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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I Know You Remember

I Know You Remember was written by Jennifer Donaldson and first published in 2019. It is a mystery novel which focuses on a teenage girl’s search for her missing best friend. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Following the death of her mother, Ruthie Hayden is forced to move to Alaska to live with her estranged father and his new family. Although she is not happy about this, the one thing that she is looking forward to is seeing her childhood best friend, Zahra Gaines, again. Although Zahra and Ruthie have grown apart over the years, Ruthie has nothing but fond memories of their childhood and the fantasy stories that they wrote together.

However, Ruthie arrives in Anchorage to learn something terrible. Zahra had a fight with her boyfriend and stormed out of a party three days previously, and no one has seen her since. As Ruthie tries to find out the truth about what happened that night from the people who were there, she starts to learn disquieting things about Zahra. Her friend is no longer the creative artist that she once was, instead having become an athletic, party girl with no interest in books.

Yet Ruthie’s investigation uncovers uncomfortable truths about her friend and it’s not long before she realises that Zahra hides a dark secret. Something has happened to her over the time that Ruthie has been gone, and that thing changed her forever. As Ruthie delves deeply into her best friend’s past, she finds that nothing is quite as it seems and learns that some truths are better left buried…

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Red Winter

Red Winter was written by Annette Marie and first published in 2016. It is an urban fantasy story set in Japan, focusing on a shrine maiden who discovers that the spiritual world may not be as black and white as she was led to believe. The novel forms the first part of the Red Winter Trilogy and is followed by Dark Tempest (2017) and Immortal Fire (2017).

Emi is proud to be the kamigakari. Ever since Amaterasu’s mark appeared on her chest, she has led a sheltered life to ensure that her body and spirit are pure enough to be a vessel for the kami’s power. Although Emi is not sure what the future will hold for her, she is proud to have been chosen and nervously looks forward to the day when she and Amaterasu will become one.

However, not everyone is as keen for the goddess to walk the earth once again. For years, evil yōkai have tried to kill Emi to delay the descension. Due to this, she is regularly moved from shrine to shrine and always protected by sohei – warrior monks. Her final few months as a mortal are to be spent at the remote Shirayuri Shrine and she is shocked on arrival to discover that her new sohei is Katsuo – a boy who was indirectly linked to the greatest tragedy of her life.

Although shaken by seeing Katsuo once again, Emi is determined to not let this affect her duty. However, things start to change as she discovers what it truly means to be the kamigakari and saves the life of Shiro – a kitsune – who should be her sworn enemy. Shiro now owes her a debt, and Emi needs to find a way to change her fate. However, is a single fox’s magic enough to stand up to the power of the gods?

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Goosebumps 36-40

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier in 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

It’s Halloween and so I thought that this is the perfect time to continue my Goosebumps retrospective. Please note that, as per my previous posts, this will contain massive spoilers for the books in question. You have been warned.

Chances are that you have already heard of Goosebumps. The original series was written by R.L. Stine and was published between 1992 and 1997. The sixty-two novels are largely all stand-alone horror stories aimed at middle grade readers. The series is still hugely popular today and has since spawned dozens of spin-offs and adaptations. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to look at books 36 to 40 only. I’m basing this on the order that they were released in the UK, as this does differ slightly to their US release order.

In The Haunted Mask II, Steve has been given an unthinkable punishment – the task of coaching the first grade soccer team. The kids know how to make his life a living Hell and so he’s determined to have his revenge on them. With Halloween looming, he knows that it’s the perfect time to scare the little monsters out of their skins. If only he can get Carly Beth to tell him where she got her terrifying mask…

In The Headless Ghost, Stephanie and Duane love to terrify the kids in the neighbourhood. However, their old pranks are starting to get boring. To spice things up, they decide to visit Hill House – a local landmark that is known to be haunted by the ghost of a headless boy. While they initially plan to hunt for the spirit’s missing head, they find themselves in unspeakable danger as the ghost makes clear that any head will do.

In The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, Jordan and Nicole have never left their Californian home-town and long to see the snow. Luckily, it seems that they will finally get their wish when their dad is given a chance to travel to Alaska and obtain photographic evidence of a strange monster. At first it seems like a great adventure, but that’s before Jordan and Nicole find themselves lost in the frozen tundra. Will they find their father, or will the snowman find them first…

In How I Got My Shrunken Head, Mark is thrilled to received a gift from his Aunt Benna. It’s a genuine shrunken head and an invitation to join her on the remote jungle island of Baladora. However, when Mark arrives, he discovers that all is not as it seemed. His Aunt has been missing for a long time and her colleagues believe that Mark holds the secret to Jungle Magic. Mark knows that he’s the only one who can save his Aunt, but how can he do so when he does not know how to use his powers?

In Night of the Living Dummy III, Trina and Dan have grown up appreciating their dad’s collection of creepy ventriloquist dummies. However, their wimpy cousin Zane is less impressed. Every time Zane gets startled by the dummies, Trina and Dan get blamed for pulling pranks. The trouble is, neither of them are responsible for the mysterious accidents and moving puppets. Trina is determined to find the logical explanation behind these occurrences, as she knows it can’t be that the dummies are actually alive. Can it?

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The Deathless Girls

The Deathless Girls was written by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and first published in 2019. It is a Gothic horror novel which tells the untold tale of the Brides of Dracula. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Lillai and her twin sister, Kisaiya, have just turned seventeen and that means that it is time for their Divining Day – the moment when they will find out what the fates have in store for them. Lil is certain that her beautiful and outgoing sister will be an ursar – a bear dancer – yet she is less certain what place she will be given within their Traveller community. However, the future for Lil and Kizzy holds nothing but bloodshed and death. Before their palms can be read, their camp is ransacked and they are torn from everything that they once knew.

The girls’ destiny lies in the court of Boyar Valcar – a lord who is well known for his “love” of pretty young girls. They are put to work in Valcar’s kitchens but know that it can only be a matter of time before they are forced to serve him in other ways. While Kizzy endangers herself by constantly battling their captors, Lil would rather accept their fate to avoid further to pain. For Lil, the one ray of light comes in the form of Mira – another kitchen girl whom Lil is inexplicably drawn to.

However, as Lil adjusts to life as a slave, she starts to learn disquieting things about her captors. Valcar and the other Boyars answer to a mysterious prince known as the Dragon – a man made legend due to his brutality. In order to keep their master’s favour, each Boyar must present the Dragon with a regular sacrifice. As beautiful Kizzy starts to be noticed more and more, Lil realises that there is a good chance that she could be next…

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