Dreamland

Dreamland was first published in 2015 and is Robert L Anderson’s debut novel. It is a fantasy story that focuses on a teenage girl who has the power to “walk” into other people’s dreams. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Odea “Dea” Donahue has always been an outsider. Ever since she was little, she has been able to walk into the dreams of others. To her, it is as natural as breathing, however her mother has always made clear that there are rules that she must follow. Never be seen, never change anything, and never walk into the same person’s dream more than once. So long as Dea follows these rules, she will be safe.

Dea follows these rules without question until she meets Connor. Once she has tasted Connor’s dreams, she knows that she needs to go back for more. However, Connor is a troubled youth and his dreams are filled with monsters. It’s not long before these faceless creatures seem to become aware of Dea’s presence. And then, they come for her.

When Dea’s mother suddenly vanishes, the police suspect that she has gone on the run. Only Dea realises the truth – the monsters have captured her. Dea knows that she will need to delve further into the Dreamland than ever before if she wants to save her, and the key to doing so lies in Connor’s mind. However, will Connor even want to be close to Dea once he learns what she is capable of?

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Fazbear Frights: Into the Pit

Fazbear Frights: Into the Pit was written by Scott Cawthon and Elley Cooper and first published in 2020. It is a collection of three short stories, all of which are set within the vague canon of the Five Night’s at Freddy’s series. The stories are designed to stand alone and are not directly linked to any previous games or novels. There are also three further collections that are planned to be released over the next few months.

In Into the Pit, Oswald’s best friend has moved away and now he seems to be destined to spend the summer alone. As he hangs out at a local pizza restaurant, he makes a bizarre discovery. The out-of-order children’s play area has the power to transport a person back in time. Oswald finds himself in the busy arcade that once stood in the place of the restaurant. Trouble is, his appearance seems to have caught the attention of a sinister figure in a yellow rabbit costume. Worse still, this person manages to follow him back home…

In To Be Beautiful, Sarah knows that she is ugly and dreams to be noticed by the Beautifuls – four popular girls at her school. When she finds an abandoned robotic doll, she soon discovers that it has the power to grant her wish. The doll calls itself Eleanor and is more than happy to make Sarah’s dreams come true. Every day, Sarah wakes up to find she is more beautiful than before. What she doesn’t realise is that nothing comes without a price…

In Count The Ways, Millie has never been a cheerful child. She is the only Goth at her school and is constantly picked on by the vapid, fashionable girls. Although Millie has always admired Gothic writers and poets who find beauty in death, she has never truly wished to die. However, when trying to hide from relatives, she finds herself trapped inside the body of a mechanical bear. To her horror, the robot seems to be alive and is eager to kill. If she doesn’t find a way to escape, the creature will force her to choose what way she wants to die…

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Goosebumps 55-58

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30 | 31-35 | 36-40 | 41-45 | 46-50 | 51-54

We’re starting to get close to the end of this series now, so let’s take another look back at the original Goosebumps books. These sixty-two novels were all written by R.L. Stine and published between 1992 and 1997. The series is still massively popular today and has spawned a number of spin-offs, movies, video games and even a television show. For the purpose of today’s review, I will be looking at books 55 to 58 only. Oh, and as this is more of a retrospective, there will be massive spoilers. You have been warned.

In The Blob That Ate Everyone, Zackie loves to write horror stories despite being terrified of everything. Due to this, he is thrilled when the owner of a strange, burned out antiques store gives him an old typewriter. In fact, she seems desperate to get rid of it. Trouble is, it’s not long before Zackie realises that everything he writes seems to be coming true. What can he do when he inadvertently releases a giant pink monster on the town?

In The Curse of Camp Cold Lake, Sarah is not having a good time at camp. She hates water, the rules seem far too restrictive, and her roommates are all horrible. To get back at them, Sarah decides to fake her own death. That will make everyone sorry. The problem is that something goes horribly wrong and Sarah finds herself haunted by a ghostly girl. One who is determined to be her buddy. Forever.

In My Best Friend is Invisible, Sammy loves science-fiction but is less than impressed when a mysterious invisible boy invades his room. Brent eats his food, messes things up and claims he only wants to be Sammy’s friend. Trouble is, Brent seems to excel in getting Sammy in trouble and now his parents think that he’s losing his mind. But how can Sammy manage to get rid of something that he can’t even see?

In Deep Trouble II, Billy and Sheena are once again spending their summer at their uncle’s floating lab in the Caribbean. Once again, something weird is happening on the reef. Giant fish and jellyfish are appearing, and even Billy’s goldfish have been affected! They soon learn that it’s all due to the horrible experiments of another scientist. However, now that they have learned his secrets, he can’t possibly allow the kids to leave the reef alive…

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Fighting off the Winter Blues

Hi Everyone!

I’ve finally finished my winter reads and I hope that you enjoyed them all! Unfortunately, it’s still cold and dreary outside and spring feels a long way away. It’s time to return to business as usual here on Arkham Reviews to help fight off those winter blues. I have a great selection of novels both new and old to share with you over the coming weeks.

At the moment, I’m reading Scott Cawthon’s latest collection of Five Nights at Freddy’s short stories – Into The Pit. After that, here is a sneak peak of what you can expect as we head into spring. I’m trying to alternate a bit more between new releases and things that have been sitting on my to read pile for a while, so hopefully you will find this selection to be nicely varied:

Dreamland by Robert L Anderson

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

The Stone of Kuromori by Jason Rohan

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

The Night Country by Melissa Albert

Aiden’s Quest for Apollo by Tanvi Kesari Pasumarthy

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Final 7 by Kerry Drewery

Shadowsea by Peter Bunzl

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

Crownbreaker by Sebastien de Castell

Naturally, I will also be finishing off my series of retrospective Goosebumps reviews over this time as well. I hope you’re as excited about this little selection as I am!

TTFN!

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

The Polar Bear Explorers Club | Explorers on Witch Mountain

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge was written by Alex Bell and first published in 2019. It follows the continuing adventures of Stella Starflake Pearl as she heads to one of the most dangerous places on the planet in search of a cure for her ailing friend. The novel forms the third part of The Polar Bear Explorers Club series, following on directly from where The Polar Bear Explorers Club (2017) and Explorers on Witch Mountain (2018 – published as The Forbidden Expedition in the US). Due to this, I would strongly recommend reading them in sequence if you want to fully appreciate them.

Things do not look good for Stella and her friends. Following their adventure on Witch Mountain, Felix has been stripped of his title and banished from the club. To make matters worse, Gideon has falsely accused Stella of using her magic against him, so there is also now a warrant for her arrest. This could not have come at a worse time, as Shay and Koa are growing sicker by the day. The only possible cure for them lies on the other side of the Black Ice Bridge, in the pages of Stella’s long-lost Book of Frost.

Naturally, friendship comes before everything else and Stella is quick to use her magic to escape. Yet, due to the fact that they no longer have any connections to the club, they are less prepared than ever before. No explorer has ever returned from the Black Ice Bridge, not even Beanie’s father in his ill-fated expedition eight years previously. The Explorers do not know what they will find, especially as rumours state that the bridge may lead to the very edge of the world.

Soon, Stella, Shay, Ethan and Beanie find themselves separated from the adults once again. They now can only use their wits, magic and meagre supplies to survive on the deadly bridge. But can they reach the other side in time when who knows what dangers lie in their way?

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The Girl who Speaks Bear

The Girl Who Speaks Bear was written by Sophie Anderson and first published in 2019. It is a fantasy story that focuses on a young girl who is searching for a way to break a strange curse. Although the novel has ties to The House with Chicken Legs (2018), it does still stand alone and can be thoroughly enjoyed if you haven’t read Anderson’s previous book.

Yanka has never really felt as though she belongs in the village. She was found in the woods by her Mamochka when she was a toddler and the other children are not always kind to her. Due to the fact that she is so big and strong, they have started to call her “Yanka the Bear” and Yanka knows that they laugh behind her back. Yet she also knows that she is not like them. Sometimes, Yanka feels the pull of the forest and she does not know why.

One morning, Yanka wakes up to find that she has grown furry bear legs. Although Mamochka is convinced that it some kind of strange infection, Yanka knows that this is not true. She has grown up listening to stories about a family who were cursed to become bears, and now knows that the same thing is happening to her. To find a way to lift the curse, she knows that she must seek out the legendary Bear Tsarina and ask for her assistance.

Yet the forest is dangerous, even with the protection of Mousetrap the house weasel – the self-proclaimed fiercest hunter. Yanka must face hungry wolves, witches, and even a fire dragon if she wants to find a way to restore herself. Even then, Yanka is not certain that it will make her truly happy. The forest is calling to her louder than ever before. Perhaps Yanka would be better off as a bear…

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Owlcrate Unboxing – January 2020

Hi Everyone! You might have noticed that I’ve gotten a bit hooked on Owlcrate over the last few months and so I thought that I would start to share my unboxings with you.

In case you haven’t see the adverts for this online, Owlcrate is a monthly subscription box for fans of Young Adult books. These boxes aren’t the cheapest to buy in the UK (with postage, it costs about $50.00 / £38.00), but I have been absolutely blown away by the quality of the collectables that they contain. Each box is guaranteed to include at least one new release, which is always a hard-backed book and is usually signed by the author and with an exclusive cover. It also contains 3-5 other items, all tied to a monthly theme.

Owlcrates tend to sell out very quickly, thought if you continue paying your monthly subscription they do guarantee that you will receive each box. The January theme was ‘Vengeance Will Be Mine’. Please read on to find out what I thought about the items that it contained, though be warned that this post does contain pictures and lots of spoilers if you’re still waiting for your box to arrive…

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Frostheart

Frostheart was written by Jamie Littler and first published in 2019. It is a middle grade fantasy novel which focuses on a young boy with an incredible power, as he is whisked away on an adventure with the eccentric crew of a land-ship. The novel forms the first part of a planned series and its sequel – Frostheart 2: Escape From Aurora – is due for release in October 2020.

For as long as anyone can remember, the Snow Sea has been the domain of the Leviathans. The huge monsters hide beneath the ice, attacking anyone who ventures too far away from the safety of their stronghold. At one time, Song Weavers were able to use their powers to quell the rage of the beasts. Unfortunately, these people have now largely been driven away. After all, the Leviathans could also seize control of the Song Weavers and command them to do terrible things.

Ash has never fit in amongst the Fira. Although he has always struggled to keep his urge to Sing a secret, the Leviathans still call to him and people are starting to get suspicious. Since his parents disappeared, he has been passed from guardian to guardian and now only Tobu – an exiled Yeti – is willing to take care of him. Tobu seems to be intent on pointing out Ash’s flaws as a warrior and trying to prevent him from Singing, but Ash does not really understand why. How can being a Song Weaver be so wrong when the Leviathans sound so beautiful?

When Ash uses his power to save the crew of the Frostheart from the Leviathans, he finds himself exiled from the Fira Stronghold. Fortunately, Captain Nuk is more that happy to welcome Ash aboard her ship. While life on the Snow Sea is dangerous, Ash soon discovers that this comes with freedom that he could never have imagined. Finally he has the chance to follow clues left by his parents in the form of a lullaby – a riddle that could possibly lead him back to them!

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Goosebumps 51-54

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews of these novels here:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30 | 31-35 | 36-40 | 41-45 | 46-50

Hello everyone! I think it’s time for another trip down memory lane as I take another look back at one of my childhood favourites. In case you’re unfamiliar with R.L. Stine’s most popular work, Goosebumps is a horror anthology series which is aimed at middle grade readers. Although there have been a number of recent spin-offs, movies and video games, the original series ran for sixty-two novels. For the purpose of today’s review, I’m going to be looking at books fifty-one to fifty-four. Oh, and there will be massive spoilers. You have been warned.

In Beware, the Snowman, Jaclyn is annoyed that her Aunt has moved to Sherpia. The tiny village is in the middle of nowhere! Yet it’s not long before she learns that the frozen village has some terrifying local customs. Every house has a scar-faced snowman in its front yard, and the local kids warn her that something terrifying lurks on top of a nearby mountain. Jaclyn is determined to discover if the legends are true, but in doing so learns secrets about her family that she never could have imagined…

In How I Learned to Fly, Jack is rapidly growing to detest Wilson. No matter what he does, Wilson is always determined to prove that he can do better and it is driving him insane! However, when Jack discovers a strange book that claims to contain the secrets of human flight, he realises he has a chance to finally do something better than his rival. After all, there is no way that Wilson can possibly be able to fly, is there?

In Chicken, Chicken, Crystal has always been sceptical of the rumours about Vanessa. Just because someone wears all black, it does not mean that they are a witch. Unfortunately, when Crystal and her brother, Cole, accidentally spill Vanessa’s shopping, they discover that Vanessa just might be magical after all. After all, Crystal and Cole are now changing. If they can’t find a way to stop it, it’s not going to be long before they stop being human altogether…

In Don’t Go To Sleep!, Matt can’t understand why he is forced to sleep in a tiny room when a much larger guest room is going spare. To prove a point, he sneaks into the guest room once night and sleeps in there. Unfortunately, when Matt wakes up, he finds that everything has changed. His two siblings are now little kids and he has suddenly become a teenager! As each day becomes stranger than the one before, Matt starts to regret ever complaining about his old life. Will he ever find a way back to his reality?

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Nevertell

Nevertell was written by Katharine Orton and first published in 2019. It is a historical fantasy story set in Stalin’s Russia, focusing on a young girl’s escape from a terrible labour camp. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Lina has never known anything beyond the fences of the camp. Although her mother has told her wonderful stories about her Grandmother – a fierce woman who lives in distant Moscow – Lina knows that she is unlikely to ever meet her. However, things change when Lina learns that three dangerous convicts have decided to make an escape. They have agreed to take Lina with them, so long as she can use her job in the camp greenhouse to secure them food for their long journey.

While the escape largely goes to plan, Lina soon realises that she is in big trouble. Not only would her companions kill her without a thought, but the wilds of Siberia are filled with danger. Lack of food and biting cold threatens their every step, and ghostly wolves haunt the darkness. Once these creatures find their scent, Lina soon finds herself separated from the others and imprisoned by a mysterious sorceress who calls herself the Man Hunter.

Lina knows that she needs to find a way to escape, as the only way that she can possibly rescue her mother from the camp is by reaching her Grandmother. She soon manages to befriend Natalya – one of the many once-human “shadows” that the Sorceress keeps as servants. With the help of this mysterious spirit and a little magic of her own, Lina soon discovers that she has the power to achieve the impossible. But will it be enough to get all the way to Moscow?

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