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I do a monthly round up for everything we’ve read each month. Himself focuses on science articles and forums and news, so he’s not getting a section – books only!
Sorry, we skipped the July post at the start of August because we were away and I couldn’t be bothered.
Hurrah! He hit his self-imposed 5 million words target on Accelerated Reader. Then on the last day of school, they forgot to give out the reading awards. So his last certificate for meeting his target didn’t come home and he didn’t get the book token he’s received the last few years for being one of the top 10 readers in the school. I was a bit cross.
Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan
It was brilliant! It was about Jules Verne’s character Captain Nemo, you see he had an AI ship in the Georgian times with nuclear technology and stuff. He was actually real and his descendants died looking for his ship. Then found the ship but it didn’t like them much so it zapped them with electricity under water. They went to a school for people into military stuff, a bit like the navy, but also with swimming and very hard challenges. The children of the dead descendants managed to find the ship again while they were running away from their enemy, the Land Institute. But it turned out that the oldest brother was actually one of the leaders of the Land Institute, so the ship called Narcissus fought the Land Institute ship. Somehow it won because Captain Nemo had figured out how to do missiles. The sister was the daughter of the deep. They also got an enormous octopus to help them and make a hole in the bad guy’s ship.
Top Marks for Murder, First Class Murder, Arsenic for Tea, Once Upon a Crime by Robin Stevens
Two girls, Daisy and Hazel, live in between the wars. Hazel is from China and Daisy’s father is a British lord. The series mainly takes place as murder mysteries in Britain, two at their private school for girls called Deepdean. The girls have lots of fun but they nearly die lots of times and one of them even has a gravestone because everybody thought she was dead when she was thrown off a ship in the last one. But then some weird random people from Egypt took her and helped her.
- Kidnap on the California Comet by M.G. Leonard
- By Simon Farnaby
- The Warrior in My Wardrobe
- The Wizard in My Shed
- Trixie Pickle, Art Avenger by Olaf Falafel
- Squirrel Boy vs the Squirrel Hunter by Dave Lowe
- Super Cats vs Dr Specs by Gwyneth Rees
- The Cheerleaders of Doom by Michael Buckley
- My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish the Sea-quel by Mo O’Hara
- Just Stupid! by Andy Griffiths
- By Tom McLaughlin
- The Day I Became the Most Wanted Boy in the World
- The Day I Started a Mega-robot Invasion
- The Day I Got Zapped with Super Powers
- The Day that Aliens Nearly Ate Our Brains
- By Philip Reeve
- Kevin’s Great Escape
- Kevin and the Biscuit Bandit
Amazing reading from small boy this month, he’s ploughed through four chapter books as well as starting and abandoning a book about the Top Gear Stig.
Extra Special Treats (not) by Liz Pichon
It was good because, well, it’s Tom Gates. It was about Tom, this was the main part, he didn’t have any ideas for his homework. So, he wrote about his friends …. oh wait that’s a different Tom Gates book. In this one, this was the only Tom Gates that kind of had chapters, there were lots of different short stories. I can’t remember them all.
How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero and How to Steal a Dragon’s Sword by Cressida Cowell
They were good. Stuff happened with Hiccup and Toothless, but it was ages ago that I read them and I can’t remember now Mum! But I liked them and I’ve got some more in the series that I’ll read next.
- Middle School: Save Rafe! by James Patterson
- Attack of the Lizard King by Rex Stone
- By Andy Griffiths:
- The 26-Storey Treehouse
- The 39-Storey Treehouse
- The 91-Storey Treehouse
- The Black Masquerade by Sean Tulien
- The Invisible Boy by Sally Gardner
- Dog Man Unleashed by Dav Pilkey
- Mr Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets by Alex T. Smith
- By Katie Tsang
- Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Zombies
- Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Space
- Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts
The Raven Song by J M Dalgleish
Oh the lovely Detective Tom Janssen is back with another amazing tale. I don’t want to give too much away, but this one was really heartbreaking. There were so many potential bad guys along the way to the tragic finale. As usual the descriptions of the beautiful Norfolk landscape are evocative and atmospheric, really key to setting the emotional tone for the story. Loved it again. Can’t wait for the next one to come out.
Carnival Blues by Damian Boyd
I steamed through this one on holiday in France. Nick Dixon is galivanting around Somerset again, hunting down someone targeting estate agents. Alongside his investigation, he’s got lots going on in his personal life between a pregnant girlfriend and being suspended pending investigation of a murder accusation. Fast paced and with all the unexpected twists that I expect from Damian Boyd, this didn’t disappoint.
Beware the Past by Joy Ellis
A new detective for me from Joy Ellis’ stable. I’ve already enjoy the Nikki Galena and the Jackman and Evans series, so I had no worries about trying Matt Ballard. As a first novel in a series, this really provides the wow factor. The ending is really shocking and almost disturbing.
Matt is about to retire, he’s quite different from Joy Ellis’ other detectives. But in other ways he’s similar, he’s closed off and private and the product of past emotional experiences, just like Jackman and Galena. He’s presented with an typically quirky case, that quickly becomes directed at him personally. There’s plenty of dashing around the fens – just like the Norfolk scenes in Dalgliesh’s books, Ellis uses the landscape to great effect when creating the sinister atmospheres of the crime scenes and especially at the climax.
I’ve gone straight into the next book in the series, and it’s just a compelling.
L’Inconnu de Port Belon by Jean-Luc Bannalec
What better time to immerse myself in a French detective than during a holiday in France? (Best holiday moment, the market seller not believing I’m English.) Commissaire Dupin is his usual dry self, refusing to accept things at face value and meandering about all possibilities before landing on the right solution. The community around Dupin is expanding some more, the core set of characters is accumulating a few more names from each book to the next too. As usual, there are two parallel threads going on – sand is being stolen from Breton beaches and someone murdered and then magically disappeared a Scottish oyster farmer. Of course Dupin gets suspended by the self-serving prefect for not manufacturing the solution he wanted, only to solve the whole affair in the middle of the night. Another wonderful denouement.
Thinking about this novel and the Ellis and Dalgliesh stories I read this month, I think I’m realising that the scenery and the environment where event unfold are just as important to me as the characters. Bannalec is on a whole other level though, he doesn’t stop at describing the sights but he adds another dimension by telling us how things smell. His pictures draw on the scents of the ocean or the hills as much as on the sight of the waves or the rocky outcrops.
The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair
I was super lucky to win a copy of this through Ailish’s instagram! It had been on my Amazon wishlist for a good while so I was super excited to get the chance to read it.
I follow Ailish’s blog too, give her a visit for regular updates with stories and pictures from Scotland: https://ailishsinclair.com/.
Anyway, back to the book. The story revolves around Isobell, but is actually loosely based on historic characters in the records. A young girl runs away from a threatening situation in London and comes to rest in a castle outside Aberdeen. She finds work in the kitchens and friends too, not least the master of the house. The perils she’s left behind in England catch up with her, but the greatest danger comes from enemies she’s made amongst her colleagues.
The fears and horrors of being accused of witchcraft in a strange land with your closest supporters unavailable are so sympathetically described, that you really feel yourself to be imprisoned alongside Isobell.
I really loved the rich variety this novel brought – it’s not all danger and torture, there’s peace and contentment, a feeling of having found one’s place, delight, fun, celebration and true happiness too. Each phase of Isobell’s experiences are brought to life, they’re evocative and have real depth. I’ll definitely be picking up Ailish’s other books in future too.
DNF Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
I only very rarely don’t finish a book. I don’t stick to any particular genre. I love non-fiction too. But this was assigned as reading material for my work leadership initiative. Maybe the “you must read this” affected my approach – I don’t much like being told what to do. It arrived by post in May and I did my best to ignore it until August, then took it on holiday.
I tried, I really really tried. I read the first couple of chapters and it just felt totally alien to me. I couldn’t settle to it. There’s just so much terminology and concepts that aren’t defined – what the heck is “rumbling with vulnerability”? Maybe it would have been explained if I’d stuck with it (and I might try again), but the self-promotion and huge overconfidence that the author is right, and that their other works support their rightness, well I just found it all uncomfortable and distracting and off-putting. I just couldn’t connect with it.
We’re supposed to be learning to be more self-aware as part of the initiative. Well, my self-awareness tells me that this book is not for me. Just as some post-late miscarriage online communities are not for me. So, I decided to stop.
How about you?
What books have you and your family enjoyed lately?