The Case Book Of Sherlock Holmes

Name: The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Published: 1927

csebook“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t”

This is by far one of the oldest books I’ve ever read. For me, if the book is older than 10 years, they call kids by their last names or their phones are bricks, I wouldn’t read it. There is just that awkward time where a book is too old to be talked about any more and too young to be a classic. But Sherlock Holmes would have to be one of the originals (mainly because it came out with the dinosaurs…) Ever since I read Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz, see earlier post, I wondered what the genuine books were like. And:

“Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary”

This book is one to read with a dictionary. The victorians had a rather strange but beautiful language; it is really intriguing discovering new words and phrases. And while I doubt you will ever need to know what an axiom is, or why the man downstairs appears scorbutic, it’s interesting. Sort of. My other point would be that the mysteries are pretty compact. As in Holmes will explain what has happened and then that’s the end of that story. You often don’t find out how he figured it out or even whether the criminal got away. Even though Conan Doyle had to fit 12 separate stories into the book, he could have just aded a few more pages, because it’s not a particularly long novel (but old book = tiny text). Within that, the characters and clues aren’t particularly built up so it’s difficult to guess a solution as a reader or how the detective could have possibly worked it out. In some cases, it isn’t genius its just pure impossible.

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains however improbable must be the truth “

SWEETENER: The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes – another reminder of its age, the length of that title! – is not one case, but 12 shorter, separate mysteries. It was the last novel Conan Doyle ever wrote about the famous detective, but this isn’t acknowledged in the book. To make it even more confusing, the cases aren’t written in chronological order and not all by Holmes’ companion Dr Watson either. However, this makes it more interesting in some ways because if murder isn’t your type, there are lots of other varieties of problems included in the book.

ROMAINE CALM AND CARROT ON! If blown out stories are more your type, with plot and characters and mysteries then this probably isn’t your type. But larger mysteries have been written about the great detective and Dr Watson such as The Hound of the Baskervilles or A Study in Scarlett that you might want to give a try. Sounding a bit like my English teacher here, but reading classics is pretty interesting. But hang in there. You never know. You right actually figure out what scorbutic means!

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NOTE: I bet that you looked up what scorbutic means…
Tell me if you can actually create a sentence with it in. I’m stuck.

If you have read this book, want to share a book that you’ve read or have an opinion on other english related things about my blog, just click on the comments section. I really want to hear your opinion 🙂

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Name: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon

Published: 2003

dog in night

Christopher Boone has never been like any other fifteen year old boy. He dreams of one day being an astronaut – not only because he loves maths and science, but because of the silence he would have away from Earth. Away from people and their problems.

Yet he also loves logic. And when he discovers his neighbour’s dog dead in their garden, he decides that he must discover who the murderer was. Whatever the cost. However the investigation that takes places uncovers more mysteries closer to home that he could have ever imagined…

I think I’m really going to regret blogging this book and having to write out The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time so many times but never mind. I’ll just copy and paste. It really is a mystery book like no other. Despite it never actually being said, I assumed that Christopher is autistic and I’m pretty sure that that is the take that the play has given him as well (yes it’s been made into a PLAY. More on that later). He has trouble interacting with the people around him and needs things to be in a particular order. Christopher also isn’t very good at doing what he is told as he will follow warnings to the exact letter, which is helpful during his investigations. Also included in the book are scientific diagrams and notations – you don’t see very that often in a book! – which are quite interesting at the start, but there are whole pages are devoted to ‘How to Work Out Prime Numbers’ or ‘Diagrams of How the Solar System Works’. Not really adding anything to the story.

It’s not a particularly long book yet took a bit longer for me to read than a normal book of that length. I think one reason that The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is so short is that the author has really tried hard to make it seem as though it’s written by someone with autism, because along with the hefty diagrams, there is hardly any descriptions – of people, places, locations. The reader never finds to what Christopher looks like; I don’t think you even know whether he is white or black. The novel is padded out with whole-page images of tube stations or houses but again they don’t really add much. However, it was totally readable, the mystery is unexpected and I enjoyed it as books go. Above are just some of the suggestions I would have added.

SWEETENER: The chapters are really short and numbered as prime numbers instead of normal 1 2 3 which I thought was clever. As well as being engaging, it has a good mystery and page count, so I would recommend it to readers who maybe don’t like as heavy books. Nevertheless, there are some, er, profanities, that stop it being entirely suitable for like 9 year olds. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been made into a family play so I’m assuming that they’ve cleaned up the dad’s mouth and I’ve heard its really good. Personally, I’ve never seen the play, but it’s pretty big and is shown at the
West End :0

curious dog

If you have read this book, want to share a book that you’ve read or have an opinion on other english related things about my blog, just click on the comments section. I really want to hear your opinion 🙂

The Hate List

Name: The Hate List

Author: Jennifer Brown

Published: 2009

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May 2. Enemies fight, friends tease, bullies torment. Then the first gun shot began. 

Ever since her boyfriend – Nick – killed students and  a teacher in her school cafeteria before turning the gun on himself, Valerie Leftman has struggled with life. As her brother leaves her, parents slip apart and her friends abandon her, she becomes more lonely than ever before. She is shunned by everyone; is exposed in the crime investigation by the police because of a list. Which she and Nick made of people they hate. Which Nick used to pick his targets. The Hate List. 

After a summer away from everything and everyone, Valerie must face her fears and the people of the town and the rest of the world which seems to despise her. In order to move on with her life, she must come to terms with who her boyfriend really was, what he turned her into and the tragedy that took place. What really happened on May 2, 2008.
I enjoyed this pretty depressing book (as cheesy as that blurb sounded) but I do have a few things to point out that need changing. For starters, I’m sure anyone who has read the book will agree with me, it ends on a really unsatisfying note. I don’t know whether the author was trying to set it up for another  book but it came out 9 years ago – and there has been no development on it since. No spoilers, but Valerie is extremely undecided when it comes between her suicidal thoughts versus going to college and leaving the past behind her. It didn’t have to be tied off perfectly but it was quite unsatisfying as a reader.

Secondly, Valerie as a person wasn’t a particularly nice person.. At some points in the story, she did some pretty stupid stuff and also seemed a bit obtuse when it came to her ever-so-perfect boyfriend. The one who shot all the people.
Jennifer Brown never made her particularly relatable; it seemed like her life was pretty unrealistic: as rubbish a life you could ever get. She – and the reader – deserved some hope in her unhappiness. Brown missed a few important things out of the storyline too – just little things such as whether the psycho who talked Nick into killing himself was ever caught. I also think that it would have had way more impact if there was a complete list of the victims somewhere in the book, as it really was a bit vague. And finally, can we all take a minute to stare at those covers! The one I’ve put on the right is my favourite however the copy that I had was the on the left. I mean, she must have made a BIT of money from the book to hire an artist, but no. It looks like it’s been drawn by a two year old. Seriously boring.

Do you agree with me? Is there any other book covers out there that really need changing? Tell me in the comments section.

SWEETENER:  I couldn’t really think of much good stuff, except how it was quite a short read for such a long book. I read it in a few days. The plot is OK but it dragged a bit and if you like gory stuff… this isn’t your type. The shooting is recounted in newspapers and her thoughts, but it’s pretty ‘PG’. The author could have ramped up the drama a bit, but like most of the book, no. The author doesn’t make that big a scene out of the shooting itself, it’s more about the pain and mental trauma it ensued. There isn’t much of a relationship between Valerie and Nick that the reader gets to know of either. It wasn’t my kind of book, but I guess if you’re more into the deep and meaningful it could be for you.

MATURE CHEESES ONLY! Even though the violence is quite low key, it covers a range of topics that might not be suitable for anyone under 12ish.

Cerys Book Blog Table- the hate list

If you have read this book, want to share a book that you’ve read or have an opinion on other english related things about my blog, just click on the comments section. I really want to hear your opinion 🙂

The Girl Savage

Name: The Girl Savage

Author: Katherine Rundell

Published: 2011

gsLiving like a wild cat on a farm in the middle of rural Africa, for Will everyday is beautiful. With her best friend, horse, monkey and adored father: nothing could possibly spoil it. Even when the petty Mrs Browne marries the head farmer, her father is there to protect her. However, all good things must come to an end eventually.

When her father falls ill and the farm is sold, Will is sent away to boarding school in England. Dreary, rainy England where the closes thing to a golden eagle is a bloated pigeon. So Will struggles alone with an unfamiliar county with unfamiliar customs – for ‘lions and hyenas are nothing compared to packs of schoolgirls’. 

The Girl Savage is an engaging book all about friendship, hope and the wilderness of Africa. It has a vivid, if not bittersweet, storyline and Katherine Rundell uses incredibly vivid imagery to transport you to Zimbabwe. I have had the pleasure of listening to one of her talks and she spoke quite a lot about this – her first book. She had grown up in Africa and England; also saying that she had included parts from her own childhood summers in it, from riding horses at midnight to sleepovers in treehouses. One point I would downgrade it on is how there is no particular mystery or adventure in it, just one girl struggling to find her way home – and the storyline can become just plain unhappy  at times. However, its 200 or so pages are perfect for readers ages 8-11.

SWEETENER: Any animal lovers will adore all of Will’s friend: she has a really cute sloth that goes  with her always, alongside a menagerie of other animals from a horse and a monkey to her father’s peacock. Her best friend Simon definitely resembles an animal at times as well! He’s funny, loyal and a bit wild so perfect for Will. Losing him and her father in quick succession as she travels to England takes its toll on her, and she has to fight to ever see him again.

 

Cerys Book Blog Table

If you have read this book, want to share a book that you’ve read or have an opinion on other english related things about my blog, just click on the comments section. I really want to hear your opinion 🙂

Book Review: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Written By Guest Blogger

Name: Percy Jackson

Author: Rick Riordan

Published: 2005

This series is just iconic.

percy j

When Percy Jackson finds out that he is the son of a Greek God, he is immediately sent to Camp Half-blood, a camp for demigods! He meets a few new friends including: Luke, son of Hermes, and Annabeth, daughter of Athena. But when one of the Big Three (Hades, Poseidon and Zeus) claim him as their son, Percy gets wrongly accused of stealing Zeus’ master bolt!! Zeus’ master bolt is what starts all thunderstorms and is a colossal cylinder of electric power! But with Hades’ warrior guards (the Furies) trying to exterminate them at their very move and constant warnings from strange creatures, Percy and his friends are swept up into a world of treason and deadly secrets where nothing is at as it seems…

I really like this book because it is written in a very sarcastic way and it’s very funny. I think that this is probably the best book I’ve ever read! I think that the description is very good and it really helps you imagine what it is like. I would recommend reading the whole series first then watching the films because it might spoil how you imagine Percy and his friends and the gods look like. I wasn’t a very big fan of reading before I read this but now I am addicted to the series. If someone asked me to pick a book, I would instantly dive for Percy Jackson. The books in the series are:

I hope you like them!

Book Review: Moriarty

Name: Moriarty

Author: Antony Horowitz

Published: 2014

Moriarty_Novel

Sherlock Holmes is dead. The famous detective and his nemesis, Moriarty, fell to their deaths at Reichenbach Falls. But all is not as it seems. A brand new criminal mastermind has arrived from America and with him brings change. He wishes to rebuild the underworld empire Moriarty left behind and make it stronger than ever before.

 And so it is down to junior investigator Frederick Chase to forge a path through the darkest corners of the capital. With the help of Inspector Athelney Jones, he races against time and this shadowy figure, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.

The game is afoot…


Moriarty is a Sherlock Holmes novel… with neither Holmes or Watson and by a different author! But, Anthony Horowitz perfectly captures Doyle’s writing style – this book is full of red herrings, exciting pursuits, violence and gore. And an excellent twist that you will never see coming!

While I’m sure its predecessor is too, Moriarty is full of pieces from the original series by Conan Doyle. They link nicely with this plot and, even better, you don’t need to be a Sherlock Holmes fanatic to understand them all! Whether you’re a Sherlock know it all (not me) or enjoyed the TV series and want to read a book with some of the characters (more my type! ) this is a perfect crime novel for all.

Anthony Horowitz uses amazing yet complicated vocabulary to really bring the world to life. This is one of the reasons I’d recommend Moriarty to committed readers, because the words and structure of the book can be difficult to follow. He creates vivid and gruesome images of the darkness within the streets of Victorian London. Anthony Horowitz writes with all the gory of Lee Child and the cleverness of Agatha Christie.

For the point listed above and a few scenes in the book that may disturb younger readers, I would recommend it to 13+. You might struggle to understand some references younger than that. But, Anthony Horowitz is – in my opinion – one of the greatest childrens’ authors ever. You don’t need to be younger to enjoy these books and I’d recommend them to children and adults alike. Here are some of my favourites:

POWER OF FIVE

POWER OF FIVE SERIES 
Unbeknownst to them, 5 teenagers with special powers are the only thing that stands between evil and all humanity. They must face their fears, form together and defeat evil before it is too late and the past repeats itself.

ALEX RIDER
Available at all good charity shops
Alex Rider is a normal teenager… except for the fact that he is an M16 agent of course. He travels the world unmasking criminals and fighting crime (lot less cheesy than it sounds!)

diamond brothers.jpg

THE DIAMOND BROTHERS
£10 from the book people with Groosham Grange –
which is also amazing
When bumbling Tim decides he wants to become a private detective, he’s going to need the help of his younger brother Nick… who ends up doing most of the work. This series is clever and funny, having you in stitches yet clueless until the very end. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you read this book? Any of Horowitz’s other ones? Or do you have a book recommendation? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: The Thing About Jellyfish

Name: The Thing About Jellyfish

Author: Ali Benjamin

Published: 2015

Song: Changes by David Bowie

the thing about jellyfish

It was always Suzy and Franny, Franny and Suzy: they were best friends, inseparable. But, one day, it was just Suzy.

Suzy Swanson stopped speaking the day her best friend drowned. She didn’t understand how it could have happened – Franny was an excellent swimmer. So, she sets off on a mission that will take her to the deepest, darkest corners of the ocean and her memory. 

Written in a graceful and innocent tone, The Thing About Jellyfish is incredibly moving. It’s heart warming and heart breaking, all about growing up and growing apart. Inspired by her Year 8 science teacher, the book is written as Suzy’s scientific study about jellyfish, including an introduction and end. However, this doesn’t affect the storyline or fictional basis but adds a new, unique level to the novel. The entire thing is comprised of short chapters and is quite easy to read – I read it in literally 3 sittings!

My favourite part? The friendships – and loss of friendship. Franny wasn’t always not Suzy’s friend – in fact, they only draw apart after moving to high school. The author includes short snippets of their happy childhood between chapters which contrast dramatically with their current situation as the girls gradually draw more and more apart. The Thing About Jellyfish isn’t a primarily happy book, but is beautiful and well crafted.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read this book? Did you also cry your heart out? Or do you have a book recommendation? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Scarlett and Ivy

Name: Scarlet and Ivy: The Lost Twin

Author: Sophie Cleverly

Published: 2015

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An isolated boarding school harbouring a perfectly creepy secret. Twins Ivy and Scarlet have never been separated, until Scarlet receives a mysterious invitation to lonely Rookwood school. 6 months later, she is pronounced dead. No one outside the school knows what’s happened to her; but Ivy wants to discover the truth. So, she jumps at the opportunity when the terrifying Miss Fox asks her to take Scarlet’s place at the school… in more ways than one.   

Ahhh this is my favourite MG series – Sophie Cleverly has certainly led up to her surname! The Lost Twin is the first of an ongoing series about a pair of twins at an elite boarding school. The mystery is highly engaging and I especially loved all the little details the author has given to the characters. Whilst, at some points, I felt that the plot was getting unrealistic, altogether it’s a very original book with a clever twist.

My favourite part was the theme of friends and enemies. Both twins encounter the same enemy at Rookwood, but Ivy also meets a really sweet girl and trustworthy girl called Ariadne who helps her throughout the series. Ariadne has a mysterious past that’s revealed as the books go along – she was thrown out of a boarding school before Rookwood. In The Lost Twin, Ivy can’t find any mention of her sister at Rookwood, but does find her diary hidden in her old room. We learn about Scarlet’s time at the school through extracts of that diary between chapters. Some of the pages have been stolen and Ivy spends the entire book trying to get them back, because Scarlet discovered the secret of Rookwood school and wrote it down on those pages. And then she disappeared without a trace…

The Scarlet and Ivy mysteries begin with The Lost Twin but there are five others out now with the sixth coming out this year. I’m very excited! Personally, I feel like the series doesn’t progress to be bette than the first one, but I enjoy them all the same. It feels a little like the author runs out of scenarios for her characters; but the first two or three are definitely worth reading and I would highly recommend them for fans of the ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ mysteries by Robin Stevens.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have read this book? Want to share a book that you’ve read or got any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: One Of Us Is Lying

Name: One Of Us Is Lying

Author: Karen McManus

Published: 2017

one of us is lying

Five students enter a detention. Only four leave alive.  
Bronwyn: the Yale – hopeful geek. Addy: the quintessential princess. Nate: the hot criminal. Cooper: the buff boy sportstar. And Simon: the outsider who created the notorious high school gossip app, About That.But he will never post anything ever agin. Simon is murdered 24 hours before he can post their darkest secrets online. Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you go to protect them.                

Murder, secrets, romance, betrayal… this book has it all! One of the best Young Adult thriller mysteries I’ve ever read. One Of Us Is Lying follow four seemingly stereotypical teenagers but the plot twist and turns throughout the whole book and will keep you guessing until the very end. The four students become unlikely friends as the story evolves, but you’re always kept guessing who the killer is. It’s written from the perspective of all the characters, which made them extremely likeable and relatable.

It felt quite obvious that some of the main characters would together… but they’re very cute so I’ll let it slide. I like how it carefully shows how toxic some teenage relationships can be and also how the pov includes different character’s perspective on the same situation. But they almost always end on a cliffhanger and I couldn’t put it down. I’d recommend it to teenagers looking for a modern murder mystery with characters you can relate to (well, apart from the bit when they’re suspected murderers.)

But seriously, the secrets are intriguing, the plot is thrilling and that cover is very cool! There is talk of it being made into a movie, which I’m very excited for. A must read for fans of Sue Wallman and John Green.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you read this? Want to try it? Or got any other recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Salt to the Sea

Name: Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Published: 2016

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War torn Germany. Four young people. Four dark secrets. Four teenagers whose lives have been torn apart by war meet, along with thousands of other refugees, in the struggle to outpace the advancing Red Army. All are hoping to board the Wilhelm Gustloff: a ship that promises freedom and safety. But not all promises can be kept. 

Salt To The Sea is the true story of one of the worst maritime disasters of WW2. But, I’d never even heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff. It follows Joana, Alfred, Emelia and Florian who meet by chance in the dark heart of 1945 Nazi Germany. They each have their own pasts and secrets that are revealed as you go along – I was hooked!

Ruta Septys has written this book beautifully. It’s from the perspectives of the 4 main characters, rotating in short chapters between them. It’s effective because the short chapters really emphasise how quickly everything happened and most of them end on cliffhangers. I managed to convince some of my friends to read it and they loved it too. Also, it won the Cilip Carnagie Award back in 2017 which is pretty cool seeing as it was only realised in 2016.

As the characters are older, the book does covers more mature topics. Don’t be fooled by the (albeit gorgeous) cover; I wouldn’t recommend to anyone younger than 12. But that added to the book as well – nothing is sugar coated. It goes to show the true horror that refugees and civilians were forced to live through in world war two.

I’d recommend Salt To The Sea to fans of Michael Morpurgo and Sarah Crossan. It will make you laugh and cry (although mostly cry!) with its unique perspective of the horror of World War Two.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have read this book? Would you try it? Got any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!