OwlCrate Unboxing – September 2020

Wow, my September crate was super delayed in the post (thanks COVID…) but at least it has finally arrived. And I am really excited to show you what was inside!

Before I get into the meat of it, let’s talk a little about where this exciting box of mystery came from. OwlCrate is a monthly subscription service that caters to fans of young adult literature. Each box costs around £38 and is guaranteed to contain a hardbacked book, usually autographed and with an exclusive cover. In addition to this, the crate also contains 3-5 other items, all picked to match a set theme. As Halloween is fast approaching, the theme this time was ‘A Glorious Haunting’. Read on to find out what I though though, be warned, massive spoilers and photos lie beyond this point…

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Point Horror 31-35

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments in the series. You can read my reviews of these novels by clicking the links below:

1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25 | 26-30

It’s time for another retrospective look back at the Point Horror series. Yay!

In case you haven’t read my previous reviews, Point Horror was a horror anthology series that was at peak popularity during the 90s. The series was aimed at teenage girls and ran for over 100 novels which were written by popular horror writers of the time including R.L. Stine and L.J. Smith. As there isn’t really much by way of continuity in this series, I’m reviewing them in the order that they are listed on Wikipedia. Be warned, this is more a retrospective discussion so there will be massive spoilers for the books in question.

In The Train (written by Diane Hoh), Hannah and her friends are excited to be on a cross-country train trip from Chicago to San Francisco, but that is before they learn that they are sharing the train with a coffin. The coffin belongs to Frog – a fellow student who recently passed away – and one who each of them were responsible for doing nasty things to. When each of them are attacked, it becomes clear that someone is out for revenge. But Frog is really dead, isn’t he?

In The Waitress (written by Sinclair Smith), Paula has just accepted a waitressing job at a local diner, but things aren’t going well. Not only did she lie about her experience to get the job but weird things have started happening. What initially seem like harmless pranks grow increasingly sinister. Paula soon discovers that she can’t trust her colleagues, but why are they hurting customers and why are they trying to make it look like it’s Paula’s fault?

In The Window (written by Carol Ellis), Jody is nervous about going on the skiing trip as she doesn’t really know anyone. When she sprains her ankle on the slopes, she finds herself feeling more isolated than ever. With nothing better to do, she spends her time looking out of the window of her cabin. It is then that she sees the murder. Although Jody doesn’t see enough to identify the killer, is it possible that the killer has seen her?

In Camp Fear (written by Carol Ellis), Rachel is excited to start her summer job as a camp councillor but first there is a lot of work to be done. She and her new friends need to clear trails, clean cabins and generally get everything ready before the kids arrive. But then the pranks start happening, each corresponding with a fear held by one of her fellow councillors. It soon becomes clear that each of the victims shares a secret. Something terrible happened at the camp seven years before, and now someone wants revenge.

In Dream Date (written by Sinclair Smith), Katie is seventeen years old and desperate to find the perfect guy. Much to her surprise, it’s not long before he comes to her in her dreams. Heath is handsome and rebellious, but it quickly becomes clear that he’s also possessive and controlling. Katie soon finds that she’s sleeping more and more. What will happen to her when she gets to the point when she can no longer wake up?

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Kidnap on the California Comet

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Highland Falcon Thief. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Kidnap on the California Comet was written by M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman and first published in 2020. It is a mystery novel that follows the continuing adventures of Harrison Beck as, this time, he and his Uncle Nat journey across America. The book forms the second part of the Adventures on Trains series, following The Highland Falcon Thief (2020). A third instalment – Murder on the Safari Star – is planned for release early next year.

Harrison “Hal” Beck had such a great time with his Uncle Nat on the Highland Falcon that he’s overjoyed to be invited on another train ride. This time, Uncle Nat is going to spend three days aboard the California Comet as it travels from Chicago to San Francisco. While aboard, he is going to be reporting on a press conference staged by August Reza – a billionaire entrepreneur who is believed to be working on some kind of rocket.

Although Hal is jet lagged and bit nervous to be so far from home, he is really excited to be on the train. He quickly makes friends with Hadley and Mason – a pair of kids his age who dream of creating their own magical stage act. He also meets Marianne – daughter of August Reza – who does not seem to like her father as much as everyone else does.

While the first leg of their journey is uneventful, things change after the press conference when a figure in black snatches Marianne away. As Hal comes to suspect that Marianne might still be hidden on the train, he finds himself in the middle of another mystery. Can his keen sense of observation help him to uncover the kidnapper’s identity before they reach San Francisco?

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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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Where Dreams Descend

Where Dreams Descend was written by Janella Angeles and first published in 2020. It is a fantasy novel that focuses on a powerful female magician who is desperate to be noticed in a world where only men are taken seriously. The novel forms the first part of a planned duology and its sequel, When Night Breaks, is expected to be released next year.

Kallia is the headline act of Hellfire House, yet yearns for more. Despite the fact that her powers are second to none, female magicians have no choice but to use their magic domestically or on seedy nightclub stages. When she hears about the Spectaculore – a contest taking place in the nearby city of Glorian – she is determined to take part to prove herself. Yet Jack, the possessive master of Hellfire House, is reluctant to let her go.

Escaping from the club, Kallia runs away to Glorian and finds a willing assistant in a charismatic thief called Aaros. Together they shock high-society by entering into the Spectaculore as the only female participant, competing against a host of upper-class and deeply prejudiced young men. Her dazzling act also catches the eye of Daron Demarco, a young judge who hides a terrifying secret of his own.

Yet, as Kallia rapidly becomes a crowd favourite, it soon becomes clear that all is not right in Glorian. Someone, or something, is manipulating the contest from behind the scenes. As contestants begin to disappear and sinister notes are discovered, Kallia starts to realises that someone does not want the Spectacular to go ahead. Will she be able to uncover who is responsible and become the champion, or will the saboteur finally claim someone’s life?

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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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OwlCrate Unboxing – August 2020

Hi everyone. First up, I would like to apologise for the lack of posts. I was starting to burn out last month so decided that it was in my best interest to take a few weeks off the blog in order to rest up and get my head back in the right place. Somewhat foolishly, I did not stop reading over this time and so now do have a fair few reviews to type up over the next couple of weeks! I will be taking things at a bit slower pace though, so might not be keeping up the two-posts-a-week that I have managed throughout lock-down.

Anyhow, that’s certainly enough about me. Today, I think it would be best to finally show you what I received in my August OwlCrate. For those of you who are new to my blog, OwlCrate is a monthly subscription service for fans of young adult books. Each box contains a hard-backed book (usually signed and with an exclusive cover) as well as 3-5 other items that have been selected to match a specific theme. The boxes are approximately £38 per month, which has so far seemed to be good value for money when you take into account the quality of the contents and the substantial weight of the box. OwlCrate guarantees that you will receive each box so long as your subscription remains active. Be wary of cancelling – they do have a long waiting list and it can take a few months to get back on it again!

The August theme was “Written in the Stars”. Be warned – there are lots of photos and massive spoilers beyond this point…

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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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