New Year, New Reviews

Hi Everyone!

I hope that you enjoyed this year’s picks for The Sobeks and sorry that it’s taken me so long to wish you a very Happy New Year. I hope that you all had a brilliant festive season, however you chose to celebrate it.

I, for one, took a few weeks to just rest and reflect away from this blog. As you’ve probably noticed, I didn’t do a great job of updating the blog over the past year. This is purely because 2019 was a pretty bad year from me. Between sickness, massive vet bills, and even a particularly nasty spell in which I received some unpleasantness from an author who was not very happy with a review that I left, I was left at times with very little motivation to go on.

I am in a much better place right now and am certainly hoping to be able to update the blog with more regularity, but please be mindful that I might still disappear every now and again to preserve my own mental health. This blog is ultimately just a hobby of mine, and I’m happy to continue so long as it remains fun.

With that out of the way, here’s a sneak peak of what is to come in the new year. As I did not take part in any Secret Santa events this year, I instead took myself down to Waterstones for a treat. As I really enjoyed my Summer of Middle Grade, I’ve picked up a few more novels of this sort to tide me through this grim part of the year. Each of these books has a wintery theme, and I’m very excited to share my reviews of them with you over the next few weeks:

The International Yeti Collective by Paul Mason

Nevertell by Katharine Orton

Frostheart by Jamie Littler

The Girl Who Speaks to Bears by Sophie Anderson

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge by Alex Bell

Of course, I will probably also have the next instalment of my Goosebumps retrospective ready to share with you over this time.

TTFN!

The Sobeks 2019 – Part 4

And here it is – the final part of The Sobek Awards for 2019.

Are you feeling the January blues? Well, here are some ideas of things that you can read next to get your spirits back up! The Sobeks are named for my blog’s mascot and are a celebration of all the very best books that I have read over the last twelve months. These are determined based on the ones that I awarded 4+ stars to on Goodreads.

For this final post, I will be looking at the books that I reviewed between October and December. While I was a bit lax in my posting over this time, I was still lucky enough to find some real gems. You should definitely check these authors out!

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The Sobeks 2019 – Part 3

Welcome back to The Sobeks – my annual book awards.

While I didn’t have a lot to say in my previous post, I’m pleased to say the most of the books that I read over the summer months have made this list. This was when my “Summer of Middle Grade” event was well underway and I discovered a whole bunch of exciting new authors. It was also around the time that I discovered Owlcrate – a monthly Young Adult subscription service – which has become my favourite new source for random books!

As always, these are all books that I read between July and September of 2019 and awarded 4+ stars on Goodreads. Please do check them out – I really enjoyed them all and would love to hear what you think.

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The Sobeks – Part 2

Welcome to the second part of The Sobeks – my annual award ceremony to honour my very favourite reads.

In case you missed my last post, this is a brief look back at everything that I read last year so I can share with you my absolute favourites. As you are aware, I can sometimes be quite a harsh reviewer and books have to do a lot to earn 4+ stars from me on Goodreads and Amazon.

There actually weren’t any books in April that made the cut this year, but here is a selection of my favourites from May and June, including links to my reviews and where you can buy them for yourself!

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The Sobeks 2019 – Part 1

Hello Everyone!

Sorry it’s taken me so long to getting around to posting about the highlights of 2019 this year – I’d just gotten so behind on writing up my December reviews!

Anyhow, without further ado, welcome to The Sobeks! This prestigious and intangible award is named for my blog’s reptilian mascot and is a chance for me to take a look back over my favourite reads of 2019 and give you my choice recommendations, based on everything that I gave 4+ stars on Goodreads. These books vary in themes and target audiences, but are all utterly fantastic and so I would certainly recommend that you check them out.

Without further ado, here are my hot picks from January, February and March:

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Mattimeo

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

Redwall | Mossflower

It seems fitting for my first review of a new year to take another nostalgic look back at one of my childhood favourites. Redwall was an epic fantasy series set in a Medieval society of anthropomorphic woodland creatures. It was first published between 1986 and 2011 and ran for twenty-one novels, only ending because of Brian Jacques’s death. For the purpose of this review I will be looking at the third instalment – Mattimeo – only.

Eight seasons have passed since the defeat of Cluny the Scourge, and Redwall Abbey has enjoyed peace under the watchful eye of Matthias the Warrior. However, this cannot last. As the Abbey dwellers prepare a great feast, Slagar the Cruel approaches. The masked fox has a personal vendetta against Matthias and is determined to make the brave mouse suffer.

Posing as entertainers, Slagar and his followers infiltrate the feast and make off into the night with a group of children. This includes Matthias’s beloved son, Mattimeo. His goal is to have the double glory of both selling Mattimeo into slavery and killing Matthias when he inevitably comes to free him. What follows is a dangerous trek across unknown lands as Mattimeo and his friends try to get away, and Matthias and group of scouts try their hardest to follow Slagar’s trail.

Yet things are also not restful at Redwall Abbey. Taking advantage of Matthias’s absence, a flock of birds descends on the peaceful creatures. They are led a wicked raven named General Ironbeak who has decided that the Abbey would make a perfect castle. How can the abbey dwellers possibly defend themselves when their warrior is too far away to protect them?

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Goosebumps 46-50

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30 | 31-35 | 36-40 | 41-45

In case you’re looking for a break from all the niceties of the festive period, let’s take a look at the next five instalments of R.L. Stine’s classic Goosebumps series. In case this is the first of my reviews that you have stumbled upon, this is a brief retrospective look at the sixty-two original novels which were published between 1992-1997. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at books 46 to 50. Oh, and there will be spoilers. You have been warned.

In How to Kill a Monster, Gretchen and Clark are horrified that they have to stay with their Grandparents in a run-down house in a swamp. I mean, they don’t even have television! However, things get much worse when they discover what is trapped within a locked room upstairs. It’s not long before they find themselves isolated and at the mercy of a horrible monster. Worse still – it’s hungry…

In Legend of the Lost Legend, Justin and Marissa are on a camping trip with their father in the dark forests of Brovania. His mission is to locate a lost manuscript known only as The Lost Legend. However, when Justin and Marissa get lost in the woods, things quickly start to get weird. A strange Viking lady offers them the chance to find the thing that they desire most. Yet to do so, they must pass a dangerous test…

In Attack of the Jack-o’-Lanterns, Drew is determined to have her revenge on Tabby and Lee – two mean kids that managed to ruin her previous two Halloweens with their pranks. This year, she has the perfect plan to scare them both senseless. However, something has gone wrong. The group of trick-or-treaters soon find themselves threatened by two sinister figures wearing pumpkin-head mask. What could they possibly want and how do they make flames shoot out of their mouths?

In Vampire Breath, Freddy and Cara take pride in the fact that they are not afraid of anything. Yet everything changes when they find a secret door in Freddy’s basement which leads to an empty coffin and a bottle of Vampire Breath. When they open the bottle, they quickly find themselves trapped within the castle of an ageing vampire. It’s a race against time to find the bottle again and get home, before the very hungry monster manages to locate his missing fangs.

In Calling All Creeps!, Ricky is furious when Tasha has him fired from the school newspaper. He didn’t even do anything wrong! In order to have revenge, he sneaks a notice onto the front page – If you’re a real creep, call Tasha after midnight. Yet, things quickly go wrong and Ricky finds himself receiving sinister calls. The Creeps are real, and now they think that Ricky is their missing leader…

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Goosebumps 41-45

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30 | 31-35 | 36-40

It’s time to continue my retrospective look at R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books. This popular horror series was originally published between 1992 and 1997 and ran for sixty-two novels. Since then, it is spawned a number of spin-off series, video games and movies and is still massively popular today. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at books 41 to 45 only. Oh, and there will be massive spoilers for the novels concerned. You have been warned.

In Bad Hare Day, Tim is obsessed with becoming a magician like his hero Amaz-O but doesn’t have much talent for it. However, when Tim finally gets to go to one of Amaz-O’s shows, he realises that he has a chance to learn from the master. Tim “borrows” the magician’s bag of tricks so that he can study them. However, it’s not long before he realises that magic is real and he has no idea how to stop it…

In Egg Monsters from Mars, Dana loves science and is thrilled when he discovers an egg that he can’t identify. When it hatches into a mysterious creature, Dana realises that he may well have a new species on his hands. However, when he reveals his find to a local scientist, he suddenly finds himself in great danger. Dr Grey wants to have all credit for the discovery and is more than happy to get rid of anyone who would stand in his way…

In The Beast from the East, Ginger and her brothers stumble across a horrible group of monsters while lost in the woods. The creatures are playing a game in which one player becomes the “Beast from the East” and must try to tag others, and they are eager for the kids to join them. Trouble is, whoever is still the Beast at sunset will be eaten and Ginger has no idea what the rules are!

In Say Cheese and Die – Again!, Greg is frustrated that his teacher, Mr Saur, will not believe his story about the cursed camera. He knows that the only way to prove that he is telling the truth is to show him. However, the camera is as dangerous as ever and it’s not long before Greg accidentally manages to take a photo of himself and Shari. Can they find a way to undo its effects before they become permanent?

In Ghost Camp, Harry and Alex are excited to spend summer at Camp Spirit Moon. However, when they get there, they discover that there is something odd about it. The old campers like to play tricks on newcomers, and some of them can be rather scary and mean. Soon, Harry starts to realise that there may be some truth in the campfire stories. The other campers could well be less than alive and seem to have something sinister in store for them…

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Goosebumps 36-40

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30 | 31-35

It’s Halloween and so I thought that this is the perfect time to continue my Goosebumps retrospective. Please note that, as per my previous posts, this will contain massive spoilers for the books in question. You have been warned.

Chances are that you have already heard of Goosebumps. The original series was written by R.L. Stine and was published between 1992 and 1997. The sixty-two novels are largely all stand-alone horror stories aimed at middle grade readers. The series is still hugely popular today and has since spawned dozens of spin-offs and adaptations. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to look at books 36 to 40 only. I’m basing this on the order that they were released in the UK, as this does differ slightly to their US release order.

In The Haunted Mask II, Steve has been given an unthinkable punishment – the task of coaching the first grade soccer team. The kids know how to make his life a living Hell and so he’s determined to have his revenge on them. With Halloween looming, he knows that it’s the perfect time to scare the little monsters out of their skins. If only he can get Carly Beth to tell him where she got her terrifying mask…

In The Headless Ghost, Stephanie and Duane love to terrify the kids in the neighbourhood. However, their old pranks are starting to get boring. To spice things up, they decide to visit Hill House – a local landmark that is known to be haunted by the ghost of a headless boy. While they initially plan to hunt for the spirit’s missing head, they find themselves in unspeakable danger as the ghost makes clear that any head will do.

In The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, Jordan and Nicole have never left their Californian home-town and long to see the snow. Luckily, it seems that they will finally get their wish when their dad is given a chance to travel to Alaska and obtain photographic evidence of a strange monster. At first it seems like a great adventure, but that’s before Jordan and Nicole find themselves lost in the frozen tundra. Will they find their father, or will the snowman find them first…

In How I Got My Shrunken Head, Mark is thrilled to received a gift from his Aunt Benna. It’s a genuine shrunken head and an invitation to join her on the remote jungle island of Baladora. However, when Mark arrives, he discovers that all is not as it seemed. His Aunt has been missing for a long time and her colleagues believe that Mark holds the secret to Jungle Magic. Mark knows that he’s the only one who can save his Aunt, but how can he do so when he does not know how to use his powers?

In Night of the Living Dummy III, Trina and Dan have grown up appreciating their dad’s collection of creepy ventriloquist dummies. However, their wimpy cousin Zane is less impressed. Every time Zane gets startled by the dummies, Trina and Dan get blamed for pulling pranks. The trouble is, neither of them are responsible for the mysterious accidents and moving puppets. Trina is determined to find the logical explanation behind these occurrences, as she knows it can’t be that the dummies are actually alive. Can it?

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Goosebumps 31-35

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30

It’s time for another trip down memory lane! In case you haven’t read any of my previous retrospectives, this is where I take a look at some of my childhood favourite series. Please note that these reviews will contain massive spoilers for the books in question. You have been warned.

Goosebumps is a hugely successful anthology of middle grade horror stories. It was written by R.L. Stine and the original series ran for sixty-two novels, all of which were published between 1992 and 1997. The series remains incredibly popular today, spawning numerous spin-offs, movies and video games. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to look at books 31 to 35 only. I’m also basing this on the order that they were released in the UK, as this does differ slightly to its US release order.

In Night of the Living Dummy II, Amy finds herself in trouble after her parents buy her a new ventriloquist dummy. As soon as Slappy arrives in her home, bad things start happening. Her sister’s paintings are ruined and her reputation as a ventriloquist is destroyed when a child is hurt during her act. Everyone thinks that Amy is responsible but she knows the truth. Slappy has a mind of his own and is determined to turn Amy into his slave…

In The Barking Ghost, Cooper often finds himself as the butt of his brother’s practical jokes due to the fact that he is afraid of everything. These fears turn out to be justified when he moves into a new house and is attacked by a pair of huge black dogs. Although his family claim to not see the dogs, it’s not long before they seem to be everywhere Cooper goes – even in his own home. It’s up to Cooper and his new friend, Fergie, to determine what they want before anyone gets hurt.

In The Horror at Camp Jellyjam, Wendy and Elliot find themselves stranded at a summer camp after a road accident separates them from their parents. Everything about the camp is weird – from the councillors’ obsession with winning at sports to their blobby purple mascot, King Jellyjam. As Elliot gets sucked in to the competitive atmosphere, Wendy desperately tries to find out what is going on. Because kids are disappearing from the camp every night, and if Wendy doesn’t hurry she knows that Elliot might be next…

In Revenge of the Garden Gnomes, Joe’s dad is obsessed with two things – growing better plants than his neighbour and collecting lawn ornaments. However, there is something strange about his latest two acquisitions. Every night, something is ransacking the two gardens and Joe soon finds himself blamed for the damage. Joe knows that it has something to do with the gnomes but, as he tries to catch them in the act, he soon finds that the creatures are a lot more malicious than it first seemed…

In A Shocker on Shock Street, Erin and Marty are excited to be the first two people to go on a tour of the set of their beloved “Shock Street” horror films. However, when the tram breaks down half way through the ride, they quickly realise that something is not quite right. The monsters seem to be more than just robots – they look and act as though they are real. Can Erin and Marty find their way off the tour or will they become prey for zombies and werewolves?

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