Blyton’s Winter Reads – A Reblog

It has been about five years since I presented you with the blogs detailing the books that Enid Blyton wrote that could be considered as wintry books. I thought perhaps, as the weather’s taken a turn for the worse, we might be in a mood to curl up with a few of the favourite Blytons and pretend we’re in a far off time.  I’m going to list the books for you and link you to the blogs from five years ago so you can refresh your memories

Blog part 1

The books you’ll be able to find out about which are wintry reads are:

  1. Five Go Adventuring Again
  2. The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage
  3. The Six Bad Boys
  4. The Rat-a-Tat Mystery
  5. The Secret Seven

    The full blog can be found here.

    Blog part 2

    The second blog of wintry reads contains information on:

    1. In the Fifth at Malory Towers
    2. The Christmas Book
    3. The Mystery of the Strange Bundle
    4. Five Get into a Fix
    5. Shock for the Secret Seven

    The Christmas book illustrated by Treyer Evans in 1944

    So there we are, that’s what’s on the second blog and you can read more about those books here.

    Can you think of any wintry books we may have missed? Let us know in the comments.

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A new Blyton movie – The Magic Faraway Tree

This is not quite new news. There has been talk of a Faraway Tree movie for at least a few years now. As far back as 2014 there were reports that the series would be adapted for the big screen, but nothing had been heard since, not until this week.


The 2014 story

The news was exciting as it was more than rumour and reported by many of the big news sources including the BBC and the Guardian.

Neal Street Productions (Sam Mendes’ production company) had, at that point, signed an agreement allowing them to develop the story for this big screen. Pippa Harris, co-founder of Neal Street Productions was quoted as being captivated by The Faraway Tree books as a child.

That was all the information available, there was no writer or director attached to the project and there was no suggestion of a release date either.


The 2017 update

When I first saw the news article proclaiming a movie version of the Faraway Tree I admit I rolled my eyes and thought ‘that old story again’ but then I saw the date.

I had seen the 2014 news repeatedly over the past few years whenever someone stumbled on it for the first time and excitedly shared it, not realising that it had been published a year or two prior without any hint of development.

The difference this time is that there are a few more details.

Neal Street Productions are still behind the project but they are working with Studiocanal now. There is also a writer named – Simon Farnaby – who co-wrote the successful Paddington 2 screenplay. Pippa Harris and Nicolas Brown are named as the producers too.


So what will happen?

I’m very much hoping that this will actually come to fruition, (despite not yet having read the books!) though a part of me wonders if it will after all this time.

There are a few things to be debated of course, like whether the original names will be replaced. Will we have Jo, Fanny and Bessie or Joe, Frannie and Beth? Will Dick become Rick, and will Dame Slap be replaced by Dame Snap? The sad truth is that it will most likely be a ‘yes’ to the replacements.

Then we can start wondering who will play Jo, Fanny and Bessie. Will they be CGI characters voiced by famous actors or will we see new, talented child actors on screen?

Just a few of the book designs over the years.
Which if any, could inspire the look of a movie?

What’s perhaps likely is that Simon Farnaby will appear – he had a cameo in both of the Paddington Films after all.

And if it’s a success we could see the other books adapted too!

 

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Monday #245 (even though it’s Tuesday)

Better late than never!

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The Mysterious Boy by Julie Robinson Synopsis

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One of our contributors, Julie has written a smashing mystery novel inspired by our own favourite author. We’re bringing you the synopsis this week, and next week I’ll be reviewing the book for you all.


Synopsis of
The Mysterious Boy
By
Julie Robinson

Extract from the book

We both waited for a few quiet moments for him to tell us his name, neither of us expecting what we heard.

 “Mine is Edwin Lavin,” he said, in quiet Cornish tones.  “You’ve probably heard of me.  I’m the son of the gamekeeper, but I didn’t start the fire!”

The book takes place in the early 1980’s, Sarah, who is on holiday with her twin brother, Mark and their parents, is telling the story of a special holiday she remembered as a child of twelve years old.

Without given away too much of the plot – the twins explore the hamlet in Cornwall where they are staying, and come across a disused overgrown stable, then they see the disused swimming pool in the overgrown garden.

Going back to explore the following day they meet the boy – and what he has to tell them takes them into an adventurous and exciting holiday that they both couldn’t have imagined in their wildest of dreams.


Synopsis of
Mysterious Boy
for the publishers
By
Julie Robinson

This is a story set in the 1980’s, and written in the first person, I take the two main characters back to the year 1912.

The purpose of this return, is to prove that Edwin Lavin who is a son of the Game Keeper on the estate, didn’t start a fire which he was accused of, and in which a few members of the Burlaise family, who owned the big house of Long Orchard died.

My main characters, who are twins, Sarah and Mark, meet Edwin whilst they are exploring the derelict grounds of Long Orchard, whilst on a holiday in Cornwall.

Edwin, who is a ghost from the past and desperate to clear his name of starting the fire, appears to the twins, and after hearing his story, they all meet as arranged for the journey back in time.

The twins have to follow instructions to stay out of sight until the fire starts and then begins the process of getting a confession from the person who originally started the fire, which was out of revenge.

The twins are successful in their plight to help Edwin, but there is a rush towards the end as they have to quickly find Edwin in the mist of the smoke and confusion as he is the only person who can take the twins back to their time.

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Monday #244

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Review: The Mystery of Holly Lane Part 2

So last week I hadn’t managed to read all of the book, so I only reviewed half of the book. This week I will look at the other half. Shall we begin?

 

The mystery deepens 

As the mystery moves on, the old fellow’s money has disappeared and so has his furniture, which has called for Mr Goon to be investigating.  He doesn’t trust Fatty as we know, and this happens to hinder the investigation. It also means that Fatty is incredibly smug at the prospect of solving the mystery before Goon, however he doesn’t really know where to go with this one.  He and the others start with compiling a list of suspects who they need to interview while all the time having Larry worry that the leather he left in the Hollies’ garden will be discovered.

To start with there aren’t a great many suspects because everyone who came to visit the old man has an alibi, and has been seen by someone else who can vouch for them. Not only that but there are so few people who actually seem to visit the old man that there isn’t much for the FFOs to chase up. However they do try their best, tracking down the vicar’s sister, the proper window cleaner, and the grocer’s boy to find out when and why they went into the house.

Unfortunately they leave the family of the old man until last, which then leads them onto their biggest mystery to date. It turns out that the old man’s granddaughter has gone missing and now the blame seems to be riding on her because everyone thinks she has done a runner with the money. However, after interviewing the granddaughter’s employer and overhearing a conversation by the maids in the kitchen, Fatty seems to guess that this young girl isn’t the thief at all.  So now the options are limited severely to whom the culprit could be.

I won’t really say anymore, just to save anyone who hasn’t read it from spoilers, but lets just say, it’ll surprise you and not surprise you at the same time.

Back on form

Oh my oh my, finally a Five Find-Outers and Dog I can get my teeth into! This actually felt like a proper mystery, an actual Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple mystery. Of course once the clues Blyton dropped were made clear I was almost pleasantly surprised at the outcome of the book. I mean yes, all right, the crime isn’t one that hasn’t been committed before, but Enid Blyton actually makes this an accessible crime for children, and even as an adult this one was a little bit tricky for me. I could see where she wanted us to go, and she has a history with the FFOs with making the culprit obvious!

The Mystery of Holly Lane however was quite good in the respect that she used some red herrings to make us go down the wrong garden path. This is a Blyton I can see writing the Famous Five, and Adventure series, this is the Blyton who was introducing millions of children to the joys of reading, this is the Blyton I fell in love reading.

I know there are those of you out there who will tell me that this proves I was wrong about the FFOs but no, I still don’t really enjoy the characters, especially Fatty, and they can be quite slow on the uptake sometimes, but the actual mystery on this one is worth reading because its very well done.

I think The Mystery at Holly Lane is a contender for my favourite Five Find-Outers and Dog story.  Anyone else?

 

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Putting the Adventure Series in order

After spending a very long time putting the Famous Five books in order I thought I might as well see if I could do the same for my other favourite series. The Adventure Series should be much easier to do, firstly there are only 8 books and secondly I think I have already got the order fairly set in my mind.


AT THE TOP

By now I think that you all know that The Circus of Adventure is my favourite from the series. It may be second last, but it’s definitely the best for me.

the-circus-of-adventure

I enjoy the slightly unusual situation of having Jack on his own for a while (usually they are at least in twos) trying to navigate the unfamiliar world of Tauri-Hessia, and breaking into Castle Borken with only Kiki to aid him.

There are some very funny parts, like Gussy being dolled up as Old Ma’s granddaughter at the end, and his furious rows with Kiki at the start. And there are is also plenty of excitement with the escaping bears, the trapeze rescue from the castle and the soldiers searching the circus just when they thought they were safe.

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SAFE IN SECOND PLACE

Second place has to go to The Island of Adventure.

the-island-of-adventureIt’s where everything starts, but we are never bored with long introductions or getting-to-know-yous. It has the mystery of Bill Smugs, secret passages, the terrifying Jo-Jo (and the joy of the children getting one over on him) and the magnificent location of Craggy Tops.

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JOINT THIRD?

I find it hard to choose between my next two favourite books, namely The Castle of Adventure and The Valley of Adventure.

Both are very strong books, full of danger, excitement and just enough humour.

In Valley they are completely on their own in Austria, hunted by Juan and Pepe. There’s the thrill of hunting for long-lost treasures, secret passages and the sweet old couple who you just have to admire for their gumption. The humour comes from scenes like the girl’s behind-the-waterfall dance and the altercation by Juan (or is it Pepe?) and the suitcase.

Castle has Mrs Mannering close by for much of it, but the castle remains quite a dark spectre. And of course the children end up trapped inside the castle, which is so impenetrable  it might as well be an Austrian Valley. Castle is potentially scarier, I think. The scene where Jack discovers someone else is there, creeping about at night makes me shiver. No doubt the prospect of being trapped in a valley is scary but it’s a different sort of fear.

I think I will have to put Valley into third place. Living in a cave trumps camping in a castle, and Bill’s arrival isn’t quite so contrived as it is at the end of Castle.

So it’s Circus – Island – Valley – Castle so far.

castle3-4-copy-copy


UP NEXT

A great book despite only landing in fifth place, it’s The Sea of Adventure. (This is the problem when there are so many great books!)

the-sea-of-adventureSea perhaps suffers from a slightly slower start, but there is not time to be bored even then. The storm which whips the children’s tents away is thrilling, and the thought of being marooned on an island is nearly as bad as being stuck in a valley or castle. Huffin and Puffin are interesting and amusing companions, and Horace Tripalong, er, I mean Tippalong is a humorous bumbling faux enemy for them to deal with. The only other weak point would be its similarities to The Adventurous Four especially towards the end.

sea5-copy


IN SIXTH PLACE

Mountain of Adventure is another one with a few too many similarities to another book (this time The Secret Mountain).

the-mountain-of-adventureA lot of people criticize the stereotypical Welsh characters and their silly language but I can’t say it’s ever bothered me too much. The portion of the book taking part inside the mountain is a strange one, it’s just a very weird place full of very weird people. The best bits have to be don’t forget Bill Smugs and the scenes with the ‘wolves’ hunting the children.

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THE PENULTIMATE BOOK

The Ship of Adventure has its moments, the final chapters once they are on the little Greek island are exciting and engaging but perhaps too much time is spent in comfort on the cruise ship.

the-ship-of-adventure

The ship in a bottle with a hidden message is a nice idea, and Mr Eppy is a menacing figure on the confines of the ship. Allie leaving and Bill arriving seems to be another overly contrived situation as well, and like Kiki I’m not overly fond of Mickey.

ship7-copy


AND THE WOODEN SPOON FOR LAST PLACE GOES TO…

The River of Adventure.

the-river-of-adventurePoor River, I’m not sure why I’ve always liked it the least. Possibly I feel that Raya Uma is a really patchy baddie in terms of the fear factor and how seriously you can take him. Bill seems to think he’s extremely dangerous but he acts like a complete idiot at the end. Bill himself is not too bright, taking Allie to a potential enemies house and getting themselves both kidnapped. The end is somehow an anti-climax too, after the fairly thrilling boat ride we get a rather lame ‘we’ll have to come back and see the treasure being discovered.’ Us poor readers certainly don’t get to come back!

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And there you have it, and all in one post!

What would your order look like?

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Monday #243

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Putting the Famous Five in Order part 4

And now I have reached the last books to organise – the ones that came after the favourites and the middling ones but not as low as my absolute least favourites.

So I am left with Five Go Off to Camp, Five Go to Mystery Moor, Five on a Secret Trail, Five Have Plenty of Fun and Five Go to Billycock Hill.

First up is Five Have Plenty of Fun. This is also rather low-ranked for a Kirrin adventure now I think about it. What brings it down for me is how silly the main idea is. Elbur visiting in the middle of the night; leaving his daughter with just a cook and some other children as protection. It’s downright daft – if necessary to create the opportunity for the adventure. For some reason the later part – the house where they eventually rescue George from – has never stuck very firmly in my mind. Perhaps it’s too short, or written rather vaguely? I don’t know.

Saying that it has its bright moments – like Uncle Quentin forgetting and calling Berta by the wrong name all the time.

fhpof

After that is going to be Five Go Off to Camp. I like the spook train and tunnel exploration, and Anne’s volcano, and the end is fairly dramatic. There is just perhaps less through the rest of the book – a lot of camping and visiting the farm. Those parts are nice, and I don’t object to the Five doing every-day things but the balance here could be tipped more on the adventure side maybe.

five-go-off-to-camp

Five Go to Mystery Moor is next. I think this also suffers from a long build up to a mystery – they spend a lot of time hanging around the stables with a lot of other people. George v. Henrietta helps keep that part moving, and I do love the spooky tale of the Bartles, but the kidnap/holding of the kids hasn’t stuck particularly well in my mind. Goodness knows why I once paid £14 for a copy (about three times as much as the others I was buying at the time) when it doesn’t rank as a favourite!

five-go-to-mystery-moor

Five on a Secret Trail used to be higher on my list I think (or it would have been had I ever done one) but reading others’ criticisms of it has helped it slide way down. There is a lot of faffing at the start – the boys being absent doesn’t help either – so it’s a while before we get down to an adventure. The flashing lights and noises are a bit lame as far as scaring people away goes – but the man at the window was terrifying! Guy and Harry are either amusing or annoying depending on how you view them, I tend to come down slightly more on the annoying side.

five-on-a-secret-trail

And that leaves us with Five Go to Billycock Hill. I knew this would be near the bottom so I’m not surprised it came last out of this lot. I don’t really know why I rate this quite so lowly. I find the whole butterfly men/fake butterfly men thing all a bit strange I suppose and a lot of the book fails to stick with me. I’d struggle to lay out exactly what happens in any detail now I think about it. I’m not sure I can even come up with any top moments, but it doesn’t have anything that irritates me as much as the bottom two on my list do.

five-go-to-billycock-hill


THE FINAL LIST

1. Five Go To Smuggler’s Top (4)
2. Five on a Hike Together (10)
3. Five on a Treasure Island (1)
4. Five Go Down to the Sea (12)
5. Five Go Off in a Caravan (5)
6. Five Go Demon’s Rocks (19)
7. Five Run Away Together (3)
8. Five Get Into a Fix (17)
9. Five Get Into Trouble (8)
10. Five on Finniston Farm (18)
11. Five Go Adventuring Again (2)
12. Five Fall Into Adventure (9)
13. Five Have a Wonderful Time (11)
14. Five on Kirrin Island Again (6)
15. Five Have Plenty of Fun (14)
16. Five Go Off to Camp (7)
17. Five Go to Mystery Moor (13)
18. Five on a Secret Trail (15)
19. Five Go to Billycock Hill (16)
20. Five Have a Mystery to Solve (20)
21. Five Are Together Again (21)

puttingthefamousfiveinorder4


So,what do you think. did I get it entirely wrong? Let me know what your list would look like!

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Monday #242

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October Round Up

I can’t believe it is November already! Before we know it it’ll be Christmas. I’m so excited for Brodie’s first Christmas.


WHAT FIONA HAS READ

I read a little more in October than I did September. I made it to 100 books for the year so anything over that is a

  • A Quiet Night In – Jill Murphy
  • The Haunted Mask (Goosebumps #11) – R.L. Stine
  • The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – Roald Dahl audiobook
  • The Railway Children – E. Nesbit

I’ve got a few on the go also:

  • Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage (Frankie Dupont Mysteries #3) – Julie Anne Grasso
  • Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse #3) – Charlaine Harris audiobook

WHAT FIONA HAS WATCHED

  • Still Hollyoaks, Only Connect and Taskmaster this month
  • The new series of Red Dwarf 
  • More of ER – now we’re up to season five

WHAT FIONA HAS DONE

  • Taken Brodie to rhyme time, playgroup and quite a few lunch dates!
  • Did my first Baby Sensory class which was a Halloween one, with Brodie dressed as a very cute Darth Vader. He also dressed up as a pumpkin for the Halloween playgroup.
  • Started planning my Christmas shopping and bought Brodie some Christmassy outfits which I can’t wait to put him in.
  • Went to see Thor: Ragnarok at the cinema (Brodie got left with his gran and grandad for a few hours and everyone had much fun).
  • Even more washing but not really any more sleeping than last month

WHAT STEF HAS READ

  • Peggy and Me – Miranda Hart
  • Five Go Glamping – Liz Tipping reviewed here

And current reads:

  • Don’t You Forget About Me – Liz Tipping
  • The Mystery of Holly Lane – reviewed here

 


WHAT STEF HAS WATCHED

  • Again with the Taskmaster series, just re-watching and chortling about the tasks.

I haven’t really watched anything else, what a bore, I just seem to have been on the go all the time!


WHAT STEF HAS DONE

  • I’m still Thai boxing and trying to get back into my running
  • I went on holiday to Tenerife — just a lovely place.
  • Working two jobs and generally trying to be busy around the place.

I’ve had a really boring month but it’s all just flown by, so hopefully in the run up to Christmas I’ll be a bit more exciting for you!

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Review: The Mystery of Holly Lane Part 1

 So I’ve managed to do that thing where I don’t manage to get through the entire book when I set myself this blog to write about on Monday. I don’t think I actually have a copy of this book and right now I wasn’t going to go searching, so I resorted to downloading a copy from Amazon Kindle and have been reading it on my phone when I’ve had time, but I haven’t really had time which is fairly surprising. 

Either way, we can go over the 50% of the book I have read  and have a look at how this mystery is shaping up, if at all! 

Where is Fatty?

We join the gang a week into their Easter holidays and without Fatty. It appears that he has a different breaking up date from school than the others and so they have been without him  and its been dull, apparently because he’s not been there and there hasn’t been any mystery. They’re all off to meet Fatty at the station with Buster and they are so convinced that he will turn up in disguise that they don’t check the time of the train. When the passengers get off the train, the children decide that someone wrapped up, around the same height as Fatty is their leader and decide to follow him, where as Buster stays sat on the platform, knowing that his master hasn’t turned up yet. 

The gentleman in question is foreign and asks them to take him to “Grintriss” which turns out to be “Green Trees” a house on Holly lane, so our story already seems to be taking us in the direction of the mystery area, even though they don’t know it yet. When Fatty does eventually turn up, and laughs at them all for not waiting for the train, he speaks in perfect french (another thing he can seemingly do without effort), and directs the man to the correct house. 

Now having found Fatty, the Five Find Outers want a mystery to get their teeth into, and even though there isn’t a sniff of one, they decide to set each other challenges and dares to try and brush up on their sleuthing skills. Larry dresses up as a window cleaner, which is where most of the books issues start. Fatty dresses up as an old woman to try and get Goon to buy a ticket for the raffle, and Pip I think has to follow Goon around town.  

Anyway they don’t really have a mystery until they realise that Larry left his mothers leather in the garden of the house he was washing windows for and they have to go back to it and hear someone in distress, calling for the police. It turns out the old man in the bungalow has been robbed and lost almost £200. He doesn’t know who it could have been because hes partially blind and won’t tell the children where his hiding place in case they pinch the money. Either way, he’s a bit of an odd character but I’m sure as we get further into the book more will be revealed about him. 

The Five Find Outers dismiss this as an ordinary robbery and nothing exciting until Fatty goes on a midnight jaunt to collect the leather for Larry, with Buster and a big car pulls up. Unfortunately this is where I got to, and wasn’t able to read past this bit this week, but it looks like things are kicking off at long last. 

Slow, Slow, Slow

Every time I read a Five Find Outers book, even though Enid Blyton was a genius and a super writer, I’m just not convinced that these books actually had any main story behind them because it takes so long for the mystery to get started. Compare this to some of the Famous Fives and you will see how quickly it can take the Famous Five actually end up in a mystery and an adventure. There’s a sense of excitement with the Five that I just don’t get with  the Find Outers. IS that just me?

We have a lot of interaction with Goon in this book and to be frank he gets worse and worse. I know he’s not supposed to be a nice character but its still frustrating that he can’t be a proper grown up and see past his dislike of Fatty, especially when Fatty rings Goon to report the old man’s missing money. He slams down the phone on Fatty, who then rings the head quarters to get hold of Superintendent Jenks in an attempt to report the robbery because Goon wouldn’t listen to him. I mean fairs fair, Fatty is as bad to Goon as Goon is to Fatty but there isn’t a single redeeming feature of Goon, where you could argue that Fatty is at least generous and fair to his friends.

Thoughts

I don’t know, but these books to take a long time to start it feels like to me. Maybe I’m just spoilt by the Famous Five. It wouldn’t be unfair to point out the continued popularly of the Famous Five where as the Find Outers don’t get mentioned as  a Blyton Book and this must really have something to do with the way the books are written. Am I missing something? Maybe I have the wrong age group for the books in my head, putting them older than they actually are meant to be. Anyway I just don’t feel the connection with them that I do with the Famous Five. It may be my advanced years of course and the fact that I didn’t grow up reading these books.

Either way, this mystery might be half decent this time! Lets hope huh?

 

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Putting the Famous Five in Order part 3

So I have worked out where I would put ten of the books, my top eight and bottom two (you can read earlier posts here and here and so now I have reached my ‘middling favourites’.


THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

I found it harder to put these books into categories. I love the whole series so it seems mean of me to put books I like in a lower category. I just have to remind myself I’m saying I like these less not that I don’t like them at all. They are all favourites in a way.

So those would be Five Go Adventuring Again, Five on Finniston Farm, Five on Kirrin Island Again, Five Fall Into Adventure, Five Have a Wonderful Time, and Five Get Into Trouble.

Having broken them down into a smaller group I can quite confidently and easily say that Five Get Into Trouble will be next on my list. It probably wasn’t far off being in the previous post, actually. It is perhaps even on an equal footing with Fix but something had to come first.

While I very much dislike Richard (but I think you’re meant to) it doesn’t colour my perception of the book too much. He certainly redeems himself fully at the end. Rooky is a frightening baddie, and Mr Perton and Hunchy are certainly enough to threaten the Five once they are trapped inside Owl’s Dene. Owl’s Dene itself is a good setting, after we had fun with the freedom of their cycling tour, it works as a place to have them holed up. The kindness of Aggie, and the children’s in return is a nice touch too. And while there isn’t a secret passage, there is a good hidey-hole instead.

five-get-into-trouble

I think I will put Five on Finniston Farm next then. It’s a great book but perhaps not as exciting all the way through. They are on the farm much of the time and although in a bit of danger at the end, it is fairly tame the rest of the time. The Five v. Junior is amusing, you just want to smack Junior most of the time, don’t you, so George getting her own back is great, and I love the old story of the castle. And of course there’s a secret passage, they always go down well.

five-on-finniston-farm


THE PROBLEM OF VAGUE TITLES

I do find some of the titles in this group can be confused – as they are rather vague. Ones like Trouble and Fix I have no trouble identifying but Wonderful Time, Fall Into Adventure and Plenty of Fun often need a moment to figure out.

But for the moment I’m having trouble ranking Wonderful Time, Adventuring Again (which I don’t have trouble identifying) and Fall Into Adventure.


I have plumped for having Five Go Adventuring Again next. I like the addition of Kirrin Farmhouse to the history of the area (even if it isn’t utilised again in the series), and it has not only a secret hidey-hole but also a secret passage. Whilst, naturally, I dislike Mr Roland and the fact he manages to ostracise George, it is worth it in the end when she turns out to have been right all along.

fgaa

And then I will have Five Fall Into Adventure. Not only is it based in Kirrin (which can often help a book edge above an alternative) but there is far less adult help in it. Ok there’s Joanna – and although she’s tough enough she lets the children deal with all the adventuring themselves. I like Jo (but as she appears in each of the books I was choosing between that didn’t help much), and she’s quite an enigma in Fall Into Adventure. You’re never sure whether to really trust her or not. The end section of the book, with them going up to Red Tower’s place is exciting (and we can laugh at how useless the henchmen are). Oh and there’s also the absolutely priceless part with Sid, who is partial to chocolate mould, being temporarily kidnapped and ‘forced’ into playing happy families.

ff9

That means it’s Five Have a Wonderful Time next. Jo crops up again, saving the Five just in time from the difficult fair-folk. I like the setting and the rescue of the scientist but it’s a bit annoying that the Five have so many adults along so that ultimately pushes it lower down the list.

fhawt

And that just leaves me with Five on Kirrin Island Again. This ranks fairly low for a Kirrin-based adventure. I do like it – mostly thanks to the end portion with George and her father and the escape from the undersea tunnels – but I don’t really like poor Martin and he rather drags the book down in my opinion. As does the fight between George and her father over the island. I have to say I’m entirely with George on this one. Quentin has all term-long to use the island, so to commandeer it while George and her cousins are home – without any sort of “I’m so sorry,” just seems selfish. He doesn’t seem to understand or care he is being an imposition there, and his (and Fanny’s) attitude irks me.

five-on-kirrin-island-again


THE LIST NOW

1. Five Go To Smuggler’s Top (4)
2. Five on a Hike Together (10)
3. Five on a Treasure Island (1)
4. Five Go Down to the Sea (12)
5. Five Go Off in a Caravan (5)
6. Five Go Demon’s Rocks (19)
7. Five Run Away Together (3)
8. Five Get Into a Fix (17)
9. Five Get Into Trouble (8)
10. Five on Finniston Farm (18)
11. Five Go Adventuring Again
12. Five Fall Into Adventure (9)
13. Five Have a Wonderful Time (11)
14. Five on Kirrin Island Again (6)
20. Five Have a Mystery to Solve
21. Five Are Together Again

puttingthefamousfiveinorder3


How does my list compare to yours? Have I still missed anything you think is a cracker of a story?

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Monday #241

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Grown Up Blyton: Five Go Glamping by Liz Tipping

25618997Before you worry, this is not another of the Bruno Vincent’s grown up Famous Five, but a play on the idea of four people and a dog experiencing camping or glamping and “getting back to nature” but with a few added comforts.

This novel by Liz Tipping, who I believe contacted us on Twitter originally informing us of the book’s existence, is not one of the usual crime novels I have been bringing you, but a sort of chick-flick / romantic comedy book, a light read, but it works on so many levels. Let’s have a look at what we have shall we?

Main characters

I do admit to laughing to myself (I was on the plane to Tenerife at the time) when I realised the main character was called Fiona and one of her best friends was called Stephanie. I did feel though, given the actual story that the names needed to be the other way around, but you can’t have everything.

I really connected with the main character,  Fiona, possibly because the issues she was having mirrored my own at the time. Lots of modern issues such as finding a well paying job, living in her own place, and wondering if her boyfriend was the right one. Without a doubt, the main character should have been called Stephanie because it feels as though Liz Tipping  was writing about me.

The other characters are maybe not quite so well rounded and sometimes could seem a little 2D but they are a laugh. You have Sinaed, who is into various new age things and presents the others with the opportunity to go glamping in Devon (I think) in a New Age  yurt decked out with various luxuries in return for some photos being taken of the group to make the festival look busy.

Stephanie is the high powered sort of business woman who is very practical and desperately working hard in an attempt to make it big. She is the least enthusiastic about the glamping but insists on taking them all to Selfridges to get appropriate clothes. Ironically she is the one who overreacts the most in the book.

Kurt is the next character and he comes with a dog called Brian Harvey (this is never really explained why he’s called Brian Harvey, but never mind). He’s the gay best friend, so one of the girls in a way but strangely distant from them as well. He’s surprisingly practical in some aspects of the trip, but is nursing a broken heart so slightly prone to weeping.

Sam is our alpha male in this little venture, he comes to rescue the gang and more importantly Fiona several times during the course of the book. The two of them click, enjoy their time together and Fiona finds herself doubting her relationship with the slippery Connor and wishing she had the courage to make huge changes in her life because of the way Sam is the yin to her yang. Its a perfect balance for her and Sam is a very realistic character and is a good solid one.

Self discovery

As I mentioned this book arrived in my life just at a vital point in the last few months and made me see that taking chances way outweighed the ‘safety’ aspects of staying somewhere I didn’t like any more. I related to the Fiona character way more than I thought, the organisation being the only thing I didn’t connect with her on, but that’s all right.

The whole book is some sort of self journey, our character Fiona finds her life challenged by this strange new man Sam, but in a good way. She finds out what she really wants and sees opportunities that she wouldn’t see otherwise if it hadn’t have been for this trip and new experiences. Various mishaps before and during her trip away help her change her perspective on life and its just lovely to see.

The dog, Brian Harvey is also instrumental in helping Fiona come into contact with the dishy Sam who clearly has demons of his own. However, the puppy seems to become quite a firm favourite with all and quite a plot device. All right he’s maybe less of a practical dog, as in he wouldn’t be Timmy and run to get help, but he does like to make sure you are alright if anything happens to you. Hes just a fluffy plot point to make up the handy Five.

Like Blyton?

Maybe not entirely like Blyton, we don’t have a juicy mystery for example, just a lot of self discovery, the handy five characters to make up the numbers and a tent. So apart from the title which lends itself to being very Blytonian, there maybe isn’t a lot that would make the mind jump to an Enid Blyton connection, at the same time, it’s probably a very good look at the stark differences between camping in Blyton’s day and camping in the modern day. The luxuries are a far cry from our Blyton characters roughing it out in blankets and ground sheets. Either way I really do think this book is worth a read for the tenuous Blyton connection. It is a romantic comedy book, but it really is well written and sensitive. I would recommend.

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Monday #240

Monday#240

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