“Let us read, and let us dance;
these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

LBC Outlaws - Write up the First! - The Hound of the Baskervilles

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LBC Outlaws
The books that make you go ooooooooo!!!!

Venue: Outlaws Yacht Club

Date:  Inagural meeting on 28th of May, thereafter the last Thursday of each month

Time:  6pm for a 6:30 start


* * * SPOILERS * * *

Our first meeting of #LBCOutlaws involved a brief introduction to the book club and what it was about and involved lots of tea and cake.

Information about the author
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh on May 22, 1859, one of seven children who survived to adulthood. Rejecting his family's strict Catholicism and, cut off from their patronage, he decided to set up his own practice in Southsea in 1882.After the death of his first wife, Louise Hawkins, he went on to marry Jean Leckie in 1907 and they had two sons and a daughter. He died in 1930.The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the four crime novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialised in the Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set largely on Dartmoor in Devon in England's West Country and tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound.

Heed the Baskerville family legend of the hound: avoid the moors in those hours of the night when the powers of evil are exalted. Every Baskerville that has lived in the family home since the legend began has met with a violent death. Dr. Mortimer writes to the one man that can help him, Sherlock Holmes, to exorcise the 'Legend of the Hound' that plagues the Baskervilles.

The Hound of The Baskervilles is a well know story told in the first person by Dr Watson from letters and diaries. This was the first appearance of Holmes since his intended death in "The Final Problem" and the success of The Hound of the Baskervilles led to the character's eventual revival.

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”  Holmes

The scene is set in London where we meet Watson and Holmes, news arrives about the family named Baskervilles and the curse that hangs over them. Holmes sends Watson off to Devonshire, which we all felt like it was set in the Yorkshire moors, mainly because we’re all Leeds based but this did not affect the story one bit. It was still eerie and gripped us to our seats.

We all know that the main character is Holmes who sets about solving all these mysteries but rarely do we see past this character and see the characters/people behind him. This story is told by Watson and through this it felt like we saw both him and Holmes in a completely different light. In this story most of us fell in love with Watson and thought he was fabulous and wondered where Holmes would be without him.  Holmes came across as arrogant and always succeeds in getting the job done by swooping in at the end and solving the mystery, but will always need Watson to help him do that.

Watson may come across at other times as a bumbling idiot but he has his own career and in most stories as like this one he does most of the legwork, like most characters in this story for Holmes and basically feeds his ego.  This is why we love Watson in this story. He is annoyed at being duped and lets Sherlock know this.

“Certainly, though I cannot guarantee that I carry all the facts in my mind. Intense mental concentration has a curious way of blotting out what has passed”

It was a lovely short book, it captured our imaginations. It had a gothic feel full of drama suspense, mystery, a classic. It was said that as it had been serialized it felt sometimes it did not work as a novel; it should have been longer but was different to read as it had more of a supernatural feel rather than a detective story. 

The Sherlock Holmes stories have been told in some many different ways starting with books going into plays and films and TV serials. Everyone had their own personal favourites from Jeremy Brett to Benedict Cumberbatch. But all were agreed the book was better than any film adaption as certain parts were meant to keep you guessing or believing something had happened whereas the TV/film adaption had to show you it happened to prove it did. 

All in all the first read for Outlaws bookclub was loved and adored and many would read more of Sherlock’s Adventures. 

We also recommend seeing Sherlock’s Secrets at the West Yorkshire 
Playhouse which I've blogged about HERE and LBC has reviewed HERE!



Join in the chat on twitter #LBCOutlaws or chat with @Pixlz or @LeedsBookClub.

Follow Helen @IsFromUpNorth

Sherlock Holmes - Hound of the Baskervilles

Project Gutenberg and Kindle: HERE
DropBox: HERE
i-Book:  HERE

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Calendar Page
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Book Club - Table of Contents
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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Sharing Stories - Why be happy ...- GUEST

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Leeds Book Club will be participating in the Arts and Minds Network's new project on raising awareness of mental health issues. 

This review is provided to us by regular book clubber @GuthrieEleanor. It's her first time writing for us so huge thanks and welcome to the LBC team!

Tweet your thoughts using #SharingStories


I volunteered to review a book for Sharing Stories as I feel raising awareness of mental illness is an important cause to get involved in. The book is described as a memoir, although it’s not always clear whether all of it is true. Jeanette Winterson writes about her life growing up with her adoptive parents in Manchester and her time as an adult when she suffers several breakdowns.

There is a focus throughout the book around the concept of home. Jeanette tells the reader how she never had a key to her family home and spent much of her time locked out, sitting on the doorstep waiting to be let back in. She describes home as “much more than shelter; home is our centre of gravity” and throughout the book she is unable to return to her centre of gravity. This is not just as a child waiting outside on the cold doorstep, but also leaving home at 16, as an adult being reluctant to revisit her childhood home and later again when she seems unable to find her birth mother.

Throughout the book Jeanette is desperate to read. She attempts to read the contents of the library from A to Z, and feels the need to learn extracts of novels and poems by heart. She talks about the need to find a container for what she “daren’t let out because it’s so scary”, comparing her own life to fairy tales and explaining that books are a way people can understand their own lives. It is sometimes difficult to tell which parts of the book really happened and which are exaggerated, or made up all together. Both reading and writing are ways Jeanette copes with her life, she states that “part fact and part fiction is what life is...and I wrote my way out”.

Creating an alternative narrative for her life is a coping mechanism. Jeanette creates false memories, intertwined with real ones as though telling herself a story. When she tells the reader that “fiction and poetry are doses, medicines” and that “what they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination” she is not only talking about how the books of others have helped her, but how she has also helped herself by writing her own story.

For Jeanette, home is strongly associated with her identity and the fact she doesn’t know who she really is. As an adopted child she doesn’t know anything about her previous life, who her birth mother was or even her own name. She explains “adopted children are self-invented because we have to be. There is an absence, a void, a question mark at the very beginning of our lives...it’s like reading a book with the first few pages missing”. So Jeanette uses words and writing to fill in the void of her past, but also to create a false present for herself, to “read the hurt. Rewrite them. 

Rewrite the hurt”.

One thing that I found interesting when reading this book was the concept of home particularly as I have recently moved to an area where I don’t know anyone. It’s easy to feel lost when you don’t associate where you are with being home and you realise how much you’re defined by the people in your life that you love, your friends and family. It’s quite easy to become less sure of who you are when you’re not surrounded by people who know you and love you. Jeanette’s story made me wonder what it must be like to feel like you have no point of reference - no centre of gravity, and how this would impact on my sense of self. Jeanette didn’t have a home to return to but she created one for herself using words and books.

When she finally tracks down her birth mother and knocks on the door, she is greeted with the words “I thought I’d get the washing done before you got here”, and Jeanette thinks “it is just what I would say myself”. It’s almost as though by finding her mother, the beginning of her story, she’s knocking on her own front door and finding herself.

The book portrays mental health issues in a frank and honest way and the idea of using books as an escape from reality is something almost everyone can relate to. Jeanette’s way of using books and writing to confront her past and rewrite her story makes the reader question the reliability of her as a narrator, but this works well as it highlights Jeanette’s own confused feelings about her past and herself. Jeanette describes her breakdowns to the reader without offering explanation or apology. They are a part of her story; part of her rather than something that happens to her. The book enables people to gain an insight into why Jeanette had mental health problems, without it being the main focus of the story, showing that they are a part of her life, not to be ignored, but also not to define her.

When Jeanette is at her lowest she writes “that wasn’t the end of books rescuing me. If poetry was a rope, then the books themselves were rafts”. By telling her story Jeanette has made her own rafts, 

“Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal” shows people that they can rescue themselves.

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Chat with Peter Bullimore
Mental Health Reading Challenge
Blurbs for the books!

Podcast with Tom at Arts and Minds Leeds

Write Up's

Dec - Jane Eyre - GUEST
Nov - A life too short - GUEST
Oct - Notes from an exhibition - GUEST
Sep - Day - GUEST
Aug - Tender is the Night - GUEST
Jul - Ariel - GUEST
Jul - Birthday Letters - GUEST
Jun - Poppy Shakespeare - GUEST
May - Why be happy when you can be normal - GUEST
Apr - I had a black dog - GUEST
Mar - The Psychopath Test - GUEST
Feb - The Silver Linings Play Book - GUEST

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Table of Contents - Guest Stars

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Monday, 27 May 2013

Bank Holiday Reading!

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This weekend I've mostly been devouring the latest Dan Brown - Inferno. 


In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.
Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.
So far (roughly 75%) I'm really enjoying it. As always, the story is meant to be read at break neck speed and filled with as many descriptions of great and majestic artwork as conspiracy theories behind them. Adding considerably to my pleasure is that I actually visited Florence (one of the featured cities) last year and visited many of the tourist destinations that Langdon runs through. It's always wonderful when you can close your eyes and see the scene playing out before you! Next trip Venice - for sure! And - as if that wasn't coincidence enough, I read Dante's Infero on the same holiday so...check me out with the incidentally related knowledge!

I'm aware that this is unlikely to be a critical favourite; equally I'm aware that the public isn't going to care. Though the writing is often sloppy and Langdon as a character is sometimes as flat as the page he is printed on, the greatest trick that Dan Brown pulls is to make our collective history, art and culture interesting to the public again! 
So what if the plot occasionally impersonates Swiss cheese? Who cares if every event follows the next with an inevitability that belies much of the tension? It's literature designed to make you switch off and follow rather than rack your brain. And every now and again, that's exactly what I need!  

There are notable similarities with the rest of the books in the Robert Langdon series:

- Most are set in cities noted for their artistry and cultural significance 
- Inferno - Florence and Venice (so far), Angels and Demons - The Vatican, The Da Vinci Code - Paris

- feature a young woman with mysterious links to the mystery at hand who aids and eventually befriends Langdon. This woman is inevitable fluent in multiple languages, striking if not out rightly beautiful and fiercely intelligent. 
- Sienna Brooks - Inferno, The Lost Symbol - Katherine Solomon  The Da Vinci Code - Sophie Neveu, Angels and Demons - Vittoria Vetra.

- Langdon and his companion are being followed by a malevolent shawdow-y character. No one is entirely sure how this person is involved until the last few chapters.
Indeed this is in fact crucial. The books are usually structured with three distinct partitions or point of view characters, which I shall now break down for you with an intellectual precision that will leave you gasping. 
The first is our intrepid hero, the second the shadowy person and the third the baddies. 
- Silas - The Da Vinci Code, FS2080 - Inferno

- Langdon will be betrayed by someone working closely with him
- I haven't reached that part yet! Besides...

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Sherlock Secrets - The game is afoot...keep up!

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Two years after his public defeat of his arch-nemesis Professor James Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls; Sherlock Holmes is a shadow of his former self. Retreating from the world, Holmes has by now retired from detection and survives only by selling the details of his past cases to an unscrupulous journalist.

However, when Mycroft Holmes is arrested for treason and murder - crimes he apparently accepts the culpability for - Sherlock unhesitatingly takes on the case, despite his near-crippling personal demons. The Great Detective must pit his wits against an unknown and highly intelligent enemy who is clearly familiar with his methodology. 

He and Watson are in a race - not only against time, but against the hangman's noose. 

NOTE - the trailer was shot in the historic prison cells at Leeds Town Hall


That seems the most appropriate one word response to last night's showing of Sherlock Holmes - Best Kept Secret at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. The story is fast paced, ably facilitated by wonderful ever changing near-steampunk set pieces. The use of lighting throughout was particularly atmospheric. For much of the play, the majority of the stage was unlit, adding to the overall dark mood and themes while the music was strangely reminiscent of both the recent Sherlock TV series AND the Robert Downey Jn led films. Hats off to Nicolai Foster for bringing all these elements together in such a harmonious way!

Credit: Manuel Harlan
The Victorian motifs that we have come to know and love within the Holmes cannon and are mostly present and correct. While Mrs Hudson is never seen on stage, we are assured that she is pottering away in the background. The violin, deerstalker and pipe all make an appearance, however brief. One of my favourite touches was the "221B" reflected backwards to the audience in the door window. For most if not all of the production, the number is never presented directly to us, nevertheless this little nod to the informed is a delightful touch. 

As for the special effects...well they were just MAGICAL. I genuinely jumped a few times, despite being fairly certain that the West Yorkshire Playhouse wouldn't actually kill off or maim any of its cast members! Massive credit here to Scott Penrose - I suspect that the effects that we noticed were merely the tip of the ice-berg and that a lot of traditional magic was utilised throughout. 

Regarding the play itself, I might be biased (and if you don't know why, check out my interview with writer Mark Catley from earlier this month) but I feel it's a worthy addition to the Sherlock stable, covering as it does, a period of time never really explored between the books in a believable way, true to the original characters.

Credit: Manuel Harlan
Rather than reinforcing the stereotypes that have haunted the series since it was first filmed; Mark Catley has grounded his characters in the books...though there are more than a few references that should jump out to an audience possibly more familiar with the detective and his amiable sidekick from the screen than the page. 

Here Andrew Hall's Dr Watson is tough, dependable and with a darker streak than we have seen for a long time. Regardless, he remains a true companion and friend to Holmes and decent upstanding man. Inspector Lestrade - portrayed with a gruff elegance by Victor McGuire - is neither a friend nor colleague but is rather a man who despite being constantly frustrated by Sherlock respects him and his abilities. London might be bustling but it is also dingy and run down in parts - embodied perfectly in the exuberant Mrs Peasgoode (Kerry Peers), who appears to her relish her squalid and filthy visage. 

Credit: Manuel Harlan
However this play - indeed any Holmes interpretation - rests on it's leading man and Jason Durr dominates the stage. His portrayal of Sherlock from despondent and depressed to hyper to drugged up and back again is convincing and compelling. He positively lights up during his varied interactions with Irene Adler (Tanya Franks is superbly enchanting!). More than mere energy, Durr makes the audience regard the emotional journey of an emotional cripple first and foremost. 

Credit: Manuel Harlan
The focus on the Holmes family was a particularly deft touch. Mycroft and Sherlock - aside from being saddled with daft names by presumably sadistic parents - have a lot in common in this production. Both are intelligent and fiercely competitive. Both struggle with social difficulties that result in their being removed a step from those around them. Both are aware of this in a rather heartbreaking fashion.

However, here, Sherlock is slightly ahead of his brother. Mycroft lives a deliberately insulated and controlled life, with each day following the next in an orderly fashion, accepting no deviation. There was a touch of the 'umbrella' in the portrayal here by Adrian Lukis that was delightfully fresh but still respectful of the original. Here, more than at any other time, we are able to see the positive impact that people like Watson have had on Sherlock, a humanizing effect. 

For a rollicking night out, I can't recommend Sherlock Holmes Best Kept Secret enough. I laughed. I jumped. And I left hoping that this will be the first in a series of new and original Sherlock stories from Catley and Foster!
Based on the characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle
Written by Mark Catley
Directed by Nicolai Foster
Magic Consultant - Scott Penrose
Set and Costume Designer - Michael Taylor
Composer - Grant Olding
Lighting Designer - Ben Cracknell
Sherlock Holmes - Jason Durr
John Watson - Andrew Hall
The Journalist - Andrew Langtree
Mycroft Holmes - Adrian Lukis
Irene Adler - Tanya Franks
Inspector Lestrade - Victor McGuire
Mrs Peasgoode - Kerry Peers

The production, which previews on May the 18th, will run until June the 8th.

After the production, I bumped into Adrian Lukis and shook his hand. While he is excellent in this, all I could think was 'Wickham. I've just met Wickham' which TOTALLY added to my night!
promptly phoned my mum to brag!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Enid Blyton Challenge Book 04 - The Adventures of Scamp

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One of our Superstar Guest Stars has agreed to a new challenge based on our chats relating to #LBCPuffins.

Can't wait to read each review as they come! Huge thanks - as always - to Helen...though now I think on it...missing out on all these wonderful stories... Clearly we need each other!

Helen's Enid Blyton Challenge

About the Author

Scamp is a bundle of mischief when the children choose him as their puppy. He makes a lot of trouble as he fits into the new household, and some lessons are learnt the painful way, but the children have fun training him, and in the end his devotion to his young mistress saves her life.

This is a delightful little book about a little dog called Scamp. And everything he gets up to. This is the third Enid Blyton book, bumped up to allow Mallory towers in the challenge after much disgust that I hadn’t included it. Sorry ladies. J
So on to Scamp. This story is about two children called Kenneth and Joan, who get to choose a puppy from a litter to take home. They sit and play with the puppies and decide to choose a small one with a black patch over his ear as he is being quite mischievous. They think it will be fun and name him Scamp.

However, before he leaves his Mum, Scamp gets himself into all sorts of trouble. He first encounters a cat, and because it is wagging his tail he thinks it’s friendly and pleased to see him. Wrong! The cat attacks him and he runs back to his Mum who explains how cats and dogs communicate, there’s different signals. The cat wasn’t pleased to see him and he should be more careful. Scamp learns his first lesson there but still torments the cat but doesn’t get to close.

Through the story Scamp gets taught lots of lessons from being naughty, some he doesn’t learn from straight away. First one is that he keeps chewing things and it’s only when he eats the Aunt’s hat and is scolded that he realises that there are only certain things to chew. And then there’s the moment where he gets with a couple of older dogs, who like chasing sheep and the family get a warning from the farmer that if he were to do it again he might get shot. Next time Scamp is out he sees the dogs 
again and because they call him a ‘baby’ for not wanting to do it he doesn’t want to look silly and does it anyway resulting in him getting shot, and they have ran off without checking on him. Scamp knew it was wrong to do this but didn’t want to look silly in front of his new friends. I think his lesson there was not to do things that you know are wrong but do it to look good in front of someone. But real friends wouldn’t do that to you.

Scamp get up to all sorts whilst growing up and becomes a big part of the family and proves his worth not once but twice, when there’s an attempted robbery doing the night at the next house and he accidently trips one of the robbers over and he is knocked out and then barking to raise the alarm and everyone comes out to see what happens and the robbery is stopped. The second time Kenneth and Joan argue as to what to do one afternoon and Kenneth says Scamp should stay with him to help do the garden so Joan goes off on her own and ends up slipping into the river after trying to look at ducks. Kenneth regrets keeping Scamp, as he’s older he knows he has done wrong and sends Scamp after Joan who finds her almost drowning in the river as she can’t swim. Scamp jumps in to drag her back to safety but panics that he can’t do it, but summons all his strength as it’s beloved Joan and he does! Becoming ‘the best dog in the world that ever lived!’

I liked this book, I loved the illustrations within it and it was a sweet little story, but the term that comes to mind to how this book is written is if it’s quite ‘jolly’, making it feel slightly dated. I did like how it seemed to change tone when things start to go wrong, to when they were good again. 

Like when Scamp is naughty and puts himself in danger. Doing this I think Enid Blyton is trying to instil lessons into us while reading, this book is similar to ‘The Book Of Brownies’, i.e. mischief/being naughty gets you in to trouble and makes people unhappy with you whilst being good and helping people makes them proud and happy.

The one thing I’ve noticed since I started reading children’s books a few years back, is that we read quite different as an adult to when we did as children, as our lives are more complex and when we come to reading we bring to it our life experiences and add that to the story, we see things that possibly a child wouldn’t.  I started to read them because I felt adult fiction was filled with too much information and perhaps was too much like the ‘real world’ and I felt like I needed to escape and just enjoy the story with its hidden message, which I think is what children books are about.


Next book: The Enchanted Wood

The Book List

Dec - The Twins at St Clare's
Nov - The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat
Oct - The Naughtiest School Girl
Sep - Mr Galliano’s Circus
Aug - The Boy Next Door
Jul - Adventures of the wishing Chair
Jun - The Magic Faraway Tree
May - The Enchanted Wood
Apr - The Adventures of Scamp
Mar - Secret Seven
Feb - Five on a treasure Island
Jan - The Book of Brownies

Helen tweets from @isfromupnorth and has her own blog Hello from me to you. It's worth bookmarking because Helen knows EVERYONE and is involved in all sorts of lovely events!

The Hobbit (book) review

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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Enid Blyton Challenge Book 03 - The Secret Seven

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One of our Superstar Guest Stars has agreed to a new challenge based on our chats relating to #LBCPuffins.

Can't wait to read each review as they come! Huge thanks - as always - to Helen...though now I think on it...missing out on all these wonderful stories... Clearly we need each other!

Helen's Enid Blyton Challenge

About the Author

Secret SevenThe Secret Seven - which is the first of the fifteen titles in the official Secret Seven series - was first published in 1949.
The Secret Seven are a secret society who hold regular meetings and organize things to do, whether it's helping the community in some way, solving mysteries that turn up, or just having fun playing Red Indians in the woods.
The Seven have a secret password, a badge, and a secret headquarters in a garden shed. The Seven are led by Peter and include Peter's sister Janet, and their friends Jack, Colin, George, Pam and Barbara. They are joined by their golden spaniel, Scamper.
The society was actually formed in a short story prior to the first book in this series. The first was At Seaside Cottage, featuring Peter and Janet, and the second was The Secret of Old Mill, which featured the entire gang in their first Society meeting.
Peter enforces the rules and delegates tasks for the members. The Seven investigate mysteries by shadowing, interviewing and, most importantly, looking for clues. The Seven tackle all sorts of mysteries from missing dogs to mail robbery, and always come out on top.


Straight away we meet Peter and Janet two siblings at home. Peter - the leader of the gang/group - tells Janet that they need to arrange a meeting of the Secret seven as there hadn’t been one for ages. They sit at the table and write letters to announce the meeting informing them they can only enter with a password.
‘Janet always wrote with her tongue out, which made her look very funny.
But she said she couldn’t write properly unless her tongue was out, so out it had to come’
The headquarters of the Secret Seven was the shed in the garden with a sign ‘SS’ on the door. Janet had made it all cosy. Janet places five boxes and two flowerpots for people to sit on along with sacks as rugs. There is also a shelf where biscuits and blackcurrant tea, a mix of blackcurrant jam, sugar and boiling water sit.

When the time comes for the meeting everyone starts arriving and as it has been a long time Jack has forgotten what the password is and you’re not allowed in without it so he tricks Colin into telling him what it is. This later gets changed toO in case someone else had heard it and might try to enter.

Both Janet and Barbara reminded me of me, as I stick my tongue out and I get my words mixed up like Barbara does.
“Delumptious’ says Barbara says ‘do you mean delicious or scrumptious?” asked Janet
“Both of course!” said Barbara”
They sit around and eat and drink and discuss what they should do.
“Can we solve a mystery or something?” asked George
After agreeing this is what they should do they go and build snowmen in the fields. As they leave Scamper (the dog I forgot to mention) runs off and escapes into the garden of a large house where an old man called the ‘caretaker’ lives. Spooky name! He shoos scamper off and threatens if he comes in again he would shoot him.

Later at bedtime, Jack who gets sent to be early with no supper for kicking his sister’s governess under the table. He was meant to hit his sister which of course was still wrong. When he gets to bed he realises he has lost his badge and knows he can’t got o a meeting without it. He remembers he had it while building snowmen and that must be where it is!

So Jack sneaks out and goes back to the snowmen and while looking he thinks one moves and gets spooked and says to himself:
“Don’t be silly” he told himself, sternly. “You know they’re only made of snow! Be sensible and look for your depressed button!”
He finds his button and heads back only to see a car at the end of the field and think it’s lost. He goes to help but then sees two men, and sees a car with a van or something attached and hears squealing. Jack realises they are up to no good and runs off home. Jack decides it’s a mystery for the Secret Seven to solve and leaves a message at the shed to arrange an urgent meeting.

The next day, Peter tells Janet to open the door to the shed to air it as it won’t be used that day and almost misses the note. A meeting is called and they all agree to split up and investigate believing it might be a tied up prisoner they decide to go in search of different things, like finding out who owns the house, did the old caretaker here anything. They also investigate where the tracks go.

They all meet back at the headquarters and discuss their findings and agree they need more evidence before they can go to the police in case it turns out to be something quite simple. They decide to set a plan for the boys to sit and watch the house and decide it would be a good idea to wear sheets and disguise themselves as snowmen.

I know this is fictional but I was amazed that these kids could wander around at the dead of night and their parents not find out or stop them, but obviously this was a long time ago and possibly a lot safer.

At this point I had picked up a clue what was going on but did a silly thing and flicked through the book looking at the illustrations and saw what happened, so slightly spoilt it for myself. Silly me.

Anyway back to the story.
‘The three boys and Scamper had had an exciting time. They had gone down the lane. Noting the car and the tracks’
The boys find the snowmen have started to melt but still stand in wait. They then here a noise and Peter and Jack go and investigate. They find a window of the house open and climb in. They find the old caretaker still asleep upstairs and go and investigate the lower floors. From the cellar they hear a noise and call out but get no reply. They then here a key turning in the door they try to hide but the two men who entered come across them and lock them in the cupboard. 
Dun! Dun! Dun!

The men leave them there and go and deal with Kerry Blue. Who’s Kerry Blue you ask. Well it’s a horse. When the men leave, Peter switches on his torch and there standing in the corner is a horse.
It is a fine horse and appears to be covered in dye. There is nothing the boys can do but sit with the horse and wait.

Meanwhile outside Colin, George and Scamper are still in the field waiting and start to wonder where they are when they hear the car and the men approaching and stand stock still so as not to give the game away. When they’ve gone they rush to the house and find the others locked in. They help them escape and lock the door back up. Peter takes the horse back to his parent’s farm and
puts Kerry Blue in the stables.

In the morning Peter shows his father the horse and explains what happens and they call the police who capture the men and find out they were horse stealers and Kerry Blue was an important horse
and they were trying to pass him off as another.

The owner of Kerry Blue is informed and an award is sent to the children who in reply say,
“We didn’t expect a reward. The adventure was enough!”
ending with
“The best secret society in the world! Hurrah for The Secret Seven!”

Although it was a big adventure and the boys were captured and that was quite scary, I don’t think it stands up against the other books so far. Yes the children took risks as worked as a team, and pointed out they didn’t do things to be rewarded they did it as fun, it just didn’t grip me as much. Granted I spoilt it for myself but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as the Famous Five. Someone pointed out on Goodreads that there were too many characters and it was a bit like Scooby Doo and not so serious. 
‘Damn those pesky kids!! or whether it’s because I really didn’t like Peter who annoyed me because he thought he was better than the rest of the gang. It could be I didn’t like this story as
much because I had recently read three adventure stories and this one just didn’t stand up against the others. However I am sure loads of little boys would love a story like this.

Throughout the book I caught sight of a little letter at the bottom of the page and I thought there was a secret code going through the book but found out it may have been what the printers used to bind sections together. Another mystery solved J!

One last thing before I go. A big thanks Alison from Leeds Book Club for lending me this copy. This edition was illustrated by George Brook and printed in 1952 in Norwich (the place where I was born) I loved the feel and the smell of the book. Old books have such a nice smell, that’s why I love secondhand book shops. They’re like another world.

Next book: The Enchanted Wood

The Book List
Dec - The Twins at St Clare's
Nov - The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat
Oct - The Naughtiest School Girl
Sep - Mr Galliano’s Circus
Aug - The Boy Next Door
Jul - Adventures of the wishing Chair
Jun - The Magic Faraway Tree
May - The Enchanted Wood
Apr - The Adventures of Scamp
Mar - Secret Seven
Feb - Five on a treasure Island
Jan - The Book of Brownies

Helen tweets from @isfromupnorth and has her own blog Hello from me to you. It's worth bookmarking because Helen knows EVERYONE and is involved in all sorts of lovely events!

The Hobbit (book) review

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Lainibop Challenge Book 25 - Cloud Atlas

I made this: Unknown at 3:32 pm 0 comments Links to this post


The LainiBop Challenge


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Mitchell's virtuosic novel presents six narratives that evoke an array of genres, from Melvillean high-seas drama to California noir and dystopian fantasy. There is a na├»ve clerk on a nineteenth-century Polynesian voyage; an aspiring composer who insinuates himself into the home of a syphilitic genius; a journalist investigating a nuclear plant; a publisher with a dangerous best-seller on his hands; and a cloned human being created for slave labor. 
These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the oral history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the novel. Only after this do the second halves of the stories fall into place, pulling the novel's themes into focus: the ease with which one group enslaves another, and the constant rewriting of the past by those who control the present. 
Against such forces, Mitchell's characters reveal a quiet tenacity. When the clerk is told that his life amounts to "no more than one drop in a limitless ocean," he asks, "Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?" 
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

I had wanted to read Cloud Atlas for quite a while, and when I heard that the movie was coming out I thought, What better time? Alas it didn't live up to my high expectations.

The book is divided into 6 parts, following 6 different people at various points in history and also into the future. 
It starts off with The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, told from the first person perspective, and continues moving at seemingly random time gaps up until An Orison of Somni, set in the future where cloned people have become the slaves of mankind and further again to Sloosha's Crossin an Ev'rythin' After which seems to be set after the fall of the human race and it's apparent degeneration into primitive tribes.

Now it wasn't the composition of the book which put me off, on the contrary I tend to like novels which flick back and forth through time, I really enjoyed Kate Moss' books which do this to a certain extent and have recently read The Boat of a Million Years by Poul Anderson which can be quite confusing in its jumps, but which I also really enjoyed. Neither was it the change of style and pace between the historical and the science fiction chapters of the book as these are both styles of writing I savour.

I think, perhaps it was that my expectations were too high for this book and the story just didn't grip me the way it should have. I enjoyed the individual stories contained in this book and I really liked the way it progressed into the future up to the middle of the book and then began to return to the past along the same course it had already taken. I think what bothered me the most was the fact that I felt that each person and each story deserved a novel to themselves. They felt disjointed from each other, there was no obvious connection. Reincarnation was alluded to at various stages of the book and little hints were dropped in here and there, however although the connection between some of the stories were obvious, such as An Orison of Somni and Sloosha's Crossin, all in all, I didn't see the point of putting this collection of stories together in this way.

I really enjoyed the story within a story, with Frobisher discovering the diary of Adam Ewing and in turn Louisa Rey reading through the letters from Frobisher to Sixsmith. I would love to say that I enjoyed it all, but I was also very disappointed. I still haven't seen the movie but I definitely intend to as I'm still very curious as to how they will deal with certain sections, and I'm hoping the inspiration I missed while reading the novel will hit when I see it on the “big screen”.

LBC also reviewed the book HERE for #MedusaLBC and HERE for #ArcadiaLBC.




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Say Hello to @Lainibop

Her To Be Read Challenge - The Countdown Begins!

Book 30 - ?
Book 29 - ?
Book 28 - Sexing the Cherries by Jeanette Winterson
Book 27 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Book 26 - Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
Book 25 - Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Book 24 - From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne
Book 23 - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Book 22 - Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffery Archer

Find more reviews HERE

If we've used any videos, you'll find them on the LeedsBookClub YouTube Channel - 

Visit LainiBop's playlist HERE 
Visit Fizzy Elephants HERE
The 10 Things I Hate About You playlist is HERE!
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Table of Contents - Guest Stars

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Table of Contents - Laini's Book Shelf

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