The X-Files: Ground Zero

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Goblins | Whirlwind

I apologise for the lack of reviews over the last few weeks – I’ve had a bit of a rough time of late. Still, hopefully that is now all over with and so I can get back to working through my ominous “to read” pile…

For tonight’s review, I will be returning to the series of original The X-Files novels that were published between 1994 and 1998. This was a collection of six full-length stories by three different authors that presented self-contained adventures for Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully which were never made into episodes. Today, I’ll be looking at the third novel – Ground Zero by Kevin J Anderson. And there will be spoilers. You have been warned…

Dr Emil Gregory has worked as a nuclear weapons researcher for decades and is proud to have been involved with dozens of top-secret projects. Yet his most recent one – code named Bright Anvil – is set to be the most incredible of them all. Unfortunately, Dr Gregory does not live to see it come to fruition. He is found in his remarkably intact office, burned to a crisp by radioactive fire.

As the death occurred on Federal property, Mulder and Scully are quickly called upon to investigate. However, it’s not long before they realise that Dr Gregory is not the only one to have died in such a way. Several other victims are found with similar injuries and the only thing connecting them is that they have each had some association with nuclear weapons tests in the past.

It’s not long before Mulder and Scully discover a link to a protest group lead by a former assistant of Dr Gregory. Is it possible that they have something to do with the murders and, if so, what possible weapon could they have developed to exact their revenge? As Operation Bright Anvil draws closer, Mulder and Scully enter a race against to clock to find out who is responsible before they can endanger everyone involved in the project…

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Amelia Fang and the Half-Moon Holiday

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in this series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball | Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords | Amelia Fang and the Memory Thief

Amelia Fang and the Half-Moon Holiday was written by Laura Ellen Anderson and first published in 2019. It tells the story of the continuing adventures of Amelia Fang – a brave little vampire – and her monstrous friends as they go on a trip to an unusual island. The novel forms the fourth part of the Amelia Fang series, following Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball (2017), Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords (2018) and Amelia Fang and the Memory Thief (2018).

Amelia Fang is both nervous and excited to be going on her first holiday without her parents. Her Rainbow Rangers troop will be heading away for the entire of the Half-Moon Holidays, camping on the remote and uninhabited Sugarplum Island. Amelia is looking forward to spending time with her best friends – Tangine, Florence and Grimaldi – but more than anything she wants to earn the most badges and be named the Rainbow Ranger Captain.

However, things get off to a strange start for Amelia as she thinks that she sees something strange in the Sea of Sparkles. Yet this odd encounter is not enough to prepare her for what happens on the island. While trying to earn their Food Foraging badge, the team eat some mysterious glowing fruit and find themselves shrunk to the size of insects!

With the help of King Jamie the Eighth of Buggingtonshire, the group must try to find out exactly what happened to them and how to break the curse. If they don’t, they will have no chance of returning home or doing the things that they love ever again!

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Day 7

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Cell 7. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Day 7 was written by Kerry Drewery and first published in 2017. It forms the second part of the Cell 7 trilogy, following Cell 7 (2016) and preceding Final 7 (2018). As the novel picks up exactly where the previous instalment left off, I would really recommend reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Martha has been found innocent and freed from Death Row but it has come at a terrible cost. To save her, Isaac admitted that he was the one who shot Jackson Paige. Now, he has taken her place in the Cells and will certainly be executed in seven days. After all, how could the public possibly declare him not guilty when he has openly admitted to the crime?

As Martha returns home with Eve and Max, she quickly learns that all of her efforts have been for nothing. All copies of her evidence against Jackson have been destroyed and the public now believe that she is simply a liar. She may have escaped execution but her trial-by-public continues, helped by reports that she is dangerously unstable. It seems that someone at the top wants Martha to go away and will gladly hurt her allies to achieve this.

On the run and wanted by the authorities, it seems that there is little that Martha can do to save Isaac. However, she is then approached by an unexpected person who claims that they can help. Patty – Isaac’s adopted mother – claims that she has her own reasons for wanting Isaac to go free and can provide Martha with the means to save him. However, can Martha trust her or is this just another trap?

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Glow: Book 1 – Potency

Glow: Book 1 – Potency was written by Aubrey Hadley and is due for release in July 2019. It is a science fiction novel that focuses on a teenage girl whose life is changed for ever when she is abducted by aliens. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Harper can’t wait to go to college. Her controlling mother has always home-schooled her and does everything that she can to prevent her daughter from going outside. She claims that this is due to her fears about the Mara Sleeping Sickness – a deadly disease which has struck a couple of random places around the globe – but Harper thinks this is ridiculous. There hasn’t been an outbreak reported anywhere near them.

One afternoon, when Harper sneaks out to play football with her friends, she sees something weird; a glowing spectral figure, roaming the desert near her home. A few days later, the Mara Sleeping Sickness strikes only a few blocks away and Harper’s whole town is put into quarantine. Although all of Harper’s family manage to escape, she finds herself trapped within the compound as her neighbours start to die.

Yet, Harper soon learns that the disease is extraterrestrial in origin. More surprising still, the Ancients – the advanced race of aliens who have engineered it – have more than a passing interest in her. As Harper is whisked off to the Ancients’ military base, she learns that she is actually a hybrid made from human and Ancient DNA. As she is introduced to other people like her, she comes to learn the Ancients’ plan for Earth. The planet has been deemed worthy of protection, but to do so the aliens plan to wipe out the human race…

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Slender Man

Slender Man was first published in 2018 and penned by an author who, it seems, wishes to remain anonymous. The novel is formed by a collection of journal entries, police reports and newspaper cuttings which slowly piece together the tale of a teenage boy’s encounter with a certain modern-day myth. The novel stands alone but would probably be best enjoyed by people who are already familiar with the “nature” of Slender Man.

If it wasn’t for his nightmares, Matt Barker would be a perfectly ordinary teenager. Although he rarely remembers what causes him to wake up in the night, his parents have decided that it would be best for him to talk to someone about it. When his psychiatrist advises that he keeps a journal of his thoughts, Matt initially thinks that it is ridiculous. However, it soon becomes the perfect way for him to document the strange things that are happening around the city.

It all starts when his childhood friend, Lauren Bailey, walks out of her family home in the early hours of the morning and disappears off the face of the earth. There is no evidence of foul play – no body, ransom note or signs of trouble. Although everyone at school seems to have an opinion of what might have happened, only Matt knows the truth. As his dreams grow increasingly sinister, he realises that Lauren’s obsession with Creepypastas has lured something terrible to her door.

As Matt starts to research the Slender Man for himself, he realises that there is a tiny chance that he might be able to get Lauren back. However, the Slender Man does not release his victims for free. In order to save his friend, he might have to pay a terrible price. But who knows what the Slender Man does to those that disappear and is Matt strong enough to find out?

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A Mortal Song

A Mortal Song was written by Megan Crewe and first published in 2016. It is a fantasy story set in modern day Japan, focusing on a group of humans and kami who join forces to fight a powerful demon. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

As a kami princess, Sora has always longed to find her speciality and take on her sacred duties. However, as she prepares to confront her parents about this, disaster strikes. An army of ghosts overruns the palace on Mount Fuji. With the help of her bodyguard – Takeo – she manages to escape and goes in search of a sage who might be able to tell them how to save everyone. However, it is there that Sora learns that her whole life is a lie.

There is a prophecy that a kami princess will use the three imperial treasures to banish evil from the mountain, but that princess is not Sora. She is actually a completely ordinary human who was switched with the true princess at birth. In order to save the kami still trapped in the palace, Sora and Takeo must venture into Tokyo and locate the true princess. She is the only one with the power to save the day.

As Sora moves further away from Mount Fuji, she feels the magic that she has borrowed slowly leave her and must accept that she is not a kami. Her real family lives somewhere in the city and she must soon accept her fate and return to them. However, first she must help to train the princess. The ghosts will be at full strength during the festival of Obon, and that is only a few days away…

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The Wizards of Once

The Wizards of Once was written by Cressida Cowell and first published in 2017. It is a middle grade fantasy series, set in a world where magic using Wizards and non-magical Warriors are constantly at odds with each other. The novel forms the first part of a series and is followed by Twice Magic (2018).

In the Dark Ages, the woods of the British Isles were a place of magic. Wizards practiced their crafts in the Wild Woods, making potions and befriending the sprites, giants and snowcats that lived nearby. However, they never saw eye to eye with the Warriors, who confined themselves to the Warrior Fort and the surrounding countryside. The Warriors did not have magic and used iron, which had the ability to sap a Wizard of their power. They were also completely unreasonable, believing that all magic was evil and punishing any Wizard that they found.

Xar is the youngest son of King Encanzo of the Wizards but carries a secret shame. He is thirteen years old and so his magic should have come in by now, yet he can’t cast a single spell. However, he has a cunning plan. He intends to hunt for a Witch – a legendary creature that is believed to be extinct – and find a way to steal their dark powers. However, his Witch hunt is called short when it is interrupted by Wish – the youngest daughter of Queen Sychorax of the Warriors – who has recently come to possess two enchanted artefacts and is keen to hide this fact from her mother.

Seizing a chance to gain powers for himself (and show up his older brother Looter), Xar steals Wish’s magical sword and heads home to enter himself in a Spelling contest. Yet it soon becomes clear that his rash actions have terrible unforeseen consequences. When one of Xar’s friends is cursed, he is forced to team up with Wish to hunt for the cure. Unfortunately for him, this cure can only be found deep in Queen Sychorax’s dungeons…

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The Twisted Tree

The Twisted Tree was written by Rachel Burge and first published in 2018. It is a dark fantasy story about a girl who finds herself isolated in a remote Norwegian forest as something terrible lurks outside. The novel stands-alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

On the day that Martha was blinded in one eye, she gained a surprising power. She only needed to touch a person’s clothing to feel their emotions and gain glimpses into their past. Naturally, she felt that she had lost her mind. Due to a combination of this and loathing of her scarred face, she became more withdrawn and started to avoid social gatherings. The only person that she tried to confide in was her Mormor in Norway, however she never received a reply to any of her letters.

When Martha catches her mother burning a letter from Mormor, she knows that she needs to find a way to visit her grandmother in person. However, on arrival at her remote Norwegian island, she discovers that she has made a huge mistake. Mormor has passed away and a strange boy – Stig – has taken it upon himself to squat in her vacant home.

However, as Martha speaks with Mormor’s neighbours, she begins to learn that something strange is afoot. Mormor’s dying wish was that her family continue to tend the warped tree her garden – the very one that Martha fell from and lost her sight. Yet, as Mormor’s request has gone unheeded, Martha soon realises that something is going wrong. She begins to have strange visions about the tree and something terrible stalks the woods at night. With Stig’s help, she searches the house for some clue as to what Mormor has been hiding from her. In doing so, she learns a terrifying secret about her family that will change her life forever…

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Evermore

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Everless. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Evermore was written by Sara Holland and first published in 2018. It is a fantasy novel set in a world where time is currency, focusing on a teenage girl’s mission to defeat a wicked sorceress. The novel forms the concluding part of the Everless series and follows on directly from where Everless (2017) left off, therefore I would strongly advise reading the novels in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Jules Ember’s life has been turned upside down. Not only has she been framed for the deaths of both the Queen and Lord Roan, but she now knows the truth about her power to slow the flow of time. She is the reincarnation of the Alchemist – the hated figure of legend who stole the immortal Sorceress’s heart and bound time to the blood of everyone in Sempera. Now, nowhere is safe for Jules. Not only is she hunted and despised for her supposed crimes, but Caro will stop at nothing to recapture her. The Sorceress wants her heart back and that means it first must be broken.

Although Liam and his friends try to smuggle Jules to safety, she knows that she cannot run away. Her sister Ina – now the new Queen – has no idea of what Caro is or the danger that she represents. The only way that Jules can protect her sister is by finding a way to kill the Sorceress but doing so seems to be impossible due to the Sorceress’s terrifying ability to regenerate herself. If only Jules can find a way to access her inherited memories from the time of the Alchemist. Perhaps they could contain some way to stop her archenemy.

With Liam’s help, Jules travels across the land in search of places that were significant to the Alchemist. In doing so, it’s not long before she sees glimpses of an ancient jewelled dagger which could well have the power to kill the unkillable. Yet can these memories be trusted, or are they just another way for Caro to trap her…

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Unspoken

Unspoken was written by Sarah Rees Brennan and was first published in 2012. It is a paranormal romance novel about a teenage girl who learns that her imaginary friend is real. The novel forms the first part of The Lyburn Legacy series and is followed by Untold (2013) and Unmade (2014), as well as a couple of short-stories that further expand the world.

As long as Kami Glass can remember, she has had Jared. Although the other kids at school thought that she was weird, she has always talked to the strange boy in her head as though he was there with her. While she’s never really doubted his existence, he’s never quite felt real to her either. Yet that is before the Lyburn family returned to her small hometown of Sorry-in-the-Vale.

The Lyburn family have been gone for years but never forgotten. They are the founding family of the town and are revered by almost everyone, yet no one seems to want to talk about why. As a budding journalist, Kami is determined to get a scoop about them despite the wall of silence. The best way to do so seems to be through the two teenage Lyburn boys. It’s not long before she runs into charming Ash at school, yet it is his brooding cousin that she finds more intriguing. Especially when she learns that his name is Jared.

Yet, at the same time that the Lyburns return, strange things begin to happen in Sorry-in-the-Vale. Kami stumbles across what seems to be the site of a dark ritual in the woods and soon after is attacked herself. Rallying a small group of friends, Kami makes it her mission to discover the secret of the mysterious family. Yet it soon becomes clear that this investigation could risk both her bond with Jared and her life…

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