Image of Ladybird by Design book

My latest book review is on Ladybird by Design by Lawrence Zeegen. The author of the book, Lawrence Zeegen is Dean of the School Design and Professor of Illustration at Ravensbourne University so he is more than qualified to fully understand why the design of Ladybird has contributed to its success. I love vintage Ladybird books and have a small collection of the vintage books myself. When my partner gave me this book as a gift, I was excited to get reading. Ladybird by Design is about the history of Ladybird through the design of the books whilst exploring the different series, artists and authors.

The book is laid out in four main chapters the first gives a history of the Ladybird company starting out as printers Wills and Hepworth in Loughborough who were printing children’s copies as a side job from printing brochures as well as paper shortages brought on by the outbreak of the second world war meant that the size of the books were reduced. With space extremely tight the front and the back cover were utilised with diagrams, images and information about other books available in the series. The second chapter it goes into detail about the artists such as Robert Lumley, Eric Winter and Charles Tunnicliffe as well as the history about the individual series such as the famous Key Words series.

Inside the Ladybird book where it has detailed diagrams

The third chapter steps away from the artwork and explores the other fundamentals of the Ladybird books including typography, foreign editions, logos, language and typeface all important in the creation of the Ladybird book.

The final chapter focuses on Ladybird moving forward into the modern world, it goes into detail about Ladybird being sold to Pearson, the TV tie-ins which have provided to be a positive for Ladybird with Peppa Pig bringing in millions and moving into different formats such as tapes and apps and baby books.

Image of the Ladybird book detailing the People at Work series.

The book gives such a comprehensive view in the history of Ladybird but also the individual artists involved in the iconic covers. It also provides a critical view as well one example is how the books were not diverse and provided a very cliched view of life in modern life in the UK. Whether you are a massive fan of the books or just like the illustrations it really is worth a read.

Image of the book Gallery of the Dead by Chris Carter

*Spoiler alert – this post may contain spoilers.

I am not a massive crime fan but I really love Chris Carter’s books. I have already reviewed two of them One by One and The Night Stalker but the Gallery of the Dead, released earlier this year, is by far I feel his best yet.

The Gallery of the Dead starts of with a model who is found skinned with blood everywhere and latin carved into her back by a knife. In a twist of events this time the FBI (Special Agent Fisher and Special Agent Williams) are involved as they have had similar discoveries and think it is a serial killer. In addition one of the murder victims happened to be a niece of one of the FBI’s members. This family link in return slowed the FBI investigation down because they were searching for somebody who they thought were killing in revenge but as the bodies pile up it is clear that it isn’t a revenge killing so the FBI and LAPD shift focus to thinking that the killer is creating masterpieces with the bodies.

It is really interesting reading about the relationship that the LAPD and FBI have, it is clear Hunter doesn’t really care and just wants to catch the killer. Garcia and Special Agent Fisher take an instant dislike to each other to the extent that when the FBI gives them the low down on the case so far Garcia nearly finds himself off the case with all the sarcasm he is dishing at Special Agent Fisher.

I found this part of the book harder to read as I really like Garcia and this how backwards and forwards tit for tat really makes him sound like ass. Special Agent Fisher sounds like ass too and this image builds up of her as being this ice queen. She answers her phone and Garcia spots that the image being of a teenager with down syndrome. We later discover that is her daughter. This theme of the LAPD and FBI not getting along as much runs through the book and I wonder (with me being a British reader) whether this is a common theme in American crime.

In this book you can see Hunter is dating a criminal Psychologist, Professor Tracey Adams from UCLA. Long time readers of the books you will know that Hunter keeps himself to himself which I think, and I feel indicated, is certainly due to the fact that his mother died of cancer when he was seven and his father died in a shooting. The relationship doesn’t develop much in this book as Hunter won’t let it. Hunter wants to run a few background checks. I definitely think this storyline will be explored on more detail in the next book.

As we move through the book, the chapters are interspersed with criminal killing the victims, these chapters really have lots of gruesome details and it makes you feel sick. Nearer the end, Hunter and Garcia find out that the killer is collecting body parts and via Fisher they have tracked down his whereabouts to a disused farm in the middle of nowhere. As Garcia and Hunter take the house and Fisher and Williams take the barn, shots are fired and we find that Agent Fisher has shot dead Agent Williams, Agent Fisher then turns on Hunter and Garcia and shoots them both (I won’ tell you why and if they survive, you will have to read the book!)

That plot twist was intense, certainly more than the other books I have read by Chris. The book is long at over 500 pages but it was enough to keep me going and entertained. The only things that are starting to annoy me about the book’s is repeating Garcia’s and Hunters back story to the extent that I am pretty certain Chris has copied it word from word from another of his books. To sum up, if you like a fast paced book with plenty of gore then this book is perfect.

Image of the Aaru book

Aaru is a fantasy sci-fi story written by David Meredith and the first book in the Aaru series. The book is about 16 year old Rose who is currently in the final stages of cancer. A Doctor from Elysian Industries comes in and offers Rose the chance for her to live in the afterlife and still be connected to her sister by taking a scan of her brain which she takes. Rose lands in Aaru where she can have whatever she wants and do whatever she wants, she meets new friends and has fun.

Meanwhile, Rose’s sister Koren is devastated but after a representative from Elysian Industries talks to Koren and her family a screen is installed where Koren can speak to Rose at any time. Gradually Rose becomes the spokesperson for Elysian industries and is paraded around at these parties and in the press to prove that Aaru is real. It starts to go wrong when Koren gets an admirer who is hell bent on breaking into Aaru and take her away from her sister…

Aaru is a good book with potential, I did notice a few spelling errors and there were a lot of words I didn’t know (that isn’t a bad thing!) however with the book being aimed at the young adult audience it could disturb the flow. I certainly didn’t think the romance story with Rose added anything to the story and I felt that as Rose is 16 the author really didn’t need to add a sex scene in!

I enjoyed the idea of science and the idea that there is a afterlife which certainly was what interested me in the book in the first place. It certainly wasn’t believable but I love the use of technology especially as the idea of maintaining an active social media presence after you have passed is becoming a reality (something which I wrote about a couple of years ago).  It also shows the disadvantage that the technology has had (one example being with Koren’s and Rose’s father heavily drinking because he cannot cope with the exposure that Koren is receiving). However there were too many characters are in the book and with the too many storylines it just got too much for me to the point that I didn’t read the last thirty pages and it could have finished a lot sooner. I do think I will go back and read the book again and hopefully read the second instalment.

* I was kindly gifted this book, however as always my views are my own.

Image of the book The Night Stalker by Chris Carter

I am not usually the one for crime stories or programmes but at the moment I seem to be loving anything crime related! I have read Chris Carters book’s before (read my review on One by One here) and my partner got given a couple of books for his Birthday – hence I stole them off him!

The Night Stalker is about a criminal who is going around killing women. Not only are women dying but the women’s mouth and vagina have been stitched shut. In another case Whitney Meyers a private investigator is investigating the disappearance of Katia Kudrov, a talented principal violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Hunter’s and Whitney’s paths cross as Hunter thinks Katia could be the killer’s next victim.

I really enjoyed The Night Stalker, particularly the ending because there is such a twist that I really did not see coming at all. In the book Hunter come’s across many suspects that I found it really quite difficult to tell who it was which adds to the whole fun guessing who it is. Chris Carter as well as being a author is also a criminal psychologist and his knowledge helps make the crimes more realistic, you don’t feel as if the crime is unrealistic and this adds to this thriller.

Which Chris Carter book is your favourite?

 

Image of the book

My recent read was given to me by my good friend Sophie (we seem to have a mini book club going on here!) I had seen Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine on the shelves of the supermarkets but it never spurred my interest enough even though it was a COSTA Book Awards Winner 2017. Safe to say it was an unexpected read that I enjoyed.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine tells the story of Eleanor Oliphant, a 30 year old woman who lives and works in Glasgow in an office job with no prospects. She is bullied at work because she doesn’t have anything in common and she has no outside interests, Eleanor drinks and sleeps all weekend to kill time and everything she does outside her office is neatly timetabled. Pizza on Fridays and phone calls with her mum every Wednesday. We learn that her mother is in prison and she was brought up in care.

Eleanor’s life changes when she is walking back from work with Raymond, a guy she met in IT who fixed her computer when a man collapses in the street. This encounter triggers a series of events from falling for a band member she has never met, getting to know Raymond better and finally moving on from what has been haunting her the majority of her life.

At first I thought Eleanor Oliphant was really crazy however as I got further into the book and gained more of an understanding about her background. I realised that Eleanor has been through a lot and you can understand why she acts the way she does. You get to understand a woman who has been through a lot and you feel how debilitating loneliness can be. You see why Eleanor held herself back over so many years.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine is Gail Honeyman’s first novel, I learnt that Gail decided to write a novel after her 40th birthday. Reece Wetherspoon through her production company Hello Sunshine has bought the rights to turn the book into a film. At the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair the book was involved in a eight way bidding fair for rights (which eventually went to Harper Collins). I cannot wait to see what the film version is like and I really hope the film is shot in Glasgow and not in America!

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