The Lost Journals of Benjamin Tooth by Mackenzie Crook

The Lost Journals of Benjamin ToothThe Lost Journals of Benjamin Tooth by Mackenzie Crook

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a book my daughter chose when trying to resolve the buy one get half price offer in Waterstones! It seemed an intriguing read based on the cover…

So I have been reading from the journal every night at bedtime. It starts off ordinarily enough if based in the 18th century so some of the language etc is obviously old fashioned. Benjamin seems like an ordinary boy of his time with a fascination for nature and a desire to become a famous naturalist.

Things however never do go to plan in a story and he meets the mysterious Farley Cupstart on Windvale Moor and his life completely changes… Benjamin grows to manhood without fulfilling all his dreams but maybe the mysterious creatures he saw on the moor can make his fortune?

My daughter and I agree that he starts off a likeable person but we grew to dislike him as the book went on. Maybe it’s our modern revulsion at old fashioned ways of studying nature – ie kill it then study it!

Not sure I want to read more of the series but wonder if my daughter will?

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House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini

House of Secrets (House of Secrets, #1)House of Secrets by Chris Columbus

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was sent this to review with my children and had to wrestle it back off my daughter to read it! Then I couldn’t put it down…

The Walker family have had to move house after the father Dr Walker is involved in what they refer to as “the incident”. Needing an affordable home they are surprised when the real estate agent suggests Kristoff House in an exclusive neighbourhood overlooking Golden Gate Bridge. There are some things that freak Brendan and Nell out before their parents agree to buy the home but it seems like they are just lucky. Cordelia can’t believe the house comes complete with a fully stocked library including books by the author Denver Kristoff.

The night they move in things go horribly wrong. Dahlia Kristoff (who claims she is the daughter of Denver – but how can she be over 100?) unleashes magic that appears to have killed their parents. The children and the house are sent out of modern day San Francisco but where are they? It gradually dawns on Cordelia that things around them appear to come from at least 2 of Kristoff’s novels. They will have to use their wits and unexpected allies to survive.

It seems the only way out is to obey Dahlia and retrieve the magic book she has been searching decades for. There are some cliff hanger adventures on the way which kept me hooked. Some of the characters they encounter are psychotic to say the least and they are threatened with gruesome deaths on more than one occasion.

They will have to work as a team using each others strengths to survive whilst Dahlia tries to use their selfish desires to get what she wants. Will they ever get home safely and see their parents again?

A fabulous fantasy story mixing magic and mystery together. The cast of characters is fantastic and yet believable. As an adult I loved it even though its aimed at 9+ children. My 7 year old loved the bits I read out loud to him! I will have to get my 10 year old to add her review now I’ve let her have it back…

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The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's SecretThe Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book was slow burner for me about half way through I found it hard to put down! So many intertwining bits it was hard to keep track at times. Whose husband has the secret? The advertising executive? The Tupperware consultant? Everything links in to the Catholic Primary School and a murder from over 30 years ago..

Very scary subject matter as a parent. Not great literature but a good read. Nice to have Australian setting too for a refreshing change.

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The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett audio Nigel Planer

The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2)The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Original review was for paperback

These early Discworld novels may be shorter than the newer ones but packed full of details and characters. I found it so hard to put down I had finished reading it the same night I started. Rincewind is such an unlikely hero and its only the spell in his read that keeps him alive!

The characters around him are so well described that it brings them alive. The impossible situations they get out of somehow are well written. I particularly love the way he describes the wizards at the Unseen University.

A great fantasy novel and a fantastic part of the Discworld series.

Just listened to audio version a year on from re-reading. Planer growing on me as narrator. Not sure about tinkling bells to end sections or way the footnotes were read…

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling read by Stephen Fry

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We listened to this as a family in the car whilst driving around. All big Harry Potter fans though I’m the only one that has read the entire series!

This is read by Stephen Fry and has us all gripped. The children often asked to sit in the car for a while when we reached our destination so that they could listen to a bit more.

There is always so much happening in the story with plenty of details of life at Hogwarts and the lessons etc. A bigger chunk of this book taken up by Quidditch with Harry and the Griffindor team in an exciting competition to finally win the cup.

The book also introduces the scary Dementors and the mysterious Sirius Black. I can really recommend this audio edition for families every where.

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A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast by George R R Martin

A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast (A Song of Ice and Fire #5, Part 2 of 2)A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great to realise that you hadn’t quite finished the most recent book in a series! This one has strands relating to all the main surviving characters.

Jon Snow at the Wall dealing with the conflicting needs of the Black Watch, the wildlings and King Stannis. Stannis himself facing harsh weather in his attempt to take Winterfell and free the girl they believe is Arya Stark. The real Arya still in the house of the god of many faces and learning their ways. Theon Greyjoy battling his internal demons and his fear of the Bastard of Bolton.

Down at King’s Landing Cersei is being held on charges of fornication and treason as is Margarey. The power struggle round young King Tommen will claim more victims yet. His uncle Jaime and Brienne are searching for Sansa Stark who is masquerading as Littlefingers daughter.

Over the sea will Daenerys marry for passion or politics and master her dragons? Tyrion is now a slave so how can he regain his freedom. Other kingdoms send their princes to claim the hand of the dragon queen. Meanwhile is the true heir Aegon returning to the 7 kingdoms with a company of exiled mercenaries.

Lots more blood and intrigue in this story. Plenty of twists and turns. And we have to wait over a year to find out what happens next!

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Drakenfeld by Mark Charan Newton

Drakenfeld (Lucan Drakenfeld, #1)Drakenfeld by Mark Charan Newton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is an intriguing mix of fantasy and murder mystery. Lucan is summoned back to his home city following the death of his father. He replaces him as the local agent for the Sun Chamber. He finds his birthplace much changed from when he left it.

Summoned to investigate a royal murder he is also being attacked by local villains. With a rising body count he must solve the murder before someone kills him.

There were plenty of twists in this book and I enjoyed reading it. The last few chapters don’t seem quite as well written as the rest of the book though.

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