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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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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The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Christmasaurus. You can read my review of this novel [here].

The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch was written by Tom Fletcher and first published in 2019. It is a fantasy story that focuses on a young boy and his friendship with the magical blue dinosaur that helps to pull Santa’s sleigh. The novel follows on from where The Christmasaurus (2016) left off and so I would recommend reading them in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

It has been a year since William first met the Christmasaurus and he can’t wait to see his magical friend again. When Santa shows up early to invite William on a tour of the North Pole, he is thrilled to finally get to share the fun with Brenda, Pamela and Bob. Santa is excited to show off the Elf Village and the first ever Christmas Tree. However, when Santa asks the Tree to grant each of the children one of its magical present-making beans, Brenda is annoyed that the Tree seems only willing to give one to William.

On returning home, Brenda convinces herself that she would make better use of the bean than William and steals it from his pocket. However, she soon realises the error of her ways when it falls into the hands of her Christmas-hating father. Barry Payne is the owner of a huge toy store and, with bean in hand, may finally have the power to put Santa out of business for good.

As belief in Christmas begins to fade, Santa and the elves slowly begin to vanish. The only way to save him might be to use the magic of the Winter Witch – a being who is able to control time – to change the past and restore the belief of children everywhere. However, meddling with time is dangerous and William and his friends need to be careful not to cause irreparable damage to the future…

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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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Red Winter

Red Winter was written by Annette Marie and first published in 2016. It is an urban fantasy story set in Japan, focusing on a shrine maiden who discovers that the spiritual world may not be as black and white as she was led to believe. The novel forms the first part of the Red Winter Trilogy and is followed by Dark Tempest (2017) and Immortal Fire (2017).

Emi is proud to be the kamigakari. Ever since Amaterasu’s mark appeared on her chest, she has led a sheltered life to ensure that her body and spirit are pure enough to be a vessel for the kami’s power. Although Emi is not sure what the future will hold for her, she is proud to have been chosen and nervously looks forward to the day when she and Amaterasu will become one.

However, not everyone is as keen for the goddess to walk the earth once again. For years, evil yōkai have tried to kill Emi to delay the descension. Due to this, she is regularly moved from shrine to shrine and always protected by sohei – warrior monks. Her final few months as a mortal are to be spent at the remote Shirayuri Shrine and she is shocked on arrival to discover that her new sohei is Katsuo – a boy who was indirectly linked to the greatest tragedy of her life.

Although shaken by seeing Katsuo once again, Emi is determined to not let this affect her duty. However, things start to change as she discovers what it truly means to be the kamigakari and saves the life of Shiro – a kitsune – who should be her sworn enemy. Shiro now owes her a debt, and Emi needs to find a way to change her fate. However, is a single fox’s magic enough to stand up to the power of the gods?

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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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The Secret Commonwealth

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

His Dark Materials:  Northern Lights | The Subtle Knife | The Amber Spyglass | Short Stories

The Book of Dust:  La Belle Sauvage

The Secret Commonwealth was written by Phillip Pullman and first published in 2019. The novel is the second part of The Book of Dust series, set 20 years after the events of La Belle Sauvage and seven years after The Amber Spyglass. The novel tells the continuing story of Lyra Silvertongue – heroine of the critically acclaimed His Dark Materials trilogy – and so I would strongly advise that you read all four of the previous novels to have any idea of what is going on.

Lyra Silvertongue is now twenty years old and has a problem. She no longer likes her dæmon. Ever since Lyra began reading the work of two philosophers who deny the existence of dæmons, she and Pantalaimon have been arguing more and more. Lyra feels that Pan is too critical of things that he does not understand, while Pan feels that Lyra has lost the creativity that he admired in her as a child. The rift between them has led to Pan spending more time wandering alone at night. This is how he comes to witness a murder.

Pan is shocked to see two men savagely ambush another, but is drawn into a larger mystery as he and Lyra uncover the missing man’s belongings. The botanical samples and notes that he carried seem innocent enough at first, but as Lyra reads the man’s journal she uncovers an incredible story about a rose with mystical properties and the Blue Hotel – a place were only dæmons can go. When her room is overturned by others who are desperate to find this research, she learns that she has an unexpected friend in her former tutor, Malcolm Polstead – a man who she is connected to in ways she could never have imagined.

When a particularly vicious argument causes Pan to run away, Lyra is convinced that he must have gone in search of the Blue Hotel. Desperate to find him, she sets out on an epic journey across Europe and beyond. However, danger follows in her footsteps. People are naturally fearful of those who do not have dæmons, and villains from Lyra’s past are desperate to get hold of her in order to have their revenge…

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