#BookReview: The Picture of Dorian Greyhound by Oscar Wilde & Eliza Garrett #MPBooks

An interesting canine version of this dark classic.


The Picture of Dorian Greyhound book coverTitle: The Picture of Dorian Greyhound

Author: Oscar Wilde & Eliza Garrett

Illustrator: Pastiche Pastiche

Publisher: Wildfire

Genre: Classic, Short Story, Picture Book

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Description: The greatest works of literature, as told by the finest breeds.
Dorian Greyhound is the best of his breed – well tempered, beautiful and pure of heart.  So Basil Basset, an artist, paints a portrait that reflects the very essence of Dorian’s soul.
Then the moral corruption of this sweet creature begins.  On the outside, Dorian remains young and sleek – but as his naughtiness increases, the portrait starts to reveal his inner decay…

My Review: Having read two other books from the Classic Tails series, ‘Romeow & Juliet’ and ‘Pugs & Prejudice’, I was excited to read this one despite the fact I have never read or seen the original Oscar Wilde story. ‘The Picture of Dorian Greyhound’ is an interesting book with some beautiful illustrations. The book is a hardback and reminds me of the old Ladybird books I used to have as a child as the book is the same size with a matt finish, and has some lovely thick glossy pages inside with text on one side and a detailed illustration on the other.

The story itself is a much shorter version of the original ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ and begins with Basil Basset painting a portrait of Dorian Greyhound while recounting how he met him to his friend Lord Wooffon. When Dorian visits Basil he meets Wooffon who becomes a bad influence on him. I don’t want to detail the story but will say that it’s much darker than the other two books I read. Although a lot of what happens to Dorian and what he does is left out from the original book, the story still takes on a sinister turn and left me with mixed feelings having finished it.
The story is easy to read and the illustrations are really beautiful and very detailed. I loved reading the story but given the way it ends and the realistic images of the dogs I just didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped.

Beautiful detailed illustrations throughout the book

The pictures in this book are really lovely and I do like how realistic all the dogs look. The dogs have human bodies and human clothes but the pictures do show things such as the dog’s tails and I love that one character, Sybil Dane, not only looks like her breed but it’s also reflected in how big she is compared to other characters. There’s also a very subtle detail in all of the images which isn’t easy to spot but if you look closely every picture looks as if it has been painted onto canvas and it just gives these images an extra special feel.

What I love most about the Classic Tails series and this book too is all the dog references which make the story more funny. Apart from the obvious names of the characters being dog breeds, there’s also mention of other dog things such as greeting someone with ‘a delicate sniff of the other’s hindquarters’ and one character contemplating a squeaky ball!

Each image appears along with easy to read text.

Although overall I do like the book and still find many of the dog references and pictures cute, the story of Dorian Greyhound is a dark one and the ending is one that can be a bit shocking if you’ve never read or heard of the original before. The last images of Dorian’s painting (or pawtrait as it’s called in the book) plus some of the other images towards the end of the story are a little dark and perhaps disturbing if you’re expecting a lighthearted and funny story like you get with ‘Pugs & Prejudice’. The realism in the images can feel all the more eerie if you are a dog lover and don’t enjoy the overall darkness of the story and I’m not sure if this would make some dog lovers like or dislike the book.

Despite what I’ve said I would still recommend this, it’s certainly made me want to read the original now, as it feels as if there are large chunks missing from the original story. And I think many people might get interested in this classic if they read this canine version first, however given the darkness of the story I certainly wouldn’t recommend this for anyone younger than teens to read as some of the images can scare younger kids.
-Thanks to Bookbridgr and the publisher for a free copy.

Have you read the original classic?  What do you think of this canine version?  Let me know your thoughts I’d love to hear from you 🙂  You can also find me in these places: 

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#BookReview: Romeow & Juliet by William Shakespeare & Eliza Garrett #MPBooks

An interesting twist on the classic Shakespeare play, using cats.

Romeow and Juliet book coverTitle: Romeow and Juliet

Author: William Shakespeare & Eliza Garrett

Illustrator: Bob Venables

Publisher: Wildfire

Genre: Classic, Short Story, Picture book

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Description:  The greatest works of literature, as told by the finest breeds.
In fair Purrona, two furry families are at war.  But when Romeow, the son of Lord Montamew, sneaks into a Cattulet ball, he falls in love with the beautiful Juliet – the daughter of his father’s sworn enemy.
So begins the tale of two star-crossed kitties, who defy this feline feud for the chance to live – but ultimately die – together…

My Review:  This is such a beautiful and wonderful book to own and perfect for anyone, no matter if you’ve read Shakespeare or not!  ‘Romeow and Juliet’ is a much shorter version of the classic play by Shakespeare, with a great feline twist.  Although many know the original play of Romeo and Juliet, for those that don’t the basic story is a tragedy.  There is a family feud between their two families, the Montagues and the Capulets but by chance Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love.  However their love is doomed from the start.

This book gives a great spin on the original story.  Although the basic story is exactly the same, and some of Shakespeare’s original words are used, the whole book is written in a more modern language which is good for people who haven’t read Shakespeare before, or are reluctant to because of the old language.  Being a feline tale though, the book is filled with references to cat things, such as the family names are Montamew and Cattulet (rather than Montague and Capulet), Mercutio is now Mewcattio and phrases like ‘Juliet was in her basket’ to name some of the many, many cat themed references which make this book so funny.

Text on the left with a lovely old-fashioned image on the right.

The illustrations are so amazing that I can’t help but constantly look back at this book as they are so detailed and so beautiful.  The pictures look very old fashioned and appear on every double page, text is on the left with a lovely illustration on the right.  The paper used is glossy and thick which makes the pictures look better than they would on matt paper.  The way this book looks along with the fact it is a small hardback (which has a matt finish to it) and is around A6 in size really reminds me of Ladybird books I had as a child.

Every picture features an old fashioned scene but rather than images of people they are cats which look like people, human-like bodies but otherwise they are cats.  The pictures don’t just look old fashioned though, they look like actual old paintings, with the detail you’d expect in old paintings like a very clever cracked oil paint effect on all the pages, it’s subtle but also gives each picture a really old fashioned look making it all the more special.  Although some people may find the anthropomorphic images strange (cats with human bodies) I love it and think many animal lovers would too!

Fun cat images of a classic play 🙂

I have really enjoyed this book and can’t recommend it enough to anyone who has a love of cats and interest in knowing the Shakespeare play.  I think the book would be loved by anyone who likes cats or animals as well as people who are fans of reading and Shakespeare, but I also think those who have never read any Shakespeare or don’t know the original story of Romeo and Juliet could enjoy this as a sort of introduction to Shakespeare/classics book.  Although some of the text is original Shakespeare which can make some lines harder to understand for some people, the images and the rest of the story make this an easy read and I think this would be a great book to even show to younger ages to get them interested in this classic.
-Thanks to Bookbridgr and the publisher for a free copy.

Do you enjoy reading classics, or would this entice you to read?  Please let me know your thoughts on this book I’d love to know what people think of this ‘Classic Tails’ series 🙂  You can also follow me in these places: 

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#BookReview: Wing Jones by Katherine Webber #MPBooks

A diverse and interesting contemporary YA novel – check out the special sprayed edges too!

Wing Jones book cover
UK book cover

Title: Wing Jones

Author: Katherine Webber

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Contemporary, YA

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Description: With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds.  when tragedy strikes, she discovers an extraordinary talent she never knew she had.  Wing’s running could bring her family everything it needs.  It could also keep Wing from the one thing she truly wants.

Before my review I just want to show you a special feature of Wing Jones:

Check out these sprayed edges! 😀

My Review:  I’ll be honest in saying that I’m struggling to write this review because I have mixed feelings about this book.  ‘Wing Jones’ is a wonderful book featuring tough situations and diverse characters but something about this book just failed to ignite my interest.

The story is about Wing, a half black, half Chinese teenage girl  living in America in Atlanta, Georgia.  The first chapter of the book introduces us to Wing and her brother as well as setting up a bit of fantasy which continues throughout the story.

Wing’s character was easy for me to relate to.  She’s bullied at school for being different and doesn’t feel she’s good at anything in particular.  Wing has a really strong relationship with her brother Marcus and it’s this that is soon tested when something terrible happens to him, an accident, and she and the others are left to deal with what happened to him and the consequences of the event.  I don’t really want to explain this part too much as it would spoil the story but the way the characters all deal with things afterwards and the mixed feelings everyone has towards Marcus and the event are interesting and I enjoyed this aspect of the whole novel.  The book is about more than just Marcus’s accident though and Wing realises a talent she didn’t know she had, a talent for running.

Despite the book being an excellent portrayal of how a terrible accident can overshadow peoples lives and how we all can find a love or a talent and what happens if we go after our dream, it just didn’t appeal to me like I’d hoped.  I’m not exactly a fan of contemporary fiction but I do still read a fair bit and usually enjoy YA contemporary novels but with this book I just never felt a desperate need to get back into reading it which usually happens if you get into a good book.

I like the diversity in this novel.  Wing and her brother are mixed race and I like the way the book openly tackled the difficulties Wing has with this, as well as the difficulties another character has with being gay.   However the book just never felt exciting to read.  At times I didn’t like the way Wing’s entire mind was consumed with one character.  Although the feelings of first time love are very relevant in YA, it felt a little over the top for me and it made Wing feel like she wasn’t as complex a character as I would have liked her to be.  I also didn’t enjoy the fantasy aspect of the book.  It is a minor part of the story, Wing sees a dragon and a lioness whenever she runs (this is introduced to us right at the start of the novel so I’m not spoiling it by telling you this) but you never find out if these were made up in her head or part of Chinese folklore or something else.   And I’m honestly still confused as to the setting of the book in 1995.  There wasn’t a real need for this as the story never feels dated and apart from a reference to the Atlanta Olympics (which happened in 1996) and the fact, maybe, that there were more racial tensions back then, I see no real reason why the book couldn’t be set in today’s time.

Although there are moments I really enjoyed in this book, I particularly enjoyed Wing’s grandmothers and the way both acted towards each other, overall I just wasn’t awed by this book.  There isn’t anything offensive apart from mild use of the s swear word and I think the book would be good for all teen ages and older and a good book for those with low confidence in themselves to read as the story of Wing’s running is very inspiring.  However I just didn’t enjoy it and I’m not sure I’d read it again.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy.

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#BookReview: Timmy Failure: The Cat Stole My Pants by Stephan Pastis #MPBooks

A daft and funny kids book which I just didn’t find that funny.

Timmy Failure The Cat Stole My Pants book coverTitle: Timmy Failure: The Cat Stole My Pants

Author/Illustrator: Stephan Pastis

Publisher: Walker Books

Genre: Middle Grade/Children’s, Humour

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Description: Crime doesn’t take a holiday.  Neither does greatness.

So although I, Timmy Failure, the world’s greatest detective, am in Key West, Florida, I am NOT on holiday.  And I am DEFINITELY NOT on a honeymoon with my mother and Doorman Dave, having found zero evidence that they even got married.

But I am stuck in this hotbed of criminals with only the help of an unpaid intern.

There is no privacy on the island, but I know this: There is treasure.

My Review: I must be in a big minority because unfortunately I just didn’t enjoy this book like I had hoped. ‘Timmy failure: The Cat Stole My Pants’ is the sixth book in the series of Timmy Failure books and while it’s probably funny for a lot of people and kids, it was just too daft for me.

The book comes as a lovely hardback and is filled with lots of pictures as well as text. A lot of the book is pictures or handwriting and appears a bit like a notebook which it sort of is as Timmy is the narrator of his story. The whole story of ‘The Cat Stole My Pants’ is very daft. Timmy is a detective and runs a detective agency. He has a new intern called Emilio which is really another kid who’s on holiday with him and his mum and her new husband Doorman Dave. Timmy is a bit of a brat and loves to over exaggerate like so many kids would and it’s this unique humour that’s supposed to be funny but I just didn’t ever laugh at this book.

Some of the images inside the book.

There are bits I do like in this book. I actually like Emilio’s character. He looks strange and seems weird but I really liked him, especially his fondness of a certain bird. I also liked the ending of the story. I’m not going to give the ending away but it was nice and I think a little deeper than the rest of the book.

Some more pics among the text.

The images in this book are all quick drawings in black and white and do look funny. The pictures really lend to the story and I would have liked even more of them in the book, I think I also would have liked all the text to have looked handwritten too.

More silliness and fun.

I think this book will appeal to a lot of kids and adults too. I also feel as if boys might enjoy this a lot more and I think those with a very silly (almost over the top silly) sense of humour will love this most. The book just didn’t seem funny for me though and it’s not a book I would have enjoyed when I was younger. Maybe if I had read some previous Timmy Failure books this would appeal more but I just never got into the story, I never connected with Timmy in any way and it’s a shame because I really tried hard to enjoy this story.
-Thanks to Walker books for a free copy.

Have you read any Timmy Failure books?  Did you enjoy them more than I did? 

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#BookReview: One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus #MPBooks

I was DARED to not like this book! An exciting new YA mystery thriller!

One Of Us Is Lying UK book cover
UK book cover

Title: One Of Us Is Lying

Author: Karen M. McManus

Publisher: Penguin

Genre: YA / Mystery /  Thriller

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Description:  Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.
Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.
Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.
Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.
Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.
And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again.  He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects.

Everyone has secrets, right?
What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.

My Review:  When I first saw this book advertised for review on NetGalley the advert challenged me to ‘not like this book’. That statement and the description of this book just made me want to read it so much and I’m happy I took up the challenge. But try as I could I just can’t not like this book, instead I love it!

‘One Of Us Is Lying’ is a YA mystery thriller with an American high school setting. The story starts with five teenagers going to detention, all of them seem to have been set up to attend detention and before they know it, one of them dies. With the teacher having left the room right before the victim dies, it seems that one of the four remaining teens is the killer. But which one was it and how did they do it?

I won’t detail the plot but it is set in America with typical stereotypes of the teens. The book is told in the first person and each chapter of the story is headed by the name of the teen who’s point of view we follow. Although the plot isn’t difficult to get into and the death in detention was quite dramatic, already setting up the drama in the rest of the book, I did find it a bit hard to follow the different points of view at first. It took several chapters into the story before I could really tell apart all the teenagers and I think this might be because there’s a lot of point of view switching at the start (chapters are never that long) and this led me to get confused a little at the start and not enjoy the book so much.

A few chapters in though and I really started to enjoy this story. All the characters are different and although the stereotypes are a little too typical, very American and not really like people in the UK so much, I’m used to reading American novels so it didn’t bother me and the characters all had more depth than it first appears.

The story moves quickly and gets very exciting as it becomes evident that there are deep secrets that the teens all hold. Not only the secrets that they initially don’t want revealed, but all the teens have other secrets which I didn’t guess at all except for Cooper’s deep secret which I had suspected for a long time before it was finally revealed.

I really like the fast pacing of this story, there was never any rest. I wasn’t really reading this book and trying to figure out who the killer was which was nice as the revelation was surprising though I might have guessed it if I had thought more in a detective way. However as with most books this was far deeper than just the death and all the characters go on such a journey that it was the whole story that kept me really entertained and thrilled.

The ending is very satisfying especially with the epilogue which I felt was necessary to finish of one character’s story. Most loose ends are tied up in this story and it is a bit of a typical teen book with an overall happy ending to the dark things that happened before. I did enjoy the book, it has occasional use of the f and s swear words but nothing else too offensive (a bit of violence but nothing graphic). I realise the book is a little unbelievable for some people in the sense that lots of teen books and films sometimes feel, the stereotypes perhaps a little too overdone, but I can’t lie, I did really enjoy reading this and feel like I came down from a bit of a high after finishing the last page. I’d certainly recommend it to anyone wanting a YA mystery thriller. It’s a deeper story than you think and a really gripping read…I guess I also failed on NetGalley’s challenge to ‘not like this book’ 😉 !
-Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy.

This book is released in the UK: 1st June 2017

What do you think?  Would you take up the challenge to ‘not like this book’?

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#BookReview: Let’s Go To Nursery! by Caryl Hart & Lauren Tobia #MPBooks

A fun picture book for kids entering nursery!

Let's Go To Nursery! book coverTitle: Let’s Go To Nursery!

Author: Caryl Hart

Illustrator: Lauren Tobia

Publisher: Walker Books (Walker First Experiences)

Genre: Baby/very young books

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Description: Let’s go to nursery with Billy and Bee!  There’s SO much to do, and SO much to see!  Billy is shy but Been helps him have fun, so come with us now and let’s meet everyone!

My Review:

This is a great hardback book for very young kids to enjoy.  ‘Let’s Go to Nursery!’ is a fun rhyming book with some great images and rhymes.  The pages themselves are like thick shiny card so could take a quick wipe if they get a little dirty, the pages corners are also curved making this book easy and safe for toddlers to handle.

Some detailed illustrations

The story of the book is a simple but very fun one.  Bee is a confident girl while Billy is quite shy and together, along with Bee’s sister Boo, they all go to nursery and enjoy themselves.  The book’s pages are filled with fun rhymes, there isn’t one page that doesn’t have rhyming on it, even the back cover blurb has rhyming and it’s all in the same simple style which makes it easy for kids to understand what’s happening in the story.  I really enjoyed the story, even though Billy is shy and a little wary, Bee’s confident nature makes him enjoy the nursery, and when something happens to upset Boo, Billy is there to make her feel better.  The whole story has a lovely feel to it and would make me feel more confident going to nursery (I remember being very shy, like Billy, when I went to nursery myself).

Easy to read text and fun images

I really like the pictures in this book, they are all very nice and clear, not too abstract but there’s also some detail in many of the pictures which could make for a fun extra as kids and their parents can point out all the other things that are happening in the nursery.  The ending of the story is a happy as all the kids go home happy.

This is such a simple book but I really think kids will enjoy it as well as some adults sharing this with their kids.  It actually brought back some fond memories I had from my time in nursery and I think it would make a great book for kids who might be nervous about attending, giving them a positive experience to look forward to.
-Thanks to Walker Books for a free copy

What do you think?  Is this a book you’d enjoy or are you thinking of buying?  Please do comment 🙂  You can also find me in these places: 

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#BookReview: Caraval by Stephanie Garber #MPBooks

Review of the magical and mysterious Caraval, a book everyone wants to read this year!

Caraval book cover
UK book cover

Title: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber

UK Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Genre: Fantasy

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Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.
Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

My Review: I’m not sure how to start this review. I absolutely loved this book, once I got into it, but wow the ending was quite a shock and left me a little speechless and just a little bit annoyed.

Caraval has really been a hyped up novel this year and I couldn’t help but want to read it after hearing so much about it. The story follow Scarlett and her sister Tella who live on the small isle of Trisda but their life is marred by their abusive father who enjoys punishing the girls for any wrong-doing. For years Scarlett has been writing to the mysterious Master of Caraval to ask for tickets to the magical show but never hears back until days before her arranged wedding to a man she has never met. When tickets arrive though there is an opportunity to finally escape their abusive father so the girls go to the island where Caraval is taking place. However as soon as they arrive Tella goes missing and Scarlett must take part in the game in order to find her sister.

At the start of the book I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. We’re quickly introduced to Scarlett and Tella along with a scene showing how brutal and twisted their father is, but despite the fast pacing of this novel and the simple descriptions I just didn’t get into this book from the very beginning. The scene didn’t feel as threatening as I thought it should and the general story up until Scarlett reaches Caraval felt almost too fast paced and I didn’t get a feel for the characters until later. However despite my initial thoughts, this story soon drew me into the magic and from then on I was hooked.

The story is told in the third person but follows Scarlett as she searches for her sister with the help, or not, of the man who brought her to the island. The world of Caraval is an interesting and really mesmerising one. It’s like a magical and dark circus show that happens at night and Scarlett quickly becomes involved in the game/performance. The magic in the story and the overall Caraval is like the old fashioned circuses that existed in Victorian times. Just like a magical act, this book is filled with surprises and twists and I’m so happy that I didn’t see any of them coming. I’m very good at spotting twists in stories and often don’t find myself surprised but this book had me hooked as I really didn’t know what was going to happen next and the story kept up this pace of twists and turns right until the end.

The ending of this book is really good. It finishes really well with surprises revealed right until the last pages and it was really satisfying to read, however the epilogue is where I felt annoyed. Something simple happens but it sets up the story for a book two, leaving certain questions in your head and though I’m eager to read book two, when it is released, and there’s nothing wrong with the ending, I’d rather have had a book two without the mini cliff-hanger ending that this epilogue created.

The book has nothing offensive in it though given the dark and twisted nature of some characters I would recommend it for teens and older. Despite the many, many reviews calling this a YA novel it is not. Teens will enjoy this book and some characters are younger but this book is a general fantasy story and not specifically a YA book which usually has more specific appeal.

Caraval is everything it’s hyped up to be and I’d certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading a story with lots of twists and magic and for those who enjoy stories with a historic setting. Although the book takes place in a fictional world the timeframe is the past and it just added to the magical feel of this tale.

What do you think?  Do you want to read this book or have you already?  Please do comment 🙂  You can also find me in these places: 

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