Book of the Month (June 2018)

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This just in!!

The Ragdoll Reads Book of the Month pick for June 2018 is:

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The Heart Of Buddha’s Teaching

by Thich Nhat Hanh (1998)

TL;DR – This book is a basic introduction to the foundations of Buddhism, taught from the point of view of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Absolutely recommended.

See the full review here: Book Review: The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching (Thich Nhat Hanh)

See the full Book of the Month list here: Book of the Month

Book Review: Ghosts of Shanghai (Julian Sedgwick)


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Ruby is my absolute fave. I could read about her exploits all day.

TL;DR – Follow our little heroes on a dangerous adventure through the underworld of Shanghai. A really exciting book – I can’t wait to read the other 2.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 5/5 BUTTONS

Why I read it…

We’ve had the books sitting around for a while now – my younger sisters have been hounding me to read the series for ages. “You should read Ghosts of Shanghai!” “Have you read it yet?” “Why haven’t you read it?!” “READ IT BEFORE I SET YOU ON FIRE!!” That sort of thing. I was looking for something to read between books of the Maze Runner series (James Dashner) and these happened to be there so I thought I’d finally try it.

The Story…

Ghosts of Shanghai is set, oddly enough, in Shanghai in the 1920’s. It’s a period of unrest, as tensions are growing between the nationalists, the communists, the evil Green Hand gang, and just about everyone else.

Ruby and her little band of ragtag youngsters have found themselves an old book, teaching them how to perform feats of Taoist magic. They find themselves trapping a fox (of the mystical variety, not the little fluffy red dudes) in an old temple, and then there world turns upside down.

What follows is a tale of mythology, espionage, kidnap, betrayal and heroism.

What I liked…

So first off I adore the main character, Ruby. Ignoring the fact that Ruby is my most favouritest name in the whole of ever, she is just a super cool character. She’s been brought up in Shanghai, by English parents who appear to want nothing to do with China at all. They don’t speak a word of Chinese, they aren’t interested in the local culture – they just keep being English. Ruby, by contrast, throws herself into her situation. She speaks the language, she loves the culture, she’s interested in the religions and mythologies of the country. She does everything she can to appreciate what Shanghai has to offer, and that’s a rare treat. I can’t abide English folks who swan off to other countries and insist everything has to be English.

But it’s not just that – we see Ruby start off timid, as a result of an unfortunate incident which led to the death of her little brother. She often alludes to an earlier self – Shanghai Ruby – who was fearless and ready for anything. As the story progresses, we see this personality start to return, and become something more than it was before. Ruby shows bravery and intelligence, and an open heart and mind.

The other characters are less of a focal point, they are important for the plot but less developed during the course of this book.

The plot is really good too. I enjoy a good mythology story as much as anyone, and one of the books key themes is Taoism (or Daoism if you prefer). I can’t speak for the accuracy of any of the themes, I just know I enjoy reading about them, from the foxes, to the martial-artist hermit who arrives spreading wisdom and working his magic.

The plot is full of twists and turns, and it is fun to read about how these kids are thrown into the scary underworld of Shanghai, and how they adapt to the situation and become little heroes!

What I disliked…

I’m at least fairly convinced a handful of the works Sedgwick uses aren’t real words. I’m not talking about the occasional sprinkling of Chinese (of which I understand only a teeny bit), but there are words that are put forward as English and I’m sure they are made up for no apparent reason. It’s not a big complaint, it’s just a bit weird.

Final thoughts…

I loved this book – I’ve already started the second on the series, Shadow of the Yangtze. I love the character Ruby, I love the setting and the plot – it’s all good. It’s a nice, easy read and very entertaining.

Recommended for anybody who likes adventure and mythology stories.

 

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Please note: Although my family do know the author, I have do not. I am reading them because they come recommended by my younger sisters, not because of any connection to the author. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Reading Challenge Complete (#1)

Progress has been made – it’s getting towards the end of June and I’m 2 – that’s right – TWO reading challenges down already. It’s a good year for reading.

First I completed challenge #452 books in a year. But I’m not about to pointlessly list 52 books, if you’re that desperate to know what I read you can check my challenge page on Goodreads.

I will talk about #1 though.

Reading challenge #1 was from a book blog I found – mehawkins.com. It was titled, 2018 Badass Books Reading Challenge18 unique categories. Doing this challenge actually inspired my to write my own challenges for next year (and the Around the World 2018 Reading Challenge you can try out already!!)

So here is the rundown of my progress through the challenge. (Please note: I read these in no particular order)

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Graphic and content from mehawkins.com

The 2018 Badass Books Reading Challenge

 

A book published in 2018.

ButtonChildren of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (2018)

Fantastic magic and fantasy read. Well written, engaging and really exciting. Left me wanting so much more.

See the full review here: Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi)

Rating: Exceptional (Book of the Month, April 2018)

 

A book published the year you were born.

ButtonJurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1990)

Who are you kidding, you know what Jurassic Park is about – and if you don’t, it’s about dinosaurs and being chased and possibly eaten by dinosaurs. What more could you possibly want. I loved it. Definitely one of the top reads of the challenge.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A classic book or a book published over 100 years ago.

ButtonFrom Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne (1865)

American artillery makers find themselves bored after the war. Not content with the theory of making big guns, they set out to make the biggest gun ever –  a gun that will launch a shell to the moon! It was great to see some really old science fiction, and how it differs from modern stuff·

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A book that you’ve started before and never finished.

ButtonA Guide to the Bodhisattvas by Vessantara (2008)

An introduction to some of the key bodhisattvas. Very descriptive and detailed, if a bit heavy going at times.

Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons
A book you should have read in school, but didn’t.

ButtonA Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (1887)

The first collection of Sherlock Holmes novels. I like the Holmes stories. They aren’t necessarily the most exciting books in the world, or the most clever or beautifully written, but they are fun and that’s worth something on its own.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A Book you’ve already read – time for a re-read!

ButtonThe Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe (2004)

The first book in ‘The Pirates!’ series. This story follows the pirates as the try to solve a mystery and find some serious gold in the midst of London. This book is just pure and funny. It’s silly and doesn’t take itself to seriously, and it’s about pirates. It’s everything I want in a book. It’s just a lovely, fun read.

See the full review here: Series Review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with… (Gideon Defoe)

Rating: Exceptional (Series)

 

A book that you’ve put off reading.

ButtonTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1869)

The tales of Captain Nemo and his submarine, Nautilus. This book is a round-the-world trip of adventures. It’s fairly dated at times, but if you like classic books and you like adventure stories as I do, then you can’t go far wrong.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A banned book.

ButtonFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

In a world where books and readers are burned without a care, it takes a brave soul to keep reading alive. An interesting read that has left almost nothing in my memory to assure me I actually read it. Take from that what you will.

Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

 

A book by an author you’ve never read.

ButtonFive Weeks in a Balloon by Jules Verne (1863)

3 men set off on an adventure to cross Africa in a balloon. The book is exciting, interesting and exceedingly racist. It is very “of it’s time”. But if you can see your way past that particular element, the story itself is very enjoyable, full of peril and thrills.

Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

 

A popular author’s first book.

Button10 Years in an Open Necked Shirt by Dr. John Cooper Clarke (1983)

I’m not 100% sure whether this is a first book, or a popular author, but it’s the only book of his I could find evidence of and I like him so I read it. It’s a collection of poems – I don’t do poetry as a rule, but i quite like JCC – unfortunately performance poetry does not translate so well into written poetry and quite a lot of the magic was lost.

Rating: 3/5 Buttons

 

A book turned movie you’ve seen but haven’t read.

ButtonThe Lost World by Michael Crichton (1995)

Another book all about dinosaurs, and being chased and possibly eaten by dinosaurs. Once again, Crichton’s writing style is – how should I put it – weird, but very readable, exciting and enjoyable. Another ‘top read’ contender.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A book turned TV show you’ve seen but haven’t read.

ButtonThe World of Blandings by P.G. Wodehouse (1981)

This wasn’t written in 1981, just this collection of stories was released in a nice big omnibus. It’s great fun. The collection is a series of long and short comedic tales all centered around Blandings Castle. Wodehouse writes excellent comedy and I enjoyed it immensely.

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A funny book.

ButtonThe Pirates! In an Adventure with Moby Dick by Gideon Defoe (2005)

This is the second book in ‘The Pirates!’ series. This one has the pirates attempting to capture Moby Dick in order to collect a reward with which to pay for the expensive new boat the Pirate Captain was suckered into buying. It is hilarious and silly.

See the full review here: Series Review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with… (Gideon Defoe)

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

A book that will make you smarter.

ButtonCoding Unlocked: Scratch and Python: the basic by Hywel Carver (2015)

This book is a fun introduction to computer coding aimed at children, but suitable for anybody who wants to try it out. It focuses on using Scratch to teach basic coding concepts, and then Python to do ‘proper’ text-based coding. It’s a lot of fun and by the end of it you’ll have made a couple of really simple games.

See the full review here: Book Review: Coding Unlocked: Scratch and Python: the basics (Hywel Carver)

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

An award-winning book.

ButtonThe Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (2007)

This was a pretty good detective story with some exciting elements but I thought it pretty much died out towards the end, which was fairly disappointing.

See the full review here: Book Review: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (Michael Chabon)

Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

 

A book based on a true story.

ButtonPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2003)

An autobiographical graphic novel. I don’t like biographies, auto or otherwise, but I do like graphic novels, especially the ‘alternative’ (as in, not superheroes) ones (although I love superheroes too). Someone recommended this book while I was studying my degree as a bit of an insight into the Iranian Revolution, and it was a very interesting read. I recommend it, but only if you like the medium of graphic novels.

Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

 

A book chosen for you by a friend.

ButtonNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (2017)

In this book, Neil Gaiman retells a selection of Norse myths in his own style. The book was better than good, but less than excellent. I enjoyed it, and it was a pleasure to read some mythology aimed at someone other than children and academics – I’m not on a mission to find similar books about other pantheons and cultures.

Rating: 4/5 Buttons

 

A book set during Christmas.

ButtonHogfather by Terry Pratchett (1996)

It’s Hogswatch Eve on the Discworld and the Hogfather is on his rounds – or at least something like the Hogfather. A hilarious tale of how to kill a God, and the real meaning of Hogswatch! I’ve never read a Pratchett book I didn’t like so perhaps I’m biased, but still…

Rating: 5/5 Buttons

 

So that’s what I read for this challenge. I’m most of the way through a second and third run of this Badass Books Reading Challenge, so hopefully I’ll finish both before the end of the year.

This was the first time I’ve ever done a reading challenge like this and succeeded. I’ve done X number of books a few times, and they’ve been OK, but the last time I tried with specific categories I got stuck real quick and gave up.

It was a real good experience for me – I read a lot of things I’ve been meaning to read, things that have been on my shelf for ages that I’ve never got around to before. I also read some things I never would have picked up in the past which was fun too. It was a lot of fun.

Last things before I go:

Top 3 of the Challenge:

You gotta pick a top three, so here are mine (Drum roll please):

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You should go out and read these books immediately!!

Finally, a big thank you to mehawkins.com for writing the reading challenge in the first place and getting me reading again!

Book Review: American Gods (Neil Gaiman)


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Funny, clever and entertaining. Gaiman is the king!

TL;DR – This book is cleverly crafted, brilliantly written and endlessly entertaining. Once again Gaiman delivers a cracking read! A must have for fans of fantasy and myths.

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RAGDOLL RATING: Exceptional

Why I read it…

adore Neil Gaiman – he’s one of my fave authors (I met him once at a book signing, it was tres hoopy). I’ll read basically anything he’s written and this has been on my list for a long while.

Conveniently this happened to fit under the heading of “An award winning novel” for my reading  challenge – it won the Hugo, the Nebula and the Bram Stoker awards for Best Novel and the Locus award for Best Fantasy Novel.

The Story…

Shadow is finally getting out of prison. He’ has a plane ticket home to his loving wife, a job lined up and things will finally start getting back to normal. Then his world falls apart.

His wife and future boss both dead in the same car accident. Now he has a ticket to nothing, no future and no hope. Then he meets a man on a plane. This man, Wednesday, offers Shadow a job – it pays well, it’s mostly legal and very important. With nothing else to do with himself, Shadow takes the job and is thrown head first into a world of Gods old and new, and a war for that could change the mythological world forever.

The book is gripping and funny – it managed to win a fantasy, science fiction and horror award, which should give you some idea as to the quality of the writing. The version I read was the full ~700 page behemoth. I accidentally bought a French version which was less than half that size – I don’t know what was removed from that version, but I’m certain it was missing out on some gold.

The book is full of fantasy, gods and mythology, with twists and turns abound.

What I liked…

When I picked up this book, I didn’t really know what it was about – I assumed American Gods was just a title, but as it turns out this book is brimming with Gods and awesome stories about how they came to America and what has happened since. That was a really awesome discovery.

Gaiman weaves in elements of global mythology into his storytelling, and it is both fascinating and enjoyable to experience. Those of you who have read his book “Norse Mythology” will already be aware of how well Gaiman writes mythology, and for those of you that haven’t, read it and this because both are superb examples of how to write about gods.

The plot is extremely clever. It feels like it several stories, broken up with bonus short stories as a bonus. Gaiman leaves clues about the plot all the way through, but disguises them beautifully – by the end I was left wondering how I hadn’t worked things out sooner and loving that the fact that I had been so blind. It is there for those with the eyes to see.

I was hooked from beginning to end. It’s a long book, and I read it in a few days because I couldn’t put it down.

What I disliked…

Nothing stands out. It was excellent.

Final thoughts…

This book is outstanding, and also totally typical of Neil Gaiman. You know when you read a Gaiman novel it’s going to be great, and this book did not disappoint.

I would recommend this book to anybody who likes fantasy fiction especially – but also to literally anyone and everyone because it’s great.

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book of the Month (May 2018)

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This just in!!

The Ragdoll Reads Book of the Month pick for May 2018  is:

ButtonSidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (The Grantchester Mysteries #1) 

by James Runcie (2012)

TL;DR – If you like the whole “Sleepy little town has more murders than small countries” genre, and you like priests you’ll probably like this book.

See the full review here: Book Review: The Grantchester Mysteries – Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (James Runcie)

See the full Book of the Month list here: Book of the Month

Book Review: An Argumentation of Historians (Jodi Taylor)

Goodreads Link |  Author Website

“Adventures of the Time Travelling Arsonist” ~Rejected title (probably)

TL;DR – Think ‘Female Indiana Jones’ + Time Travel and you’re pretty close to the premise of this book. A real fun read.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 4/5 BUTTONS

Why I read it…

Did you read my “TL;DR”? How was I not gonna read it! Seriously though, I love historical fiction, I love time travel and sci-fi…it was just an obvious move for me.

Also it was in the “A Book Published This Year” category of my reading challenge. One thing I should mention at this point is that this book is part of a series and I wish I had started at the beginning.

The Story…

An Argumentation of Historians is the 9th book in the series The Chronicles of St. Mary’s. Unfortunately I haven’t actually read the rest of the series, so I can’t give a great deal of overview but I’ll do my best.

Historian Max works at St Mary’s, travelling through time in order to document as much of history as possible. After the unexpected appearance of an illegal time traveller during a visit to Tudor England, Max persuades her coworkers to lay a trap to catch the villainous Clive Ronan (who I have to assume is well established as a nemesis in the previous books).

Unfortunately, the trap fails and Max finds herself stuck with no hope of rescue in the year 1399. Despite being stuck in an unfamiliar time, fortune smiles upon Max by dumping her at St Mary’s…or at least, the St Mary’s of 650 years ago. The story follows Max and her attempts to survive in a harsh new environment, and hope for a rescue that might never come…

What I liked…

The premise is perhaps the part I like the most about this book. As I said above, I love time travel and historical fiction, so the combination of the two was never going to be a hugely difficult sell (although it wouldn’t be the first book I’ve read with this premise that I completely hated).

The story itself is fun, the character of Max is entertaining, and the story is written as if Max was telling it to you in person one evening round a camp fire. I personally am I big fan of informal writing, however this isn’t for everyone so be warned.

There were a lot of references to the previous books in the series during this book. Something about different worlds, or possibly different realities; more time travel; an Arch Nemesis and also a whole host of characters who got little interesting teaser lines which would make sense if you had read the rest but made little sense to me…but I enjoyed those because it still fleshed the world out a bit and it made me want to know more about the St Mary’s setting.

It seems a little odd to say this about the final book in a series I haven’t actually read yet, but it left me wanting more. I want to read both the next book, whenever that comes out, and all the previous ones too. The story references the previous books quite a lot, which is a bit of a pain if you haven’t read them, but not so much that it becomes unreadable. You certainly could read this book as a standalone, but unless it turns out that the other books are terrible I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing so.

What I disliked…

There was nothing about the story I disliked – apart from the fact that I didn’t know who anybody was or what the setting was, but that was entirely my fault for starting at the end of the series.

However, I’ve rated this book 4 buttons out of 5, and the reason for this is presumably more the fault of the publishers than the author, but you never know.

Specifically, this book could have done with another run through by a proof reader (assuming it actually had one) and another look by an editor. The first thing that struck me was that the text was slightly offset on the page – presumably intended to compensate for the binding, but it was too much and it looked really strange. I got used to it, but it really bugged me when I started reading. That in-and-of-itself wouldn’t have lost the book any marks, but then came the spelling and wording errors.

I get it, spelling errors happen. Sometimes you just miss things – I’m sure there are spelling errors on this site! That said, I’m neither a profession author, nor a proof reader, I’m just some mug on the internet with nothing better to do. I can take the odd error here and there, in fact I wasn’t even going to mention it originally, but by the third time I’d seen the word “off” spelt “of” (and this was far from the only problem) it had annoyed me so much I couldn’t not say something.

In addition there was a phrase to the effect of “There is no hard evidence for a sixth sense” which massively irritated me, since I would have thought most people by now where aware the the ‘5 senses’ thing we were taught as children is bunk. There were also a few occasions where it felt like the author had rewritten a sentence, but failed to properly delete the previous attempt and ended up with a garbled mess – a mess which apparently nobody at the publishers caught.

Having said that, I realise these complaints are – despite taking up most of the review space – fairly minor on their own. They just really bugged me. Hence the lost Button in the rating. It’s not something that would stop me reading the series or recommending it to others.

Final thoughts…

When all is said and done, I really enjoyed this book and I intend to read this rest of the series, copy errors be damned.

I would recommend this for historical fiction fans who like a bit of science fiction (because if you hate sci-fi, you probably won’t enjoy reading this much). Just remember to be warned about the writing style – it’s not for everyone!

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book of the Month (April 2018)

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This just in!!

The Ragdoll Reads Book of the Month pick for April 2018  is:

questionChildren of Blood and Bone 

by Tomi Adeyemi (2018)

Recommended for: Teens and up. Magic / fantasy lovers.

See the full review here: Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi)

Everyone should read this book immediately, it is amazing. A superb book to kick off our Book of the Month series.

Series Review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with… (Gideon Defoe)


Goodreads Link

“Not since Moby-Dick… No, not since Treasure Island… Actually, not since Jonah and the Whale has there been a sea saga to rival The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists…” ~Goodreads

TL;DR – If you like light reading, humour and pirates, give this series a try.

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Series details…

Released: 2004-2012.

“The Pirates…” series is made up of 5 books; The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (2004); The Pirates! In an Adventure with Whaling (2005); The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists (2006); The Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoleon (2008); The Pirates! In an Adventure with Romantics (2012).

The story…

“The Pirates!…” books focus on the tales of a typical pirate crew, and their fearless and ruthless captain; The Pirate Captain! With his pleasant open face, stentorian nose and luxuriant beard, the Pirate Captain leads his fearless – and only slightly inept – crew on a series of adventures throughout the globe.

The books contain a host of lovable heroes and contemptible villains, from Number 2 (the only competent pirate on the boat), to the dastardly Black Bellamy (Pirate Captains Arch Enemy / Long Standing Friend) to the cynical, realistic (and therefore much loathed) Pirate in Red.

The Stories all follow a similar format; The Pirate Captain and his crew are bobbing along through the high seas, with no particular aims or goals in mind – they just like being at sea. (Never before has a single group of people more fully embodied that fine old hymn “Yo ho; Yo ho; A pirate’s life for me”.) The crew find themselves embattled in important philosophical debates – such as the best way to cook a ham – when the Pirate Captain himself enters majestically, and settles the matter once and for all, with an observation so wise and logical, you are left wondering why you never realised it before! Then – usually due to the Pirate Captain’s boredom or generalised moping, the crew set off on a wild adventure, featuring a host of famous figures from history. For example:

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (2004) – In an attempt to score some major treasure, the Pirates attack a vessel belonging to the Bank of England, transporting oodles of gold and treasures to wherever it is the Bank of England hordes it’s treasures. Unfortunately for the the Pirate Captain, this vessel contains less gold and more brilliant naturalists, in the form of Charles Darwin. Never one to back away from a challenge, The Pirate Captain concocts a scheme to use Darwin to make a fortune in London – leading to an exciting (and utterly bizarre) mystery that only the Pirates can solve.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoleon (2008) sees a depressed Pirate Captain give up the salty world of professional pirating, to follow his life-long (read: half-hour long) dream of being a bee-keeper. He buys an island – which the brochure says is ideal for bee-keeping –  from the devilish Black Bellamy, and (much to the misery of the crew) set’s sail for his new Island – Corsica. Shortly after arriving, a new resident arrives – none other the Napoleon Bonaparte, freshly exiled. The Pirate Captain and Napoleon hit it off badly – two powerful personalities on a small, raggedy island (that is useless for keeping bees on) constantly at each others throats. The pair set about proving once-and-for-all who is the better man, with hilarious results!

Why did I read them…

My first exposure to this series came from the movie adaption – The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (Movie – 2012) – which remains one of my Top 5 movies of all time. After watching it a few times and looking on the ‘net, I discovered the books and bought them all. The books did not disappoint.

Why I love them…

The main (and most non-specific) reason is because I enjoyed the books so much. “The Pirates!…” books are the only series I can think of that I have read 3 or more times. I enjoyed The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (2004) so much that it is my go-to book for reading when I’m in a difficult head-space and need something to soothe and give a little spark of joy. It also holds the #1 spot in my Top 5 ‘light reading’ list.

Secondly, the characters. This series has characters I can really picture and enjoy (which was definitely helped by the movie adaption). I love the Pirate Captain most of all.

The Pirate Captain stands out for me because of the way his character reacts to the world around him. He is a Pirate because he loves the idea of being a pirate. He loves the treasure, and the pirate boat and the running people through. He loves the tattoos and the shanties and the roaring. He is married to the sea and is mostly faithful to it. He loves pirating – he just isn’t very good at it.

For starters, he’s really bad with names (so relatable) so he uses descriptions instead – The Pirate in Green, The Albino Pirate, The Pirate Who Likes Kittens And Sunsets. He also doesn’t know how nautical instruments work; be it an astrolabe or an honest-to-goodness map, the Pirate Captain doesn’t know how to use it properly. But he tries his best, and goes out of his way to make it sound like he knows exactly whats going on – even, and indeed especially, when he has absolutely no clue. The Pirate Crew love him in spite – or perhaps because – of this (except the Pirate in Red who tried to undermine the Pirate Captain whenever he can).

The Pirate Captain is not a man with a plan. He prefers to get an outline (catch the white whale) and fill in the details later. This leads to a series of amusing, over-the-top and mostly ineffective schemes as part of a totally bizarre and wonderful adventure.

Things usually work themselves out in the end, in one way or another, and you never stop rooting for the magnificent Pirate Captain and his rag-tag crew of lovable idiots.

Finally, the stories themselves. The plots are silly. The writing is silly. The characters and situations and footnotes are silly – and that is fantastic. These books don’t take themselves seriously – there’s no worrying about realism or historical accuracy or on occasions, common sense. It’s just fun. Fun for adults, and fun teens, fun for all!

Recommended for…

Most ages: Certainly fun for adults and older children. (Probably find for younger children but use your own judgement).

For readers of: Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams etc. Similar sort of humour and writing. I personally rank my Top 3 ‘humour’ series as #1 Discworld (Pratchett), #2 The Pirates!… (Defoe), #3 The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Adams).

Final thoughts…

The Pirates! series is equal parts funny, weird and wonderful. With situations and characters that are easy to love. They are written in a humorous and easy-to read way (complete with interesting and amusing foot-notes).

The stories are short, and sweet and funny. You really can’t ask for more.

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!