Matilda by Roald Dahl (Review)

Matilda by Roald Dahl

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About the author

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Roald Dahl was born on the 13th September 1916 and was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter and fighter pilot. He passed away on the 23rd November 1990.

Blurb

For hundreds of kids “The Trunchbull” is pure terror—for Matilda, she’s a sitting duck.

Who put superglue in Dad’s hat? Was it really a ghost that made Mom tear out of the house? Only sweet, gentle Matilda knows. Because she’s the one playing all the jokes! She’s a genius with idiot parents—and she’s having a great time driving them crazy. But at school things are different. At school there’s Miss Trunchbull, two hundred pounds of kid-hating bully. Pull a trick on “The Trunchbull” and she’ll string you up. Get rid of The Trunchbull and you’ll be a hero for every kid in Crunchem Hall. But that would take a superhuman genius. Or may a sweet, gentle—crafty—genius?

Review

This is another book off my summer reading challenge and a childhood favourite. I must admit it was nice to read a book I have not read since childhood. I still remember when my big sister bought me this book, most of my Roald Dahl books I got off PG Tips boxes but Matilda my sister bought from the local bookshop and I remember wanting to read it straight away. My copy is very well read and getting very fragile.

I love the story of Matilda, I always loved the fact that a small child could reek revenge on adults who think they know more than a child just because they are adults and quite frankly most of the time that adult is an idiot. I remember quite clearly as a child not being listened to or ignored because I was a child and I always swore that I would listen to children when they want to tell me something, and as a teacher I always try to do this and hey I have actually learned a lot.

Matilda is a very gifted young girl who is very different from her family and because of this her family especially her parents do not understand or appreciate her. Matilda soon realises life is unfair but to make it bearable she decides to get revenge in a way the adults would not work out it was her.

The main message of this story was to stand up to bullies and when you do you will realise they are cowards. This is a delightful story that I will always love and I highly recommend it to children and adults because it gives you a feel good feeling and makes you realise that against the odds you will triumph. I gave this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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My Cat is a Dick by Malcolm Katz (Review)

My Cat is a Dick by Malcolm Katz

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About the author

Malcolm Katz is a distinguished feline behaviourist and author. Some of his most famous work includes peeing in his owner’s school bag, bringing in a bat someone else had killed, and sniffing the eye of anyone who comes close enough.

Blurb

No matter how much of a cat lover you are, you have to admit those loving feelings can be pretty one-way. Cats are total dicks. And here is the photographic evidence.

Review

A few Christmases ago I bought this book for my husband and since then I had forgotten about it until friends who visited for a few days spotted it and commented about it, so then I decided to kill ten minutes and give it a read along with a cup of tea.

Now since living with two cats I have come to realise more and more that cats can be complete jerks! I must admit I am a dog person because a dog always shows love and affection and a cat just ignores your existence.

There is not much to read in this book as it is just photos of cats with a catchy caption to go with it. The pictures are very funny and have some very cute cats however in my opinion some of the captions do not quite fit and are not very amusing.

Some pictures and captions were a bit disappointing and the book could have done without them but overall it was a good book and filled a quick ten minutes. This book would be an excellent gift for cat and animal lovers, especially people who watch a lot of cat videos. I gave it 3 out 5 Dragons.

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Lyra thinks the book is great!

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Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by Fereydoon Batmanghelidj (Review)

Your Body’s Many Cries for Water: You’re Not Sick; You’re Thirsty: Don’t Treat Thirst with Medications by Fereydoon Batmanghelidj M.D

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About the author

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Fereydoon Batmanghelidj M.D was born in 1930 in Iran and was a trained doctor who practiced medicine in the United Kingdom before he returned to Iran. He wrote many books related to health and wellness.

Blurb

You are not sick, you are thirsty! Don’t treat thirst with medications! This is an absolute must-read classic book on natural health. This ground-breaking book is the first of Dr. B’s You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty series of books. It introduces a new paradigm for preventing and treating many degenerative diseases. A self-help book that reveals the new knowledge of the amazing health values of natural, simple water in maintaining personal health.

Review

I got this book because it was part of the recommended reading for the Diet and Nutrition Diploma I am working on and whilst dipping into it for certain references I thought I would read it all. I am so pleased I did because I loved it.

I’ve always known since school that drinking water is beneficial to the body but after starting this course and reading more about the need for drinking water I have realised that it is critical for our bodies and must admit when I drink plenty of water I do feel more energised and focused.

This book has many interesting theories about just what water can do for you. A lot of these benefits I have heard of but the others in this book are completely new to me. The ones that intrigued me the most were the claims that asthma and allergies could be cured by being properly hydrated. As an asthma sufferer I was interested and found the chapter very interesting although I’m not sure I will give up my inhalers just yet and try using water and salt to cure an asthma attack.

The book was full of interesting points about water helping people to lose weight, help with arthritis, improve the brain functions, stomach ulcers and much more. I also loved the letters that were included from people who had started drinking more water and certain problems they had been having had started to get better or disappear due to water.

The other point that I appreciated and agree with in certain aspects is that modern medicine is far too eager to prescribe drugs to solve all problems. This book looks at the possibility that if we drink more water and our bodies are properly hydrated we will not have so many problems so instead of taking drugs to solve our health issues we should try water. After all, water is cheapest of all beverages.

I do not often read factual books and very rarely cover to cover, but I loved this book and since reading have been striving to drink more water and less tea. The writing style was easy to read and not too highfalutin to understand when you do not have a medical background. I highly recommend this book to everyone who is interested in their health and wellbeing and I have given it the full 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Book Details

Page count: 196

Format: Paperback

Published: 2008

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Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster by Liza Palmer (Review)

Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster by Liza Palmer

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About the author

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Liza Palmer is an internationally bestselling author of Conversations with a Fat Girl and six other novels. She is an Emmy-nominated and lives in Los Angeles.

Blurb

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE FROM MARVEL STUDIOS!

Carol Danvers kicks off her U.S. Air Force career with her first year at flight school, where she’ll be tested in ways she never thought possible-and make a lifelong friend, Maria Rambeau, in the process-in this atmospheric and exciting prelude to the upcoming Marvel Studios’ film, Captain Marvel! Focusing on Carol Danvers and Maria Rambeau as they wend their way through a space that was still very much a “boys’ club” in the 80s, the important social-cultural themes explored in this novel are sure to draw in not only fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but readers of social issue-focused YA who gravitate toward relatable protagonists learning to navigate the world around them, and to succeed in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity.

Review

Who doesn’t love a free book? Yes, I got this book for free when I bought the Captain Marvel DVD from Sainsbury’s. I do love the Marvel films but I was not keen to see Captain Marvel, however when stuck on a plane for 8 hours and feeling at a loose end I decided to watch the film and to be honest rather enjoyed it, although it was probably because I rather liked the cat Goose.

Anyway, back to the book review. The book focuses on Carol Danvers who as we know becomes Captain Marvel and after a slow start I really began to enjoy this book. To start with I was not sure I would carry on reading the book as I found it rather slow and not my cup of tea but I’m so pleased I persevered as I really enjoyed it and because of reading it I appreciated the character of Carol Danvers in the film more.

The characters in the book were brilliant and I loved how the friendships developed especially between Carol and Maria. It really showed how a character can grow more as a person through friendship. The way Carol developed through the book, or grew up really linked in well with the film and you can see she has always thought that she has something to prove.

The other element I enjoyed was the fight Carol and Maria have in a male orientated world.  They have their dreams but know that in the U. S. Air Force men are the ones who get all the top flying jobs. However, in their own way and their constant pushing they make things work for them.

This was a really quick read and should have taken me no time at all to read but I was reading two other books at the same time so I was slightly distracted. It was an excellent YA book and deals with a lot of issues with growing up. I gave this book 4 out of 5 Dragons because the beginning was a bit slow.

Book Details

Page count: 249

Format: paperback

Published: 2019

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The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Review)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

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About the author

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Henry James, born 15th April 1843, was an American-British author. He is best known for his novels dealing with social and marital interplay, in his later years his novels became more experimental. He passed away in February 1916.

Blurb

A very young woman’s first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate…An estate haunted by a beckoning evil.

Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows- silent, foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children, seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls…

But worse-much worse- the governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil.

For they want the walking dead as badly as the dead want them.

Review

This was the last book I completed on holiday and to be honest it was a massive disappointment. I just could not get on with James’ writing style and found the whole story to be extremely boring.

The story centres around a young woman who is hired to be the governess of two young orphans. The uncle of these children does not want to know anything of their upbringing or of any problems, he wants to live his life to the full unhindered by these children. The governess goes off to a large country estate to look after these children and she immediately starts to hear and see strange things.

Now my first reaction was that this governess is very young for such responsibility and inexperienced. Her imagination could easily be running wild, and turning the sounds of an old house into something more. The housekeeper does not help instead of giving the girl a good shake she just blindly accepts what the governess is saying.

Then the two ghosts start to appear that only the governess has seen but she is convinced the children have seen them too but the children are not afraid of the ghosts.

At times I did wonder and still do whether all of this was in the governess’ head because it just was not a very convincing gothic horror story. It just felt forced and sloppily written, and there were certain things that got on my nerves, for instance why did she just ignore that the boy was expelled from boarding school, why did she not found out why he was expelled or find him another school? The only good point was the description and setting the scene of the gothic style manor house.

The final straw was the ending which just annoyed me no end and just confirmed to me that the book had been a massive waste of my time, I was just thankful it was rather short. I gave this book 1 out 5 Dragons.

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Details of book I read

Page count: 124

Format: Kindle

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Fireside Gothic by Andrew Taylor (Review)

Fireside Gothic by Andrew Taylor

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About the author

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Andrew Taylor was born in 1951 and is a British author best known for his crime novels. He has won the Diamond Dagger which is Britain’s top crime-writing award.

Blurb

BROKEN VOICES

It’s Christmas before the Great War and two lonely schoolboys have been forced into companionship. Left in the care of an elderly teacher, there is little to do but listen to his eerie tales about the nearby Cathedral. The boys concoct a plan to discover if the stories are true. But the Cathedral is filled with hidden dangers, and curiosity can prove fatal.

THE LEPER HOUSE

One stormy night in Suffolk, a man’s car breaks down following his sister’s funeral. The only source of light comes from a remote cottage by the sea. The mysterious woman who lives there begs him to leave, yet he can’t shake the sense that she somehow needs him. He attempts to return the next day but she is nowhere to be seen. And neither is the cottage.

THE SCRATCH

Clare and Gerald live a perfect life in the Forest of Dean with their cat, Cannop. Then Gerald’s young nephew comes to stay. Jack is from another world – active service in Afghanistan. The experience has left him outwardly untouched, but for a scratch that won’t heal. Jack and Cannop don’t like each other. Clare and Jack like each other too much. The scratch begins to fester.

Review

This book is not on my summer reading challenge and to be honest I read it by accident. I did not want to take my Kindle to the beach so I borrowed one of the books my husband had brought on holiday with him. My husband has read a lot of Andrew Taylor’s books but this one is a first for me and will not be the last.

This book has three stories is in it, so I will review them separately.

Broken Voices

Out of the three, this is my favourite story and feels the most Gothic to me. The story is based around two schoolboys who cannot go home for Christmas so must spend the season with an elderly teacher. They hear an old legend about the Cathedral and so decide to see for themselves whether it is true and they attempt this in the middle of night, adding to the mystery and drama. I must admit the two boys are braver than I, as I could never go in to a Cathedral in the middle of the night, too many ghosts for my liking.

Taylor sets the scene perfectly, it is just like a gothic novel from the Victorian period. He describes how the building looks different in the night, how the shadows flicker in the candlelight and how they might not be alone. At the end of the tale I was not entirely sure if it was all real it felt like a dream that one of the boys had when they were young. The story left me pondering somewhat.

The Leper House

This story was my least favourite and to be honest rather forgettable, I had to remind myself what happened in it before writing the review. I enjoyed the story but wouldn’t read it again as it did not really have anything special about it.

The story is about a man who meets a mysterious woman in a cottage which has no power and no comforts. This woman is a complete mystery to the man and he has to see her again, even when she tries to push him away. However, the next day he goes to find the cottage again and nothing is there, just some ruins.

This story was rather a confusing read and just felt more complicated than it needed to be. The characters were also rather unremarkable and nothing really stood out for me. The one thing I was really happy with at the end was that in my opinion he made the right choice.

The Scratch

This was a creepy read, especially for a cat owner and one of those cats is black. I was not entirely sure what to make of this story but really enjoyed reading it. There were a lot of What Ifs in the story and it left me pondering again.

I also enjoyed how Taylor included one of the main characters as a PTSD sufferer who has come back from being in the army and is struggling with getting back into the world again. I must admit I have not read many books tackling this issue and it was good to see Taylor including it in this story.

I did not really like Clare, I’m not sure why but she just got on my nerves. Gerald is obviously a hard working man who has always worked hard for his family and is a caring man who is happy to try and help his nephew where he can.

The story was really good and kept me hooked and I liked the ending and especially Cannop the cat, although I felt sorry for him for his name. I would have liked a bit more Gothic though.

Overall, I enjoyed the three stories and it has lit the spark for me wanting to read more of Taylor’s books. The only reason the book did not get the full 5 Dragons and only got 4 was because I wanted more Gothic from the last two stories. A very good beach read.

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Jaws by Peter Benchley (Review)

Jaws by Peter Benchley

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About the author

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Peter Bradford Benchley was an American author best known for writing the novel Jaws and co-writing the screenplay for its highly successful film adaptation. The success of the book led to many publishers commissioning books about mutant rats, rabid dogs and the like threatening communities. The subsequent film directed by Steven Spielberg and co-written by Benchley is generally acknowledged as the first summer blockbuster. Benchley also wrote The Deep and The Island which were also adapted into films.

Blurb

The classic, blockbuster thriller of man-eating terror that inspired the Steven Spielberg movie and made millions of beachgoers afraid to go into the water. Experience the thrill of helpless horror again—or for the first time!

Review

This is a book that has been sat on my TBR list for way too long and because I was going to be swimming in the ocean and sat on the beach a lot I thought I had better read a book about a man-eating shark.

I have always loved the film adaptation of this book and the book did not disappoint me. From the very beginning of this book I was hooked. I think the main thing that immediately caught my attention was the fact that Benchley has written the shark’s perspective in the book and he has not done it in a corny manner but in a realistic way that a shark would think.

The character I did not like was Ellen, she was in my humble opinion a vile woman who did not deserve the life she had. She did not appreciate her husband or the life he is working so hard for. She was never happy and made her long suffering husband unhappy as well. All Chief Brody wants is to make his wife and children happy and his kids ignore him and watch TV and his wife takes sleeping pills rather than talk to him.

Chief Brody is a typical town chief trying to keep his town safe and happy but never in his life expecting to deal with something like a man-eating shark. I really liked the character of Brody because he was down to earth and just a generally likeable guy.

Hooper is another character I am not keen on, he is cocky and arrogant and a clear trouble maker. I could have happily lived without him in the book. However the character of Quint more than made up for Hooper. Quint was a real character and quite disturbing at times but this just added to his character. He was a man that has lived on the sea hunting for the biggest catch and the biggest payday and that is all he cares about. Quint made me laugh quite a few times in this book.

I must admit I did find the book a bit tummy turning at times and certain parts of the book I had to skim through, maybe I am too squeamish for these things. I really enjoyed this book and did not take me long to read. I would happily read it again and recommend it to friends and family. I gave this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. DUUUUU NUN DUUUUN NUN DUN DUN DUN DUN.

Details of the edition I read:

Format: Kindle

Pages: 340

Published: 2012

 

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