A Little Update…

Hello readers. As you may know, I returned to posting reviews recently, by reviewing Jon Blake’s Thimble Wonga Bonkers (you can find a link to that on my new Reviews page, which contains links to all my reviews). As I write this the world is currently in the middle of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, with drastic measures taken such as closing borders, putting countries on lock-down and closing schools, including mine, which at least gives me more time to write reviews in the middle of getting through my pile of homework! And now, I want to hear from you. What are you doing to pass the time at home? What strategies do you have? Most importantly, what book will you be reading -this is a book reviews site after all! Let me know in the comments, and I might review a couple of them!

Now I must sign off, to all across the world, wherever you are, whether you’re in a house, a flat, or a top secret nuclear bunker with five years worth of food and fifty bottles of hand sanitiser – Good luck and stay safe.

Jordi Blake.

P.S: I’ve got a new review dropping soon!

I’m Back! (And so is Thimble!) Book Review: Thimble Wonga Bonkers by Jon Blake.

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What happened 300 days ago?

It was the 22nd of May 2019.

The world celebrated the 19th annual International Day of Biodiversity.

And I last posted on this website.

Yes, after a 300-day hiatus, I’m back! I know, I know, it was unforgivable, and I’m sorry. For a while I considered changing my Twitter handle (@reviewsbyjordi) to something else, because I hadn’t reviewed anything in a long time! But now I’m back to it, and hopefully you won’t have to wait as long as that ever again.

As people who read this website may know, my dad is author Jon Blake. He’s written over 60 books, and two of them are extra important to me: the Thimble books. They feature the series’ disabled narrator Jams Cogan (loosely based on me), his dad, failed author Douglas Dawson (not based on my dad), Jams’ mum and Douglas’ partner Nora, and madcap monkey Thimble. The first book, Thimble Monkey Superstar (released in 2016), details Thimble’s arrival with Jams and his family, and Douglas’ numerous attempts to get rid of him, which result in some hiliarious scenes! Eventually, Thimble becomes part of the family. You can buy the book here. It was shortlisted for the 2017 Lollies (Laugh Out Loud Awards).

In the second book, Thimble Holiday Havoc (released in 2017), Thimble and company go on a home swap holiday to France. Being in another family’s house makes it doubly important that nothing should go wrong. This of course inspires Thimble to even wackier exploits, leaving Jams, Douglas and Nora to pick up the pieces! You can get the book here.

And now the third book, Thimble Wonga Bonkers, the subject of this review. It was released in March 2020, ending a 28-month Thimble hiatus. In this book, Nora goes away on a spa week with her friends, leaving Thimble, Jams and Dad at home with nothing but £30 for shopping, plus the money in the petty cash box. This goes awry when Thimble spends the £30 on bananas and swallows the key to the cash box, leaving the trio in a frantic scramble for money! Along the way they rack up significant debt, and leaves Dad facing a difficult question: would he really do anything for money? The third book is perhaps the best Thimble story yet; the scenes are even more side-splittingly funny than before, the characters develop well, Thimble is more lovable than ever, and it is stunningly illustrated by Martin Chatterton, who also illustrated Thimble Monkey Superstar and Thimble Holiday Havoc.

Overall I would recommend the book for 7+, but it could be read to a younger child. It’s a great family novel, and kids will most likely love Thimble the crazy monkey. If you need to find a book to read to your child, I advise you to try this one.

That’s all from me, but I will leave you with an extract to give you a taste for the story.

Enjoy…

What you are about to read is a never-before seen exclusive: the entirety of Chapter Six from an earlier draft of Thimble Wonga Bonkers. The whole of the chapter was cut during the final draft, so there are no spoilers. Though it didn’t make it into the book, it should give you a fair idea of what to expect.

Resigned to the fact they have lost the key to the cash box, Jams and Douglas turn to other plans…

Please note, Dad never uses speech marks, the editors do that for him.

Chapter Six: In which Thimble becomes Darth – sorry, wrong franchise.

Let’s look at the positives, I said.

There are no positives, said Dad.

There is one positive, I replied.  I don’t have to look for the sixpence in the Christmas pudding.

You call that a positive? said Dad. I call that a big fat negative, because it means we’ve lost the key!

We do have the meatballs, I said.

And how long are they going to last?  Dad looked down at his ankle, where the bag of frozen meatballs were resting.

How’s the swelling, Dad?

Going down, thankfully.

There’s a positive.

Yes, I’ll soon be able to walk to jail, which is where I’m heading.

Nonsense, Dad.  We’ll find a way of making some money.  Is there anything we can sell?

At this point Thimble walked in.

Hmm, said Dad.  There is one thing.

I wouldn’t sell Thimble for a million pounds, I replied.

A tenner would do for me, said Dad.

Wait a moment.  I’ve just had a thought.  We could hire him out!

Good luck with that.

Seriously, Dad!  A day out with Thimble Monkey Superstar!  People will be queuing up!  All I need to do is to make an ad!

And how will we pay for that?   It costs two quid to put a card in the Post Office window.

There’s this thing called the internet, Dad, and this site called FreeAds, and guess what, it’s free.

I don’t trust the internet.

I know Dad.  You also think that websites are campsites for spiders.  Luckily I know better.

 

Making an ad with Thimble was brilliant fun.  First, we thought up all the things that Thimble was good at:  sign language, acrobatics, juggling, chopping things up, charades, and annoying Dad.  Then Thimble did all these things while I filmed him.  I added the voiceover, Thimble added the signover, and finally I did that very fast talking bit at the end:

 

Normal terms and conditions apply 24 hour contract  the value of your monkey could go up or down texts to Thimble cost £1 plus your standard network rate remember when the fun stops stop

 

With growing excitement I uploaded the vid to FreeAds and awaited our first response.   It wasn’t long coming:

 

Dear Mr Cogan

I am interested in your offer of a day with ‘Thimble Monkey Superstar’ for the ‘bargain price’ of £100.  Is it still possible to hire him today?  And is it possible to pay the fee by bank transfer, rather than in ‘used fivers in a plain brown envelope’?

Yours sincerely

Amber Stonewall (Mrs)

 

We’re in business Thimble!  I cried, and ran to tell Dad, who received the good news without a smile.  This was probably because the ad wasn’t his idea, except for the bit about the used fivers.   But he wasn’t going to turn down a hundred pounds, and once he’d made sure we’d got the money, lent me his third-best toothbrush so I could clean Thimble’s teeth.  I was determined that Thimble would look his best for his first booking.  After all, if it went well, there might be plenty more, and that would mean mountains of dosh.

Now remember, Thimble, I said, you must be on your very best behaviour.  No putting random items in the microwave, no sawing up the furniture, and absolutely no drilling holes in the swimming pool!

Thimble nodded thoughtfully, but couldn’t prevent a little snigger escaping.

 

Hmm, I thought. Is this actually such a good idea?

 

Too late.  The doorbell rang, we hurried to answer it, and were faced by a stern woman in a stiff blue skirt suit accompanied by the glummest girl I had ever seen.

Ah, said Amber Stonewall (Mrs).  This must be Tumble.

Thimble, I replied.

I wanted a fairy, said the girl.

Joy, said Mrs Stonewall, I’ve told you a hundred times, I cannot get you a fairy.

I wanted a fairy, repeated the girl.

Well, you’ve got a lovely monkey.

It’s not lovely.  It’s ugly.

Joy, that is very rude!  We may think the monkey’s ugly, darling, but we do not say it!

Thimble’s hand snaked round my arm and took a firm grip.

It’s ok, Thimble, I said quietly.  I’ll be with you.

Oh, said Mrs Stonewall.  I didn’t realise that was part of the deal.

You need me to translate, I said.

I thought he did sign language, said the woman.

Yes, I replied, but in Welsh.

Mrs Stonewall viewed me doubtfully.  Edwina will be very crowded, she said.

Who’s Edwina?  I asked.

You will soon find out, replied Mrs Stonewall.  Er. . .what is your name?

Jams, I replied.

James?

Jams.

Is that an odd accent, or actually your name?

It is my name.

Oh dear.  Did your parents not know how to spell?

There was a loud throat-clearing from behind me.  Actually, said Dad, his father is an author.

Mrs Stonewall viewed Dad without enthusiasm. I could tell she was about to say that thing that people say to Dad, that thing that drives him totally mad.

Sure enough:

And have you had anything published?

Small snorts of steam issued from Dad’s nose and the edges of his ears turned deep crimson.  Would I call myself an author, he snapped, if I had not had anything published?

Mrs Stonewall’s lips tightened against her teeth.  She had not taken to Dad.  Come on, Joy, she said.  Let’s introduce the monkey to Edwina.

Thimble was not keen to leave Dawson Castle, and I was no less nervous.  It came as some relief to discover that Edwina was actually Mrs Stonewall’s car.

But not just any car.  Edwina was a 1960s Austin Mini Cooper, better known as a Mini, and mini it certainly was.  You’d have struggled to fit four teddy bears into it, let alone three people and a monkey.  On the other hand it was as shiny and spotless as if it had been built yesterday.  The roof was covered by a union jack while the rest was bright metallic blue, except for two broad white stripes running down the bonnet.  Four gleaming foglamps sat across the radiator grille and the hubcaps shone like diamonds.

I’m so sorry, Edwina, said Mrs Stonewall.  You’ve got rather a lot to carry today.

Mrs Stonewall and Joy climbed into the front seats.  Thimble and I clambered into the back.  I felt like Alice In Wonderland after she’d eaten the mushroom which made her grow.

This was my mother’s car, said Mrs Stonewall, and woe betide anyone who leaves the tiniest speck on the upholstery!

I wasn’t sure what woe betide meant, or upholstery for that matter, but I got her general drift: don’t breathe till we get out of the car.  Which had now started, rather slowly, and very noisily.

I bet we’re going somewhere boring, said Joy.

Well you’re wrong, said Mrs Stonewall. We’re going to the fairground.

With a monkey?  I don’t want a monkey coming on the rides.

He won’t be.

Good. He can hold my things.

He can indeed, darling.

I still wish he was a fairy.

A fairy couldn’t hold your things, darling.

Luckily Thimble wasn’t taking any notice of this conversation.  For some reason he was totally fascinated by this car.  He watched every move Mrs Stonewall made, from turning the ignition key to checking the mirror and changing gear.  Edwina was so different to Mum’s car, and the taxi, and those four chairs Dad sometimes set up when he pretended to drive us to the beach.

Mrs Stonewall was certainly in no hurry.  She drove as slowly as an old caretaker pushing a broom and peeped her horn every time another car came within ten metres of us.  I’m sure she’d have been happier with a police escort.  Or maybe to have all other cars banned so that Edwina could cruise along threatened by nothing but bird poop.  Come to that, wouldn’t it have been best to get the skies cleared as well?

Thankfully we got there in the end.  Mrs Stonewall parked Edwina in the middle of three empty spaces and put warning triangles in the spaces either side.  A thorough inspection of the vehicle followed.  Out came Mrs Stonewall’s hankie, to wipe away the remains of a fly which had thoughtlessly headbutted the windscreen.

Don’t fret, Edwina, she said.  Mummy will be back soon.

Thimble seemed quite reluctant to leave the tiny car, but the moment he saw the fairground his eyes widened.  What kind of monkey paradise was this?  Roller coaster!  Helter skelter!  Ferris wheel!  Drop tower!  Waltzers, dodgems, log flumes, candyfloss!

Er. . .don’t get too excited Thimble, I said.

Give the monkey your rucksack, Joy, said Mrs Stonewall, and your umbrella.

Thimble received these unexpected gifts with a baffled expression.  They were followed by Mrs Stonewall’s handbag, a massive shiny leather affair which almost dragged Thimble down to the ground.

That’s a good monkey, said Mrs Stonewall.  Now follow.

Mrs Stonewall led the way, pointing out the sights to Joy, who was still not very joyful.  Now what would you like to go on? she said.  I think the carousel would be a good idea, don’t you dear?

Hook-a-duck, mumbled Joy.

That’s not very exciting!  And everyone knows the prizes are worth less than the cost of playing!

Hook-a-duck.

Oh, very well.  It is your birthday, so I suppose you must do what you want.  But I shall be deciding what we do next.

We stopped at the stall.  Thimble knew all about hook-a-duck, had actually hooked quite a few ducks himself, and was obviously keen to hook a few more, but I had to disappoint him.

Not today, Thimble, I said.  I thought of trying to explain what it meant to be a hired monkey,  but I knew he wouldn’t understand.  There are no hired monkeys in the jungle.

There’s something wrong with these ducks! moaned Joy.  She was hopeless at it.  I could have hooked a dozen by the time she finally managed one.

Well done, Joy! cried Mrs Stonewall. Look, you’ve won a plastic machine gun!

The monkey can carry it, said Joy.

The plastic machine gun was added to the rucksack, the umbrella and the massively heavy handbag.

Mrs Stonewall now decided it was time for Joy to go on the carousel, even though Joy didn’t want to go on the carousel, and the horses made her hot, which meant that Thimble had to carry her jumper.

The carousel was followed by the spinning cups-and-saucers, followed by the helter-skelter,  followed by the log flume, by which time Thimble was literally hopping with frustration.

I decided it was time to say something:

Mrs Stonewall, couldn’t Thimble go on a ride?

I was met by a blank stare.  I don’t believe that was in the contract, said Mrs Stonewall.

He’s getting frustrated, I replied.

Well I’m very sorry, said Mrs Stonewall, without sounding the least bit sorry.

He’s not used to being a servant.

For goodness sake! Animals have been our servants since the dawn of time!  Horses pull carts, camels carry baggage, dogs herd sheep!  I suggest the only problem with your monkey is that he’s been spoilt rotten and doesn’t know the meaning of a hard day’s work!

I bit my tongue. Mrs Stonewall didn’t look like she’d done a day’s work in her life, unless you counted giving orders.

Now, Joy, she said, what would you like to do next?

Dodgems, said Joy.

Excellent choice, said Mrs Stonewall. In my day they called them bumper cars, but silly people were doing too much bumping and not enough dodging.

No-one better bump me.

I shall give them a piece of my mind if they do.

Can’t you come with me?

I’d never fit, darling.

Joy was now looking decidedly doubtful, and by the time we reached the dodgems had completely changed her mind.  That didn’t stop Mrs Stonewall from lifting her into the nearest vehicle and explaining the controls even though it was obvious she was no longer listening.

The music started, the dodgems went live, and WHAM!  Joy was belted from behind before she’d even set off.

Things were about to get even worse.  The two big boys who’d belted Joy saw they’d got a hopeless victim and came at her again.  And again.  Joy was as helpless as a mouse in the claws of a cat.  Each whack sent her jolting forward in her seat until she could stand no more.  Covering her face with her hands, she sat and cried.

Stop that, you monsters! yelled Mrs Stonewall, but the boys took no notice.  As far as they were concerned, Joy was fair game.   Wham!  They thumped her again.

Suddenly something flashed past my ear.

Was it a bird?

Was it a plane?

No, it was Thimble Monkey Superstar!

Thimble was on a mission.  In a few speedy lollops he had reached Joy, squeezed himself alongside her and seized the controls.  It is a strict rule in dodgems that everyone goes round in the same direction, but Thimble was never one for rules, especially strict ones, and set off like a heat-seeking missile for the big boys.  The shock of seeing a monkey in a dodgem was bad enough, but the shock of being rammed side-on at full speed was even worse.  Suddenly the big boys weren’t looking so cocky.  Another six rams from Thimble and they were literally begging for the ride to stop.

It shouldn’t be allowed! they cried, as the music stopped and the torture mercifully ended.

Thimble gave them a little salute.

Good going, Thims! I cried, as Thimble returned in triumph.

I ought to tell you off for dropping the bags, said Mrs Stonewall, but on this occasion I shall forgive you.  You have saved Joy from a very bad experience.

Thimble did not respond.

Does he understand? said Mrs Stonewall.

Oh yes, I replied.

Then why is he looking at me like that?

He’s hoping for a reward.

Does he like candyfloss?

I’m sure he will.

We’d never given Thimble candyfloss, seeing as it was nothing but sugar, but predictably he gobbled it down, or at least tried to, as half of it got stuck to his nose and ears.  So his day had ended happily after all, except, as I was about to discover, it wasn’t quite over yet.

Now Joy, said Mrs Stonewall, when one falls off a bike, one must get back straight back on and ride it again.

Not the dodgems again! protested Joy.

No, replied Mrs Stonewall.  Something scarier.

What?

The ghost train.

No!

I’ll come with you this time.  And if you get round without screaming, I’ll give you a book token.

Can Thimble go on? I asked, hopefully.

Thimble’s had his reward, snapped Mrs Stonewall.  So saying, she dragged a reluctant Joy off in the direction of the said ghost train, leaving me to pick up the bags, the jumper and the plastic machine gun, and return them to Thimble.

Except. . .Mrs Stonewall’s bag was missing!

And so was Thimble!

This was it.  The even-more-ultimate nightmare.  Thimble at large in a fairground, on a sugar high, with Attila the Hun’s handbag!

What’s the worst that could happen?  I asked myself.

Then I heard the commotion.

It was coming from the direction of the car park.

I hurried with all the speed I could muster.  Something told me the commotion was connected to Thimble and I was not wrong.  Somehow the manic monkey had got himself into Edwina and was now driving her at furious speed around the car park, forwards, backwards, sideways, thumping and bumping every car in sight.

Stop, Thimble!  I cried.  It’s not a dodgem!  It’s NOT A DODGEM!

My words were in vain.  Thimble continued on his mad mission, THUMP, BANG, CRASH, till precious Edwina was so badly stoved in the wheels were stuck fast.

At this point I heard the voice of Mrs Stonewall behind me.

I’m sorry, Joy, she said, but there will be no book token.  You screamed three times.

I couldn’t help it, replied Joy.

I don’t see why not, said Mrs Stonewall.  I’ve never screamed in my life.  Ah, there’s Jams.

Hello, Mrs Stonewall, I said.  I’m afraid there’s been a little bit of an accident.

Mrs Stonewall followed my gaze, to where Thimble was climbing out of the pile of mangled metal that used to be a vintage Mini Cooper.

AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

PS: You can buy Thimble Wonga Bonkers here. Also, you can find my review of Thimble Monkey Superstar here and my review of Thimble Wonga Bonkers here.

Bye!

Jordi Blake, March 2020.

Book Review: Ethan the Great by Jon Blake.

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I’m back! And, yes, I know, it’s been a while, but I PROMISE I will upload book reviews more frequently. Today I’ll be reviewing Ethan the Great, by Jon Blake.

Ethan, the main character and narrator, is loosely based on me, as he has cerebral palsy, which affects his legs, just like me. Ethan is also an avid fan of football, which I am too. The story’s plot is more or less centred around Ethan and his cousin Nerys. On a trip to the countryside, they encounter a TV crew from the local news station making a programme about farming, and manage to get themselves on it, as they know nothing about farming, which is exactly what the TV crew want. They complete a series of three challenges, milking a goat, shearing a sheep, and something known as “The Ultimate Challenge.” The first two have hilarious consequences, and Ethan displays an act of heroism at the end which earns him the nickname “Ethan the Great,” he becomes a superstar. Ethan is a likeable, optimistic person, but my favourite character has to be Nerys, who seems like a shy person at first, but as the book progresses, shows just how iron-willed she can be, including going into something called Nerys War Mode.

This book is very funny and overall a good read. I recommend it for children aged 7 to 9.

Here is a short extract, where Ethan is playing for his school football team:

‘Franco!’ I cried. ‘Romy!’ I cried. ‘Pass, someone!’ I cried. No one seemed to hear. Time ticked away – no score. Then, at the last minute, we won a penalty. Alex stopped a certain goal with his arm, and Mr Hawkins pointed to the spot. Franco wanted to take it, but so did Sultan, and so did Harri. There seemed no way to resolve the dispute, so Mr Hawkins stepped in.‘I will decide who takes the penalty,’ he said.
Mr Hawkins scanned the red team, and his eyes fell on me. ‘Ethan,’ he said. My blood ran cold. They say you should never have negative thoughts when you take a spot kick, but all I could think was: I’m going to miss. It didn’t help that the whole team wanted to offer advice, and no two pieces of advice were the same. ‘Hit it to the left.’ ‘Hit it to the right.’ ‘Bang it straight down the middle.’
I tried to remember the great goal I’d scored at disabled football – how I’d run the whole length of the pitch and tucked it away like Ian Rush in his prime. But I felt confident then. There was no pressure.I lined up the ball and took a few steps back. I’m Ian Rush, I thought.
Except I’m going to miss.
I shot a glance at Dad, hoping he could somehow save me. His hands were covering his eyes.
I ran up and…

 

Happy reading!

Jordi.

Book review: Natboff! One Million Years of Stupidity by Andy Stanton.

Hinatboff readers! Another book review by me. Today I am reviewing Natboff! One Million Years Of Stupidity, written by the amazingly brilliant Andy Stanton, author of the Mr Gum books. It is illustrated by the incredibly brilliant David Tazzyman. I recommend it for 7 years and over.

Natboff is a collection of stories set in the town of Lamonic Bibber, where the Mr Gum books take place. They’re all set in different time periods. You can read about Natboff the caveman in the caveman days, Old King Thunderbelly in 561 AD, and Strange Mildred the witch in the 1600s. Read what happens when Lamonic Bibber is faced with plague, and the mysterious tale of the Victorian inventor Cribbins and his friend, Doctor Wempers. There is also a never before seen manuscript, a play by the lesser-known playwright Terry Shakespeare, brother of William Shakespeare. The play is a comedy called ‘Tis Rubbish Being a Squirrel, and is better than anything of William Shakespeare’s –  I assure you I’m right! (Or am I? Maybe not. There was that time with the clown and the peanuts – never mind. Read it and see for yourself). There’s also a section called Bibbering Through the Ages, highlighting the great men and women who shaped Lamonic Bibber into what it is now.

Funny beyond your wildest dreams, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. Andy Stanton has a track record of hilarious humour, and this is no exception! My favourite character is Doctor Twigs from The Witchfinder General. If you like bags and rice and a bag stuffed with rice, you’ll love him.

I like to think that writers have their own writing DNA, a style that’s unique to them. But you can only master writing if you make a book that is so downright amazing you forget it’s a book. The worlds of reality  and fiction become…merged. Andy Stanton’s Natboff has achieved that level. It is perfect. It is everything that you could wish for. In summary… it is absolutely magnificent.

That is my review. If you have any suggestions for books I should review, let me know in the comments, and I will try to read and review all of them!

Bye!

Jordi.

Book review: Alex Sparrow and the Furry Fury by Jennifer Killick

51Z7Pg2CAELHello! Another book review by me. I am reviewing the newly out book Alex Sparrow and the Furry Fury by Jennifer Killick, sequel to Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink. I recommend it for 8 years and over.

Let me give you a brief summary of Alex Sparrow: he is a ten-year old boy with a difference: he has superpowers. No, not super strength, or laser eyes. His right ear farts when someone lies.  At first, he struggles to cope with it, but in the end he utilizes it.  In Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink he teams up with Jess Lawler, who can communicate with animals, and saves their school. He then decides to work with Jess on any future missions.

Alex is a character you really get to know. He doesn’t like to settle down, preferring to be constantly on his toes, and is a big fan of Marvel and Star Wars (the book references Episode III: Revenge of the Sith). He enjoys pranks and jokes, particularly winding up Jess! However, Alex grows wiser throughout the events of Furry Fury, and even forms a bond with a hedgehog.

In Furry Fury, Alex and Jess volunteer at the local animal sanctuary, but discover that the animals are acting strangely, as is Rex, the bullied new boy at their school who runs the sanctuary along with his mother. There are also news reports of strange animal activity around town. The police have no suspects.

In the end, Alex and Jess discover who’s behind all of it, so prepare for a thrilling climax.

In total, Furry Fury is a very good book, and I strongly advise you to read it. It is humourous, down-to-earth, and will snag you from page one. Jennifer Killick’s book provides a nice sequel to Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink.

That is my review. If you have any suggestions for books for me to review, let me know in the comments, although be prepared to wait a while as I have committed to rather a lot of reviews!

Bye!

Jordi.

Book review: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

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Hello! Another book review by me. The book in question is Murder Most Unladylike, by Robin Stevens. I recommend it for 11 years old and above. The book is about two girls at Deepdean School for Girls, Daisy Wells, who is described as “the perfect English girl” and Hazel Wong, who is from Hong Kong.

Together, they establish the Wells & Wong Detective Society (Daisy as President, Hazel as Secretary), but can’t find any proper cases, until Hazel discovers the dead body of their Science mistress, Miss Bell. Suddenly Daisy and Hazel are faced with a daunting task. They know it was murder, but they must solve the case, and prove the existence of a murder to everyone else.

Hazel and Daisy are a funny pairing, and, occasionally arguments flare up between them, but they are good-natured, and will not stop until they find the murderer’s identity, and make sure he or she is brought to justice. My favourite character in the book, surprisingly, is not Daisy or Hazel, but little third former Rebecca “Beanie” Martineau. She is nicknamed Beanie because she is small and easily frightened. She has no idea of Daisy and Hazel’s investigation, and what information she picks up about Miss Bell’s disappearance (only Hazel and Daisy know it was murder) comes through gossip. Still, she is small and sweet and very inquisitive, and I think she is the kind of character you just can’t ignore. She could even be considered as a technical ally of the detective agency.

But who did it? Who murdered Miss Joan Bell? It could be anyone. Perhaps it was Miss Hopkins, the PE mistress, who is sometimes a right pain, or perhaps the nervous mistress of English, Miss Tennyson, Miss Parker, the maths mistress, maybe. Or it could be the handsome new master of music and art, Mr Reid, known as “The One”. Daisy and Hazel must deduce who did it, and stop them before it’s too late!

That is my review of Murder Most Unladylike, by Robin Stevens. It achieves just about every writing target that can be achieved. It is stunning. It is mysterious. It is… everything a book can be. You would find it very hard to criticise.

Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions of books I should read and review. I will do my very best to get them all read and the reviews written!

Goodbye!

Jordi Blake.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Holes by Louis Sachar

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I have decided to write up book reviews on this site as often as I can, so watch this space. My first review is of Holes, by Louis Sachar. I recommend it for 10 years and over.

Stanley Yelnats has bad luck, because, supposedly, his family lineage is cursed. (Shock! Horror!), thanks to his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather. Stanley is constantly finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. That eventually lands him in a juvenile detention centre (although he was innocent of the crime he had supposedly committed). The centre is called Camp Green Lake. Every day at camp they are forced to dig one hole, supposedly to build character. But what are really digging for?

In order to discover the truth, Stanley must band together with his campmates Zero, X-Ray, Armpit, Squid, Magnet and Zigzag. But will they find out the camp’s ulterior motives?

Stanley is an inspiring character. He may seem a little hard at first, but inside he’s got a warm soul. He is a good leader, which helps when he and his campmate Zero go on the run from Camp Green Lake.

Throughout the story, there are flashbacks to different time periods, including the true story of Stanley’s great-great grandfather, Elya Yelnats, and also flashbacks to 110 years ago, when the town of Green Lake was thriving, and what led to its downfall.

My favourite character in the book is Zero. All the boys in camp have nicknames, but Zero is called Zero by the counsellors as well. However, he confesses to Stanley that his real name is Hector Zeroni. He is thought by the counsellors and kids at camp to be quite stupid, and it is true that he never learned to read or write, which Stanley helps him with. But Zero possesses a large amount of intelligence, and says he just “doesn’t like answering questions.” He is best at mathematics, and demonstrates this several times. Zero’s character brings out a lot of emotions in my mind. He’s thought stupid, but really, his sheer willpower, loyalty, and determination make him the smartest, and he is a good friend, especially when on the run with Stanley.

That is my review of Holes by Louis Sachar. It is a funny, moving, thrilling story that touches your heart forever, Sachar at his best. I assure you, you won’t be able to put it down. If you (yes, you!) want to find out what happens in Holes, get the book for yourself. I will be doing more book reviews in the future, so if you have any suggestions for books you would like me to review, let me know in the comments, and I will do my best to get them all read!

Bye!

Jordi Blake.

 

Thimble’s Back! By Jordi Blake

ThimbleHoliday_cover_lo-resYes, that’s right, Thimble 2 has been released! Thimble Holiday Havoc, the sequel to Thimble Monkey Superstar,  (for more details on this book, see my article titled Thimble Monkey Superstar which is also on the homepage) is all about a home swap holiday in France, which sounds normal until you hear this – there’s a monkey coming too! The main characters, just to remind you, are:

Douglas Dawson: Failed writer.

Nora: Hardworking mother and Douglas’ partner.

Jams Cogan: Enthusiastic, disabled narrator of the story (and loosely based on me). Son of Nora and Douglas.

Thimble: Mischievous monkey and Jams’ best friend.

And introducing…

Le Boucher (or The Butcher in English)

We first hear of Le Boucher when Nora meets him in his butcher’s shop. She takes an immense liking to him and returns many times (despite the fact she is a vegetarian). Dad, however, dislikes the butcher because he keeps winking at Nora, although Nora says he has a tic. Dad finds this explanation dubious, though, and his rivalry with Le Boucher continues to boil.

Watch this space…

 

Here’s an extract of Thimble Holiday Havoc, all about the time when Thimble got hold of the superglue…

This extract DOES NOT contain spoilers.

(apologies for the lack of speech marks as this was an early draft)

What Happened when Thimble Got Hold of the Superglue.

It was a rare day in Dawson Castle, our little bungalow home. Rare because Dad was happy. As you may know, Dad is the great children’s author Douglas Dawson, except not many people seem to have noticed how great he is. As a result he does not sell many books, or visit many schools, or do anything much, except moan about the fact that Mum has much more money. So you can imagine how delighted he was when a letter arrived, asking him to be the guest speaker at the Lower Pugley Retired Ladies Embroidery Club annual dinner. I was a little suspicious about this, as there is a man on telly called Douglas Lawson who makes tapestries out of pasta and was voted Silver Fox of the Year. But I said nothing. How could I spoil it when Dad was marching round the house with his fist raised high, crying “They want me! They want me!”?

As the day approached Dad grew more and more nervous. He couldn’t decide whether to wear his green corduroy suit or his paisley shirt and cravat. He couldn’t decide whether to get a haircut or wear a Terry Pratchett hat. He stopped eating tea and started collecting pens, always a bad sign with Dad. Then, when the day arrived, he decided that fourteen pens simply weren’t enough.

“Jams” he said. “Where is my lucky pen?”

“In the Useful Drawer?” I suggested.

“Of course” he replied. “That’s where it’ll be”

The Useful Drawer was in the castle refectory (kitchen), just under the Utensils We Don’t Understand Drawer. We hurried there with all possible speed, only to find the drawer suspiciously open and Thimble lurking even-more-suspiciously nearby. To Thimble, the Useful Drawer was a place of endless fascination, perhaps because I had once unwisely hidden a banana there.

Thimble, said Dad, have you just taken something from that drawer?

Thimble’s only answer was to back further away.

“He’s got something behind his back,” Dad, I said.

What have you got behind your back, Thimble? asked Dad.

Thimble let out a stream of meaningless monkey chatter.

You’re making him feel threatened, Dad, I said.

He is being threatened, said Dad.

What is it, Thimble? I asked. Is it drawing pins? Is it sellotape? Is it corn-on-the-cob holders?

The corn-on-the-cob holders are in the cutlery drawer, said Dad.

Not any more, Dad, I replied. Mum moved them.

What in heaven’s name for? asked Dad.

It was when she was de-cluttering, I replied.

That is not an answer, replied Dad.

The discussion had only lasted half a minute, but as we all know, you can’t take your eyes off Thimble for two seconds. He was gone.

Get the pen, Jams, said Dad. I’m more nervous than ever now. You’ll find me in the latrine.

The dungeon is Dad’s name for the toilet in Dawson Castle. Mum sometimes spends half a day in there, possibly to get away from Dad, but Dad prides himself in taking as little time as possible, so it was a surprise when he did not reappear for several minutes. Anxiously I knocked on the dungeon door.

Are you alright, Dad? I asked.

No, replied Dad. Something is very wrong.

In what sense, Dad? I asked.

In the sense, replied Dad, that I cannot get off the toilet.

 

Intrigued? Get the book to read on…

Thimble Monkey Superstar

Image result for thimble monkey superstarIntroduction:

Thimble Monkey Superstar is a book about a family who one day acquire a monkey – I won’t say how – and it settles into their home. From there the story just escalates – and all sorts of things happen. Here are the main characters:

Douglas Dawson.

This miserable failed writer has given up all hope and has settled into his home Dawson Castle, which is really just a bungalow, with partner Nora and son Jams. When Thimble moves in Douglas does his utmost to get rid of him. Some of his ideas are weird, some wacky. All are funny.

Nora.

Nora is Douglas’ reluctant partner and Jams’ mother. No one’s quite sure what she does, although some people think it’s to do with the wind, or a farm, or possibly a combination of the two. She loves Thimble, and discourages Douglas’ attempts to get rid of him.

Jams Cogan.

Jams is son of Nora and Douglas, narrator of Thimble Monkey Superstar, and loosely based on myself. Like me, he has cerebral palsy, so he has his legs in splints, and uses a walker. He is Thimble’s main friend and is determined to keep him in Dawson Castle, no matter what.

And, last but not least…

Thimble.

Thimble the monkey is trouble right from the moment he appears. He causes a string of  accidents, damage to objects, injuries to Dad, and chaos in town. Despite his destructive nature however, Thimble has good intentions.

Thimble Monkey Superstar has recently been shortlisted for the Laugh Out Loud Awards 2017, also known as Lollies 2017. Thimble has been shortlisted in the 6 – 9 years old category.  To find out how to vote, go to:   https://shop.scholastic.co.uk/lollies/vote

Voting for Lollies 2017 closes on December 8th 2017, with the winner announced in January 2018.

Now watch a clip of my dad reading an extract of Thimble (which includes Martin Chatterton’s hilarious illustrations) and you will see just how funny it is.

Don’t forget to look out for the sequel, Thimble Holiday Havoc, which will be published in November 2017.

Bye!

Jordi Blake.

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