The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths (Review)

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

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About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

Forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway is called in to advise when builders, demolishing a Victorian house in Norwich, uncover the skeleton of a child – minus the skull. Is it some ritual sacrifice or just plain murder?

The house was once a children’s home. DCI Harry Nelson meets the priest who used to run it, who tells him two children did go missing forty years before – a boy and a girl. They were never found.

But someone is trying hard to put both Ruth and Nelson off the scent – and a seemingly forgotten crime becomes terrifyingly real, with deadly consequences.

Review

Firstly, Elly Griffiths is fast becoming an absolute favourite of mine, every book of hers I read I can not put down and look forward to reading the next one.

I loved this story and loved the connections with Roman history and the God Janus. When I was younger I absolutely loved the history of the Roman Gods and Janus was a personal favourite, I became obsessed with closing gates so I didn’t anger him.

It was really nice to be reading about Dr Ruth Galloway again, she is such a wonderful character, she is down to earth, intelligent and not glamorous or hung up on her appearance. DCI Nelson is rough around the edges and does not pull his punches and quite funny.

The character that I really enjoyed in this book is Cathbad, he is so free and funny and really does not care what people think of him. I wish he would feature more in the stories to be honest.

The book was fast paced and kept me hooked from the beginning. I must admit I did work out the culprit but it did not ruin the story for me and it was a nice surprise that the story did not go down the predictable line I thought it was looking like.

The other element I loved was the personal dramas of the characters unfolding and I enjoyed that as much as the actual crime investigation unfolding. Overall I loved this book and have given it 5 out 5 Dragons. I highly recommend it to everyone but especially people who love a good crime drama.

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The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs (Review)

The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs

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About the author

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John Belliars (1938-1991) was an award-winning American author of many gothic mystery novels for children and young adults.

Blurb

When orphaned Lewis Barnavelt comes to live with his Uncle Jonathan, he is amazed to find out there is a wizard in his family.

Lewis experiments with Uncle Jonathan’s spells and uncovers the mystery behind the ticking that he can hear throughout the house, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. It’s an evil clock and it could destroy humankind.

It is up to the Barnavelt’s to find where the clock is hidden in the walls – and stop it.

Review

I bought this book ages ago and it has just been sat in a pile gathering dust but I spotted it the other day and thought that looks like a fun quick read and thankfully I was correct. As I have mentioned previously I do enjoy reading children’s books and especially enjoy reading them when I’m very busy or stressed. I can truthfully say I loved this book and could not put it down.

The three main characters Lewis, Uncle Jonathan and Mrs Zimmermann were fantastic. I especially loved the character of Mrs Zimmermann who isn’t afraid of anything and speaks her mind and has an unhealthy obsession with the colour purple. She just seems to be the ultimate cool aunt figure.

Uncle Jonathan is the ultimate cool uncle, teaching Lewis to play poker and letting him stay up late and basically doing what he likes within reason. Lewis is the typical child who doesn’t quite fit in at school but has found his happy place living with his Uncle because as the story develops you can see that Uncle and nephew are rather alike.

Overall I loved the storyline and it kept me hooked from the start, the idea of magic being in a house and its walls was fantastic and in places it was rather spooky although that part was rather rushed through but that was probably because it is a children’s book. The only issue I had with the story was the lack of story about the actual clock, considering the book is about the clock in the walls it hardly features and it just feels like a very rushed ending.

I give this book 4 out of 5 dragons because of the lack of clock in the story. I highly recommend it to children and adults alike. A really good read that keeps you hooked from beginning to end.

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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Review)

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

9781784742324

About the author

Margaret Atwood born 18th November 1939 is a Canadian author, poet, essayist and literary critic. She has written numerous fiction and non-fiction books, books of poetry and children’s books. She has won the Giller Prize in Canada, Premio Mondello in Italy and the 2000 Booker Prize. She was also awarded the Asturias Prize for Literature in 2008.

Blurb

In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalized readers for decades.

When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her–freedom, prison or death.

With The Testaments, the wait is over.

Margaret Atwood’s sequel picks up the story more than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

Review

This book was a welcome change from The Handmaid’s Tale that I will be honest I really did not enjoy but thankfully because I had preordered this book and forgot it until it turned up on my doorstep I read it instead of just avoiding it because of thinking it would be like The Handmaid’s Tale. I understand that people find my opinions on The Handmaid’s Tale as controversial and a lot of people will find my opinions on The Testaments as controversial but thankfully we are all different and that is what makes us all interesting.

I loved this book and would have happily read it a lot quicker but I have a lot of university reading that is taking up my reading time. The first thing that struck me was how different the writing style was from The Handmaid’s Tale. The book flowed better and to me made more sense and because there was so much more information in it about Gilead and its history I found the book a great deal more interesting.

I loved the characters in this book especially sweet Becka who was just so kind and loving even though she had such a horrid upbringing. To me she is the embodiment of goodness in the dark and dangerous world of Gilead.

The character of Aunt Lydia was what really made the book. Her contributions were fantastic and I loved how she could play all the other characters like they were on a chess board. She could orchestrate everything because she was always so many moves ahead of everyone and her main talent was reading people and knowing how people would act.

This book also keeps you on your toes because it has a great deal more action within it in comparison to The Handmaid’s Tale and this is probably another reason why I enjoyed this book more.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and due to this I have given the book the full 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare (Review)

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

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About the author

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William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in English history. He wrote 39 plays, 154 sonnets and other verses.

Blurb

The play centres on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. Viola (who is disguised as Cesario) falls in love with Duke Orsino, who in turn is in love with Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man.

Review

This is another book off my Summer Goodreads Reading Challenge and the prompt for this one was to read a format of book you do not usually read so I chose a play because I have not read a play since school. I must admit I really enjoyed it and plan on reading more plays in the future.

I saw this play a few years ago live at a National Trust property outside and laughed a lot I have fond memories of yellow cross gartered stockings. I loved reading this play and it reminded me a great deal of the play when I saw it years ago. Shakespeare is a true comic genius and the use of this genius is evident in this play.

The storyline of the twins is brilliantly executed although I do think the ending is rather rushed but that might just be me wanting the play to last longer. I loved the character of Viola, trying to survive in a man’s world and at the same time falling in love with a man who she cannot go near without blowing her disguise. Sebastian’s part is small in comparison to Viola’s but still vital to the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this play and it only took me a few hours to read. I gave this book a full 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Review)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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About the author

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Donna Tartt is an American writer who received critical acclaim for her first two novels, The Secret History and The Little Friend. Tartt was the 2003 winner of the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend. Her novel The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014.

Blurb

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

Review

I must admit I was excited to read this book to begin with but sadly that excitement did not last. Several times I almost gave up on the book and went for days when I did not read it but I kept coming back to it because I wanted to get to the end and see what happens.

Theo is a very troubled young man who really needs help, even at the end of the book he still in my opinion needs help and I just hope he gets some. I also found him to be terribly frustrating at times and wanted to shake him.

I did not like Kitsey at all in the book whether as a child or an adult, she was simply spoiled and rotten to the core. Boris however has a very troubled life and at times acts very disturbingly but he has a good heart and tries to help his friend Theo.

My favourite character and the reason I kept reading was probably Hobie, he was such a sweet kind hearted man who only wants what is best for the people he knows. Hobie teaches everything he knows to Theo and gives Theo amazing opportunities to better himself and give him a fantastic career but Theo takes advantage.

In my personal opinion I think the book could have been a lot shorter as there was a lot of waffle which just made the book drag on. It was like the author did not know how to stop or edit her work. I really do think that if it had been shorter and more to the point it would have been a good book but I was just losing the will to live and the ending was a massive disappointment to me. I even had to switch off the percentage on my Kindle because the lack of movement just depressed me.

Overall I did not enjoy this book at all but because I finished it I gave it 2 out of 5 dragons. I do not think I will read it again and I am not sure I will try Tartt’s other novels. However, this is only my opinion and I know a lot of people would not agree.

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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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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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