Tag Archives: dark humor

Book Review: American Savage by Matt Whyman

You can read my review of book one, The Savages, by clicking here!

Published June 5th 2014 by Hot Key Books.

19383531Goodreads Synopsis: Vegan, veggie, carnivore… humanitarian? Welcome to the top of the food chain.

The Savages are back – this time in a country where servings come supersized. Titus, Angelica and the kids go to great lengths to fit into their new lives in sunny Florida. But that’s not easy when their appetite runs to feasts of human flesh.

In this dark comic serving of everyday family life with contemporary cannibals, the Savages seek to hide in plain sight by setting up a vegan café. But when the venture turns out to be a surprise sensation, and bad apples bob to the surface, Titus is forced to question whether the family have finally bitten off more than they can chew.

My Review: American Savage was a really great sequel- I devoured it in two sittings! I really loved The Savages when I had the chance to read it last year; it was a darkly hilarious story of a family of cannibals and various obstacles like vegetarian boyfriends. I couldn’t wait to read more about the family in this instalment; strangely, despite their… tastes… you grow to love them.

The plot was really great. American Savage sees the Savage family, plus adopted-into-the-family Amanda, moving to America for a change in lifestyle and to avoid arousing any more suspicion in their home country. The family sets up a vegan café; half to cover up any suspicious activity around the neighbourhood caused by them, and half because of a drama caused by Titus Savage and Amanda’s job. The plot kinda terrified me and made me laugh at the same time. It was really weird, seeing the family growing up, and dealing with different issues than had arisen in the first book. But I loved it! There’s a different story for every character, and they link together in clever and unpredictable ways.

The theme for the book is pretty dark and macabre, as it was in book one. But, Matt Whyman manages to keep the story feeling like an upbeat, funny, contemporary drama… except, there’s definitely a higher body count in this book compared to other YA contemps… 😀 Whyman’s writing is really enjoyable. It did take me a couple of pages to get stuck into the story, but after that, I couldn’t stop reading.

There was one thing that kind of disappointed me. In the first book, the most relatable character for me was Sasha- the teenage girl of the family who most of the story was centered around. However, she wasn’t actually in this story- instead she was in another American state studying. I really wish she was in the story, at least for a few pages! She’d been one of my favourite characters. I did get used to the family without her… but the ending, which was a bit heartbreaking, I wish she’d been there for. For reasons. But I can’t say why because I’ll spoil it…

Overall, aside from one part, I really did enjoy American Savage! I wasn’t sure how I’d find the sequel, as the first book was brilliant as a standalone… but this was awesome. It’s a mixture of macabre family tradition, romance, cover-up family business and American lifestyle… Sounds bizarre, but Matt Whyman makes it work. All of the characters are so well fleshed out and each one felt realistic and individual. I really, really highly recommend both The Savages and American Savage, whether you’re more of a contemporary fan or a fan of the macabre. Matt Whyman’s writing is really memorable and I can’t wait to read even more from him!

My Rating:

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 I received a copy of American Savage from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Lockwood & Co.

By Jonathan Stroud, published by Random House.

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Another five star review for my Halloween Reads! Yay! This one’s nothing like ZOM-B, which I reviewed earlier… it’s more for the fans of the paranormal who want a terrifying read to curl up with.

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., #1)Goodreads Synopsis: When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

My Review: Thanks very much, Stroud. You had me tossing and turning all night thinking about ghosts, rushing up stairs in case there were ghosts that might haunt them (no really.), and made me a MASSIVE fangirl. I’ve given it a while to write this review, so I can let it sink in a bit. No review I could write could do this enough justice… it was just simply amazing. Stroud has created a unique, imaginative world in which ghosts roam freely. They haunt so many houses- they’ve turned into some kind of infection spreading throughout England. So, agencies have sprouted up around the country, too, and Lockwood & Co. is that one with the bad reputation and the low-ish income. Luckily, with the arrival of Lucy, things begin to get a lot more exciting for them, because they’ve discovered their biggest case yet.

Despite this book being set in the modern world, for some reason I imagined it all Victorian, and I have no idea why. Maybe it was because there weren’t that many technology references? Maybe it was because Mr Lockwood reminded me a bit of Will from the Infernal Devices- cocky, arrogant, mysterious, and just loveable. Either way, I loved the future that Jonathan Stroud has crafted! It’s eerie, and quite terrifying for a Children’s book. It’s just brilliant- a rich dose of paranormal horror that will send shivers up your spine and grip you like a vice.

Lucy was a fabulous main character. The story was structured in a unique way- starting with an event that sparked their biggest mystery- then zooming back in time to build up Lucy’s back-story, then zooming ahead of time again to carry on with the book. Maybe I didn’t make that sound great… but it’s genius. I got to know Lucy so well! He accomplices, Mr Lockwood and George were also both loveable and brilliant leading characters, that I really want to read more about.

Lockwood & Co. is so gripping, also because of the writing. Jonathan Stroud’s writing is just immaculate, to say the least! His descriptions were beautiful, and the dialogue witty, mostly, to give the rather grim book an upbeat, feel-good essence. The writing drew me into Stroud’s novel so effectively that I found the book hard to put down- devouring the book in about three sittings!

Overall, Lockwood & Co. was an amazing novel. I haven’t read any ghost story as brilliant for a while! The plot was gripping, and full of ghosts and spectres that’ll keep you awake at night. One word to describe the story? Addictive. That’s what this story was! It held onto me from the first page and didn’t let me go until I had read (and re-read) the last chapter. I can’t recommend this enough to fans of the ghoulish and ghost stories. I think I’ve now got to go and hunt down Stroud’s other series, and then impatiently wait for the next book. Bring on the sequel!

My Rating:

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I purchased a copy of Lockwood & Co. from a local bookstore, but also received it on Netgalley- In no way at all did that affect my thoughts.

Verity Fibbs

By Cathy Brett, published by Headline.

Verity Fibbs

Publisher’s synopsis: Reality can never quite compare with the online world of Demon Streets for Verity. There she gets to learn new demon fighting skills and have fun. In reality she goes to school to learn useless skills and her fashion designer mother, Saffron Fibbs, is operating punishment by chores (for a small boy related misdemeanor).
As ethical is the new black when it comes to fashion, Verity’s mum’s recycled fashion venture is the hottest thing ever and she has to go to New York to publicize it giving Verity three days of total freedom!
But someone else is just as keen to see Saffron Fibbs leave home and when V and her friends find themselves on the wrong side of a very unethical enemy it seems that her online gaming skills might be the only thing between her and a very real Game Over…

My review: Verity Fibbs  was a pretty fun read! I had no idea it was existed until a few weeks ago, and picked it up in a bookshop, and couldn’t wait to start it. The story was all about fashion- definitely not my thing- but it also had a tie-in with supernatural video-games, which interested me. I think Cathy Brett made this book really interesting  and I absolutely loved it, even though I don’t know one thing about the latest clothing brands like Verity, whose mother is a world-famous fashion designer. Despite being the total opposite of the rather ironically named Verity Fibbs, I really loved reading her story. She was a really unique protagonist with lots of likeable aspects. I really loved Verity’s outgoing personality, especially because that’s how she landed herself in an adventure with a boy who lies just as much as her. Speaking of the boy she meets, I didn’t actually like him very much. (I can’t really give him a name, because he had so many). He seemed a bit wimpy and didn’t really defend Verity at all. I had no idea why Verity liked him!

I really loved the whole idea for the story. Cathy Brett has managed to combine two very different things – Role playing video games and ethical fashion- and mixed the two together to make a really clever story. I so wasn’t expecting for the fashion industry to link to Verity’s favourite video game! Not only did I get to walk through the Demon Streets, her fave game, but also there are the slightest little details in that RPG that went unnoticed for me, but played major factors in the ending. It was all really clever!

Overall, Verity Fibbs was such a fun read. It was a bit over-the-top, but in a good way. I think that Verity Fibbs was a really great, and realistic protagonist. The plot was crammed with action and I couldn’t put it down. Again, as in her other books, Cathy Brett has brought her story to life in a way many authors haven’t- with some fantastic illustrations! They were so great, and portrayed the story and characters really well. The video-game screen shots were brilliant too! So, Verity Fibbs was a very fun story, which is great for around ten/eleven and up. Because so many pages were full of drawings, it’s a rather quick read; perfect to curl up with in the evening!

My Goodreads rating: 4/5!

I bought Verity Fibbs from a local charity store.

The Savages

By Matt Whyman, published by Hot Key Books

The Savages

“They’d love to have you for dinner…”

Sasha Savage lives in a family who all follow a strange tradition. They look like a normal family; Her shopaholic mother Angelica, rather strict father Titus, baby Katya, and rather nasty brother Ivan. But inside their house, away from prying eyes, they’re modern day cannibals! They don’t eat it all of the time, but human flesh is their favourite meat. When Sasha gets a new boyfriend though, the family discover that he is handsome, charming, and… a vegetarian. Sasha decides to try a month skipping meat from her diet, which, obviously, is a huge thing to keep a secret in a house of cannibals.

Whilst Sasha is swapping meat for tofu, a curious detective is getting his nose stuck where it shouldn’t be. Will he discover the secret cannibalism of the Savage family, and what lengths will he go to in order to find the truth?

This. Book. Was. AWESOME. I loved it so much, and read it in quite a short space of time. It was one of the books that really stood out to me at the Hot Key bloggers lunch the other week. It was really funny, most of the humor quite dark. An unmissable, unique family drama, with great and unpredictable plot twists. I loved how it was a normal drama, with teenage love, and rebellion, but with the twist of a cannibal family which really livens the story up.

I loved all of the characters, especially the Savages- the typical yet different family. I think my favourite character, after teenage Sasha, was Ivan. He really was a nasty piece of work- sticking thumb tacks in school lunches and lacing Sasha’s (vegetarian) boyfriend’s tea with chicken stock cubes (Hahahaha)- he reminded me a little of the girl, Wednesday, from the Addams Family! The detective was funny, too, because of his obsession with fast food and how it always seemed to get in the way of his investigations.

Overall, I really, really love The savages. It was hilarious and scary all at the same time, and a really great read from an author I’d love to hear more from. An essential read for young teens and upwards!