Childrens - Shastrix Books


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Three Cheers, Secret Seven

Three Cheers, Secret Seven

Enid Blyton

27th May 2023

For nostalgia reasons, I’m revisiting the Enid Blyton series that I read as a kid, and have now arrived at this entry.

Three Cheers is a great Seven story, seeing them randomly find a mystery and need to investigate it. It shows a level of social consciousness that’s not often present, and paints a picture (maybe unintentionally) of the class divide of the era.

However as a modern reader there’s a hugely clear level of sexism within the seven - the boys must do almost everything, and only one of the girls gets anything to really do as part of the plot, most of the time just being told to stay at home or otherwise being excluded. Weirdly though this doesn’t extend to the protagonist character Susie, who although the boys act towards with sexism, refuses to partake herself and demonstrates a lot of agency. It’s an odd contrast between the characters and I’m not really sure what it’s meant to be saying to the reader.

Overall though a very simple, quick tale, without any risk or danger.

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Buy book: UK
The Sky Blue Frame

The Sky Blue Frame

Franklin W Dixon

1st August 2022

In what I remember as one of my favourite Hardy Boys adventures, the brothers are hired to run a mystery weekend at a nearby hotel, only to find themselves investigating a real crime too.

It’s a relatively simple story, told over just 16 chapters and in surprisingly large type in my copy. But simple is good, and it remains a very enjoyable and different adventure, with almost none of the problematic elements that were still evident in the novels of this era.

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Buy book: UK
Programme for Destruction

Programme for Destruction

Franklin W Dixon

26th June 2022

A surprisingly interesting mid-80s Hardy Boys adventure.

The brothers are hired to investigate sabotage at a company making computerised cars, with some surprisingly prescient examples of voice interfaces.

It’s a bit wild for the time period, but holds up pretty well and probably could be translated to a modern setting with minimal tweaks.

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The Mystery of the Silver Star

The Mystery of the Silver Star

Franklin W Dixon

4th June 2022

The third book of this mid-eighties new era of Hardy Boys feels like it’s toned things back down a bit. The techno aspects are still there, but supplement the plot rather than steal focus.

There’s still an increased focus on violence, especially a lot of guns, which is uncomfortable.

However there are positive changes too. There are a lot more female characters, including making more of the established women and bringing in women as functional guest characters where previously there would have been just another man. There’s a really notable shift in the narration’s attitude towards Chet too, moving away from body-shaming language entirely.

I also like the relaxed dialogue we’re seeing. The characters feel more like real people in their interactions, and for the first time we see a hint that Fenton and Laura’s relationship is more than just worrying about their children.

The plot of this one is fairly good I think, though not really a solvable mystery, just more of an interesting adventure.

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The Blackwing Puzzle

The Blackwing Puzzle

Franklin W Dixon

2nd June 2022

Finally a Bayport-based mystery again, and that allows us to see the whole of the Hardy Boys gang, including the random decision in this novel to relabel their aunt as “Gertie”.

It’s 1984, and the fascinations of the era continue to dominate - technology and ghosts in this case.

It’s a fairly solid mystery, but there’s almost too much going on, with at my count five different strands which don’t entirely flow together.

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Sky Sabotage

Sky Sabotage

Franklin W Dixon

1st June 2022

It’s 1983 and the Hardy brothers are off on their travels again, this time to Florida to do the Space Centre and Theme Parks. Oh and solve crimes.

I’m not sure there’s a huge amount of mystery solving going on, mostly the plot seems to involve following people around, then waiting for them to give themselves away. I’m not even sure the plot actually makes sense.

The body shaming of their friend Chet continues, although it seems like the authors have become less imaginative, just using the same word over and over to describe him. This novel does however see a more meaningful role for a female character than I remember up to this point, which is a small amount of progress, but only small.

What really stands out though is that there’s a step up in brutality. The baddies have a lot of murderous intent towards the Hardys, but also the Hardys themselves are almost joyful in torturing two of their own prisoners, which doesn’t sit well as a modern reader.

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Buy book: UK
Secret Seven Win Through

Secret Seven Win Through

Enid Blyton

31st October 2021

In this holidays the seven have to find a new meeting place when Peter and Janet’s father recklessly approves the refurbishment of their usual shed at exactly the time they most want to use it.

As a child, I only ever had this story as an audio book, and I remember it being one of the scarier of the series. As an adult reading it, it does seem less scary, possibly because I’m more in control of the flow of the narrative.

It’s a good little adventure, with some classic moments.

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Buy book: UK

Other reviewed books

The Mystery of the Singing Serpent
The Mystery of the Nervous Lion
The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints
The Outlaw's Silver
The Vanishing Thieves
The Stone Idol
The Mystery of Smugglers Cove
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Mummy Case
Good Work, Secret Seven
The Apeman's Secret
Go Ahead, Secret Seven
The Pentagon Spy
The Mystery of the Samurai Sword
Night of the Werewolf
The Firebird Rocket
The Jungle Pyramid
The Masked Monkey
The Secret Agent on Flight 101
The Viking Symbol Mystery
The Mystery of the Desert Giant
The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon
Jennings Unlimited
The Mystery of the Chinese Junk
Secret Seven on the Trail
The Mystery at Devil's Paw
Well Done, Secret Seven
The Ghost at Skeleton Rock
Secret Seven Adventure
The Clue in the Embers
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Secret Seven
The Hooded Hawk Mystery
The Yellow Feather Mystery
The Mystery of Banshee Towers
The Secret of Wildcat Swamp
The Wailing Siren Mystery
The Mystery of Holly Lane
The Mystery of the Strange Messages
The Short-Wave Mystery
The Mystery of the Missing Man
The Secret of the Crooked Cat
The Clue of the Broken Blade
Five Children and It
Especially Jennings
Brigands M.C.
The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow
The Disappearing Floor
The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage
Jennings of Course
The Twisted Claw
The Falls
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Mystery of the Talking Skull
The General
The Mystery of the Moaning Cave
The Mystery of the Strange Bundle
The Sleepwalker
The Mystery of the Screaming Clock
The Mystery of the Vanished Prince
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Mad Dogs
The Tower Treasure
The Mystery of the Silver Spider
The Mystery of the Invisible Thief
The Fall
Don't Touch Anything
The Mystery of the Fiery Eye
Crocodile Tears
Man vs Beast
The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat
The Secret of Skeleton Island
The Wide Window
Divine Madness
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Mystery of the Hidden House
The Accused
The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure
The Reptile Room
Ark Angel
The Rithmatist
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace
The Field Guide
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
The Mystery of the Green Ghost
Coots in the North and other stories
The Killing
The Abduction
The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters
The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy
Eagle Strike
The Mystery of the Secret Room
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Maximum Security
Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia
Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones
Great Northern?
The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot
Skeleton Key
The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat
Class A
The Secret of Terror Castle
The Picts and the Martyrs
The Assassination Game
Point Blanc
The Recruit
The World of Poo
The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage
Missee Lee
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Just Like Jennings
Catching Fire
The Big Six
The Trouble with Jennings
The Hunger Games
Secret Water
The Bad Beginning
We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea
Pigeon Post
The Song of the Quarkbeast
Coot Club
Winter Holiday
Jennings as Usual
Peter Duck
Take Jennings for Instance
Thanks to Jennings
Swallows and Amazons
Our Friend Jennings
The Last Dragonslayer
According to Jennings
Jennings' Diary
Jennings and Darbishire
Jennings' Little Hut
Jennings Follows a Clue
Jennings Goes to School
Artemis Fowl

Unreviewed books

A Killing in the Market
Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens
An Ear for Danger
Beyond the Law
Biggles - Flying Detective
Biggles and the Black Peril
Biggles and the Secret Mission
Biggles Defends the Desert
Biggles Defies the Swastika
Biggles Delivers the Goods
Biggles Fails to Return
Biggles Flies East
Biggles Flies West
Biggles Goes to War
Biggles in France
Biggles in the Orient
Biggles Learns to Fly
Blood Fever
Blood Relations
Brother Against Brother
By Royal Command
Castle Fear
Choke Hold
Cold Sweat
Countdown to Terror
Crime in the Kennel
Crusade of the Flaming Sword
Cult of Crime
Dangerous Games
Dead on Target
Deep Trouble
Diplomatic Deceit
Dirty Deeds
Disaster for Hire
Double or Die
Edge of Destruction
Endangered Species
Evil Incorporated
Fatal Error
Final Cut
Final Gambit
Flesh and Blood
Flight into Danger
Foul Play
Foul Play
Fright Wave
Fun for the Secret Seven
Funny Business
Good Old Secret Seven
Grave Danger
High-Speed Showdown
Hollywood Horror
Hostages of Hate
Hot Wheels
Hurricane Gold
James and the Giant Peach
Jennings Again
Jennings at Large
Jennings in Particular
Lethal Cargo
Long Shot
Look Out Secret Seven
Mariel of Redwall
Martial Law
Martin the Warrior
Maximum Challenge
Murder at the Mall
Murder to Go
No Mercy
Open Season
Outcast of Redwall
Pearls of Lutra
Perfect Getaway
Power Play
Puzzle for the Secret Seven
Reel Trouble
Rigged for Revenge
Rock 'n' Revenge
Rough Stuff
Scene of the Crime
Secret Seven Fireworks
Secret Seven Mystery
See No Evil
Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales
Shock for the Secret Seven
Sidetracked to Danger
Slam Dunk Sabotage
Speaking of Jennings
Still William
Swallows and Amazons for Ever!
Terror on Track
The Alaskan Adventure
The Bellmaker
The Borgia Dagger
The Camels are Coming
The Cold Cash Caper
The Crowning Terror
The Crystal Prison
The Dead Season
The Final Reckoning
The Genius Thieves
The Hypersonic Secret
The Jennings Report
The Last Laugh
The Last Leap
The Lazarus Plot
The Long Patrol
The Midnight Folk
The Mystery of Death Trap Mine
The Mystery of Monster Mountain
The Mystery of the Cranky Collector
The Mystery of the Dead Man's Riddle
The Mystery of the Headless Horse
The Mystery of the Invisible Dog
The Mystery of the Kidnapped Whale
The Mystery of the Magic Circle
The Mystery of the Missing Mermaid
The Mystery of the Purple Pirate
The Mystery of the Rogues' Reunion
The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar
The Mystery of the Shrinking House
The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow
The Mystery of the Smashing Glass
The Mystery of the Trail of Terror
The Mystery of the Two-Toed Pigeon
The Mystery of the Wandering Cave Man
The Number File
The Oaken Throne
The Phoenix Equation
The Search for the Snow Leopard
The Secret of Phantom Lake
The Secret of the Haunted Mirror
The Seven and the Lion Hunt
The Seven and the Magician
The Seven and the UFOs
The Seven Strike Gold
The Seven to the Rescue
Thick as Thieves
Trust Jennings
Typically Jennings
Uncivil War
Web of Horror
Without a Trace
Witness to Murder

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