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4.1 out of 5 stars
138
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 19 July 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is is aimed at 12 - 16 year olds, its in a class of its own.
My 14 year old daughter sat down this morning and read the book in one go, she could not put it down. She thought it was absolutely brilliant, and is keen to read any future books by this author.

She is an avid reader, and is a huge Harry Potter fan, along with Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman, etc, but this book is so different from all the others she has read.

The story is packed with humour and intrigue, mystery, and adventure involving kidnaps, secrets and rescues.

The author has written in first person point of view.
He has used a technique where the narrator will, at times, address the reader, drawing them in on a highly personal level, then holding back, and raising the suspense up several notches. He hooks you from the start and theres no release, until the end.

Although this book has 304 pages, the text is not small and cramped, so there is not as much to get through as you might first presume.

This book is a winner.
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VINE VOICEon 30 July 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having read the book, I am now in possession of the secrets it holds, so I have to be careful about the information I divulge. The author himself/herself, writing under a pseudonym, suggests that you imagine the people and surroundings as those you know, to preserve their real identities.

I know what you're thinking, regarding the not-letting-on, keeping it all a secret trick...gimmick! It's true, it is, but I fell for it and enjoyed the funny, intimate narrative (similar to the style of the Lemony Snicket books) that the author has with the reader. He (or perhaps she) knows the age group well, that being 9 to 13s, although I have to admit to being thirty-something and enjoying it too. Throughout the book the narrator interjects with cautions and footnotes which are fun and often factually informative and add to the quirky style which is sustained throughout the book and into the well designed interactive website with extra fun stuff.

At first I was quite happy for the book to be set in my home town as was suggested, but too many Americanisms snuck in which spoilt the illusion. However, that would be my only criticism. The 400 pages seem a lot to begin with, but the pace is fast encouraging the reader to race through to the end. An entertaining, fun mystery adventure.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 August 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'll admit that this book had a slow start and I almost put it down before the story really got going. Unfortunately I think many children may read a few chapters and get bored. It's almost as if the author is trying too hard to impress and, at the beginning, it just falls flat.

However, the story really kicks off in chapter 11 (gulp yes a whole 126 pages in) when we start to discover what is written in the magicians notebook.

If you can stick with the book up to this point, I promise the rest of it is a hugely entertaining adventure with 2 children getting sucked into an ancient mystery. Very clever and wonderfully narrated as if you are having a story read to you.

After I read it myself, I read it in stages to my 10 year old niece and, although she shared my feelings about the start, she loved it and didn't want it to end when it did.

So I'm giving this 4 stars which I think is fair because it isn't perfect but it turned out to be a real good'un in the end. I would like to read more from this author.
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VINE VOICEon 18 August 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Well now, this came as quite a pleasant surprise. A ripping yarn full of high adventure, dastardly villains, the secret of eternal youth and a Symphony of Smells. What more could the eleven year old in your life want.

The appallingly named Pseudonymous Bosch has come up with an interesting, idiosyncratic way of telling a tale, which breaks the wall between narrator and reader, in an attempt to involve you more deeply in the tale. And for the most part it works as you follow the two 11-year old investigators, Cass and Max-Ernest, as they set off on their quest covering a strange magician, a lusted after journal and a dose of Egyptology.

Some of the plot lines mark it out as being quite a bare faced attempt to mop up bereft Harry Potter fans and stray Lemony Snicketers, and the ending is rather unsatisfactory, leading as it does into the inevitable sequel. It has a rather slow beginning, which may put off some of the target audience used to quick thrills, but once it gets a head of steam up, it's all quite engaging.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is certainly charming and would appeal, and I think it has been very well judged for its intended audience. The author uses a clever way of bringing some general knowledge into the book too ... for example I liked the way the author plays on the Cassandra name by weaving in the Cassandra of ancient Troy story into the narrative, just enough to sow a seed of knowledge in a lateral way.

Warmly recommended
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VINE VOICEon 14 November 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Like other reviews, I was attracted by the idea of a secret book, however after the first few chapters where the author continuously explains why he can't give anything away, he does. After that it becomes a good children's fantasy/mystery with a magician, a circus and a secret spa.

Comparisons have been made with Lemony Snickett and this is true in some respects but mainly the comparison seems to be drawn as both authors directly speak to the reader throughout the book to make you even more involved in the story. (Pseudonymous Bosch often interjects reminding the reader of how much danger they are in for knowing some information!)

I would recommend this book for children aged 9-12 who enjoy a good fantasy/mystery/adventure story with a difference! The follow up to "The Name Of This Book Is Secret," is "If You're Reading This, It's Too Late" and continues the adventures of the Cass and Max-Ernst.
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on 20 July 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a fun, amusing adventure story for children and - thanks to some witty dialogue - one that adults looking for an uncomplicated read can also enjoy. The book itself is very well presented, with numerous warnings on the cover and first few pages not to read any further, and constant interruptions throughout the story by a narrator who cannot keep a secret but also wonders out loud at just how much he should tell.

The main characters are well described, the mystery itself is quirky and engaging, and the villains are no more and no less than you'd expect in a children's novel. There are a few simple puzzles to solve (anagrams, riddles), and the author allows just enough time for the reader to work them out before the main characters come to the same conclusion.

Despite it being written for an American audience - which could alienate younger children trying to take the narrator's advice to imagine it happening in "your town", "your school" - the author does a great job of making the reader feel important and involved.
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on 24 September 2009
The name of this book is secret, the narrator of this book is secret, the location of this story is secret, the character's names are secret, chapter one is so secret we're not even allowed to read it but we can know the story begins on a Wednesday...

Cass' grandads own a cram packed antique shop that they never let any customers buy anything from. When a strange box of vials appear amongst the junk brought from a dead magician's house, Cass and her unlikely companion Max-Ernest find themselves with the infamous Symphony of Smells.

"A message for the winds. In order to spell it first you must smell it." Cass and Max-Ernest decode a cry for help with the help of their nostrils from the late magician and are quickly caught up in a mystery and a secret that has been kept for hundreds of years.

Funny and secretive this story is unique and quirky, full of riddles and clues to keep you guessing what will happen next until the very end. The narrative is similar to Jonathan Stroud's in the Bartimaeus trilogy with it's humourous outlook on the situations and the narrator's own ramblings and appendix additions. Great for fans of Lemony Snicket and The Spiderwick Chronicles.

But can you keep it a secret?! ;)
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on 19 December 2008
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Name of this Book is Secret is indeed, amongst other things, about a secret, a couple of kids - whose names we don't know (secret) - a missing magician, the Symphony of Smells, a couple of excellent baddies, and all sorts of other wondrous subjects (including a strongly Egyptian motif towards the end). And did I mention - it's all secret? It also includes an Appendix of the sort of utterly useless information that should be required reading for all.

So how good is it. Well, actually, it's not half bad. It's written in a quirky style, and gets on with it without hanging around. The thing bowls along well, and even - should you wish - gives you the chance to write your own ending (although it comes supplied with one as well).

Bottom line, it's good and I can recommend it. Any kid will enjoy it, as will most adults. And it makes a change from Harry Potter.
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VINE VOICEon 18 March 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Cass and Max-Ernst - the main characters - uncover the secrets connecting the mysterious death of a magician to the 'Symphony of Smells', a box of coded scents and messages. With interest and intrigue galore, this plot shifts along nicely.

The book had a real 'Lemony Snicket' feel to it; the author even uses a pseudonym. Definitely recommended for anyone who is a fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events even although it doesn't quite match up; the characters are drawn more engagingly in the Snicket books.

This book should work for 10-14 year-olds ... according to my age 13 daughter. She read it in one sitting, barely able to put it down. The writing isn't challenging so it would suit reluctant readers, or could would work as light relief after something quite hard-going.

So overall a good book, perhaps a little bit too much of an easy read, but definitely one to come back to a second time, if - like my daughter - you like to re-read the better books in the collection.
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