Cinder

Apologies for the delays in recent post. The night is dark and full of terrors, and I have been struggling to find the motivation to write up my reviews over the last few weeks. Especially due to the topical subject-matter of this one, but more on that shortly.

Cinder was written by Marissa Meyer and first published in 2012. It is a science fiction reimagining of Cinderella, set in a futuristic plague-struck Beijing. The novel forms the first part of The Lunar Chronicles and is followed by Scarlet (2013), Cress (2014) and Winter (2015).

Linh Cinder’s skills as a mechanic have been recognised all over New Beijing. She has even managed to catch the eye of Prince Kai, who has commissioned her to repair his personal android. However, she knows that she will always be a second class citizen. Almost everyone looks down on her due to her cyborg limbs and Cinder knows that her stepmother only tolerates her due to the fact that she is useful.

However, when Cinder’s favourite stepsister contracts letumosis – the deadly blue fever – her stepmother is quick to blame her unwanted child. She immediately donates Cinder to the government for medical research, knowing that this is likely to be fatal. With no right to resist, Cinder quickly finds herself at the mercy of Dr Erland. Yet, in doing so, she makes a startling discovery. She is actually immune to the plague.

The secret to Cinder’s immunity is hidden within her mysterious past, and Cinder is eager to crack it if it could result in a cure for her sister. However, the political situation within New Beijing is tense. The Emperor has recently passed away and the barbaric Lunar Queen is eager to marry Prince Kai to secure her power over the people of the Earth. As Cinder gets closer to the prince, she finds herself in a delicate situation. Can she help find a way to save all life on Earth before the Prince is forced to make a dangerous choice – one that could endanger the freedom of everyone?

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Goosebumps 59-62

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 | 46-50 | 51-54 | 55-58

It’s finally time for the very last part of my retrospective look at R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. Wow. What a long and crazy trip this has been! In case you’ve missed all my previous posts, Goosebumps is a middle grade horror series that originally ran for sixty-two books, which were published between 1992 and 1997. The series was massively popular and has since spawned a handful of spin-offs, movies, video games and a television show. As always, this post will contain massive spoilers for the books in question. You have been warned.

In The Haunted School, Tommy has just moved to a new school and is eager to fit in. However, there is something strange going on. The building is like a maze, strange whispers fill the halls and there is even a creepy room that has been left as a memorial to a class that vanished years before. On the night of the school dance, Tommy finds himself trapped in a parallel version of the school where everything seems to be black & white. As his colour starts to fade, he realises that he needs to find a way out before he is trapped forever.

In Werewolf Skin, Alex’s grandparents warn him not to head into the forest at night, but it seems like a perfect time to take photographs. However, the forest is more dangerous than Alex could ever have imagined. Their neighbours are reclusive and seem to hate children. Alex is told that they keep big, vicious dogs but he is beginning to believe that this is a lie. Could it be that the Marlings are actually werewolves?

In I Live in Your Basement!, Marco’s mother always warned him that softball was dangerous but he never believed her until he took a nasty blow to the head. When he woke up, strange things started to happen. There is now a strange boy named Keith living in his basement – a boy who says that it’s Marco’s job to look after him. Marco knows that Keith is evil but no one will even believe that he exists. How can he prove it to them before it is too late?

In Monster Blood IV, Evan is keen to forget all about his previous terrible experiences with Monster Blood. However, he finds himself reliving the horror again when Andy manages to find a fresh can. The Monster Blood this time is blue and seems to take the form of a slimy monster. While it seems benign at first, it’s not long before the creature begins to multiply and grows vicious. Will Evan be able to discover its weakness before the monsters overrun his town?

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Dreamland

Dreamland was first published in 2015 and is Robert L Anderson’s debut novel. It is a fantasy story that focuses on a teenage girl who has the power to “walk” into other people’s dreams. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Odea “Dea” Donahue has always been an outsider. Ever since she was little, she has been able to walk into the dreams of others. To her, it is as natural as breathing, however her mother has always made clear that there are rules that she must follow. Never be seen, never change anything, and never walk into the same person’s dream more than once. So long as Dea follows these rules, she will be safe.

Dea follows these rules without question until she meets Connor. Once she has tasted Connor’s dreams, she knows that she needs to go back for more. However, Connor is a troubled youth and his dreams are filled with monsters. It’s not long before these faceless creatures seem to become aware of Dea’s presence. And then, they come for her.

When Dea’s mother suddenly vanishes, the police suspect that she has gone on the run. Only Dea realises the truth – the monsters have captured her. Dea knows that she will need to delve further into the Dreamland than ever before if she wants to save her, and the key to doing so lies in Connor’s mind. However, will Connor even want to be close to Dea once he learns what she is capable of?

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Fazbear Frights: Into the Pit

Fazbear Frights: Into the Pit was written by Scott Cawthon and Elley Cooper and first published in 2020. It is a collection of three short stories, all of which are set within the vague canon of the Five Night’s at Freddy’s series. The stories are designed to stand alone and are not directly linked to any previous games or novels. There are also three further collections that are planned to be released over the next few months.

In Into the Pit, Oswald’s best friend has moved away and now he seems to be destined to spend the summer alone. As he hangs out at a local pizza restaurant, he makes a bizarre discovery. The out-of-order children’s play area has the power to transport a person back in time. Oswald finds himself in the busy arcade that once stood in the place of the restaurant. Trouble is, his appearance seems to have caught the attention of a sinister figure in a yellow rabbit costume. Worse still, this person manages to follow him back home…

In To Be Beautiful, Sarah knows that she is ugly and dreams to be noticed by the Beautifuls – four popular girls at her school. When she finds an abandoned robotic doll, she soon discovers that it has the power to grant her wish. The doll calls itself Eleanor and is more than happy to make Sarah’s dreams come true. Every day, Sarah wakes up to find she is more beautiful than before. What she doesn’t realise is that nothing comes without a price…

In Count The Ways, Millie has never been a cheerful child. She is the only Goth at her school and is constantly picked on by the vapid, fashionable girls. Although Millie has always admired Gothic writers and poets who find beauty in death, she has never truly wished to die. However, when trying to hide from relatives, she finds herself trapped inside the body of a mechanical bear. To her horror, the robot seems to be alive and is eager to kill. If she doesn’t find a way to escape, the creature will force her to choose what way she wants to die…

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Goosebumps 55-58

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 | 46-50 | 51-54

We’re starting to get close to the end of this series now, so let’s take another look back at the original Goosebumps books. These sixty-two novels were all written by R.L. Stine and published between 1992 and 1997. The series is still massively popular today and has spawned a number of spin-offs, movies, video games and even a television show. For the purpose of today’s review, I will be looking at books 55 to 58 only. Oh, and as this is more of a retrospective, there will be massive spoilers. You have been warned.

In The Blob That Ate Everyone, Zackie loves to write horror stories despite being terrified of everything. Due to this, he is thrilled when the owner of a strange, burned out antiques store gives him an old typewriter. In fact, she seems desperate to get rid of it. Trouble is, it’s not long before Zackie realises that everything he writes seems to be coming true. What can he do when he inadvertently releases a giant pink monster on the town?

In The Curse of Camp Cold Lake, Sarah is not having a good time at camp. She hates water, the rules seem far too restrictive, and her roommates are all horrible. To get back at them, Sarah decides to fake her own death. That will make everyone sorry. The problem is that something goes horribly wrong and Sarah finds herself haunted by a ghostly girl. One who is determined to be her buddy. Forever.

In My Best Friend is Invisible, Sammy loves science-fiction but is less than impressed when a mysterious invisible boy invades his room. Brent eats his food, messes things up and claims he only wants to be Sammy’s friend. Trouble is, Brent seems to excel in getting Sammy in trouble and now his parents think that he’s losing his mind. But how can Sammy manage to get rid of something that he can’t even see?

In Deep Trouble II, Billy and Sheena are once again spending their summer at their uncle’s floating lab in the Caribbean. Once again, something weird is happening on the reef. Giant fish and jellyfish are appearing, and even Billy’s goldfish have been affected! They soon learn that it’s all due to the horrible experiments of another scientist. However, now that they have learned his secrets, he can’t possibly allow the kids to leave the reef alive…

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Explorers on Black Ice Bridge

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

The Polar Bear Explorers Club | Explorers on Witch Mountain

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge was written by Alex Bell and first published in 2019. It follows the continuing adventures of Stella Starflake Pearl as she heads to one of the most dangerous places on the planet in search of a cure for her ailing friend. The novel forms the third part of The Polar Bear Explorers Club series, following on directly from where The Polar Bear Explorers Club (2017) and Explorers on Witch Mountain (2018 – published as The Forbidden Expedition in the US). Due to this, I would strongly recommend reading them in sequence if you want to fully appreciate them.

Things do not look good for Stella and her friends. Following their adventure on Witch Mountain, Felix has been stripped of his title and banished from the club. To make matters worse, Gideon has falsely accused Stella of using her magic against him, so there is also now a warrant for her arrest. This could not have come at a worse time, as Shay and Koa are growing sicker by the day. The only possible cure for them lies on the other side of the Black Ice Bridge, in the pages of Stella’s long-lost Book of Frost.

Naturally, friendship comes before everything else and Stella is quick to use her magic to escape. Yet, due to the fact that they no longer have any connections to the club, they are less prepared than ever before. No explorer has ever returned from the Black Ice Bridge, not even Beanie’s father in his ill-fated expedition eight years previously. The Explorers do not know what they will find, especially as rumours state that the bridge may lead to the very edge of the world.

Soon, Stella, Shay, Ethan and Beanie find themselves separated from the adults once again. They now can only use their wits, magic and meagre supplies to survive on the deadly bridge. But can they reach the other side in time when who knows what dangers lie in their way?

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Frostheart

Frostheart was written by Jamie Littler and first published in 2019. It is a middle grade fantasy novel which focuses on a young boy with an incredible power, as he is whisked away on an adventure with the eccentric crew of a land-ship. The novel forms the first part of a planned series and its sequel – Frostheart 2: Escape From Aurora – is due for release in October 2020.

For as long as anyone can remember, the Snow Sea has been the domain of the Leviathans. The huge monsters hide beneath the ice, attacking anyone who ventures too far away from the safety of their stronghold. At one time, Song Weavers were able to use their powers to quell the rage of the beasts. Unfortunately, these people have now largely been driven away. After all, the Leviathans could also seize control of the Song Weavers and command them to do terrible things.

Ash has never fit in amongst the Fira. Although he has always struggled to keep his urge to Sing a secret, the Leviathans still call to him and people are starting to get suspicious. Since his parents disappeared, he has been passed from guardian to guardian and now only Tobu – an exiled Yeti – is willing to take care of him. Tobu seems to be intent on pointing out Ash’s flaws as a warrior and trying to prevent him from Singing, but Ash does not really understand why. How can being a Song Weaver be so wrong when the Leviathans sound so beautiful?

When Ash uses his power to save the crew of the Frostheart from the Leviathans, he finds himself exiled from the Fira Stronghold. Fortunately, Captain Nuk is more that happy to welcome Ash aboard her ship. While life on the Snow Sea is dangerous, Ash soon discovers that this comes with freedom that he could never have imagined. Finally he has the chance to follow clues left by his parents in the form of a lullaby – a riddle that could possibly lead him back to them!

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Goosebumps 51-54

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 | 46-50

Hello everyone! I think it’s time for another trip down memory lane as I take another look back at one of my childhood favourites. In case you’re unfamiliar with R.L. Stine’s most popular work, Goosebumps is a horror anthology series which is aimed at middle grade readers. Although there have been a number of recent spin-offs, movies and video games, the original series ran for sixty-two novels. For the purpose of today’s review, I’m going to be looking at books fifty-one to fifty-four. Oh, and there will be massive spoilers. You have been warned.

In Beware, the Snowman, Jaclyn is annoyed that her Aunt has moved to Sherpia. The tiny village is in the middle of nowhere! Yet it’s not long before she learns that the frozen village has some terrifying local customs. Every house has a scar-faced snowman in its front yard, and the local kids warn her that something terrifying lurks on top of a nearby mountain. Jaclyn is determined to discover if the legends are true, but in doing so learns secrets about her family that she never could have imagined…

In How I Learned to Fly, Jack is rapidly growing to detest Wilson. No matter what he does, Wilson is always determined to prove that he can do better and it is driving him insane! However, when Jack discovers a strange book that claims to contain the secrets of human flight, he realises he has a chance to finally do something better than his rival. After all, there is no way that Wilson can possibly be able to fly, is there?

In Chicken, Chicken, Crystal has always been sceptical of the rumours about Vanessa. Just because someone wears all black, it does not mean that they are a witch. Unfortunately, when Crystal and her brother, Cole, accidentally spill Vanessa’s shopping, they discover that Vanessa just might be magical after all. After all, Crystal and Cole are now changing. If they can’t find a way to stop it, it’s not going to be long before they stop being human altogether…

In Don’t Go To Sleep!, Matt can’t understand why he is forced to sleep in a tiny room when a much larger guest room is going spare. To prove a point, he sneaks into the guest room once night and sleeps in there. Unfortunately, when Matt wakes up, he finds that everything has changed. His two siblings are now little kids and he has suddenly become a teenager! As each day becomes stranger than the one before, Matt starts to regret ever complaining about his old life. Will he ever find a way back to his reality?

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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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