Posted in adventure and mystery, general and welcome

Review Valley of Adventure

This book review is of The Valley of Adventure, by Enid Blyton.

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Holly’s review: Enid Blyton, the author of this book, is one of my favourite authors. Since I began to read her books I wanted to read more of them. I like this book because it is fascinating and adventurous because of what happens in it, for example when Jack has a fight with Pepi on a raging, stormy night. It is about these kids who are supposed to go off for a weekend with a friend but end up getting on the wrong plane that takes them to a valley with a couple of dangerous men.

This book is a very good book for children and adults who like adventures and puzzling mysteries. If you would like to read this book then go to your local library or book shop.

Sam’s review:  I didn’t get much of a look-in on this one as Holly was reading it under the covers after we had put her to bed. I think she has a torch in her bedroom somewhere. I remember the story vaguely from when I was younger, about a holiday spent trying to avoid criminals. I doubt whether these children would get travel insurance these days as they are always getting into (and admittedly out of) the most alarming scrapes. It’s a great book for children to do some voyeuristic adventuring and there’s plenty of comedy in the shape of Kiki the parrot, one of Blyton’s most amusing characters I think. Top marks!


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Two cracking adventures from Enid Blyton

For this post, Holly is going to review two books that she read recently by Enid Blyton:


The Ship of Adventure

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and The Sea of Adventure

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What they are about:

Enid Blyton wrote eight fantastic adventure stories that were perhaps overshadowed by her better-known Famous Five series. These all have similar titles – the only difference being what the ‘something’ of adventure was! Jack and his sister Lucy Ann are orphans but spend all their holidays with brother and sister Philip and Dinah and their mother. Jack brings along a rather hilarious parrot of his called Kiki, who is even more of a character in these books than Timmy in the Famous Five, helped no doubt by her ability to talk and order people to ‘Shut the door’ and ‘Wipe your feet’. Whenever the children break up for their school holidays, they fall head-long into a perilous adventure and then the fun starts.


The Ship of Adventure: The four children embark on an exciting trip around the Mediterranean with Philip and Dinah’s mum, Mrs Mannering. Bill Cunningham has not been invited this time because of his tendency to get the children involved in an adventure, but the four manage to do this perfectly well on their own! As the boat tours the Greek islands Jack received a ship in a bottle but is devastated when it is quickly broken. However, sadness turns to excitement as the children discover an ancient map hidden inside. As they explore the possibilities, they become suspicious of a man on board the same ship, whose annoying nephew always seems to be hanging around for information. Soon they realise that his uncle is a very dangerous criminal, but can they find the treasure and escape from the villains in time?

The Sea of Adventure: This story starts with the four children recovering from a particularly nasty bout of measles. The doctor has ordered convalescence by the sea before returning to school and family friend (and spy) Bill Cunningham comes to the rescue. He takes the four away on a bird-spotting holiday, camping on little islands that are as remote as possible from the mainland. However, one day Bill disappears and the children are stranded. What has happened to him… and how will they get home?


Holly’s review: I have just finished reading these two books. As you may have noticed, they are both set at sea. They are both really adventurous. But I liked one book better than the other and that book is The Sea of Adventure because it’s really descriptive and more daring which is what I like. If these books sound like the sort of stuff you like, then go to your local library or bookshop and see if you can find them.


Sam’s review: I have a confession to make with these books. I remember loving them when I was young and for a while have vaguely dangled them in front of Holly in bookshops or libraries, suggesting that she might like to try them. She has resisted me quite fiercely until recently when she decided she would deign to read the blurb on the back. She started with The Mountain of Adventure (review to come soon) and hasn’t stopped since. She can get through these in two days, which is great but frustrating as I’d love to read them more with her and relive some of my memories! Yes, these do contain some of Blyton’s less praiseworthy opinions about people but if you can skip past those, the adventures are fantastic and the characters engaging, especially Kiki the parrot, who always makes us laugh. I think there is more peril in them perhaps than in the Famous Five – the children inevitably are left to fend for themselves at some point – but it’s never distressing or terrifying. At one point in The Sea of Adventure Holly groaned at the prospect of them embarking on another adventure as she was rather enjoying the description of their holiday but she still devoured it and, yesterday, reserved The Circus of Adventure in the library. Another series we’re working our way through!


Have you read this series? What did you think of it?


Posted in adventure and mystery

Review: Doctor Doom: Oli and Skipjack’s Tales of Trouble

Holly goes solo with this review. She chose this book as part of her reading challenge, and read nearly all of it herself while we were away in France (putting the rest of us to shame as we didn’t finish any books). Over to you, Holly!,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_.jpg



Title: Doctor Doom: Oli and Skipjack’s Tales of Trouble

Author: Ceci Jenkinson

Publisher: Faber & Faber

What it’s about: This book is about a bank robbery, an evil dentist and two boys whose names are Oli and Skipjack. Oli wants to become a spy and Skipjack has to  avoid being hit by a cricket bat from his enemy, Slugger. Make your day fantastic with this funny book.

Holly’s review: I liked this book because it was fascinating and funny. Just because the main characters are boys doesn’t mean there aren’t girls in it as well. I chose to read this book because I really liked reading about it when I read the blurb.

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The Mysterious Benedict Society

Title: The Mysterious Benedict Society

Author: Trenton Lee Stewart

What it’s about: A strange advert appears in the newspaper, inviting special and gifted children to take part in a series of intelligence tests. The reward? To be part of a special, undercover task force sent to the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened on an extremely important mission on behalf of Mr Benedict. Reynie, Sticky, Kate and Constance are the chosen ones and it soon becomes clear why quick thinking and bravery are vital, especially when they come up against the bizarre Mr Curtain.

Holly’s review: Sometimes it’s not easy to get into a story at the very beginning and you have to take your time with it. But with this I liked it from the start. I like mysteries and the book got really exciting – I couldn’t stop reading it! All of the characters are interesting and funny and have different personalities although they are all brave. My favourite was Constance Contraire as she had this incredible stubborness and was so funny! I would warn younger readers to be careful though and not read it on their own. I did in bed at night after my parents turned the light out and I was scared! The only thing I would say is that the author didn’t need to write so many ‘For crying out loud!’s and ‘Good grief!’s.

Sam’s review: I’d ordered this from the library for Holly to read as it had been recommended on amazon on the basis of previous purchases. Holly loves mysteries and action adventures, and had previously enjoyed Nancy Drew, The Famous Five and Harry Potter, all of which have similarities with this book. It was a real relief that she’d enjoyed it! In fact, she liked it so much that my husband and I can’t comment very much on the book as she always had her nose in it and we lost track of the plot! And despite the official line of ‘you’re not supposed to read after lights-out’, it was encouraging that she just didn’t want to put it down. From the parts that I did read, the book was exciting and the characters engaging – all suitably different from one another to appeal to a wide range of children. Stewart contains the element of ‘peril’ well too – Holly was excited reading this but certainly not terrified. We’ve already ordered the second title – The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey – from the library.


Posted in adventure and mystery

Review: The Star of Kazan

Book: The Star of Kazan

Author: Eva Ibbotson

What it’s about: A baby girl is found abandoned in a church by two Austrian servants, who take her to live with them and their employers – three professors – in Vienna. They name the orphan Annika and, despite planning to only look after her for a short time, they all fall in love with her and bring her up as their own. Annika loves the life she leads but always wonders about the mother who left her – what she’s like and why she left. One day her curiosity seems to be satisfied when a beautiful and rich woman appears to claim her as her long-lost daughter. Annika leaves Vienna, her friends and her ‘family’, to start a new life in Spital, northern Germany, with her mother but it doesn’t turn out to be the dream she’d imagined. Instead, her arrival at the austere family home is just the beginning of a mystery and adventure with Annika in the middle.

Holly’s review: The story has a lot of mystery and is exciting. I like the ways Eva Ibbotson describes things. She makes you feel like you are really there. I loved the sound of Vienna and want to go there now I have read this book. It is almost like a character itself. The other characters are written very well and Eva Ibbotson gives them good personalities.

Sam’s review: While stories using abandoned children are plentiful, Eva Ibbotson still manages to give a fresh perspective on the subject and has turned this into a fantastic story that I found as thrilling and engaging as any novel for adults. Annika is a lovely heroine, full of guts yet still dreamy and vulnerable, so you completely understand just why everyone falls in love with her. Ibbotson not only writes a cracking mystery and adventure, she also deals sensitively with subjects such as homesickness, longing, mourning, bravery, sense of self and love. This is the first book Holly and I have read by her and I’m looking forward to reading more.