Childrens - Shastrix Books


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The Jungle Pyramid

The Jungle Pyramid

Franklin W Dixon & Vincent Buranelli

9th January 2021

After their father calls them in to help investigate a gold theft, the Hardys once again set off on international travels to solve their fifty-sixth mystery.

The format follows the now familiar pattern of the 70s novels, with exotic locales and exploration playing a large role in the storytelling and much investigation taking a back seat.

As they go, not a bad story, but not a particularly remarkable one either.

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The Masked Monkey

The Masked Monkey

Franklin W Dixon & Vincent Buranelli

30th December 2020

The Masked Monkey, the fifty-first of the Hardy Boys novels, feels a bit like a reversion to before the more modern take in the novels that preceded it. The brothers are dispatched by their father to search for a missing person, and the plot quickly gets weird.

The plot is overly convoluted and involves travelling around and fighting a lot, with little by way of investigation and much overheating of information. Many elements seem less plausible than usual, and like the previous novel I’m left not really clear what was going on.

One thing I have liked is how much more the boys’ friends have been involved in recent adventures, with Biff and Tony seeming promoted to co-investigator status along with Chet, and Chet himself getting an expanded role, although coupled with increased fat-shaming. Chet’s random hobbies have always been one of my favourite recurring aspects of the series and it’s good fun when they contribute meaningfully to the plot.

Overall though probably not one that I’d recommend - there are books in the series that are easier to follow.

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Buy book: UK
The Secret Agent on Flight 101

The Secret Agent on Flight 101

Franklin W Dixon & Tom Mulvey

26th December 2020

The forty-sixth of the original Hardy Boys novels sees the brothers leap into action after their father goes missing during a magician’s demonstration.

It feels like we’ve entered a weirdly experimental era in Hardy Boys history, as this stands out for being much more perilous than earlier novels, as well as feeling like it’s trying to move into a new space introducing two secret organisations cheekily called SKOOL and UGLI. I don’t recall hearing about them again but it felt a bit like they were intended to become regular appearances - or that the ghostwriter was totally taking the mick.

As adventures go, this one is pretty adventurous - but I struggled a bit following the passage of time in such a short novel that seems to take maybe as much as a month with a lot of flights and moving around between scenes.

A digression from the usual Hardy Boys style, and it’ll be interesting to see whether this sort of thing continues or if we will find ourselves back in the normal pattern.

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The Viking Symbol Mystery

The Viking Symbol Mystery

Franklin W Dixon & Alistair Hunter

22nd December 2020

The forty-second Hardy Boys novel sees the boys and their ever-present ally Chet Morton visit Canada on the trail of some thieves of an ancient Viking treasure.

This felt like one of those where no real detective work goes on, and every part relies on ineptitude of the baddies or lucky coincidence. Reading as an adult there are elements that are clearly unrealistic and wouldn’t happen. In one case I’m fairly sure the boys breach all sorts of immigration laws.

As I’ve come to expect, the text is quite dated. The French-speaking Canadian character’s terrible English felt unrealistically patronising, and his repeated catchphrase made it feel like the author was taking the mickey. There are effectively zero female characters contributing to the plot, and there are continued references to a proper noun containing the word “slave” that I’m shocked to find is a real place and still hasn’t had its name changed.

I read this as a child and had no memory of the plot, and I agree this time that it’s not one of the best in the series.

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Buy book: UK
The Mystery of the Desert Giant

The Mystery of the Desert Giant

Franklin W Dixon & James Buechler

19th December 2020

The fortieth book in my epic re-read / completionist read-through of the original Hardy Boys series sees the two brothers and their ever-present friend Chet set off south on a mission to find two missing men.

This is one that I’ve read before, but other than knowing what the giant of the title was going to be, I have no really memories of the plot.

It’s a pretty standard story for the series. There’s a brief bit of racism but much less than in some of the earlier novels. Possibly a more noticeable lack of female characters.

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The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon

The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon

Nick West

2nd December 2020

A classic Three Investigators mystery in which the trio are sent by their mentor Alfred Hitchcock to help a friend in need.

The story combines the usual mix of creepy supernatural story, vicious scheming baddies, and crime solving skills.

A fun little adventure.

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Buy book: UK
Jennings Unlimited

Jennings Unlimited

Anthony Buckeridge

11th October 2020

It’s been a while since my last trip to Linbury in my re-read of the Jennings series, but this was a welcome visit to the sixteenth novel.

This is an absolute classic of the series, in which everything adds up and ties together, with the distinct episodes clearly linked into one overall narrative, possibly in the best way of the series so far.

It’s funny, it’s silly, and it all make such perfect sense from the point of view of the ten-year-old main character.

I really enjoyed this re-read.

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Buy book: UK

Other reviewed books

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
Go Ahead, Secret Seven
Good Old Secret Seven
Good Work, Secret Seven
Grave Danger
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
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
Night of the Werewolf
No Mercy
Open Season
Outcast of Redwall
Pearls of Lutra
Perfect Getaway
Power Play
Programme for Destruction
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
Secret Seven Win Through
See No Evil
Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales
Shock for the Secret Seven
Sidetracked to Danger
Sky Sabotage
Slam Dunk Sabotage
Speaking of Jennings
Still William
Swallows and Amazons for Ever!
Terror on Track
The Alaskan Adventure
The Apeman's Secret
The Bellmaker
The Blackwing Puzzle
The Borgia Dagger
The Camels are Coming
The Cold Cash Caper
The Crowning Terror
The Crystal Prison
The Dead Season
The Final Reckoning
The Firebird Rocket
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 Mummy Case
The Mystery of Death Trap Mine
The Mystery of Monster Mountain
The Mystery of Smugglers Cove
The Mystery of the Cranky Collector
The Mystery of the Dead Man's Riddle
The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints
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 Nervous Lion
The Mystery of the Purple Pirate
The Mystery of the Rogues' Reunion
The Mystery of the Samurai Sword
The Mystery of the Scar-Faced Beggar
The Mystery of the Shrinking House
The Mystery of the Silver Star
The Mystery of the Singing Serpent
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 Outlaw's Silver
The Pentagon Spy
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
The Sky Blue Frame
The Stone Idol
The Vanishing Thieves
Thick as Thieves
Three Cheers, Secret Seven
Trust Jennings
Typically Jennings
Uncivil War
Web of Horror
Without a Trace
Witness to Murder

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