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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F.O.X.E.S

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:

S.T.A.G.S | D.O.G.S

F.O.X.E.S was written by M.A. Bennett and first published in 2020. It is a young adult thriller which follows the continuing adventures Greer MacDonald as she tries to save her fried Ty from the machinations of the Dark Order of the Grand Stag. The novel follows on directly from where S.T.A.G.S (2017) and D.O.G.S (2019) left off, so I would strongly recommend reading these novels in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

Following her trial and near-execution at the hands of the Grand Stag, Greer is more certain than ever that she needs to do something to put an end to the Order. When she receives a message from Ty suggesting that she should investigate Cumberland Place in London, she heads off with Shafeen and Nel to find out why.

Cumberland Place is another residence belonging to the de Warlencourts, but nothing can prepare them for what they find there. Henry’s father – Rollo de Warlencourt – embodies everything that Greer hates about STAGS and his mother, Caro, seems convinced that her son is still alive. Yet the most surprising thing is the way that the de Warlencourts welcome Greer into their home. More than that, they seem to be pleased to see her.

As Greer and her friends investigate further, they find some unsettling connections that further link STAGS to the work of Ben Jonson and, more surprising still, the Gunpower Plot. They also learn that Rollo is planning a hunt at Longcross for Boxing Day. Yet, with fox hunting illegal, Greer worries exactly what the STAGS are planning to hunt. She knows that she only has a few days to learn the truth, or Ty’s life could very well be in danger…

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Harrow Lake

Harrow Lake was written by Kat Ellis and first published in 2020. It is a dark mystery novel for older teens containing some horror elements, focusing on a girl who is forced to stay in her mother’s sinister home town. The novel stands alone, so you do not need to read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Lola Nox is the daughter of the famous Nolan Nox – a filmmaker who shot to success with his critically acclaimed horror film, Nightjar. Although Lola loves her father deeply, she is also aware that something has been missing. Her mother abandoned them when she was only small and her father has never shown any interest in letting her visit Harrow Lake – her mother’s hometown and Nightjar’s filming location. That is, until the attack.

When Nolan is stabbed during an break in at his home, Lola is sent to stay in Harrow Lake with her grandmother. Although she is initially excited, she soon learns that the town is not quite what she expected. The locals have a love/hate relationship with Nightjar and a tendency to ignore the many strange disappearances of people connected to the film.

It’s not long before Lola starts to realise that Harrow Lake hides some terrifying secrets in the old mines that run beneath the town, particularly ones that relate to a legendary monster known as Mr Jitters. As she explores the famous locations featured in Nightjar she comes to realise certain uncomfortable truths. Mr Jitters may well be real and have a connection with her mother…

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Point Horror 21-25

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:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20

Now that I’ve finished reviewing all of those summer reads for young readers, it’s probably a good time to take look back at the Point Horror series. In case you haven’t read any of my previous posts, Point Horror was an anthology series for young adult readers that was at its peak in the 1990s. As there are a lot of novels in this series, I’m reading them in the order that they are listed on Wikipedia. This is also a retrospective post, so be warned that there will be massive spoilers for the novels in question.

Anyhow, without further ado, let’s take a look at the next five books.

In Fatal Secrets (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cuisick), Ryan is left plagued by guilt when her sister drowns during a walk in the woods. Although Ryan feels that she could have saved her, Melissa ultimately succumbed to the frozen water. However, three weeks later, Ryan starts to see her sister everywhere. Although her family and friends think that she is crazy, Ryan is sure that her sister’s death was no accident and she hides a secret. But does it connect to the mysterious stranger who claims to be Melissa’s college friend and has asked to spend Christmas with them?

In Freeze Tag (written by Caroline B. Cooney), Meghan has always been in love with her neighbour, West. However, when they were children, their sinister neighbour Lannie made West promise he would only ever love her. Now, several years later, Lannie has claimed her prize. Meghan now must find a way to free West from her evil clutches, yet it will not be easy to do so. Lannie holds a terrible power – the ability to freeze a person with a touch. The only way to save West might be to do away with Lannie permanently…

In Hit and Run (written by R.L. Stine), Cassie has always been friends with three boys – Eddie, Winks and Scott. With their driving tests fast approaching, the group decide to sneak out at night and go for a joy ride to practice. On remote stretch of road, Eddie gets in a terrible accident and kills a man. In a panic, the group drive away and swear never to talk about it again. Yet, it’s not long until they start to receive threatening notes. Did someone witness the accident, or could their victim possibly still be alive?

In The Cemetery (written by D.E. Athkins), it’s Halloween and Cyndi gathers a group of friends at a remote cemetery to have a secret party. Although Char is not convinced it is a good idea, she is keen to use the time to get closer to mysterious newcomer, Jones. Everything seems to be going well until someone suggests a game of hide and seek, and one of the party-goers winds up dead. Everyone flees to safety, but for some reason the game does not end there. Someone is still playing and won’t stop until everyone who went to the party is dead…

In The Dead Game (written by A. Bates), Linnie, Ming and Jackson hate cheaters. All of them would be in a better position at school if they had not been sabotaged by their cheating classmates. In order to get revenge, Linnie proposes that they start playing an assassination game. Each of them would be assigned a target and have to find a way to publicly humiliate them. Yet something goes wrong and one of the targets winds up dead. Although Linnie, Ming and Jackson agree to stop playing, the hits continue to happen. Someone is still playing the game, but what will happen when they run out of names?

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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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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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Amelia Fang and the Naughty Caticorns

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

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 | Amelia Fang and the Lost Yeti Treasures

Amelia Fang and the Naughty Caticorns was written by Laura Ellen Anderson and first published in 2020. It tells the continuing adventures of a young vampire, as she this time tries to prove that she is responsible enough to care for a new baby. The novel follows Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball (2017), Amelia Fang and the Unicorn Lords (2018), Amelia Fang and the Memory Thief (2018), Amelia Fang and the Half-Moon Holiday (2019) and Amelia Fang and the Lost Yeti Treasures (2019). Although the novels do stand alone fairly well, I would certainly recommend reading them in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Everyone in the Fang household is excited that Countess Frivoleeta will soon be having her second child. Amelia can’t wait to meet her little brother or sister and introduce her to everyone she cares about – especially Florence the Yeti, Grimaldi Reaperton, Prince Tangine and Squashy, her pet pumpkin. Yet there is so much that still needs to be done around the house, and things have been made more complicated by the fact that they have agreed to look after three caticorns while the Countess’s sister is away.

When the baby makes an unexpected arrival, Amelia agrees to take responsibility over the caticorns so that her mother can rush to hospital. It shouldn’t be a problem for her. Gerrard, Butler and Mo are all so well-behaved and Amelia is keen to prove that she will be a responsible older sister. However, as soon as the adults leave, the caticorns prove to be more than a handful. Even with the help of her friends, Amelia soon finds that she is in over her head.

While Amelia was excited to take care of the adorable creatures, she suddenly begins to have her doubts. Why do they seem to hate her so much, and what will she do if the new baby feels the same? However, she knows that she’s got to get to the bottom of why the caticorns are behaving so badly. If she doesn’t, they will completely destroy the house before her parents get home!

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Crownbreaker

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

Spellslinger | Shadowblack | Charmcaster | Soulbinder | Queenslayer

Crownbreaker was written by Sebastien de Castell and first published in 2019. It is the final part of the Spellslinger series, following Kellen and Reichis in their most dangerous adventure yet. As this novel follows on from where Spellslinger (2017), Shadowblack (2017), Charmcaster (2018), Soulbinder (2018) and Queenslayer (2019) left off, I would strongly recommend reading them in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

Kellen has spent a year in the Daroman Court as Queen Ginevra’s Tutor of Cards, but has still found many ways to get into trouble. Even though his profession offers him a degree of protection, the Mage Lords of the Jan’Tep are still keen to see him dead. However, he is forced to return to his ancestral home after he makes a shocking discovery. His mother, Bene’maat, has been killed while on a secret mission to Berabesq.

Returning home for the funeral, Kellen is forced to confront his past and reconcile with the family members that permanently removed his magic. However, as he formally meets with both Ke’heops and Ginevra, he starts to realise that the political situation across Eldrasia is at a perilous turning point. In the capital of Berabesq, a figure has emerged who claims to be their God. This deity has begun to unify the warring factions of devouts, and it’s not long before he will have an army powerful enough to take over the other kingdoms.

As an unaligned outlaw, both Ke’heops and Ginevra believe that Kellen should be the one to infiltrate the city of Makhan Mebab and assassinate God. Kellen is understandably reluctant, especially as he knows that God is only a child and his actions will certainly put a price on his head. However, when it becomes clear that Ferius is suffering from the same affliction that killed his mother, he realises that his only chance to save her is potentially in this god’s hands…

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Gargantis

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

Gargantis was written by Thomas Taylor and first published in 2020. It forms the second part of The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea series, detailing the continuing adventures of Herbert Lemon in his occupation as the town’s “Lost-and-Founder”. As the novel continues on from shortly after Malamander (2019) left off, I would really recommend reading them in sequence in order to fully appreciate them.

A fierce storm has gripped Eerie-on-Sea and the local fishermen seem to be worried. Their oldest legends tell tale of tempests whipped up by a colossal beast called the Gargantis – one that will surely destroy all of Eerie-on-Sea if it wakes. Yet Herbert Lemon has more to worry about than the weather. A hooded stranger has arrived at the Nautilus Hotel and has left an odd clockwork shell in his possession. Now it is up to him to discover who the device belongs to.

With the help of his best friend – Violet Parma – Herbert sets off to try and solve this new mystery. However, their investigation is cut short as a mysterious bottle washes up on the shore. The bottle contains a strange glowing light and everyone in town seems to think that it should belong to them. It’s Herbert’s job as the Lost-and-Founder to determine who does truly deserve to keep this bizarre find.

As Herbert and Violet continue their investigation, they soon learn that the storm, the hooded figure and the bottle are all connected in strange and unexpected ways. The truth behind the storm lies hidden in the history of Eerie-on-Sea. But can Herbert uncover it before the entire town slips into the sea?

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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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