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The Famous Five Series: Mini reviews of books 1-5

As I mentioned before, this year is the 75th anniversary of The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. That’s why I decided that I will re-read all 21 books from the series. I’m slowly finishing with reading – I still have one book to read. But here are my mini-reviews of first five books in the series. Synopsis and pictures are from the official site.

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Five on a Treasure Island

Julian, Dick and Anne are spending the holidays with their tomboy cousin George and her dog, Timothy. One day, George takes them to explore nearby Kirrin Island, with its rocky little coast and old ruined castle on the top. Over on the island, they make a thrilling discovery, which leads them deep into the dungeons of Kirrin Castle on a dangerous adventure. Who – and what – will they find there?

This is the first book and as expectedly this book is more of an introduction of all the characters. We get to know their personalities and setting, their adventure remains behind. Still, it was a nice read.

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Five Go Adventuring Again

In their second adventure, the Famous Five find a thief at Kirrin Cottage. They think they know who it is, but need to prove it. Will the discovery of a very old map help uncover the true culprit?

I thought this adventure was quite boring, especially for the second adventure in a row. Maybe it was because of the winter time and the fact, that friends were limited with outdoor space. Still, it was fun to read about secret passages and mysterious map.

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Five Run Away Together

The Famous Five discover that someone has been on George’s island. And what is locked in the mysterious trunk hidden on Kirrin Island? The Famous Five think they’re on the trail of smugglers – until they hear a child scream…

This book was really interesting. The bad guys were interesting characters and I enjoyed reading about our friends spending time on George’s island. They are so independent and what a lovely housewife Anne is! This adventure was intriguing and it kept me hooked until the end.

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Five Go To Smuggler’s Top

The Famous Five stay at the large old house at Smuggler’s Top. They discover secret hiding places, underground tunnels, and one night they catch people signalling out to sea! Are there still smugglers at Smuggler’s Top?

This book was dark! And because of that, it was amazing! Such a dark settling, with wonderful descriptions of marshes and creepy old house. The adventure was entertaining and full of twists. Not to mention spooky Block and new friends of our five friends. I was really entertained while reading.

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Five Go Off in a Caravan

The Famous Five go on a caravan holiday. When they stumble across a circus troupe, the gang are thrilled. But some of the circus people have more sinister plans than just clowning around…

The new location, a new adventure. As far as I love mysteries in Kirrin or Kirrin Island, I also love it, when Five go around, traveling and meeting new people. At first, I didn’t like this book, because I thought that kids were a little bit pushy. But after a while, reading became fun again. And there are smugglers in adventure again!

 

Did you read any of Famous Five books as a child? What did you think about them then and what do you think about it now? Do you remember any of this five books mentioned here? Please, share your thought with me!

 

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Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down

Title: Turtles All the Way Down

Author: John Green35504431

Aza is a perfectly normal teenager who is investigating the disappearance of a millionaire, with a help from her best friend Daisy. They started with an investigation because there’s a reward for any information about disappeared millionaire Pickett. They’re lucky because Aza hanged out with Pickett’s son Davis when they were younger.

But the disappearance is not the only thing that occupies Aza. She suffers from anxiety, a mental disorder that makes her everyday difficult and affects relationships with her loved ones and friends.


Two stories are intertwined in the book. The first is the story of Aza, which is actually a rather average girl who suffers from anxiety and OCD. The other is the story of the investigation of a missing millionaire.

Green decided that he would discuss the topic of mental illnesses in his book, which is great. Mental illnesses are common and much present today, but they are rarely discussed, especially in YA literature.

I believe it’s difficult for young people who know that they have problems, to define what is actually wrong with them and how to deal with their disorders, or where they can seek help. It’s important to know what we’re dealing with and how to verbalize our feelings and mental state. And Green is quite good at this. And yet, it seemed to me that he was exaggerating. And I am saying this from my own experience because anxiety has been a part of me since I can remember. Nevertheless Green’s good intentions, I could not identify with Aza’s character and what she was experiencing.

Nonetheless, Aza seemed as a likable character through which Green attempts to portray what people with anxiety are facing and how thoughts can have a negative impact on the person and his everyday life. And how negative thoughts can actually control a person. What really disturbed me in the book was Aza’s rejection of medical treatment. Many people don’t have the opportunity to seek help or to treat their mental illnesses. Still, despite the privilege of having this opportunity, Aza consciously rejects treatments. Do not understand me wrong, I know that healing is only a small step towards improving the conditions and that it is a lengthy process that does not end. A person has to live with such disorders every day until the end of his life. However, treatment is an important part of this process, which should be more obvious from reading this book.

I’m also aware that every mental illness is shown in a different way, but I could not identify with Aza’s disorder. It seems to me that she reacts all too easily in certain situations and she’s living a simple life – her mental illness just makes her more introverted than others. But, as has already been said, it is likely that each illness is indicated in a different way. However, I am interested how people who never had any problems with anxieties would comprehend everything written and how the ones who are living with it will.

The disappearance of the millionaire is the frame of the story, which, however, fades somehow through the book. I understand that Green wanted to devote to other topics, but he ignored something that led to the plot itself and the story of the book. And the fact that he put the basic story on the side, didn’t make a good impression on me. In the end, it seems like Green has given himself too heavy task, which he couldn’t accomplish. The disappearance only helps as a driving force to another situation, and in the end, it all seems tepid. It looks like book wouldn’t have a common thread, and I had a feeling that nothing much is happening in the book.

If I mention language and writing style, I don’t have any complaints. Green certainly does not underestimate its readers of different ages. He also knows how to create charming characters who are not fake. Yes, they are all unique, because obviously, it can’t get without that. Still, they don’t stand out in the way that this would disturb the reading. They are confronted with the problems that all people in real life have and sometimes they are not successful. They live lives like we all do. However, it seems to me that at times he is exaggerating with incorporating of philosophy, especially in dialogues. In my opinion, this makes dialogues fake and unrealistic.

I gave this book two stars because I thought it was ok reading, but it was also just a regular read.

Rating: 2/5 stars

 

Did you already read this book? What do you think about it?

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Book Review: How to be Parisian Wherever you are

Title: How to be Parisian Wherever you are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits

Authors: Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas

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Four French women wrote a book with hints on how to be a Parisian, even if you were not born in Paris. Because as we know, French women, especially Parisians, are famous for their beauty, for which they don’t have to bother at all, for their fashionable style, the whole world imitates, and so on. The book thus touches on various areas of everyday life, where the authors provide us with (concrete) directions how to behave, act, what to do or even what to say in various situations.


I read a translated version of this book, and I borrowed it from the library because it was a hit on my Instagram feed.

I read it in one day because it was fun and honestly, there was not much text. The text is also enriched by beautiful photos and illustrations, so reading is really a pleasure – at least from an aesthetic point of view.

And although I was entertained while reading, I quickly realized that I don’t really know how to interpret this book. Should I take it seriously? Is it actually a well-written book with a lot of sarcasm, which the reader must recognize and then can really enjoy reading? And the fact, that there is no clear indication of whether the book should be taken seriously or not, is spoiling the pleasure of reading.

Because, if this book should be taken seriously, it’s very disturbing. Instructions on how to cheat a man or how to be something more than everyone else, are not something I would like to read about. On the other hand, I imagine someone who takes this book literally and thinks it’s a modern Bible that will change (her) life. Do we really want to be so dumb?

Yes, the book is a quick read and it’s fun at moments. But I would still describe it as “that” IG profiles (we all know which one we are talking about, do we?). Profiles, where we admire a fancy everyday life, so easy and carefree and wish our lives could also be as fancy and beautiful as the ones on photos. But at the same time, we know that reality is completely different. And so it is with this book … the reality is totally different, no matter how hard we try that our everyday life would be like a movie version filmed in Paris.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Did you read this book? What did you think about it? I would love to hear your thoughts in comments!

 

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Book Review: Fear Nothing

Title: Fear Nothing

Author: Dean Koontz959386

Christopher Snow has a rare genetic disorder that doesn’t affect many people – he is very sensitive to light. He spends his days in his house, and only at night, he can walk through the abandoned streets of the Moonlight Bay. Despite his illness, his parents tried to provide him a normal life.

On the evening of his father’s death, Christopher witnesses events that turn his life on the head. He discovers the secrets of Moonlight Bay and its strange inhabitants.


I regret that I gave this book a chance at all. I wanted to give it a chance because this was my first Koontz book and then I was so far, that it would be unreasonable to quit.

I also won’t go much into the details of the plot because I don’t want to give out key details. All can I say is, that it’s too bad because the story itself has a potential that unfortunately has remained unused. In the small town of Moonlight Bay, the main hero witnesses events that turn his world upside down and lead him to further exploration, leading to the shocking secrets hidden by the city and its inhabitants.

The main character is Christopher Snow, who has a rare genetic disorder that makes him very sensitive to light. Of course, this complicates a story, because he’s not like other heroes who can heroically go out to explore the secrets. Christopher has to care that he is hidden and protected from light, which means that he can move around the city only during the night time, even so, in dimly lit spaces. This certainly brings additional tension to the plot. But with this, the positive aspects of this book end.

Christopher (at least to me) was a pretty unpleasant character. Regarding his disorder, he is very confident in himself and his actions. He was fearless and immediately for action, which I would not expect from such a character and which did not fit his personality. Above all, I was disturbed by his strange reactions to most of the events, which were completely pointless and for which it would be difficult to say that one of us would also do.

I will write just two examples, there are not any big spoilers but still, don’t read if you’re interested in a story.

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Example I: In a house where they just killed a woman he knew, he examines all the rooms, even though he knows he’s not alone. He’s not thinking about escaping, but it’s his goal to check all the rooms (?!? – we don’t know what he’s looking for). Then, they set him a porcelain doll in a passage, with his hat in the doll’s hands. But that doesn’t terrify him at all. The doll only arouses his discomfort because he doesn’t know why the doll has his hat?!?

Example II: His father leaves a letter for him, explaining some of the events from the past. But Christopher does not read it because it’s always time for that. He rather went to his girlfriend and they spend a whole day in bed.

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Most of the time, I was like… wtf?!? And such examples appear throughout the book and while reading, I was constantly wondering what was wrong with him. But it’s not just him, all the characters are like that. And that’s why reading is bizarre. Additionally, there is a whole bunch of pointless descriptions and irredeemable dialogues that are not at all relevant to the story.

In the end, I also found that this is the first part of a series of three books. I did not like the ending, the whole book even less, and despite the fact that in this book we don’t get to know anything about the mystery of the Moonlight Bay, I have no interest to read any other book in this series.

Rating: 1/5 stars

Did you read this book? What did you think about it? Are all Koontz’s books like that? Or would you recommend reading any other? Please, leave comments below!

 

 

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Book Review: Shatter Me

Title: Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi

 

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It’s been 264 days since Juliette touched anybody.

The last time she did, it led to something terrifying. But nobody believed her that it was an accident. The Reestablishment charged her with murder and locked her up. They don’t care to find out, why Juliette’s touch is fatal. Nobody cares for her because they’re all too busy with the outside world, which is completely different now.

Until someone else joins Juliette in her cell. Someone, who’s really familiar to Juliette.


This book was really hyped a few years ago but, I’m slow sometimes, so I only had a chance to pick it up this year. Maybe I made mistake and should read it a while ago when I was younger and not so tired of all YA dystopian novels. Right now, I really feel like I’m not a target audience for this genre anymore. I’m just too old.

The beginning itself was extremely boring and I struggled through the first pages (a lot of them). I was compelled to read on, not because the story simply would draw me in, but I was wondering how did Juliette become like this and what’s with her fatal touch. This is probably the only reason I read the book to the end. And let me tell you, the mystery around everything really got on my nerves.

Juliette is one of those characters I didn’t like from beginning and it was that way until the end. She is indecisive, distrustful when there’s no need for that and she’s complicating all the time and can’t make her mind. It’s good that she’s immense beauty that every guy in the book falls for her and that saves her life many times (that is, according to the book). In general, I did not like the characters very much.

Sadly, we don’t get to know much about the dystopian world. For those few information that comes to the reader, we can be sure that they are there to mislead us. This predictability slowly destroys all the stories, and here it was not different (still, there are chances that I’m wrong). There are two types of people in this “new” world, first are “bad” and the others are “good” and they want to resist the bad guys. We get to know some things about both, but we know that we can not trust anyone because everything can mislead us. I would love to get some more concrete information which would surely make the story more interesting.

As already mentioned, the idea is not bad, in fact, it seemed quite interesting to me but it was just not written in the way that would entertain me. Especially after some exceptions began to appear (don’t worry, no spoilers). I understand why this happened, but, at least to me, it completely destroyed the pleasure of reading, and also the idea the author wanted to present.

Yes, there are some chapters that keep a reader in tension, but they don’t outweigh the rest. Too much romance, too much mysteries, too much focus on relationships. And still, it was not enough for me.

Rating: 1/5 stars

Did you read Shatter Me? What did you think about it? Did you read the rest of the books in series?

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Book Review: Ripper

Title: Ripper

Author: Isabel Allende

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Unexplained murders are happening in San Francisco and even the SFPD’s Deputy Chief of Homicide is having a hard time investigating them. But his seventeen years old daughter Amanda is helping him. Amanda was always fascinated by crimes and she’s also a leader in online game Ripper, where she’s solving crimes with her online friends. With her players and help of her grandfather, she soon discovers that crimes in San Francisco are connected to each other and they’re work of a serial killer. And suddenly her mother disappears. Is she a next victim?


This was my first book from author Isabel Allende. I have heard wonderful things about her books but I was even more attracted by this book because of its synopsis. I love a good mystery book so I couldn’t wait to read it. But, I was truly disappointed.

The story reveals the process of searching a serial killer and details about murders. However, unfortunately, this part is often pushed into the background, because the author focuses on other details of the story which are not really relevant. Thus, most of the story consists of descriptions of people, who they are, what were they doing in the past and what they are doing now. Yet, even these descriptions are not well written or entertaining, but they are quite poorly written. Like short summaries, which are repeated too many times. I also noticed that in most cases, events and extensively writing about them have not provided anything to the story, but it was a ballast that made reading awkward and extended book to more than 500 pages.

Because of that, even the story about a crime isn’t as interesting as it could be. Often I completely forgot what book was about. And it’s like the author had the same problems as I had – every few chapters this serial-killer-story is forcibly resurrected back to life. I guess just because readers are expecting it?!?

All the characters stood out too much to be pleasant. Nobody was average, they were all some crazy-bohemian-heroic persons. This for me was also a reason, why reading about their relationships sounded insincere and unnatural. There were too many complications, rather than focusing on the original story that actually attracted me.

The last few chapters of the book were for me the most pleasing, when the story of a killer began to unfold and where the reader finds out about killers motives that brought to crimes. Again, there was a lot of details but it actually made sense. The rest of the book was just *yawn*.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Did you read Ripper? What are your thoughts about this book? Can you recommend me any other book by Allende?

 

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Book Review: The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

Title: The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

Author: Romain Puertolas19347251

This is a story about Fakir from India, who comes to France, where he wants to buy a bed of nails in IKEA. He only has a fake one hundred euro banknote in his pocket and this is the only money he has. The first victim of his fraud is a taxi driver but he’s not the only one. However, things get complicated in Ikea and fakir lands on the fantastic journey through European countries, where he meets new friends and, of course, enemies.


This book was published in our country a few years ago if I’m not mistaken and I heard it’s entertaining and worth of reading. Unfortunately, I didn’t have same feelings while reading it.

First, something about the plot. I think that author exaggerated in every possible way. Yes, fakir journey was fantastic but more in a sci-fi way. Everything was so contrived that I had troubles following the plot. Ignoring this fact, this is a book about a man who was living as a fraud all his life and then, one journey and people he meets, change his life and his views. Quite a cliche, which is not exactly my thing.

But most of all, I was disturbed by writing style. Just like among the people, even among the books, there are two categories. The first category includes those who are funny and know how to tell jokes, but they are also spontaneous and enjoyable. In the second category are those who want to be funny, so they tell memorized jokes, which is unnatural and anything but funny. And this book belongs in the second category.

Furthermore, I found the book very racist. The author very directly exposes the European superiority of race and civilization and humiliates others by joking about them. Certain things must be read in context, and therefore I will not write about it here because it would take too long. But while reading I also keep noticing “innocent” jokes which should be funny (?!?). Just a few examples: five black people were automatically named Jackson Five, Roms are named Gipsy Kings, Roms women were more than once called prostitutes (once only on the basis of their clothing styles). These are the things that upset me and are also a reason why I wouldn’t recommend this book.

After reading I was surprised that this book was so successful and popular. I know that I may have a different sense of humor than most, but I still think that people should know where is the line between good and bad taste.

Rating: 1/5 stars

Did you read this book? What were your thoughts about it? I would love to hear your opinion in comments!