the test.

When Cornelius pretends to be made bankrupt he watches his family and friends reactions to what has happened and finds out who his true friends are. As the story develops it is interesting to see Cornelius’ plan unfold and how each member of his family reacts and how his friends react.

This story shows how money can make people react differently, even act like crazy people and yet there are people out there who money does not touch and who remain true. I really enjoyed reading this short story and I was upset when it ended as I did not want it to end but for the story to develop further. Considering it is a short story there is a lot of content within it and there is never a dull moment. It just shows Archer’s talent as a writer to make a story work so well in such a small space of time. I gave this story 5 Dragons out of 5 Dragons.

To buy the complete book of short stories from Waterstones please click here.

Lady Book Dragon.

The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue by Anon (Review)

The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue

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About the author

The author is sadly anonymous but this is a well known Icelandic saga composed at the end of the 13th century.

Blurb

Ranging across Scandinavia, England and Ireland, a Viking-age epic of two poets in doomed pursuit of Helga the Fair

Review

This is the third book of the Penguin Little Black Classics and a quick little read of just 52 pages. The book contains 25 verses of skaldic poetry which are scattered through the story.

This book is essentially a love story, where two poets are in pursuit of Helga the Fair, both travel around earning glory and renown hoping to make themselves worthy of Helga’s hand in marriage.

I enjoyed this book to begin with and found the verses of poetry enjoyable, however as the story went on I found the poetry began to get on my nerves and broke up the flow of the story. I must admit I started to skim read it as I could not bare it any longer, the story was still really good though. The thing I found a struggle to get used to in the beginning was the big lists of names, but once I got used to the style this was ok. A lot of store is held in one’s ancestors and family in this book so great lists of names are often given, even if those characters are not featured in the story.

I also enjoyed how the characters travelled around Scandinavia, England and Ireland and the accompanying adventures. It was interesting learning about the kings and rulers of that time and what they were like. The other element I enjoyed was how Christianity moved across the countries and the old ways were forgotten. This was considered a really good thing in the book but I wonder whether everyone was so willing to drop the old ways and take on the new faith. In my opinion I think this element is seen through rose tinted glasses by the author.

“All the men who have been mentioned were living at the same time, and it was about this time that the best thing ever to have happened in Iceland occurred: the whole country became Christian and the entire population abandoned the old faith.”

This is an excellent little book, which will not take long to read and was a good introduction for me to Icelandic sagas. I enjoyed reading the book but because the poetry got on my nerves I only give this book 3 Dragons out of 5.

To purchase this book please click here

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Star Trek Discovery: Fear Itself by James Swallow (Review)

Star Trek Discovery: Fear Itself by James Swallow

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About the author

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James Swallow is a British author who is a BAFTA nominee, a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller. He is also the only British author to work on the Star Trek television series. He has written several Star Trek books, scripted the video game Star Trek  Invasion and over four hundred articles in Star Trek magazines. He currently lives in London.

Blurb

Lieutenant Saru is a Kelpian, a member of prey species born on a world overrun by monstrous predators… and a being who very intimately understands the nature of fear. Challenged on all sides, he is determined to surpass his origins and succeed as a Starfleet officer aboard the U. S. S. Shenzhou.

But when Saru breaks protocol in order to prove himself to his crew mates, what begins as a vital rescue mission to save a vessel in distress soon escalates out of control. Forced into a command role he may not be ready for, Saru is caught between his duty and conflicting agendas of two antagonistic alien races. To survive, he will need to seek a path of peace against all odds, and risk compromising the very ideals he has sworn to uphold…

Review

I found this book a really hard read, I struggled to get into it and kept forgetting what I had read and had to re read certain parts. I am pleased I stuck with it though as towards the end I began to enjoy it and got into it. I am not sure whether it was the writing style I struggled with or just the general storyline but I just couldn’t gel with the story.

This was an interesting story focusing on Saru and it helped me understand him a bit more, as so far watching his character in the TV series and reading about him in the previous two books I have not liked his character and found him unfeeling to others and a bit of a wet blanket. This book however showed that he did have feelings towards others and that he can be brave, decisive and commanding. 

I enjoyed the character of Captain Georgiou. She is fast becoming a favourite and I would have liked her to feature a little bit more in the story. I also liked how Saru found her an inspiration and always thought of what Georgiou would do when trying to decide his next course of action. Michael Burnham also started to show her human side in the book which was nice to see.

The character I did not enjoy and was pleased that he did not feature greatly in the book was the Shenzhou’s first officer Commander ch’Theloh. I found him bad tempered, grumpy and way too hard on his underlings.

The storyline was a good storyline and I enjoyed meeting the Gorlans and Peliars and would have liked to have found out a bit more about both species and what happened to them.

Overall I found this book to be quite a let down after Drastic Measures, and I did not enjoy the book nearly as much. It was hard work to read and follow and at times rather boring. Sadly this book only got 2 out of 5 Dragons. It has not put me off the series though and I am looking forward to reading the next.

To buy this book from Waterstones click here.

Lady Book Dragon

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The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths (A Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery) (Review)

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths (A Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery)

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About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

The past is reaching out for Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson, and its grip is deadly.

DCI Harry Nelson is receiving anonymous letters, and their resemblance to those that first drew him to the Saltmarsh, and his first case with Dr Ruth Galloway, has left him uneasy. After all, the author of those letters is dead.

Or are they?

Then he gets a call from Ruth. She is digging on the Saltmarsh, on the site of a henge – a stone circle. And she has found the bones of a young girl.

When the body is identified as that of Margaret Lacey, a twelve-year-old who went missing thirty years ago, the North Norfolk police reopen the cold case. Are the letters a coincidence, or did someone really know all along where Margaret could be found?

Then another body is discovered. Is this death linked to Margaret’s? It seems that feelings run high and someone is guarding their secrets. What else might they know, if only Ruth and Nelson can find them?

Review

I have never read a book by Elly Griffiths before but I saw this one in Waterstones and loved the blurb so thought I would give it a go. I am so pleased I did as I absolutely loved it and I could not put it down. When I should have been sleeping I was reading but being tired in the morning was worth it. I am fast becoming addicted to crime mystery books, I only really started reading them last year and now I am hooked and discovering more and more favourite authors.

Having not read any of the previous books I was a little worried that I would not follow the storylines between the characters but I soon found the book was possible to read as a stand alone. I also loved that there were mini character biographies at the back of the book, this helped me a lot to understand a bit more about what type of people the main characters were. The first thing that became clear was that most of the police force have complicated relationship histories, which is probably made clearer in the previous books.

This book had me hooked just with the first page, the mysterious letter, I immediately wanted to know more. I loved the idea of an archaeological dig uncovering more than expected and the mystery involved behind it.

I really enjoyed the concept of this book, most crime novels centre around the chief detective but this centres around a Doctor and not any Doctor, a forensic archaeologist. Seeing the crime from Dr Ruth’s point of view is very interesting and eye opening. I found Ruth an interesting character, she loves her daughter deeply and is still madly in love with the father of her child even though they are not together. She also lives for her work and should be thinking of progressing up the career ladder but can not seem to bare leaving Norfolk, for many complicated reasons.

My first impression of Harry Nelson is that he does not know what he wants in life and is a bit like a lost little boy but he is an excellent police officer who can work out any crime and does not let his problems in his personal life get in the way of his work.

I really enjoyed meeting Harry Nelson’s team and would love to know more about them and so I definitely plan on reading more of the books, I have in fact bought the first one in the series to read next. The other element that I absolutely loved was that I had no idea who the culprit was, I had the completely wrong person in my mind. Quite often with crime mysteries I guess the culprit quite early on, but not this book.

I can not recommend this book enough, I could not put it down. If you love crime mysteries and archaeology then this book is for you, but I must warn you, you might end up with a few sleepless nights because you can not put it down. I gave this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase from Waterstones

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Review)

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

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About the author

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Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850. He studied law at Edinburgh University. Stevenson was against the Presbyterianism of both Edinburgh’s professional classes and his devout parents, but the influence of Calvinism started his fascination with evil. After much travelling Stevenson eventually settled in Samoa with his wife, he passed away at the age of 44.

Blurb

Published as ‘shilling shocker’ in 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the popular idea of the split personality. Set in a hellish, fog-bound London, the story of outwardly respectable Dr Jekyll, who unleashes his deepest cruelties and most murderous instincts when he transformed into sinister Edward Hyde, is a Gothic masterpiece and a chilling exploration of humanity’s basest capacity for evil.

This edition also includes Stevenson’s sinister story ‘The Bottle Imp’.

Review

This is another book I am ashamed to say I have never read and just recently I bought a lovely little edition from Waterstones and it has been sat on my TBR pile ever since. I decided it would be a good book to discover Robert Louis Stevenson’s work as I have never read any of his work before.

The first and main story is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and I went into it with high hopes, however it quickly started to disappoint. Mr Utterson the lawyer and good friend of Dr Jekyll is a perfect gentleman and shows the reader that you would be blessed to consider him your friend. Mr Utterson in fact was my favourite character and he was probably the only reason I kept reading. Mr Hyde was also a good character, he was bad to the bone and showed a man with no morals to guide him or conscience, he was happy with his actions, showed no remorse and was dangerous to all around him.

Dr Jekyll is the character which I disliked greatly! He was weak and pathetic he had bad desires within him and a perverted mind that lay hidden because of his status in society and his title. We have no idea what horrors he performed in his past but they are hinted at, now due to getting older the desires are still there but he can not act upon them without losing everything or facing the gallows. Then Mr Hyde comes along, Mr Hyde is Jekyll’s answer to everything, Hyde does all the horrors and faces the gallows and Jekyll remains the good Dr. In my opinion Jekyll is evil, he just does not show it.

Jekyll tries to reform himself but this soon fails and Hyde starts to take over. Hyde was always going to take over because Jekyll is weak but also enjoys what Hyde does, if he was truly horrified and repulsed by Hyde’s actions he would have beaten Hyde and got his life back. Jekyll did not deserve the life he had or the dedicated friends like Mr Utterson in my opinion because he was as guilty as Mr Hyde.

This story annoyed me greatly because Dr Jekyll is shown in a light where the reader should feel sorry for him but I disagree with that. Dr Jekyll was weak and evil and in my opinion worse than Mr Hyde because he had the power to stop Hyde but did not. This story on its own would have only got 2 Dragons from me.

The second story in this book is The Bottle Imp and that was my favourite out of the two. This story is about a magical imp that lives in a bottle and can grant you any wishes, however it comes with conditions that could leave the owner going to hell.

The story contains many topics greed, love, hopelessness, despair, faith, courage and much more. I really enjoyed how Stevenson came up with the story and the morals behind it. Keawe is not a greedy man he does not ask for millions off the imp he asks for enough for his dream house that he can live in for the rest of his life and enjoy it. Kokua is the woman that Keawe falls in love with and risks everything for and she in turn risks everything for him. Their love is so strong they will do anything for each other. Others in this story do not show such selflessness and greed is the dominant trait in their characters. These two people are not greedy they just want to live happily together for the rest of their lives, but can they?

A real love story that was beautiful to read and not too long. I gave this one 4 out of 5 Dragons, so overall balancing the results I gave the book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

Lady Book Dragon

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