Childrens - Shastrix Books


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The Stone Idol

The Stone Idol

Franklin W Dixon

31st July 2021

This early 1980s Hardy Boys novel sees the brothers hired to investigate the theft of a small state originating from Easter Island.

In many ways, it fits the mould of the series, with the boys going off on exotic travels, helping out their father, and adopting offensive amounts of disguise as natives from other cultures.

But in others it doesn't - there are elements here which feel quite unique and like the author has put in some effort to deliberately avoid hat have become liches of the series.

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The Mystery of Smugglers Cove

The Mystery of Smugglers Cove

Franklin W Dixon

4th July 2021

In a 1980s story with a title reminiscent of much earlier books in the Hardy Boys series, the brothers get to travel to Florida, investigating the theft of a valuable painting.

Unlike many of the books, this one focusses almost exclusively on the plot, with minimal mention of the characters’ lives outside that, to the extent of being one of the only books in which Chet doesn’t have a wild new hobby. This also has the side effect of making the narrative less problematic to a modern reader.

The plot however feels a bit messy - there seem to be three different things going on and they are all mashed together into one, similar to the two-plot situation in the previous novel, The Mummy Case, so maybe that will become a trend through the 80s novels to come.

That said, it was also more readable than some of the previous novels, and I had no problems digesting five chapters at a time, and the whole book over the course of a couple of days.

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Buy book: UK
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

J K Rowling

31st May 2021

Somehow it turns out that I must have only read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows twice before - on original publication in 2007 and again pretty soon after in 2008, before I started logging all my reading. I found this really surprising when I realised, and so decided I needed to dive back in again.

It’s a really good adventure. All the things I thought I wouldn’t like turned out to be fine, and possibly just a misremembering based on the film version. The pacing is good, and thematically fits with the characters and the events taking place.

There are so many little moments that I’d totally forgotten about. Little references, or jokes, just things that help to lighten the mood of what is in places quite a dark tale. And some of the classic Rowling foreshadowing. The aspects of Dumbledore which weren’t made explicit until later actually come across really obviously now, and I can’t believe I didn’t see them the first time.

I’m really glad I paid another visit to this novel, and I look forward to my next re-read, probably sooner than another 13 years away.

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Buy book: UK
The Mummy Case

The Mummy Case

Franklin W Dixon

31st May 2021

In their most international case yet, the Hardy brothers are hired by a New York museum to investigate some thefts and accompany a mummy across the Atlantic back to Egypt.

It’s an unusual Hardy Boys story not only because of the setup, but also in its structure and the number of different threads. It almost feels like the authors/publishers had two plot ideas, but neither had enough material, so they whacked them together into one book.

The usual dated elements persist, there’s content that would certainly be badged racist today, and the attitude toward’s Chet’s body continues to be a bit overplayed.

My copy has a number of illustrations which look like they’ve been through a photocopier multiple times before getting to me, as it’s a struggle to tell what’s happening in them. Not that I’ve ever really though that the occasional illustration has ever added anything to this series.

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Buy book: UK
Good Work, Secret Seven

Good Work, Secret Seven

Enid Blyton

2nd May 2021

I found it really interesting to return to this story in the Secret Seven series. As the children prepare for Bonfire Night, Peter and Janet are shocked as they witness a car theft, and set out to find the culprits.

As a child, I only had this as an audiobook, and even now some thirty-odd years later it still felt in places like I could hear the narrator’s voice floating somewhere in my memory.

However the narrative does seem to have changed since I was a child. My memory is of fireworks playing a more prominent role, however they seem to have been edited out of that to just an aside - presumably so as not to encourage younger readers of the 21st Century to do anything dangerous. Yet the cover image hasn’t been similarly edited, and so doesn’t depict any scene that’s in the story.

I’m not really sure what to think as a result. Probably one of the weaker stories that I’ve read in the series again so far.

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Buy book: UK
The Apeman's Secret

The Apeman's Secret

Franklin W Dixon

2nd May 2021

This is possibly the first Hardy Boys story that I read as a child, though I don’t have any specific memory of that first encounter, just if this volume being an early one I came into possession of.

It’s also the first story of the 1980s, and as with the start of the 70s feels like a significant shift - with television and comic books playing a part in the story for the first time.

It’s a classic plot, with a decent mystery to investigate. But the narrative suffers from many of the dated aspects that repeat through the series and really stand out forty years later. There’s a range of body-shaming, sexism, classism, and ableism, together with the ‘if you’ve nothing to hide’ fallacy.

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Buy book: UK
Go Ahead, Secret Seven

Go Ahead, Secret Seven

Enid Blyton

17th April 2021

Book five, and we’re a third of the way into Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series. This time out the seven are split up after one of their number is caught practicing tailing a suspect.

The stories are all still quite cute, but this does continue the sexism that feels very dated to a modern reader, with the three female members of the team being left out of most of the adventure.

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Buy book: UK

Other reviewed books

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
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 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 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 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 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 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 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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