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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Goosebumps 1-5

Welcome to my new series of retrospective reviews! In these posts, I’m going to be slowly making my way through R.L. Stine’s classic Goosebumps series. Not including spin-offs and specials, this middle grade horror series was published between 1992 and 1997 and ran for sixty-two novels. Please note that, due to the age of this series, this post is likely to contain some spoilers. You have been warned. For the purpose of today’s review, I’m going to be looking at the first five books only. I’m also going to be reviewing this series in the order that they were released in the United Kingdom, which should be noted does differ slight from the order that it was originally released in the United States.

In Welcome to Dead House, Amanda and Josh are forced to move when their father inherits a creepy old house. While Amanda is immediately concerned by the horrifying visions that she has in her bedroom, she grows more worried still when she meets the strange children that live in her neighbourhood. They all seem oddly friendly and keen for her to stay with them. Forever.

In Say Cheese and Die!, Greg and his friends uncover a strange Polaroid camera when poking around an abandoned house. While he initially thinks it is broken, Greg soon discovers that the photos its takes might show the future. Yet, as the pictures begin to grow more sinister, Greg begins to grow concerned that the camera is actually evil. What if it is causing bad things to happen, rather than predicting them?

In Stay Out Of the Basement, Margaret and Casey begin to grow worried about their father when he loses his job and begins working for their basement. Suddenly, he has no time for them and forbids them from going near the odd plants that he is growing. Margaret grows more worried still when she notices that her father is eating plant food and starting to physically change. Just what are his experiments, and does he have plans for them?

In The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Gabe is excited to be spending Christmas with his archaeologist uncle, even if it means that he has to withstand his annoying cousin Sari. After all, how many kids get to explore hidden chambers deep within the Great Pyramid? However, things take a sinister turn when one of his uncle’s assistants tries to kidnap him. As he flees, he soon finds himself lost deep within the pyramid. It is here that he learns a gruesome secret, yet he might not live to tell the tale.

In Monster Blood, Evan is annoyed that he has to stay with his creepy Great-Aunt Kathryn. Not only is she old, but she’s also totally deaf. However, while exploring a local toy shop, he discovers something that seems more fun – a can of goo that seems to possess weird properties. However, when his dog eats some of the Monster Blood and starts to grow, Evan realises that something is weird about the ooze. Worse still, it seems to be growing and developing a mind of its own…

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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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Archenemies

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

Archenemies was written by Marissa Meyer and first published in 2018. It is a science fiction novel which tells the continuing story of Nova – a double-agent trying to bring down an established group of superheroes from the inside. The novel forms the second part of the Renegades Trilogy and follows on directly from where Renegades (2017) left off, therefore I would recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what’s going on.

Following her battle against the Detonator, Nova Artino has finally secured a position of respect within the ranks of the Renegades. Her secret alter ego – the villain Nightmare – is believed to be dead and she has finally been granted permission to work in the archives of the Renegades headquarters. As soon as she can get her hands on Ace Anarchy’s helmet – the device that he needs to focus his telekinetic powers – she will be able to deliver victory into the hands of the Anarchists.

Adrian Everhart has also finally found a moment of peace. When the Sentinel is believed to have been killed in battle, he is finally granted the opportunity to put his secret vigilante persona to rest and bring his life back to normal. Although he is still desperate to find out who killed his mother, he has now exhausted all of his leads. Perhaps it is time to focus on his team and budding feelings for Nova.

Yet everything changes when the Renegades unveil a new secret weapon. All patrols will soon be equipped with vial of Agent N – a fast-acting drug that has the ability to permanently strip a Prodigy of their powers. Although Nova is horrified at the thought of how this could be abused, she also realises that it could be a way to finally defeat the Renegades forever. Yet, she knows that she must proceed with caution. One of her team mates – Monarch – seems to be growing increasingly suspicious of her…

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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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Firestarter

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:

Timekeeper | Chainbreaker

Firestarter was written by Tara Sim and first published in 2019. It tells the continuing story of the forbidden relationship between Danny and Colton – a human and a clock spirit – in a world where clock towers control the flow of time. The novel forms the final part of the Timekeeper trilogy and follows on directly where Timekeeper (2016) and Chainbreaker (2018) left off. Because of this, I would recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

The crew of the Prometheus are dedicated to their mission to destroy the clock towers and restore the natural flow of time and leave their new captives no choice but to help them. Yet Danny in particular is reluctant. Even though the leader of the rebels – Zavier – has Colton, Danny finds it hard to believe that these acts of terrorism are the only answer. Destroying the clock towers also destroys the spirits that protect them. What will happen to his love if Zavier’s plan comes to fruition?

Yet the rebels are not unopposed. A new faction known as the Builders have emerged and they are intent on restoring the destroyed towers. When it becomes clear that these new towers are not failing as the one in Maldon did, Danny and Colton know that one thing is true. Whoever leads the Builders has also learned the grisly secret on which each clock tower is built.

As Zavier reveals the true depth of his plans, and the motivation behind them, Danny begins to realise that perhaps even villains can have noble reasons. Things do not seem to be as clear cut as he first thought and he is made to question if the world would be better without the clock towers. Yet, as he begins to understand his captor better, he is also forced to question his relationship with Colton. Is there a way to save the clock spirit or will he be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good of the world?

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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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Arabella of Mars

Arabella of Mars was written by David D Levine and first published in 2016. It is a steampunk science fiction novel, set in an alternate timeline where the secret of interplanetary travel was discovered in late 17th Century. The novel forms the first part of the Adventures of Arabella Ashby series and is followed by Arabella and the Battle for Venus (2017) and Arabella the Traitor of Mars (2018).

The year is 1812 and Arabella lives happily with her family on their Martian plantation. Although her mother worries about her tomboyish behaviour, Arabella loves nothing more that to play hunting games with her brother, Michael, and learn about the tribal Martian culture from her native nanny, Khema. However, when she is injured during a rough game, Arabella’s mother declares this to be the last straw. She will not allow her daughter to grow up as a savage and whisks her away to London, where she can learn to be a lady and find a respectable husband.

However, a few months into their stay on Earth, Arabella receives terrible news. Her father has suddenly died and now Michael has been forced to take over the plantation. The news thrills her despicable cousin, Simon. Desperate for money, he hurries to Mars with the intent of murdering Michael. As the closest male relative, he would surely inherit everything and leave Arabella and her mother destitute.

Arabella disguises herself as a boy and makes her way to the docks, determined to catch Simon before he can depart. When she is too late, she hits upon a risky plan to beat him to the Red Planet. After impressing Prakash Singh, Captain of the Mars Company Airship “Diana”, she accepts a place on his crew as a cabin boy. The Diana is a fast ship and should be able to deliver her to Mars before Simon reaches the plantation. However, her safety depends on her ability to hide her sex for two months on a ship that is entirely crewed by men…

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