Kidnap on the California Comet

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Highland Falcon Thief. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Kidnap on the California Comet was written by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman and first published in 2020. It is a mystery novel that follows the continuing adventures of Harrison Beck as, this time, he and his Uncle Nat journey across America. The book forms the second part of the Adventures on Trains series, following The Highland Falcon Thief (2020). A third instalment – Murder on the Safari Star – is planned for release early next year.

Harrison “Hal” Beck had such a great time with his Uncle Nat on the Highland Falcon that he’s overjoyed to be invited on another train ride. This time, Uncle Nat is going to spend three days aboard the California Comet as it travels from Chicago to San Francisco. While aboard, he is going to be reporting on a press conference staged by August Reza – a billionaire entrepreneur who is believed to be working on some kind of rocket.

Although Hal is jet lagged and bit nervous to be so far from home, he is really excited to be on the train. He quickly makes friends with Hadley and Mason – a pair of kids his age who dream of creating their own magical stage act. He also meets Marianne – daughter of August Reza – who does not seem to like her father as much as everyone else does.

While the first leg of their journey is uneventful, things change after the press conference when a figure in black snatches Marianne away. As Hal comes to suspect that Marianne might still be hidden on the train, he finds himself in the middle of another mystery. Can his keen sense of observation help him to uncover the kidnapper’s identity before they reach San Francisco?

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Goddess in the Machine

Goddess in the Machine was written by Lora Beth Johnson and first published in 2020. It is a science fiction novel which focuses on a teenage girl who finds herself a thousand years in the future. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

When Andra was put into cryo-sleep, she expected to wake up on a different world. She and her family had been chosen as colonists and were only going to be in stasis until they arrived on the planet of Holymyth. However, something went wrong. When Andra awoke, her family were no where to be found. She soon realised that a thousand years had passed and the people of Holymyth (now known as Hell-mouth) believed her to be a goddess.

Andra quickly met Zhane and his servant, Lew-Eadin, who fill her in. The domed city of Eerensed is slowly dying and their prophecies have said that only Andra will be able save them. Problem is, Andra has no idea where to start. She is just an ordinary teenager with no useful skills. How can she possibly be able to engineer away to keep the dome from deteriorating to the point where it can no longer sustain life?

Yet Andra soon realises that if people learn who she truly is, she will surely be executed. In order to preserve her life, Andra decides to play along until she can source the things that she needs in order to return to Earth. Yet things will not be so simple. Eerensed is filled with all manner of people and some are far less trusting of a goddess. Will she be able to escape Hell-mouth before she becomes someone’s sacrifice?

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Fazbear Frights: Step Closer

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:

Into the Pit | Fetch | 1:35AM

Fazbear Frights: Step Closer was written by Scott Cawthon, Elley Cooper, Kelly Parra and Andrea Waggener. It is a collection of three short stories which are all set within the vague canon of the Five Nights at Freddy’s game series. Although these stories do largely stand alone, they would certainly be better enjoyed if you are familiar with the games or have already read the earlier instalments of this series – Into the Pit (2020), Fetch (2020) and 1:35AM (2020).

In Step Closer, Pete deeply resents his entire family. Since his father has left them, his mother expects him to spend all of his time looking after his younger brother, Chuck. To get his revenge, Pete plans to give his brother a scare using Foxy the Pirate Fox, the mascot of a local pizzeria. Yet something goes wrong and the Foxy animatronic gets stuck repeating a sinister line of his song. Afterwards, Pete falls victim of a series of weird accidents. Is it a coincidence, or has Foxy somehow managed to curse him?

In Dance with Me, Kasey is starting to have doubts about her life as a street thief, but things come to a head when she literally steals candy for a child. Yet, as she rummages through the kid’s goody bag, she also finds a pair of novelty glasses which cause her to see the image of a robotic ballerina. As Kasey continues to steal to survive, she plays with the glasses and can’t help but notice that the dancer is getting closer. Is it too late to change her ways before Ballora gets close enough to catch her?

In Coming Home, Susie cannot understand why her sister, Samantha, seems to have grown so distant. They were never the best of friends but now Samantha just ignores her. To make matters worse, every night a creepy robotic chicken appears at their home and takes Susie away. Susie knows that it won’t be long before Chica won’t allow her to return home but is not ready to leave. It’s up to Samantha to find out what is binding her sister’s spirit to the house before it is too late…

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Uki and the Outcasts

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:

Podkin One-Ear | The Gift of Dark Hollow | The Beasts of Grimheart

Uki and the Outcasts was written by Kieran Larwood and first published in 2019. It is a middle grade fantasy story, set in our far future when humans are extinct and rabbits are the dominant species on the planet. The novel is the fourth instalment of The Five Realms series and follows Podkin One-Ear (2016), The Gift of Dark Hollow (2017) and The Beasts of Grimheart (2018).

As the Bard continues his journey north, his is approached by another figure from his past and Rue starts to learn that there is more about his mentor than he ever could have imagined. The Bard is a member of a secret society called the Foxguard who exist to protect the world from a sinister cult who are known as the Endwatch. As rumours of cultist activity emerge, the Bard and Rue are forced to head across the icy wastes to investigate.

As they travel, the Bard begins a new tale about a hero who once also had to face the Endwatch. Uki was mistreated by his clan due to the fact that he was born with half-black, half-white fur. When an incident within the tribe leads to his injury, Uki and his mother are forced to flee into the wilds where they will surely die. Luckily, Uki’s life is saved by a mysterious spirit from a different time. Iffrit binds himself to Uki, giving him new powers, but needs something in return.

Iffrit was once a gaoler, but the four evil spirits that were imprisoned with him have now escaped. Uki needs to travel the world in order to recapture them, before they can spread war, plague, famine and death across the lands. He soon gains help from Jori, an assassin exiled from her clan because she will not kill, and Kree, an abnormally small rabbit who rides a tailless jerboa. But will three outcast rabbits be enough to take down an ancient evil?

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The Highland Falcon Thief

The Highland Falcon Thief was written by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman and first published in 2020. It is a mystery story aimed at middle grade readers, focusing on two youths who set out to capture a jewel thief. The novel forms the first part of the Adventures on Trains series and its sequel, Kidnap on the California Comet, is due for release later this year.

Harrison “Hal” Beck isn’t overly happy to stay with his Uncle Nathaniel, a famous travel writer. He wants to be there for his mother while she gives birth and has no interest in spending four days cooped up on a train. However, the train in question is the legendary Highland Falcon and Hal quickly learns that there is nothing quite like it. He will be travelling all around the country as part of a very special group of guests, celebrating the train’s final journey.

While Hal’s first impressions of the train are not great, he gains a newfound appreciation as he befriends Marlene “Lenny” Singh, a stowaway and daughter of the train driver. The journey grows more interesting still as a couple of guests report that their jewels have gone missing. Industrialist Steven Pickle is quick to blame Hal, and the boy starts to investigate to clear his name. Hal and Lenny suspect that it may be a famous thief who has recently made the papers, and that they could have their sights set on a huge diamond that belongs to a princess who will be boarding at Balmoral.

Using Hal’s keen observations and Lenny’s knowledge of the train, the two team up to try and uncover which of the guests is the culprit and learn that everyone is hiding secrets. When Lenny is captured and accused of the crime, Hal enters a race against time to prove her innocence before the train arrives back in London and the thief can make their getaway.

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The Strangeworlds Travel Agency

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency was written by L.D. Lapinski and first published in 2020. It is a middle grade fantasy story that focuses on a 12-year-old girl who discovers a way to travel to parallel dimensions. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, but at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Felicity “Flick” Hudson is deeply unhappy. Her parents have just moved from the city to the small town of Little Wyverns and do not seem to have much time for her. All Flick wants to do is travel and see the world, but she’s stuck spending most of her time looking after her baby brother while her parents are working. Luckily for Flick, she soon stumbles across a mysterious travel agency which could give her everything that she has ever dreamed of.

Jonathan Mercator is only eighteen but has been single-handedly running The Strangeworlds Travel Agency since his father’s disappearance. Unlike regular travel agents, he curates a vast collection of suitcases which each contain a portal to another world. Magically gifted individuals are free to borrow a suitcase, so long as they report back on what they have discovered. Jonathan quickly realises that Flick is more than eligible to join their ranks.

While Flick and Jonathan’s early adventures seem harmless enough, they soon realise that something is wrong with the multiverse. The balance between worlds has been disrupted and all issues seem to be stemming from Five Lights – a city at the centre of it all. If they can’t find a way to fix Five Lights soon, the entire multiverse could collapse and destroy everything, including Flick’s world!

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Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined

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

Twilight | New Moon | Eclipse | Breaking Dawn | The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined was written by Stephenie Meyer and first published in 2015. It is a special edition of Twilight that was published for the 10th Anniversary of the original book, retelling the story while flipping the genders of a majority of the cast. While the novel stands alone, you would probably appreciate it more if you are already familiar with the main series – Twilight (2005), New Moon (2006), Eclipse (2007), Breaking Dawn (2008) and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (2009).

As Beaufort Swan’s mother sets off travelling with her new husband, he has no choice but to move to Forks to stay with his father. At first, Beau isn’t too impressed with this change of scenery. Forks is wet and gloomy, and everyone else at school has know each other their whole lives. Even though Beau proves to be very popular with the girls, he soon finds that he is not interested in any of them. But that is before he notices Edythe Cullen.

Edythe is beautiful, mysterious and clearly wants to have nothing to do with him. Unfortunately, Beau is unable to get Edythe out of his mind. However, when Edythe saves Beau from being crushed by a car, he begins to realise that there is something different about her. As Beau grows closer to Edythe, he soon learns the truth. There is a reason why Edythe cannot stand to be close to him, and why she is mysteriously absent from school whenever they have a particularly sunny day.

As Beau and Edythe come to realise that their feelings for each other are more than just friendship, a new danger descends on Forks. When Beau becomes the target of a dangerous woman, Edythe and her family draw together to protect him. But will their combined strength be enough to defend Beau from such a powerful – and determined – foe…

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Point Horror 11-15

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

It’s time for another nostalgic look back at the Point Horror series. In case you’ve missed my last couple of reviews, Point Horror was a Young Adult horror anthology series that was published between 1991 and 2014. Please note that, as there seems to be some debate as to the publication order of these books, I am working my way through a list that I pulled off Wikipedia. Also, as this is a retrospective post, there will be massive spoilers for the books in question. You have been warned.

In The Boyfriend (written by R.L. Stine), Joanna has everything that she could possibly want: money, freedom and a loving boyfriend. However, Dex is poor and she knows that the wealthy Shep would be a better prospect for her. Yes, before she can break-up with Dex, he dies in a sudden accident. Joanna is sorry, but glad that this now frees her up to pursue Shep. That is, until Dex comes back from the dead…

In Teacher’s Pet (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cuisick), Kate loves writing and is overjoyed when she wins a place on a writer’s retreat. Finally, she will have the chance to learn from William Drewe – a horror master. However, she is disappointed when she arrives to find that William has gone missing and his handsome brother, Gideon, has taken over his classes. It’s not long before things start to get strange. As Kate slowly becomes Gideon’s favourite, it becomes clear that someone is jealous. Someone who is prepared to kill…

In Mother’s Helper (written by A. Bates), Becky is excited to start her job as a mother’s helper on a remote holiday island. Devon is a dream to look after and it’s not long before she takes a liking to local boy, Cleve. However, Becky also soon starts to release that something is not right. Why is Devon’s mother, Mrs Nelson, so worried about Becky spending time in town? And why does she not seem to know the first thing about looking after her own son?

In The Accident (written by Diane Hoh), Megan is shocked when three of her friends are injured in a car accident, but stranger still is the misty figure that appears in her mirror. Juliet claims to be the spirit of a girl who died 40 years before. She is desperate to experience life again for just one week and begs Megan to switch places with her. In return, Juliet promises to help Megan find out who caused the accident. But can Juliet be trusted, and will she be prepared to give Megan’s body back once the week is over?

In The Baby-Sitter II (written by R.L. Stine), Jenny is understandably traumatised by her past experiences as a baby-sitter, but is sure that the only way to conquer her fears is to get back out there. However, Eli is a very strange little boy. He has vicious mood swings and keeps tarantulas as pets. It’s not long after Jenny starts her new job that the phone calls start again, promising her that “Company’s Coming”. But Mr Hagen is dead, isn’t he?

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Bone Crier’s Moon

Bone Crier’s Moon was written by Kathryn Purdie and first published in 2020. It is a fantasy novel which focuses on a group of women whose duty is to ferry the souls of the dead to the afterlife. The novel forms the first part of the Bone Graces series and its planned sequel, Bone Crier’s Dawn, is expected to be released next year.

Ailesse is desperate to become a Leuress and will soon collect her final Grace – a bone imbued with the power of the animal that it was taken from. Once she has all three, she is eager to perform her final ritual as soon as possible. To prove her loyalty to the gods, she must lure her soulmate to a specific ritual site. Then, she must make her choice to spend one whole year with him, or kill him where he stands.

Sabine is less sure of her destiny. Although the other Leuress are keen for her to embrace her calling, Sabine only holds one Grace and knows that she does not want any more. If the act of killing a fire salamander for its power hurt her so, she knows that she would never be able to take the life of a human being. However, Queen Odiva has instructed Sabine to bear witness to Ailesse’s final ritual. She hopes that it will inspire Sabine to also finish her training and truly join their sisterhood.

Yet it is at Ailesse’s ritual that everything goes wrong. Although Ailesse does lure her soulmate, he is not who she expects. Bastien is a young thief who desires revenge against the Leuress for taking his father. Without the strength of her Graces to save her, Bastien and his friends quickly overpower Ailesse and take her hostage, hoping to lure Odiva to their lair. Trouble is, they also manage to steal the sacred bone flute that the Leuress use to ferry the souls of the dead. Sabine knows that if she cannot retrieve the flute and her friend by the next new moon, the souls of the dead will run free. If that happens, everyone in South Galle will be in danger…

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Breaking Dawn

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

Twilight | New Moon | Eclipse | The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Breaking Dawn was written by Stephenie Meyer and first published in 2008. It is the fourth and final part of The Twilight Saga, focusing on Bella and Edward’s early life as a married couple. The novel follows on directly from where Twilight (2005), New Moon (2006) and Eclipse (2007) left off, so I would recommend reading them in sequence to fully appreciate them. The series also includes a couple of spin-off stories – The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (2009), which told the tragic tale of a minor character from Eclipse, and Life & Death (2015), a gender-flipped retelling of Twilight. A prequel novel titled Midnight Sun is due for release later this year.

Bella Swan has almost got everything that she ever dreamed of. She has graduated from High School and is engaged to be wed to her soul mate, the vampire Edward Cullen. A date has also been set for her transformation, meaning that soon she will also leave her humanity behind and truly become a member of the Cullen family. Bella could not be happier, but that is until the honeymoon.

After Bella and Edward final risk becoming intimate, she is shocked to find herself pregnant. This is not something that anyone ever imagined could be possible, as no human had ever survived mating with a vampire before. Worse still, her pregnancy is progressing rapidly and Carlisle fears that it could cost her life. Still, Bella is determined to see it through and bear their child. She strongly believes that her beloved’s venom could save her from death in childbirth.

Yet, Bella and Edward’s biggest problems arise after their daughter is born. When another vampire catches sight of her and assumes that she is an Immortal Child – an illegal child vampire – she is quick to inform the Volturi of the Cullens’ crimes. Knowing that the penalty for creating an Immortal Child is death, the Cullens gather their friends from around the world to prove Bella’s innocence. But will that be enough to convince the ancient vampire royalty if they are determined to start a war against the Cullen clan?

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