Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016! I hope you had a good Christmas and new year.

Here are my reading goals for 2016:

Goodreads Challenge

Last year I completed my Goodreads challenge, to read 50 books, so I am aiming for the same again!

Mount TBR Challenge

This year, I am only aiming to read 12 books in the TBR challenge. I failed last year, so going for a smaller number this time.

I would also like to read all the Narnia books, plus finish my Secret Seven and Roald Dahl challenges. But we will see what happens! Keep up with my progress here.

I wish you all the best in 2016!

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The fourth book I have completed this year is another Secret Seven book by Enid Blyton. I am enjoying reading through this series, and am doing well with my Secret Seven Challenge – only 12 books to go!

I enjoyed this story more than Secret Seven Adventure. I found this one had more charm and for me it was a more nostalgic read. In this book, the Secret Seven set out to protect a new friend and his kitten and by doing so solve the mystery of postal vans being robbed. Again, this is a short book – only 120 pages, with large print and illustrations, but a quick and fun read. I love reading these books and being transported back to my childhood. This was another fun and quick read.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s; mystery
Published: 1951
Rating: 3 out of 5

A review will follow soon.

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s, mystery
Published: 1950
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

When a priceless pearl necklace goes missing, the Secret Seven are first off the mark to catch the thief! Why? Because they saw him making his escape! Now all they have to do is find the necklace!

This is book number 2 in the Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton. These are a series of mystery books for children based around a group of seven friends who are always looking for adventure. In this novel, the Seven are out playing Indians in the woods when Colin sees a man jumping over a very high wall and then hiding in the same tree he is. This is all very suspicious…and then on the radio the Seven hear that a priceless pearl necklace has been stolen – did Colin see the thief? Will the Seven be able to catch him and find the necklace?

I did enjoy this book, but sadly this time my adult senses did intervene a little. Of course they were going to find the thief and the necklace, a group of seven children! My cynicism spoiled this novel for me a little. I loved the first book, but this was a little far-fetched even for me.

This book does have a lot in it and I can see why children would love it. There is adventure, there are games, there is a mystery to solve, and we get taken to the circus – plus behind the scenes at the circus, where we meet the animals. For a short book (my addition only had 121 pages) there is a lot packed in to it. I solved the mysteries that the Seven struggled with very quickly but I don’t know that a child would. There is a little bit of suspense and I can see a child being sucked into this adventure and loving it. For me as an adult, a little bit of the magic was lost on me.

Again, I didn’t find that the age of the book mattered to me. I barely noticed that the book is over 60 years old. I do think that Enid Blyton has a timeless style and I like children today would enjoy this book a lot.

I’m rating this book 3 out of 5 because I did enjoy it; however I felt a little old for it this time round. That won’t stop me reading this to my children, and encouraging them to read Enid Blyton, and it won’t stop me reading the rest of the Secret Seven books.

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The second book to be completed in 2014 is another Secret Seven book! This story, The Secret Seven Adventure, is number 2 in the series and again was a quick, easy and fun read. I enjoyed this book and the adventure I was taken on. I did roll my eyes in places and work out the mystery before they did (well done me!) but it was a good read and like before, I loved being transported back into my childhood as I read this book. That means I have now read 2 books this year, and have 2 books in my Secret Seven challenge.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s; mystery
Published: 1950
Rating: 3 out of 5

A review will be published soon, I hope!

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s; mystery
Published: 1949
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

It’s their very first adventure and the Secret Seven super-sleuths are already on the trail of a mystery! The gang are dressed in disguise, following a lead to a spooky old house in the snow!

I love Enid Blyton! I need to just get that out there. Last year I read The Enchanted Wood and loved it! I also read 5 out of the 6 Malory Towers books. I loved them too! It is probably just nostalgia that makes me rate these books so highly but to be honest, I loved them as a child; and I can’t lie, I love them as an adult. I can’t wait to read them to my children when they are older. I love collecting them and re-reading them. Because of this, I have set myself the challenge to read all the Secret Seven books this year. I can now check the first one off the list. And yes, I did very much enjoy this Enid Blyton story too!

The Secret Seven is a great introduction to the seven children – Peter, who leads the society, Janet, Colin, Jack, Pam, Barbara and George; plus Scamper the dog. They are seven children looking for fun, so they create a secret society. We learn that before Christmas they had helped out in the community, but since it was just after Christmas and everyone had been looked after they were seeking something fun to do – maybe even solve a mystery! It is Jack who stumbles upon the mystery at the old, deserted house. When he is heading home at night he hears a car pull up and a very strange noise coming from the back. What is it? Who are the people moving things in the night? How is the old house connected? This is a mystery for the Secret Seven to solve!

I did really enjoy this book. There are some books which can be enjoyed by both adults and children – even when the intended audience is children – and I think this is one of them. I was immediately sucked into the adventure and the society with the secret password and the special badges. It reminded me of the games I used to play with my friends – although I never crept around creepy old buildings! I didn’t notice the age of the book either. Enid Blyton wrote this book back in 1949, but it didn’t feel dated. Sure, the children weren’t using telephones or email to communicate, they wrote letters – but surely children in secret societies still do that? I didn’t feel the age of this book hindered it at all.

The story was exciting and fun. My addition is only 117 pages long, with large print and illustrations, so it took 45 minutes to read; however it was 45 minutes of joy! The children are cunning and adventurous. They have to be brave and sometimes they are a bit naughty and reckless, but that makes for more fun reading about them! The story has suspense – it may even be a little frightening for the younger reader, but of course it has a happy ending. This book might be a bit twee, but I think we need that sometimes.

I have high praise for this book. It was a nice way to spend a quiet evening at home while my husband is out. I really enjoyed being transported back into a world of fun, secret societies and mysteries. I enjoyed this book as a child, and I have enjoyed it as an adult. It isn’t a tough read, but it is exciting and I am looking forward to reading it with my children. I am rating this 4 out of 5 because it was a book I really liked. It isn’t my favourite childhood book, but I love the author and I love re-reading her books. Reading through this series is going to be a fun challenge!

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The first book to be finished in 2014 is the first book in Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series; simply called The Secret Seven. This was a fun book to read! I loved being transported back to a story I read as a child, remembering the characters and the storyline. I read this book in about 45 minutes and simply really enjoyed it. It also means I am one book closer to my goal of 40 books, and one book in to my challenge to read all the Secret Seven books this year.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s; mystery
Published: 1949
Rating: 4 out of 5

A review will be posted soon.

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Children’s fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Synopsis:

Joe, Beth and Franny move to the country and find an Enchanted Wood right on their doorstep. In the magic Faraway Tree live the magical characters that soon become their new friends – Moon-Face, Silky the fairy, and Saucepan Man. Together they visit the strange lands (the Roundabout Land, the Land of Ice and Snow, Toyland and the Land of Take What You Want) atop the tree and have the most exciting adventures – and narrow escapes.

I loved this book as a child. I remember my Mum reading it to me and my younger brother, and as an adult I look back at not just this book, but the whole Magic Faraway Tree series, as my favourite childhood books. It was an absolute pleasure as an adult reading these. I can’t wait to read them to my children! The book is as fun and as wonderful as I remember it.

The story follows Joe, Beth and Franny as they explore the Enchanted Wood by their new home. In the Wood, they find the trees can talk, that elves live there, and of course the Magic Faraway Tree, which houses many extraordinary folk. People like Moonface and Silky the fairy. Not only that, but at the very top of the tree is a ladder which takes you into a number of different lands. The children explore several of these and end up in all sorts of situations – some fun, such as The Land of Birthdays, and some not as great, such as Toyland. And, the most important thing to remember, is they must get back to the tree before the land moves on, otherwise they could be stuck up there forever!

This book was so much fun! I didn’t want to put it down when I was reading it. I loved being reminded of all the crazy characters, such as Dame Washalot, who regularly soaked the children when she threw her dirty washing water down the tree. I loved the incorporation of fairy tales, such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It is so cleverly written and just a delight to read. I can’t stop gushing about this book – it has adventure, it has brilliant characters and even as an adult, this book is a great read. I kept turning to my husband as I read this book telling him he needed to read it!

I have a fairly new addition of this book, which contained illustrations. I have to say, I even liked them! Here is an example of one of them:
The Enchanted Wood Characters

I loved everything about this book. I loved it as a child, and I love it as an adult. This book is so worth reading! I can’t fault it in anyway!
5 star

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I saw these questions over at The Diary of a Domestic Goddess, and thought I would answer them too!

1. Who is your all-time favourite author, and why?

My favourite all time author is Roald Dahl. I love his books. They gave me hours of entertainment when I was small, and now keep me entertained as an adult. I’m currently re-reading James and the Giant Peach, and I’m laughing, and I’m gripped, and I love the illustrations by Quentin Blake. I don’t think it is possible to be too old to enjoy Roald Dahl, I love him.

2. Who was your first favourite author, and why?  Do you still consider him or her among your favourites?


Enid Blyton. I loved everything of hers that I read. I loved The Magic Faraway Tree, and remember my Mum reading that to me and my brother – and the Secret Seven, the Famous Five, Mallory Towers…the list goes on. I loved them all! I always found myself wanting to live in those books! I haven’t read any of these books in a long time, but I really want to – I’m sure I would still love them. I think I would still put Enid Elyton as a favourite author because of the memories I have of reading her books and really enjoying them.

3. Who’s the most recent addition to your list of favourite authors, and why?

Sarah Dessen. I discovered her when I was blogging about young adult books. Every one of her books that I have read I have loved. I found her gripping, entertaining, touching, realistic and just fantastic. I read Just Listen first and it blew me away. I haven’t found a bad book by her yet – thankfully!

4. If someone asked you who your favourite authors were right now, which authors would first pop out of your mouth?  Are there any you’d add on a moment of further reflection?


Terry Pratchett, CS Lewis, Sarah Dessen, Erica James, Wendy Virgo, Philippa Gregory, Roald Dahl. After some thought… Enid Blyton, Ben Elton, Dorothy Koomson, Beatrix Potter, A A Milne, Mark Driscoll, Debbie Macomber, Elizabeth Noble, Nicholas Sparks, Sophie Kinsella, Stephanie Meyer, JK Rowling, Andrew Wilson and Jane Austen I think.

5. Which “unknown” author do you recommend to people most often?

Probably Wendy Virgo. She writes theology books, mainly for women and I love her. I wrote a Recommended Author post about her. The books are easy to read, engaging and for me, life changing. I think everyone should read her books.

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