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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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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

The Hunger Games | Catching Fire | Mockingjay

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was written by Suzanne Collins and first published in 2020. It is a prequel to the popular The Hunger Games Trilogy and focuses on a young Coriolanus Snow as he mentors a tribute in the 10th Annual Hunger Games. Although it is set 64 years before the original trilogy, I would strongly recommend reading The Hunger Games (2008), Catching Fire (2009) and Mockingjay (2010) first to fully appreciate what is going on.

Coriolanus Snow is the heir of the Snow family, but since the war his family have sunk into poverty. In order to provide for his Grandmother and cousin, Tigris, he needs to win a grant to study at the Capitol’s university. Failure to do so will mean that they will certainly lose their apartment. Luckily, an opportunity has arisen. Coriolanus has been selected to mentor the District 12 tribute in the upcoming Hunger Games. If he makes a good impression, he will certainly secure the funding that he needs.

While Coriolanus does not expect that his tribute, Lucy Gray Baird, will win the games, he is pleased when her talent for singing makes her a star in the Capitol. Desperately, he seeks a way to use this to his advantage and come out on top with popularity alone. However, as Coriolanus spends more time with Lucy Gray, he comes to realise that he actually wants to her to win. Although Lucy Gray does not look like much when compared to some of the stronger tributes, he begins to plan a strategy that will allow her to defeat them by any means necessary.

Yet his victory will not be easy. Hampered by the psychotic Gamesmaster and his association with Sejanus Plinth, a classmate who is oddly sympathetic with the Districts, Coriolanus must use all of his wits and cunning to succeed. If he cannot win a place at University, how will he ever succeed in his ambition of one day ruling Panem…

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Breaking Dawn

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

Twilight | New Moon | Eclipse | The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Breaking Dawn was written by Stephenie Meyer and first published in 2008. It is the fourth and final part of The Twilight Saga, focusing on Bella and Edward’s early life as a married couple. The novel follows on directly from where Twilight (2005), New Moon (2006) and Eclipse (2007) left off, so I would recommend reading them in sequence to fully appreciate them. The series also includes a couple of spin-off stories – The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (2009), which told the tragic tale of a minor character from Eclipse, and Life & Death (2015), a gender-flipped retelling of Twilight. A prequel novel titled Midnight Sun is due for release later this year.

Bella Swan has almost got everything that she ever dreamed of. She has graduated from High School and is engaged to be wed to her soul mate, the vampire Edward Cullen. A date has also been set for her transformation, meaning that soon she will also leave her humanity behind and truly become a member of the Cullen family. Bella could not be happier, but that is until the honeymoon.

After Bella and Edward final risk becoming intimate, she is shocked to find herself pregnant. This is not something that anyone ever imagined could be possible, as no human had ever survived mating with a vampire before. Worse still, her pregnancy is progressing rapidly and Carlisle fears that it could cost her life. Still, Bella is determined to see it through and bear their child. She strongly believes that her beloved’s venom could save her from death in childbirth.

Yet, Bella and Edward’s biggest problems arise after their daughter is born. When another vampire catches sight of her and assumes that she is an Immortal Child – an illegal child vampire – she is quick to inform the Volturi of the Cullens’ crimes. Knowing that the penalty for creating an Immortal Child is death, the Cullens gather their friends from around the world to prove Bella’s innocence. But will that be enough to convince the ancient vampire royalty if they are determined to start a war against the Cullen clan?

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Owlcrate Unboxing – April 2020

Hello everyone! Hope you’re all doing okay in isolation at the moment. Apologies that this unboxing is so late this month. Due to the current situation, Owlcrate has understandably had some delays in sending out their boxes. Yet, my April crate has finally arrived, which is the main thing!

For those of you who haven’t read any of my previous unboxings, here is what you need to know. Owlcrate is a monthly subscription service for fans of Young Adult novels. Each box costs around £38 to ship to the United Kingdom and is guaranteed to contain one newly released book, usually signed by the author and with an exclusive cover. In addition to this, the boxes contain 3-5 other items that are carefully curated to follow the monthly theme. This month, the theme was “Full Moon Magic”.

Oh, and a final word of warning. As Owlcrate is a subscription service, it guarantees you each box as long as your subscription remains active. While you can cancel at any time, you should bear in mind that the boxes often sell out very quickly and so it can be difficult to get back onto the mailing list once you come off (I made this mistake myself last September…).

Anyhow, I think that covers everything. Let’s take a look at what was inside the April crate. Please bear in mind that this post does contain pictures and massive spoilers for those of you who are still waiting for your crate to arrive…

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Point Horror 6-10

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

I was not expecting to post another retrospective so soon, yet I’m bored of lockdown and certainly getting a lot of reading done!

Let’s take another look at Point Horror – a young adult anthology series that was published between 1991 and 2014. Please note that I’ve selected the reviewing order of these books based on a list that I pulled off Wikipedia, as there seems to be some debate regarding the publication order of these novels. This review is also intended to be more of a retrospective, and therefore contains massive spoilers for the novels in question.

In My Secret Admirer (written by Carol Ellis), Jenny has only just moved to town and her parents have already left her home alone. Luckily, some of the locals invite her to take part in a scavenger hunt in the mountain foothills. Jenny is nervous, but things go from bad to worse when Diana Benson has a terrible accident and falls off a cliff. The next day, Jenny starts to get calls and gifts from a secret admirer. Is someone really interested in her, or does some one think that she knows something about the accident. Someone who wants to be sure that Jenny keeps her mouth shut…

In April Fools (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cusick), Belinda is driving home from a party when she is involved in a terrible accident. The other car swerves off a cliff, but Belinda’s friends force her to leave it and run away. Two weeks later, the pranks start. Someone seems to know that Belinda was involved and is intent on making her suffer. Yet things get worse still when Belinda is asked to mentor a sick teenager named Adam. Especially when she learns that Adam was injured in a car accident two weeks prior…

In Final Exam (written by A Bates), Kelly’s biggest fear is of exams. No matter how hard she studies, she always freezes under pressure. Finals week gets off to a strange start when she discovers another student’s journal – one filled with intense self-help messages about being a “winner”. With other things on her mind, Kelly pockets the journal and goes on with her business. Yet it’s not long before things get strange. What start out as harmless pranks against Kelly grow more sinister, almost as though someone does not want her to graduate. What secrets could possibly hidden within the journal, and why would someone be prepared to kill to get it back?

In Funhouse (written by Diane Hoh), the Santa Luisa Boardwalk is a popular meeting place for teenagers. That is, until the day that the Devil’s Elbow roller coaster flies off the rails, leaving one dead and two seriously injured. Although everyone thinks that it was a tragic accident, Tess is sure that she saw a dark figure hanging around beneath the tracks just before the incident occurred. Now, it seems that someone is targeting her. Someone wants Tess silenced, and will hurt anyone who gets in their way.

In Beach Party (written by R.L. Stine), Karen’s father has let her stay alone in his beach-front apartment for the whole summer. What better chance for her and her best friend Ann-Marie to soak up the sun and party the night away? It’s not long before Karen meets two cute guys – handsome Jerry and bad-boy Vince – and struggles to pick who she likes best. But then the messages start. Someone is desperate to keep Karen away from Jerry at all costs. Although Karen dismisses this as being from a jealous ex-girlfriend at first, she soon starts to have her doubts when it becomes clear that the stranger is prepared to kill if she doesn’t obey…

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Shadowsea

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

Cogheart | Moonlocket | Skycircus

Shadowsea was written by Peter Bunzl and first published in 2020. It is a middle grade steampunk science-fiction novel, focusing on the continuing adventures of Lily Townsend – a young girl with a perpetual motion machine for a heart. The novel carries on from where Cogheart (2016), Moonlocket (2017) and Skycircus (2018) left off, so I would recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Lily, Robert, John and Malkin are excited to travel to New York City. Not only will they be able to visit Selena and Caddy once again, but they will also get to ring in the New Year in one of the biggest and busiest cities on the planet. Yet Lily can’t help but also feel a little nervous. Now that the secrets of the Cogheart have been revealed to the world, she feels that everyone is watching her. No one seems to be interested in the wonderful things that she has achieved. They are only interested in her heart and the accident that took the life of her mother.

Yet it is not long before Lily finds herself swept up in a new adventure. The hotel room next door is occupied by the stern Professor Milksop and her young nephew, Dane. Professor Milksop advises them that Dane is seriously ill and needs his rest, but Lily is not convinced. It’s not long before Dane confirms her suspicions are correct. He has lost all of his memories but knows that something terrible has happened – something to do with Professor Milksop. He needs Lily’s help to find out who he is and what happened to his parents.

As Lily investigates, she uncovers a mystery that is beyond her wildest dreams, involving diamond thefts and a machine that can potentially reanimate the dead. Yet, when Caddy has a vision that Dane will soon be used to perform an unspeakable act and the young boy is suddenly kidnapped, Lily realises that they don’t have a lot of time. If they can’t save Dane before New Years Day, it could be too late to stop Professor Milksop’s terrible brand of science from being unleashed on the world…

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Final 7

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

Cell 7 | Day 7

Final 7 was written by Kerry Drewery and first published in 2018. It is a dystopian science fiction novel, set in a world where all executions in the United Kingdom are publicly aired as part of a reality television show. The novel forms the final part of a trilogy and follows on directly from where Cell 7 (2016) and Day 7 (2017) left off, so I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Although Martha and Isaac have both escaped from Cell 7, things could not be worse for them. Now known as the Rises 7, Martha and her allies have been branded as terrorists due to the explosion at the Cells. Eve has been imprisoned and is awaiting her trial by media, while the Government has used the chaos as an excuse to erect a wall to separate the Rises from the more affluent areas of London.

As Martha waits to see if Isaac will survive his injuries, she begins to put a new plan in motion. With the assistance of an investigative journalist and the Prime Minister’s aide, she searches for a way to reveal Reynard’s deceit to the country. Only by proving Death is Justice is corrupt – and that this corruption stems from the Prime Minister himself – can Martha find a way to destabilise the system before Eve meets her end.

However, things are now more difficult than ever before. As the system starts to crumble, Reynard becomes more dangerous. The police are replaced by his own private guard and any revolutionary activity is given an instant death sentence. Martha will have to work harder than ever if she is to convince Britain that the system – and the man behind it – do not have their best interest at heart.

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The Toll

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

Scythe | Thunderhead

The Toll was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2019. It forms the final part of the Arc of a Scythe Trilogy, now set in a grim world where life and death are controlled by one power-hungry psychopath. The novel follows on directly from where Scythe (2016) and Thunderhead (2018) left off, so I would recommend reading these novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

In the wake of the great tragedy of Endura, the world has rapidly changed for the worst. Thunderhead has gone silent, declaring everyone except for Greyson Tolliver as unsavoury. Any supporter of Scythe Curie has either gone to ground or been culled. Citra is missing and presumed dead. Scythe Goddard has declared himself as the first Overscythe and taken to revising the governing rules of the Scythes, removing gleaning quotas and permitting Scythes to act on their personal prejudices towards certain races or religious groups.

The only hope for the world lies with Faraday and Munira, who have headed deep into Thunderhead’s blind spot to find the legendary fail-safe – something with the power to put an end to the Scythes. However, when they find themselves marooned on the island with no way of activating the fail-safe, it seems that any chance of stopping Goddard is lost. Fortunately, Thunderhead has not given up on them. Within weeks, boats of workers also start to dock on the remote atoll. They have been instructed to build something huge – something that could save the human race. Trouble is, no one knows what it is.

On the other side of the world, several other groups work tirelessly to stop Goddard. A salvage crew rescue Citra from the ruins of Endura and use her as a mouthpiece to reveal Goddard’s crimes, and Greyson re-imagines himself as the Toll – the chosen prophet who can unite the Tonists against their enemies. Yet will they be enough to stop Goddard when 80% of Scythes in America support his regime?

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Point Horror 1-5

It’s time to begin a new series of my retrospective reviews. Hooray! As I’ve now read through every single Animorphs and classic Goosebumps book, I think it’s time to now turn my attention to some classic horror stories for older teens. That’s right, it’s time to revisit Point Horror.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Point Horror is a anthology series that was published by Scholastic between 1991 and 2014. Early instalments were just re-prints of earlier Scholastic titles, but the series achieved massive popularity in the mid-nineties and was a staple favourite of every teen. The stories are somewhat darker than Goosebumps books, often focusing on older teens as they are targeted by stalkers and psychopaths. Please note that, as per all of my other retrospectives, this post will contain massive spoilers for the novels in question.

In Twisted (written by R.L. Stine), Abby is determined to become a Tri Gam as it is the most exclusive sorority on campus and the only accepts a chosen few each year. The thing that she was not prepared for was the hazing. To become a Tri Gam, the pledges need to commit a crime. However, when something goes horribly wrong and someone winds up dead, Abby and the new pledges are forced to band together to hide their shared secret…

In The Lifeguard (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cusick), Kelsey’s summer holiday on Beverly Island begins in disaster. She was supposed to be staying with her mum’s new boyfriend but his teenage daughter, Beth, has vanished. As Kelsey explores the island, she soon learns that Beth is not the first. A number of young women have mysteriously drowned off the coast of the Island. It’s almost like the local lifeguards aren’t doing a very good job…

In Party Line (written by A Bates), Mark is addicted to calling the Party Line as he finds it so much easier to talk anonymously to girls. It’s not long before he begins to recognise different voices, especially the sleazy and desperate “Ben”. However, when a girl goes missing shortly after agreeing to meet with Ben, Mark starts to realise that perhaps Party Line isn’t as harmless as it seems. But will he be able to track down Ben in real life without becoming one of his victims?

In The Baby-Sitter (written by R.L. Stine), Jenny is thrilled to be offered a regular baby-sitting gig after a chance meeting at the mall. However, when she first visits the Hagen house, she starts to have her doubts. It is really run-down and their neighbour is more than a little sinister, and there have also been those attacks on baby-sitters in the area. Then, the threatening phone calls start, promising her that “Company’s Coming”. Will Jenny manage to keep her wits about her and survive the night, or will she become another victim…

In Trick or Treat (written by Ritchie Tankersley Cusick), Martha isn’t happy to leave Chicago and move to the sticks to live with her new stepmother and her teenage son, Connor. However, she feels worse still when she sees the old, spooky house where they live. Then the practical jokes start, growing more dangerous and malicious by the day. She soon learns that something terrible once happened in the house, and she could very well be next!

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One of Us Is Next

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for One of Us Is Lying. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Tonight’s review actually serves two purposes. Firstly, this post is the 550th review on this site. Yay for us and thank-you, as always, for your continuing support. This post is also to raise awareness for World Book Night, which is tomorrow. More information on that shortly…

One of Us Is Next was written by Karen M. McManus and first published in 2020. It is a mystery story which focuses on a group of students who are forcibly engaged in a deadly game of Truth or Dare. The novel is a direct sequel to One of Us Is Lying (2017), so I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate what is going on.

A year has passed since Simon’s death, yet the students of Bayview High have never forgotten the horrible game he played. Copycat sites have popped up every now and then, but the school’s strict anti-cyber bullying policy has quickly had them shut down. At last, the “Bayview Four” – Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper and Nate – have been allowed to get on with their lives and graduate. However, it soon becomes clear that the game is not over for those that they have left behind.

It starts as a harmless text from an unknown sender, targeting every student in Maeve’s year. The messenger says that he will be contacting one student with a Truth or Dare. If they forfeit, one of their secrets will be sent directly to everyone they know. No one truly believes it until the sender reveals Phoebe’s dark shame to everyone – a secret that no one else should have been able to find out.

The students quickly become hooked on the game, with everyone keen to choose “Dare” to avoid their secrets being leaked. However, when one of the dares goes horribly wrong and a student is killed, Maeve and her friends realise that the game hides some sinister purpose. Was the death planned and, if so, how does the mastermind seem to know everything about them?

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