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Jenny, Wondrous Reads (UK)
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The Mystery of the Crooked Imp (The Phoenix Presents)
The Mystery of the Crooked Imp (The Phoenix Presents)
by Conrad Mason
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Mystery of the Crooked Imp, 24 May 2015
Anyone who knows me will know that I'm a big fan of two things: fantasy and graphic novels. The Mystery of the Crooked Imp combines those very things, and it makes for one heck of a fun reading experience! Port Fayt is home to humans, trolls, fairies, magicians and elves, some of which are not too nice. The Demon's Watch protects the town and rights any wrongs, which is round about the point where this story begins, on the day a baby is cruelly snatched from its family...

This graphic novel has everything, including excitement, magic, endearing characters and fantastic artwork from David Wyatt. It's a quick read, but it's a book that demands a re-read - so far I've read it three times and I don't think I'm quite finished yet. I of course loved the fairie characters most (Spoon is so cute), but Tabitha and the rest of the Night's Watch are also very memorable. They make a great team!

The Mystery of the Crooked Imp is an excellent adventure story that readers of all ages (and fans of the Phoenix comic) will enjoy, and I for one can't wait to read more tales of Port Fayt. For further reading check out Conrad Mason's Tales of Fayt series of novels that starts with The Demon's Watch - I'm now going to go and unearth my copy!


Alien Attack! (Superhero School)
Alien Attack! (Superhero School)
by Alan MacDonald
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Alien Attack!, 23 May 2015
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!

3.5/5


A Monster's Moved in!
A Monster's Moved in!
by Timothy Knapman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.68

4.0 out of 5 stars A Monster's Moved In, 23 May 2015
This review is from: A Monster's Moved in! (Hardcover)
I've been lucky enough to read some brilliant picture books recently, including A Monster's Moved In by Timothy Knapman and Loretta Schauer. Picture books about monsters and other creatures are my absolute favourites, so I was excited to read this one. It didn't disappoint!

Barnaby is bored one day and makes a den, even though his mum and dad warn him that a monster might move in. Nothing happens until he wishes for a monster, and one turns up! Burple is quite little, green and come complete with a very unusual packed lunch. Burple and Barnaby have a great day out and make wonderful friends, thoroughly enjoying each other's company and whiling away a day of boredom and rain.

This is a great little story written by Timothy Knapman; the text isn't too much and there are enough big words that children will learn something new from reading it. Loretta Schauer provides the colourful illustrations of Barnaby, Burple and their many adventures, and they're great to look at. Burple is my favourite, I must admit!

A Monster's Moved In is a fantastic picture book that I really enjoyed reading, and I'm glad I got to spend time with Barnaby and his new monster friend. Any bored children are in for a treat with this one, as it's guaranteed to hold their attention for at least a couple of reads. I hope we might see Barnaby and Burple again one day!


The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road
The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road
by Abbie Bernstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.31

5.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road, 23 May 2015
The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the best film books I've seen in a long while. It's packed full of concept art, on-set photography and behind the scenes information that's both interesting and revealing. All too often these days movie 'making of' books are merely concept art with a small amount of text (see the Marvel 'Art of' books: brilliant but not enough real photos for my liking), but The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road is very much an old-school film book like I'm used to. I really enjoyed reading it and getting an insight into how this mental movie made it to the big screen!

The book is split into lots of sections and begins with a foreword by writer and director George Miller. Each main character gets their own section, with Max, Furiosa and Immortan Joe understandably taking centre stage. The Wives and the Vuvalini also get their own space, with the actresses pitching in to give their thoughts and feelings on their roles. I loved learning more about these characters and what motivates them, and I'm glad they all got a decent amount of pages!

The rest of the book covers the locations and main conflicts throughout the film. There's so much action -- two solid hours, to be exact -- that it can be easy to miss things. This book is like a memory refresh while also serving as a lesson in how to create huge, sprawling action scenes on the big screen. I didn't realise Tom Hardy did a lot of his own stunts, and learning that fact has now made me like him a little more.
The vehicles also get a lot of coverage here which is great - if you've seen the film, you'll know what a huge part they play!

I can't recommend this book enough. As a making-of guide, it's easily one of the superior volumes available, along with those produced for the Hobbit films. It's got everything any Mad Max fan could want to know where Fury Road is concerned, and it's especially good to see that the book's author and producers were granted on-set access and photographs in order to make the best book possible. I can't think of anything else I'd like to have seen within this book, and I'm pleasantly surprised by the depth of information presented here. If you loved the film and want to know more, then this is an essential purchase!


Don't Chew the Royal Shoe
Don't Chew the Royal Shoe
by Kate Leake
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Chew the Royal Shoe, 10 May 2015
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!


Lenore: Pink Bellies
Lenore: Pink Bellies
by Roman Dirge
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pink Bellies, 26 April 2015
This review is from: Lenore: Pink Bellies (Hardcover)
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!


Circus of Thieves on the Rampage (Circus of Thieves 2)
Circus of Thieves on the Rampage (Circus of Thieves 2)
by William Sutcliffe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Circus of Thieves on the Rampage, 19 April 2015
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...


The Clockwork Dragon
The Clockwork Dragon
by Jonathan Emmett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Clockwork Dragon, 19 April 2015
This review is from: The Clockwork Dragon (Paperback)
The Clockwork Dragon is a really fun picture book featuring my favourite fantasy creature: a dragon! It's all about Max and Lizzie and how they rid their kingdom of an evil dragon called Flamethrottle - no easy feat, let me tell you. They have a great plan and even more cunning, which they use to outwit this most nasty of dragons. Flamethrottle doesn't know what's him him!

I'm a big fan of picture book illustrations and these ones Elys Dolan are of the high standard I've come to expect. The dragons, both real and mechanical, look brilliant, and Max and Lizzle are a fantastic representation of the medieval time when this story is set. Each page is busy with artwork but it also has more text than in used to seeing in a picture book, making it easier for Jonathan Emmett to tell a full, finished story.

The Clockwork Dragon is recommended for any budding knights or dragon hunters out there, especially ones with an eye for making things. Max and Lizzie are memorable, likeable characters who would make positive role models for any children, and I look forward to their next adventure. Let's hope that Flamethrottle the dragon really does leave them alone for a while!


Just Bite (Teen Reads)
Just Bite (Teen Reads)
by Tommy Donbavand
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just Bite, 19 April 2015
This review is from: Just Bite (Teen Reads) (Paperback)
Just Bite is another excellent Badger Learning title by Tommy Donbavand, perfectly suited for teenagers who struggle to read. It's a great little 64-page vampire story that made me wish it was a full-length novel, as is usually the case with these very well-written short stories.

Without giving too much away, Just Bite is about teenager Sally who loves to wear black and skulk about like a typical mopey teen. All is well until one night when, suddenly, all the lights go out and her neighbour's screams can be heard outside... uh-oh!

Even though this book is short, it's a really good read and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. There's vampires, gore, thrills, chills and a genuinely good idea for a story about the undead. Reluctant readers will find lots to like here, especially the inviting, blood-soaked cover - if that doesn't make someone want to read it, I don't know what will!

I think Just Bite is my new favourite book from Badger Learning, and it's definitely Tommy Donbavand's best to date. Secondary schools should have these books proudly displayed on their shelves for everyone to see and read - I'm sure they could entice even the most uninterested reader to pick up a copy and get lost in its pages. It should be an educational law that these books are readily available to teenagers everywhere!


The First Slodge
The First Slodge
by Jeanne Willis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The First Slodge, 19 April 2015
This review is from: The First Slodge (Paperback)
Jeanne Willis and Jenni Desmond have teamed up to create a lovely picture book for little readers, all about the first slodge and how she learned to share her world. It's full of nice, simple artwork of the cute slodge, and it tells an important story as well. It's one to savour, that's for sure!

The underlying message in The First Slodge is to share, whether it be your food, the stars or the planet itself. Sharing helps move things along, and it also helps friendships form and relationships exist. The first slodge learns this the hard way, but learn it she does when a second slodge arrived on the scene. It's a great lesson to teach children, and hopefully it will help to instill in them a need to share and be kind.

Jenni Desmond's illustrations are all brilliant, and I immediately loved the slodge just from seeing the cover. I have no idea what she actually is, but I do know she's green, cute and excitable. Hopefully she'll return for more slodge books, and I can find out what happens to the next generation of slodges - let's hope they're all sharing their fruit!


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