Dealing with Dragons

Dealing with Dragons

And finally, here’s the last of my Secret Santa reviews. Sorry they ran over so much! Next time we’ll be back to the usual schedule.

Dealing with Dragons was written by Patricia C Wrede and has also been published under the title Dragonsbane. It was first released in 1990 and forms the first part of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, followed by Searching for Dragons (1991), Calling on Dragons (1993) and Talking to Dragons (1985).

As a Princess of the Realm, Cimorene has always been expected to act properly. Her life is defined by etiquette and strict rules, from how to greet foreign ambassadors to the correct way to scream if she gets kidnapped by a giant. Cimorene finds all of these things quite dull but whenever she tries to pursue her own interests – fencing, magic, cooking – her father quickly finds out and puts an end to it. Princesses are supposed to be proper.

When her parents announce that she is to be married to a neighbouring Prince, Cimorene knows that she must take matters into her own hands. She takes off in the night and heads straight to the mountain stronghold of the dragons. There, she gives herself over to Kazul, one of the most dangerous dragons. It is highly improper for a Princess to kidnap herself but luckily Kazul is impressed by her attitude and takes her on as a Dragon Princess.

Life as a Dragon Princess is difficult and often dangerous. Over her first few months living with Kazul she’s forced to deal with cooking for a dragon banquet and seeing off the countless knights who come to rescue her. When suspicious wizards begin hanging around the caves, Cimorene makes it her business to find out what they’re planning. If she doesn’t her new-found freedom and the lives of her dragon allies may be at stake!


Artemis Fowl / Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident

Artemis Fowl 1 + 2

Artemis Fowl is one of those books that I’ve always felt as though I should read because people tend to mention it in the same breath as Harry Potter. The series was written by Eoin Colfer and focuses on a young criminal mastermind as he tangles with a society of subterranean faeries known collectively as the People. The series ran for eight novels – Artemis Fowl (2001), Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident (2002), Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code (2003), Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception (2004), Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony (2006), Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox (2008), Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex (2010) and Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian (2012). For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at the first two novels only.

Artemis Fowl is far from ordinary. Although he is only twelve years old, he’s the son of a successful criminal and has a genius level IQ. With his father missing-presumed-dead and his mother insane with grief, it is now his duty to maintain his family’s wealth and restore their honour. Aided by his Butler, his bodyguard and only friend, he plans a heist unlike any the world has ever seen. For him, failure is never an option.

In Artemis Fowl, Artemis comes into possession of the Book of the People – a codex carried by every faerie. With his intelligence and the technology he has at his disposal, it is not long before he has deciphered their language and learned all of their secrets. Using this new knowledge he manages to capture Holly Short, an agent of the LEPrecon unit, and plans to ransom her back to her people for faerie gold. However, the faeries are not about to part with this without a fight. Soon, Artemis finds his mansion under siege. The LEP believe that saving Holly will be an easy matter but they may have woefully underestimated their human foe…


Sleeping in the Morgue

Sleeping in the Morgue

Phew. I’ve sure reviewed a lot of fantasy novels lately. As much as I love them, I think it’s time to have a break and review some different genres for a while.

Sleeping in the Morgue is a darkly comical novel about a teenage girl who takes drastic measures to ensure that she gets into college. It was written by Jennifer Tressen and first published in 2014. The novel is a short, stand-alone story and is suitable for older teens.

Paige Thorton is overjoyed when she gets accepted into Harvard but her excitement doesn’t last long. It turns out that her mother has frittered away her college fund and now she is $10,000 short of being able to afford her tuition fees. Although she applies to many scholarships, she realises that she has no chance of making the money unless she gets a job. Without, she is doomed to take over the family business and that means running the town’s morgue.

Although Paige’s mother is happy to pay her $500 for every corpse that she prepares, Paige knows that this will not be enough to make up the funds that she needs. The local care home has recently closed and people just don’t die fast enough. Yet, as she is approached by an old man who is desperate to be with his deceased wife, she hits upon an idea. Perhaps there is a way to drum up some more business and help her community as she does so.

As Paige investigates, she discovers that many people that she knows hide dark secrets. If they were to meet with tragic “accidents”, Paige knows that the town would be better off. However, it is not long before her police officer boyfriend, Brock, begins to see connections between the deaths. Will Paige be able to raise her tuition fees before the deadline or will Brock figure out that all clues point towards his girlfriend?




Questors was written by Joan Lennon and first published in 2007. It is a science-fiction / fantasy novel suitable for middle graders and young teens which is set in a world where three very different Earths exist on top of each other. The novel reads a little like the first part of a series but, at the time of writing, no further installments have been announced.

The three parallel worlds – Trentor, Kir and Dalrodia – have always existed harmoniously, sharing the same point in space and time and linked only by the mysterious London House. However, a leak has formed in the energy that keeps these worlds in balance. If left unplugged, this will cause the three worlds to drift further and further apart until they are destroyed altogether.

Unable to repair the damage themselves, the Prelates charged with maintaining the balance order the creation of three heroes – born from one mother but each embodying the essence of one of the worlds. When they come of age, these heroes will be charged with venturing into the future of each world to find a mystical artefact. Only with these can the Prelates stop the leak.

However, unbeknownst to the Prelates, an evil villain has tampered with the design and caused the three heroes to develop imperfections. To make matters worse, the worlds begin to divide much faster than originally calculated, causing the Prelates to have to call on their heroes when they are still only children. Without any explanation as to what is expected of them, Madlen, Bryn and Cam are sent off on their quest. If they fail, everyone in the three worlds is doomed.


Public Enemy Number Two

Public Enemy Number Two

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for its prequel, The Falcon’s Malteser. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Public Enemy Number Two is the second novel in Anthony Horowitz’s The Diamond Brothers series and was first published in 1987. It was preceded by The Falcon’s Malteser (1986) and followed by South by South East (1991), Three of Diamonds (2004 – consisting of the short stories The Blurred Man, The French Confection and I Know What You Did Last Wednesday), How the Greek Stole Christmas (2008) and The Double Eagle Has Landed (2011). The stories follow the cases of Tim Diamond (real name: Herbert Simple), a London-based private detective, and his younger brother Nick who is infinitely more competent.

Six months have passed since the case of the Falcon’s Malteser and Nick and Herbert have long since spent all of their reward. Just as the brothers are run out of baked beans and prepare for starvation, their luck finally changes when Herbert finally finds a new case. A Ming vase called the Purple Peacock has been stolen from the British Museum and his client is paying generously for its safe recovery.

At the same time, Nick is approached by Chief Inspector Snape and offered a job of his own. Snape wants him to go undercover in a young offenders institute and befriend Johnny Powers – Public Enemy Number One. Although Powers is only fifteen his has already become the leader of a London gang and Snape needs to know the name of the person who is fencing all of the goods that Powers has stolen.

Although Nick initially refuses, he quickly discovers that he has no choice. On a school trip to a stately home he is framed for having stolen a priceless ruby. Nick is condemned to spend eighteen months in prison and naturally finds himself as the cellmate of Powers. The choice that he has is obvious. He either needs to survive his sentence or find out the identity of the Fence. However, things become more complicated as he discovers that Powers is planning a gaol break…


A Series of Unfortunate Events 4-6

A Series of Unfortunate Events 4-6

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

I am sorry to say, dear reader, that you have stumbled upon this blog at precisely the wrong time. While other internet reviewers may be currently looking at novels that focus on talking animals or handsome princes, it is my unhappy duty to delve further into Lemony Snicket’s chronicles pertaining to the multitude of misfortunes to befall the Baudelaire Orphans. This review is likely to contain coupons, pinstriped suits, parsley soda and (most tragically of all) no chance of a happy ending. If you would rather read a review about talking animals or handsome princes, you have come to the wrong place and I advise that you return to Google and search for a more pleasant blog. If you continue reading, I advise that you prepare yourself for the very worst as I analyse the next three instalments of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to keep up that writing style for the rest of the review (sure is fun though). As you might have gleamed from the title, today I’m going to be looking at The Miserable Mill (2000), The Austere Academy (2000) and The Ersatz Elevator (2001). These are novels #4-6 of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. They were preceded by The Bad Beginning (1999), The Reptile Room (1999) and The Wide Window (2000) and followed by The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005) and The End (2006).

The novels follow the continuing adventures of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire as they are shunted between different guardians, all the while trying to avoid being captured by the evil Count Olaf. The children have inherited a vast fortune after their parents died in a fire (though can’t claim it until Violet turns eighteen). Olaf is intent on stealing their fortune and is prepared to kill anyone or adopt any disguise in order to do so.


Adventures with Ragweed: A Collection of Whimsical Tales

Adventures with Ragweed

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Adventures with Ragweed: A Collection of Whimsical Tales, hosted by Sage’s Blog Tours.

This review is likely to be slightly shorter than my usual posts as its focus is on a book of short stories rather than a single novel.

Adventures with Ragweed: A Collection of Whimsical Tales was first published in 2013 and was written by Linda Lou Crosby and illustrated by Andy Atkins. It contains a selection of ten short stories, each focusing around the adventures of a young girl named Ragweed.

Ragweed is a young teen with unruly hair and a penchant for getting into trouble, even when she sets out with the best intentions at heart. With her long-suffering friend Marney in tow, Ragweed manages to turn even the smallest task into an adventure. From cooking eggs to building a float for the Christmas parade, somehow everything she does leads to chaos and wacky mishaps.

Although her actions often cause trouble for herself and her parents, she faces every challenge with a sunny disposition and a unique world view. At least, at the end of the day, her life is far from dull.

Adventures with Ragweed Banner


Dunnard’s Pearl: What to Do with the World When You Can’t Get Off

Dunnard's Pearl

Dunnard’s Pearl: What to Do with the World When You Can’t Get Off is the debut novel of Mike Williamson. It was first published in 2013 and provides a satirical critique of big business and the attitude that the 1% hold towards the rest of society.

Following a nasty accident, James Justice awakes to discover that he is no longer on Earth. Exploring the alien surroundings, he soon learns that he has somehow been transported onto a space station called the Dunnard’s Pearl, and that relationships between the various groups of people who live on board is at an all-time low.

At one time, the farmers, the manufacturers and the engineers worked side by side to maintain the vessel, but overtime a fourth faction arose with the perceived notion that they needed to manage the rest. Known as the administrators, they quickly grew in number and contributed nothing of value to society. Consequently, living conditions for the other sectors has deteriorated to dangerous levels.

Realising that something needs to be done, James sets off to speak with the Grand Administrator. On the way, he discovers that he is not the only stranger on the Dunnard’s Pearl. Both Jo Honeydaze (the girl he loves) and Ben Deadwood (the boy who bullies him) have also been mysteriously taken aboard, as well as a shape shifting alien duo known as Harold and Maude. Working together, they seek to find a way to help the less fortunate members of society and find a way to return home.


The Falcon’s Malteser

The Falcon's Malteser

For over thirty years, Anthony Horowitz has enjoyed a highly successful career as a children’s author. Working across a number of genres, he has created such well-loved series as the Alex Rider novels, Groosham Grange and The Power of Five. However, for the purpose of today’s review we’re going to be looking at one of his earliest novels, featuring the first case of Tim Diamond.

The Falcon’s Malteser was originally published in 1986 but has been released many times since then. It is the first novel of the Diamond Brothers series and was subsequently followed by Public Enemy Number Two (1987), South By South East (1991), Three of Diamonds (2004) (which collected the stories The Blurred Man, The French Confection and I Know What You Did Last Wednesday) and The Greek Who Stole Christmas (2008). The title of the novel is a spoof of The Maltese Falcon, the famous 1929 detective novel by Dashiell Hammett.

The novel is a comic mystery story that focuses on the Tim Diamond (real name: Herbert Timothy Simple), a somewhat inept young man who is determined to make his name as a private detective, despite the fact that he has no money and lives with his thirteen year old brother (Nick) in small flat above a supermarket in West London.

As Nick wonders how they will survive on their last £2.37, a man by the name of Johnny Naples turns up on their doorstep asking to hire them. He wants them to keep a parcel safe for him until he returns to collect it and offers to pay them handsomely for their trouble. Overjoyed by their sudden windfall, the two boys head out to celebrate but return later that day to find that their office has been ransacked. Someone evidently wants the parcel badly, but when the Diamond Brothers open it they find that it only contains a box of maltesers.

Confused, the brothers head out to find their client but arrive at his hotel moments before he is shot dead. It quickly transpires that a criminal known as the Falcon has recently passed away and Johnny Naples could very well have been the only person to know where he had hidden his vast fortune of diamonds. Realising that the maltesers must somehow be the key to this treasure, Nick and Tim enter into a race against to clock to recover the diamonds before another gangster can discover them and take over the Falcon’s mantel as a new international crime lord.


A Series of Unfortunate Events 1-3

A Series of Unfortunate Events 1-3

Although I am not going to argue that A Series of Unfortunate Events is in any way aimed at a teenage audience, I’ve decided to make it the subject of today’s review. As I noted in my FAQ, I will also occasionally consider books for a younger market if I feel that they have the ability to appeal to older readers. I think that this series more than fits that criterion.

A Series of Unfortunate Events was written by Lemony Snicket (pen name for the author Daniel Handler) and is a fascinating series for many reasons. The first novel, The Bad Beginning, was original published in 1999 but has been rereleased in a number of different special editions since then. It was rapidly followed by twelve sequels – The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000), The Miserable Mill (2000), The Austere Academy (2000), The Ersatz Elevator (2001), The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005) and The End (2006). Many short supplementary novels have also been published in order to further flesh out the story, though I’m not going to talk about them (if you wish to learn more, Wikipedia is your friend). For the purpose of this review, I am only going to focus on the first three novels only.

The series are told by Lemony Snicket himself, an unidentified individual who has been researching the tragic story of the Baudelaire siblings. Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire were three ordinary children whose lives were thrown into disarray when their parents were suddenly killed in a terrible house fire. Their parents left to their children an enormous inheritance and stated in their will that they wanted their children to live with a relative until Violet turned eighteen and was able to claim it.


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