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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The International Yeti Collective

The International Yeti Collective was written by Paul Mason and first published in 2019. It is a fantasy story about a young girl and her discovery of a secretive tribe of yeti. Although this novel is the first part of a planned series, at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Ella is thrilled to be spending her holidays in the Himalayas with her Uncle Jack, a famous adventurer. For his new television series, Jack is determined to prove the existence of the yeti. While the rest of his team is sceptical, Jack is confident that he will be able to use state-of-the-art technology to capture the elusive creatures on film and secure himself fame and fortune.

Tick is a young yeti who knows full well the dangers that humans pose. His own mother was exiled from the tribe for revealing her existence to them. However, Tick’s curiosity soon gets the better of himself as he tries to get a glimpse of Jack’s camp. Unfortunately, this puts his whole tribe in danger. As the yeti try to flee to safety, they are forced to leave behind the stone tablets that contain their whole history. Now that these are in human hands, it can only be a matter of them before humans learn the whereabouts of every yeti tribe on the planet.

It is up to Tick and his two friends, Plumm and Dahl, to track down the humans and reclaim the tablets. To do so, they will need to awaken the International Yeti Collective – a communication network between tribes that has been dormant for decades. Yet the most important help for Tick might come from a very unexpected source. Not all humans are bad, and Ella is eager to prove this…

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Mattimeo

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

Redwall | Mossflower

It seems fitting for my first review of a new year to take another nostalgic look back at one of my childhood favourites. Redwall was an epic fantasy series set in a Medieval society of anthropomorphic woodland creatures. It was first published between 1986 and 2011 and ran for twenty-one novels, only ending because of Brian Jacques’s death. For the purpose of this review I will be looking at the third instalment – Mattimeo – only.

Eight seasons have passed since the defeat of Cluny the Scourge, and Redwall Abbey has enjoyed peace under the watchful eye of Matthias the Warrior. However, this cannot last. As the Abbey dwellers prepare a great feast, Slagar the Cruel approaches. The masked fox has a personal vendetta against Matthias and is determined to make the brave mouse suffer.

Posing as entertainers, Slagar and his followers infiltrate the feast and make off into the night with a group of children. This includes Matthias’s beloved son, Mattimeo. His goal is to have the double glory of both selling Mattimeo into slavery and killing Matthias when he inevitably comes to free him. What follows is a dangerous trek across unknown lands as Mattimeo and his friends try to get away, and Matthias and group of scouts try their hardest to follow Slagar’s trail.

Yet things are also not restful at Redwall Abbey. Taking advantage of Matthias’s absence, a flock of birds descends on the peaceful creatures. They are led a wicked raven named General Ironbeak who has decided that the Abbey would make a perfect castle. How can the abbey dwellers possibly defend themselves when their warrior is too far away to protect them?

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Goosebumps 46-50

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

In case you’re looking for a break from all the niceties of the festive period, let’s take a look at the next five instalments of R.L. Stine’s classic Goosebumps series. In case this is the first of my reviews that you have stumbled upon, this is a brief retrospective look at the sixty-two original novels which were published between 1992-1997. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at books 46 to 50. Oh, and there will be spoilers. You have been warned.

In How to Kill a Monster, Gretchen and Clark are horrified that they have to stay with their Grandparents in a run-down house in a swamp. I mean, they don’t even have television! However, things get much worse when they discover what is trapped within a locked room upstairs. It’s not long before they find themselves isolated and at the mercy of a horrible monster. Worse still – it’s hungry…

In Legend of the Lost Legend, Justin and Marissa are on a camping trip with their father in the dark forests of Brovania. His mission is to locate a lost manuscript known only as The Lost Legend. However, when Justin and Marissa get lost in the woods, things quickly start to get weird. A strange Viking lady offers them the chance to find the thing that they desire most. Yet to do so, they must pass a dangerous test…

In Attack of the Jack-o’-Lanterns, Drew is determined to have her revenge on Tabby and Lee – two mean kids that managed to ruin her previous two Halloweens with their pranks. This year, she has the perfect plan to scare them both senseless. However, something has gone wrong. The group of trick-or-treaters soon find themselves threatened by two sinister figures wearing pumpkin-head mask. What could they possibly want and how do they make flames shoot out of their mouths?

In Vampire Breath, Freddy and Cara take pride in the fact that they are not afraid of anything. Yet everything changes when they find a secret door in Freddy’s basement which leads to an empty coffin and a bottle of Vampire Breath. When they open the bottle, they quickly find themselves trapped within the castle of an ageing vampire. It’s a race against time to find the bottle again and get home, before the very hungry monster manages to locate his missing fangs.

In Calling All Creeps!, Ricky is furious when Tasha has him fired from the school newspaper. He didn’t even do anything wrong! In order to have revenge, he sneaks a notice onto the front page – If you’re a real creep, call Tasha after midnight. Yet, things quickly go wrong and Ricky finds himself receiving sinister calls. The Creeps are real, and now they think that Ricky is their missing leader…

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Crier’s War

Crier’s War was written by Nina Varela and will be released in the United Kingdom on 20th February 2020. It is a science-fiction fantasy story that is set in a world where humanoid Automae have taken control of the planet, treating the humans that created them as slaves. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Lady Crier was Made to her “father’s” exact specifications. King Hesod needed his daughter and heir to represent the very best of the Automae – intelligent, beautiful and refined. Her betrothal to the legendary warrior, Kinok, will only serve to make the Kingdom of Rabu even stronger. Yet Crier soon discovers that Kinok has learned something about her. He has discovered a flaw in her schematics which, if revealed, will certainly result in her termination. Crier soon realises that she is now just a pawn in a larger game and is powerless to stop it.

Ayla is a human girl who has good reason to hate the Automae. Her family was executed on Hesod’s orders and now she wants only one thing – to destroy his daughter from him in return. Fortune smiles on Ayla when she manages to save Crier’s life and is taken on as the lonely Automa’s handmaiden. She soon realises that this could be her chance not only to have her revenge but also destroy the Automae once and for all.

However, a deeper conspiracy is at foot. Crier and Ayla soon learn that Kinok may have made a dangerous discovery that could well remove the Automae’s only weakness. Doing so will inevitably cause a power struggle, putting both humans and Automae in danger. Both Crier and Ayla are determined to us this knowledge to their advantage, but soon find their individual missions hindered by their forbidden attraction to each other…

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The Girl Who Dared to Descend

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

The Girl Who Dared to Think | The Girl Who Dared to Stand

The Girl Who Dared to Descend was written by Bella Forrest and first published in 2017. It is the third instalment of The Girl Who Dared series, following Liana and her friends as they continue to investigate systematic corruption within the Tower. The novel is preceded by The Girl Who Dared to Think (2017) and The Girl Who Dared to Stand (2017), and followed by The Girl Who Dared to Rise (2017), The Girl Who Dared to Lead (2018), The Girl Who Dared to Endure (2018) and The Girl Who Dared to Fight (2018). Due to this, I would strongly recommending reading them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Although Devon is dead, Liana is in more trouble than ever. She has now been captured and awaits trial for her part in his murder. Worse still, she does not even have Grey to comfort her. His injuries are so severe that Leo now inhabits her lover’s neural net, controlling his body while he repairs the damage to Grey’s mind.

Yet, Liana soon learns that she has allies in high places – ones that are capable of controlling Scipio and making it seem as though her crimes were actually in service to the Tower. However, they want something from her in return. The Knights will now need to hold a Tourney to determine their new Champion. Liana and her friends must enter this contest to ensure that a resistance sympathiser – Ambrose – is the one chosen.

It seems like a simple task, but danger lurks behind every corner. Unknown legacies will stop at nothing to ensure that Ambrose is killed before he can advance too far, and Ambrose himself is reluctant to accept the help of a band of criminals. Worse still, they are no closer to discovering who has been hacking into Scipio in the first place. How can Liana protect someone if she does not know how deep the conspiracy goes?

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The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch

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

The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch was written by Tom Fletcher and first published in 2019. It is a fantasy story that focuses on a young boy and his friendship with the magical blue dinosaur that helps to pull Santa’s sleigh. The novel follows on from where The Christmasaurus (2016) left off and so I would recommend reading them in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

It has been a year since William first met the Christmasaurus and he can’t wait to see his magical friend again. When Santa shows up early to invite William on a tour of the North Pole, he is thrilled to finally get to share the fun with Brenda, Pamela and Bob. Santa is excited to show off the Elf Village and the first ever Christmas Tree. However, when Santa asks the Tree to grant each of the children one of its magical present-making beans, Brenda is annoyed that the Tree seems only willing to give one to William.

On returning home, Brenda convinces herself that she would make better use of the bean than William and steals it from his pocket. However, she soon realises the error of her ways when it falls into the hands of her Christmas-hating father. Barry Payne is the owner of a huge toy store and, with bean in hand, may finally have the power to put Santa out of business for good.

As belief in Christmas begins to fade, Santa and the elves slowly begin to vanish. The only way to save him might be to use the magic of the Winter Witch – a being who is able to control time – to change the past and restore the belief of children everywhere. However, meddling with time is dangerous and William and his friends need to be careful not to cause irreparable damage to the future…

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Goosebumps 41-45

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

It’s time to continue my retrospective look at R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books. This popular horror series was originally published between 1992 and 1997 and ran for sixty-two novels. Since then, it is spawned a number of spin-off series, video games and movies and is still massively popular today. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at books 41 to 45 only. Oh, and there will be massive spoilers for the novels concerned. You have been warned.

In Bad Hare Day, Tim is obsessed with becoming a magician like his hero Amaz-O but doesn’t have much talent for it. However, when Tim finally gets to go to one of Amaz-O’s shows, he realises that he has a chance to learn from the master. Tim “borrows” the magician’s bag of tricks so that he can study them. However, it’s not long before he realises that magic is real and he has no idea how to stop it…

In Egg Monsters from Mars, Dana loves science and is thrilled when he discovers an egg that he can’t identify. When it hatches into a mysterious creature, Dana realises that he may well have a new species on his hands. However, when he reveals his find to a local scientist, he suddenly finds himself in great danger. Dr Grey wants to have all credit for the discovery and is more than happy to get rid of anyone who would stand in his way…

In The Beast from the East, Ginger and her brothers stumble across a horrible group of monsters while lost in the woods. The creatures are playing a game in which one player becomes the “Beast from the East” and must try to tag others, and they are eager for the kids to join them. Trouble is, whoever is still the Beast at sunset will be eaten and Ginger has no idea what the rules are!

In Say Cheese and Die – Again!, Greg is frustrated that his teacher, Mr Saur, will not believe his story about the cursed camera. He knows that the only way to prove that he is telling the truth is to show him. However, the camera is as dangerous as ever and it’s not long before Greg accidentally manages to take a photo of himself and Shari. Can they find a way to undo its effects before they become permanent?

In Ghost Camp, Harry and Alex are excited to spend summer at Camp Spirit Moon. However, when they get there, they discover that there is something odd about it. The old campers like to play tricks on newcomers, and some of them can be rather scary and mean. Soon, Harry starts to realise that there may be some truth in the campfire stories. The other campers could well be less than alive and seem to have something sinister in store for them…

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I Hope You Get This Message

Sorry for being so quiet lately. I’ve had bit of a stressful couple of weeks and therefore put this blog on the back-burner while I focused on myself. However, I am feeling much better now so I’m going to spend the next few reviews catching you up on everything that I have been reading!

I Hope You Get This Message was written by Farah Naz Rishi and first published in 2019. It is a science fiction novel which focuses on how three teenagers spend their final week before the world ends. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Earth has intercepted a transmission from Alma – the only other inhabited planet in the Universe. Unfortunately, it is not good news. Alma created Earth with a purpose and are unhappy about how humans are treating the planet. A jury is currently in session to determine the fate of all human life. Depending on their verdict, a virus could be released in seven days that will wipe out all life on the planet.

Naturally, this news is taken in a variety of ways. While many believe the message to be a hoax, others take to the streets and begin looting. For Cate Collins, it could well be her last chance to learn the truth about her father. With only a few clues left by her schizophrenic mother to go by, she knows that it will be difficult but she has no choice but to try. She soon meets Adeem Kahn – a teenager in search of his estranged sister – and the two decide to help each other out on their quests.

In Roswell, Jesse Hewett has decided to take advantage of the desperation of others. Claiming to have invented a way to transmit messages to Alma, he becomes an overnight celebrity but also attracts the interest of some less-savoury individuals. It’s not long before Jesse, Cate and Adeem’s stories collide, but will the world end when they do?

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The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic

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

Twice Magic was written by Cressida Cowell and first published in 2018. It follows the continuing adventures of Xar and Wish as they seek to find a way to defeat the evil Kingwitch once and for all. The novel follows The Wizards of Once (2017) and precedes Knock Three Times (2019), so I would strongly recommend reading them in sequence if you want to fully appreciate them.

Following his previous adventure, Encanto has had Xar locked up in the terrible prison of Gormincrag. He claims that it is for his own good – a way to protect himself and those around him until the witchstain can be removed – but Xar has his doubts. The Drood Commander who runs the prison hates everything to do with witches, and Xar knows that it is likely that he will be locked away forever.

Wish is also having a difficult time. Even though the Stone-That-Takes-Away-Magic has been destroyed, Queen Sychorax is more determined than ever to destroy the Wizards. She also still seems to be thoroughly disappointed in Wish, which puts her in an awkward position. How can Wish learn to use her newfound powers while still keeping them secret from her magic-hating mother?

It’s not long before fate – or, rather, a stolen spelling book – draws Xar and Wish together again. When they discover a spell that reportedly gets rid of witches, the two set off on an epic quest to locate the rare ingredients that it requires. However, their quest will not be easy. With wizards, warriors and witches in hot pursuit, it’s a race against the clock to complete the spell before the three great armies collide…

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