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Children, Reading, Review

December 2022 and January 2023 Reading

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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!

I think I’ve done well extracting reviews from them this month, especially from large boy.

Large boy

The Novice, The Inquisition, The Battlemage, and The Outcast by Taran Matharu

Yep, large boy found another series and consumed them all in super-fast succession. And yes, again, he’s refusing to try any other series by the same author. I really don’t understand his logic, but there’s no reasoning with this boy when it comes to books. Or anything else to be fair.

It’s about a boy called Fletcher who lives in a village in the middle of nowhere. One day, soldiers are passing through and one of them gives him a book, a diary of a summoner and a summoning leather. Somehow, Fletcher becomes a commoner summoner who can summon demons. He has a very rare demon. He is then sent to a school for learning how to summon demons to make them become battlemages to fight against the orcs. On a school battle mission, he learns who his parents were and that they came from a town that is now entirely full of orcs.

He goes to their town and fights all the orcs and the orc shamans (who can summon demons) with his small army.

The Outcast is a prequel about one of Fletcher’s teachers who had a similar story and becomes the first commoner summoner.

Large boy says this series was amazing!

Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen

This is about a boy who lived in a tower block with his mother who’s scared to go outside. It’s a first person thing, so it doesn’t mention his name much. One day, there’s poison in the air and horrible plants destroy tower blocks. But, for some reason, it doesn’t destroy his block. He later discovers that there were people who also live in his tower block who figured out how to stop the plants. After a few weeks, a rescue team comes in a helicopter. His mum slowly gets better throughout the story.

It was “decent”, he says.

Podkin One-Ear, Uki and the Outcasts, The Gift of Dark Hollow and the Beast of Grimheart by Kieran Larwood

It’s about a world entirely populated by rabbits instead of humans. There is Gormolech, an ancient power made of iron that infects anything that it touches. It started off taking over the chief of a small village who had one of the first twelve gifts that the ancients (humans) left behind. Podkin, a rabbit who’s village was destroyed by Gormolech and his first chief (Scramashank), has to venture with his friends to collect the hammer of Applecross. another of the twelve gifts. The hammer can create iron-piercing weapons.

Uki and the Outcasts is set after they’ve defeated Gormolech. This features a two furred rabbit kicked out of his village who is fused with a spirit, given extra strength as he, two other rabbits, one is a dusk wraith and one is a jerboa racer. They have to travel the globe to capture evil spirits to stop them from inhabiting rabbit hosts and making the world chaos.

(review written and typed personally by large boy)

Also read:

  • The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge
  • Happy to Help (eventually) by Liz Pichon
  • Brain Freeze by Tom Fletcher
  • Space Boy by David Walliams
  • Kay’s Anatomy by Adam Kay

Small boy

Happy to Help (eventually) by Liz Pichon

It’s very good. Tom Gates gets his pants up a tree in storm Delia. It was really funny and he’s now read all the Tom Gates books. I’m relieved because I don’t have to put up with any more of that garbage.

How to Train your Parents by Pete Johnson

It’s about Louis, a boy who moves to a new school and he went to a theatre and did something which small boy has forgotten, because he read this book last year and that’s a long time ago now. I don’t think I’m going to get anything else out of him, sorry.

Also read:

  • By Jeff Kinney
    • Rodrick Rules
    • The Long Haul
    • Dog Days
    • The Ugly Truth
    • Cabin Fever
    • The Third Wheel
    • Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories
  • Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
  • Spacebaby by Henriette Branford
  • You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum by Andy Stanton
  • The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams
  • My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord by David Solomons
  • Miroc the Goblin Shark by Adam Blade
  • The Battle of Kupe and Te Wheke by Leonie Agnew


Peril en mer d’Iroise Jean-Luc Bannalec

Sad to say I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as the rest of the Commissaire Dupin series that I’ve been reading for a good while. It took my a whole 6 weeks to get though the entire book, partly because reading in French is always slower, partly because I was sick for a week and just needed my sleep, and partly because I wasn’t that motivated to pick it up and to keep reading each night.

It’s hard to put my finger on why I wasn’t as absorbed as I have been by other books in the series. I think maybe because a lot of the action takes part at sea, there are storms and tempests and lots of getting soaked. It just didn’t have the same evocative atmosphere as the other books. I think I found the premise, of a discovered, stolen and hidden 2m tall artefact, a bit far-fetched too.

I won’t be put off picking up the next in the series though.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

At face value this is a lovely story of intense love and terrible tragedy. It has some fabulous quirky characters, excellent feminist principles and the inevitable happy ending. I found it compelling and sped through it in about a week. However, it has the distinct feeling of having been written for screen. I’m sure it’s my own prejudice, but I feel kind of cheated when a novel seems not focussed on being a literary work, but more aimed at getting a film made and thus more for the purpose of making lots of money than the purity of storytelling. Like I said, that’s my prejudice and it detracted from the story for me.

How about you?

What books have you and your family enjoyed lately?

Love from Smell xxx

11 thoughts on “December 2022 and January 2023 Reading”

  1. I’ve just finished reading a Dr Who book based on the original script of the late Douglas Adams, who delighted many with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was very good. I am now diving into Nicholas Nickleby by Dickens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are absolute bookworms. Small boy reads 45mins at bedtime every day plus more at reading time at school. Large boy reads up to 2hrs at bedtime plus reading time at school plus whatever spare time his has in other lessons when he’s completed the work – then the teacher always tells them to read. Small boy is 7 and 1/2, reading age ~11. Large boy is 11 and reading age 16. They are wonderful and I’m super proud of their book love.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I share the responsibility equally between genetic predisposition (my dad was an English teacher for 40 yrs) and growing up being read to every day from 6 months with variety and imaginative texts and with parents who regularly read for pleasure in front of them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Some of these books sound great! I love that you’ve shared a roundup. In January, I finished a book called The One After The One (which I’d been struggling to finish since last year), and started Frankenstein at last!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I managed to read four books in January. My favourite non-fiction book was “Things That Matter” by Joshua Becker. For fiction, I enjoyed “The Recovery Agent” by Janet Evanovich. I loved her Stephanie Plum series, so I was excited to see a new series starting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know either of those authors. Going to have to do some Amazon searching. I’m reading Lean In at last, it’s both eye opening and relatable while also feeling a little dated (which is an excellent thing). My only problem so far is it feels a little judgy about staying in the same role for more than a few years. I like my job, I enjoy it. I don’t need to take risks and change direction every so often to be fulfilled and successful. Only on chapter 4 though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel the same way. Despite a plethora of title changes, I’ve been in the same role now for over 10 years. Like you, I enjoy what I do and I don’t see the need to change just for the sake of change. Unfortunately, a lot of companies—including the one I work for—seem to think moving around makes you more valuable. About 10 years ago they reorganized and shuffled pretty much all the leaders to new roles in new lines of business. The result? Chaos!

        Liked by 1 person

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