The Andalite Chronicles


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

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift

The Andalite Chronicles was written by K.A. Applegate and first published in 1997. It is the first of four Animorphs Chronicles books that further expand the universe in which the main series is set. Although it does not form part of the main Animorphs chronology, The Andalite Chronicles is technically a prequel to the series and focuses on Elfangor’s youth as a cadet in the Andalite military.

Before Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul was a war-prince, he was a lowly aristh – a cadet – eager to see battle and prove himself as a great warrior. Assigned to the dome ship StarSword, he begins an unremarkable career with his friend and rival Arbron. His first taste of a real mission is a simple excursion to investigate a Skrit Na freighter but what he discovers there changes his life forever.

The Skrit Na have abducted two humans – Loren and Chapman – and Elfangor and Arbron are placed under the command of a disgraced war-prince called Alloran in order to transport them home. Yet their plans are derailed when they make a discovery. The Skrit Na have also scavenged a legendary Ellimist artefact known as the Time Matrix and are on their way to deliver it into the hands of the Yeerks.

Elfangor and his party pursue the Skrit Na to the Taxxon home world in the hope of retrieving the device, however in doing so they find themselves in a deadly struggle against the Yeerks. During the course of the fight, Elfangor makes a critical error and in doing so condemns Alloran to a fate worse than death – a horrible existence as the host of the Yeerk that will one day become Visser Three…


Inspired by Frost


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

Inspired by Frost was written by Alicia Rades and first published in 2016. It is the third instalment of the Crystal Frost series and follows on directly where Fire in Frost (2015) and Desire in Frost (2016) left off, so I’d strongly advise that you checked out the previous books before picking up this one. The series follows the continuing adventures of a teenage psychic as she tries to use her powers to help those around her.

While shopping for a dress for her mother’s wedding, Crystal suddenly encounters the spirit of a teenage girl who identifies herself as Melissa. Unlike the other spirits that she’s encountered, Melissa isn’t interested in naming her killer. Instead, Melissa begs Crystal to help Sage – a girl who is destined to die on the day of the wedding. There is only one problem. Crystal has no idea who Sage is.

Although Crystal quickly identifies the girl in question, she doesn’t know how she can use her powers to help her. While she can sense that Sage is afraid of something, she has no way of accurately predicting how the teenager is going to die. Yet Crystal knows that she can’t just abandon Sage to her fate and tries to befriend her, hoping that in doing so she can uncover some kind of clue.

As Crystal spends more time with Sage, she learns of a darkness in the girl’s past. The horrible events of her childhood still haunt her and the young psychic realises this could be connected to the thing threatens her life. Yet this puts Crystal in a very difficult position. There is no way that she can tell Sage the truth without revealing secrets of her own. And her mother always warned her to be careful who she told about her powers…


Strange Star


Strange Star was written by Emma Carroll and first published in 2016. It is middle grade novel which presents a fantastical account of how Mary Shelley found the inspiration to write Frankenstein. The novel stands alone and so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

June, 1816. The year that a bright new star appears in the sky, drawing a long tail behind it. Lord Byron invites four esteemed guests to Villa Diodati on the shore of Lake Geneva for an evening of ghost stories to chill the blood. For his young servant, Felix, it is an exciting night. Not only is it a good time to prove he is worthy of being Byron’s footman but he can also listen to tales told by some of the greatest thinkers in England.

Yet as darkness falls and a storm begins, there comes a frantic knocking at the door. Felix reluctantly answers it to find the body of a girl on the doorstep. Although Dr Polidori declares her dead, Mary Shelley is not prepared to give up on her. Through sheer force of will she manages to revive the girl, and the girl immediately accuses her of having kidnapped her younger sister. Horrified at the accusation, Mary denies any wrong doing, but the girl has a terrible story to tell.

As Felix and Mary listen, the girl – named Lizzie – tells a terrifying story of her own. One that began the previous winter in a small English village. It is a tale of freak storms and stolen livestock. Impossible science and the possibility of curing death itself. Although Mary is not sure if she believes Lizzie, her story is truly more terrible than anything that the writers could have dreamed of.


Animorphs 11-15


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

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift

Sorry for the delay in these reviews. It’s been a few weeks so I think it’s a good time to get back to my retrospective look at K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs series. This epic science fiction series focuses on five teenagers and a young alien who use their shape-shifting powers to fight an invasion of extra-terrestrial parasites. For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at books eleven to fifteen only – The Forgotten, The Reaction, The Change, The Unknown and The Escape.

The Animorphs have now survived countless battles against Visser Three and the invading Yeerks, but there is still so little they know about the universe and the nature of their powers. When an attempt to seize control of a bug fighter goes horribly wrong, the resulting explosion creates a Sario Rip, shunting the teenagers back in time. Trapped in the Amazon in an unknown time period, they find themselves racing across the jungle to find a way to get back home before time can catch up and erase them from history.

They also discover that morphing carries some horrible side effects when Rachel develops an allergy to her crocodile morph, causing her to uncontrollably change form. The Animorphs struggle to find a way for her to control this for fear that she shifts in public and reveals their secret to the world. Stranger still is when Tobias stumbles across the only two free Hork-Bajir in the universe. The Ellimist charges with him finding a place where they can live safely, promising to grant him what he desires most if he succeeds.

On top of everything the Animorphs are horrified to discover that the Yeerks are extending their reach, looking at the other creatures that inhabit the Earth to see if any would make suitable hosts. The Animorphs are forced to investigate why and put a stop to it before their enemies can grow even more powerful…

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. You can read my review of this novel [here].

It’s my 250th review. Hooray for me! To celebrate, I think it’s about time to continue my look at the Harry Potter series. As I said in the 200th anniversary post, please note that this is more of retrospective than a true review and so there are likely to be spoilers. You might want to stop reading here if you’ve never read the book.

Anyway, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was written by J.K. Rowling and first published in 1998. It is preceded by Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997) and followed by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2005) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007). Since then, the series has been further expanded by a sequel play titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016) and several companion books which provide further details about the magical world.

After his thrilling first year at Hogwarts, Harry finds it difficult to return to the Dursleys. Although his family are afraid of his new powers, they still find many ways to make his stay utterly miserable. As Harry’s best friends haven’t even bothered to write to him, he feels all the more isolated. Yet when Harry is visited in the night by a house elf named Dobby, he learns why. Dobby has been keeping Harry’s mail from him to make him believe that he is unwanted. The elf claims that this is because there are new dangers at the school, ones that will threaten Harry’s life if he’s to return.

Yet this isn’t enough to keep Harry from his studies. Ignoring Dobby’s warnings, he returns to school and is happy to resume to his classes. Everything seems as safe and normal as one would usually expect from a magical school until Harry starts to hear a sinister voice that no one else does. Shortly afterwards Mrs Norris is attacked and a threatening message appears on the wall, warning any muggle-borns that the Heir of Slytherin is out to get them.

As more people are attacked, it soon becomes up to Harry, Ron and Hermione to discover who is guilty. Yet things become more complicated when Harry unearths evidence that implicates one of his closest friends…


Labyrinth Lost


Labyrinth Lost was written by Zoraida Córdova and first published in 2016. It is a fantasy novel about a teenage bruja who is forced to travel across a hostile spirit world to save her kidnapped family. The story forms the first part of the Brooklyn Brujas series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Alex has grown up hating her family’s magic ever since an encounter with her Aunt’s reanimated corpse. Although her sisters – Lula and Rose – take pride in their abilities, Alex wants nothing more than to be normal. However, Lula is certain that her sister’s power is just being blocked and will try anything to get it to surface. What she doesn’t know is that Alex has been hiding a power so terrible that it scares her. She has kept her magic a secret for years, praying that it will go away.

After an incident at school, her secret is revealed. Naturally, her family is thrilled. She is an Encantrix – the rarest and most powerful of brujas – and her mother rushes to arrange Alex’s Deathday to call upon their ancestors to bless her powers. With no one listening to her fears, Alex finds herself confiding in a young brujo named Nova. Nova reveals to her that there is a way to ask the gods to remove a bruja’s power and Alex sets about obtaining the items to sabotage her Deathday. However, that’s when things start to go wrong.

As her spell backfires, she summons a terrifying apparition who drags her entire family into Los Lagos, the place where spirits wait after death. Alex learns that the being – known as the Devourer – will only hold on to her family until the next eclipse and then will feed on their souls. With Nova at her side, she travels to Los Lagos to rescue them. But Los Lagos is a world of hidden dangers, especially for one as powerful and untrained as Alex…


Ratchet the Reluctant Witch


Ratchet the Reluctant Witch was written by Sara Pascoe and first published in 2015. It tells the story of a fourteen-year-old girl who is forced to find a way home when her magical powers shunt her back in time. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Rachel “Ratchet” Hollinsworth has been living in foster care ever since her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and she hates every minute of it. To make matters worse, she’s worried that she’s also developing a mental disorder. Lately, she’s been seeing things that aren’t there and hearing cats talk. If anyone finds out, she knows she’ll be locked away like her mother.

Desperate for independence, Ratchet runs away to London and her life soon starts to look up. She finds herself a job in a nice café and a homeless psychic named Pavel reveals to her that she is actually an Integrator (witch). He even starts to teach her how to control her powers. Her situation still isn’t perfect but Ratchet is content. That is, until her social worker tracks her down.

It turns out that the social worker – Bryony – is an Integrator too and had been keeping an eye on Ratchet. When one of Ratchet’s friends is injured, the grief triggers her powers and sends her hurtling back in time to the Essex Witch trials. Bryony and her wisecracking familiar, Oscar the Cat, hurry to bring her back before the Witchfinder General can catch her. Yet things go from bad to worse when Ratchet jumps to 17th Century Istanbul and finds herself as a fortune teller to the murderous Sultana. Will she live long enough to get back to her own time?


YA Shot 2016 Tour – featuring Melinda Salisbury


Hello everyone! Today’s post is something a little different. I’m here today to talk about YA Shot.

YA Shot is a one-day festival that brings together UK Young Adult and Middle Grade authors. It’s a celebration of writing for young readers that aims to promote the joy of reading and inspire a passion for writing.

Although YA Shot works year around to help pair schools with local libraries for author events, the event itself takes place on 22nd October 2016. It involves around 70 authors and takes the form of a programme of workshops, panels and book singing sessions at Uxbridge Civic, Centre, Waterstone’s Uxbridge and Uxbridge Library. If you’re interested in attending, you should definitely check out their website – 

In honour of this special event, I’m pleased to have a special guest for this post. Melinda Salisbury is one of the fantastic authors involved in YA Shot. She’s the author of two fantastic fantasy novels – The Sin Eater’s Daughter and The Sleeping Prince – both of which you can find reviewed on this blog. The third book in the series, provisionally titled The Scarecrow Queen, is due for release in early 2017.

To read our interview and have a chance to win a copy of The Sin Eater’s Daughter, read on:


The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier novels in the series. You can read my reviews of these books [here], [here] and [here].

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a short spin-off novella which forms part of Stephenie Meyer’s massively successful Twilight Saga. The story was first published in 2010 and describes Bree’s experiences over the three months that she spent as a vampire. The book overlaps with the events of Eclipse (2007), therefore I would strongly advise that you read the first three novels in the series before picking up this one.

For Bree Tanner, every day is marked with uncertainty and terror. Ever since she was first created by the vampire that she knows only as Her, she has spent all of her time trying desperately to stay alive. The other Newborns in her coven are vicious and uncontrollable – prone to tearing off each other’s limbs or lighting each other on fire. She’s smart enough to know that she needs to keep to herself if she wants to live.

Things change when she meets Diego. He’s been a vampire far longer than she has and is rumoured to be Riley’s right-hand man. Although she’s reluctant to trust him at first, she soon discovers that he is genuinely nice and could become her first vampire friend. When disaster strikes and the two of them find themselves stranded at daybreak, it’s only Diego’s ingenuity that saves them both from facing the rising sun.

Yet in doing so, the two of them uncover Riley’s lie. He’s been keeping the Newborns in check by telling them that all the myths about vampires are true but now Bree and Diego know that sunlight can’t harm them. Believing that Riley might be unaware of this himself, the two of them head off to tell him of their discovery. However, they quickly discover that they are pawns in a larger game and that the vampire known as Her has sinister plans for them…


Star Sapphire and the Land of Gems 1-3

Star Sapphire and the Land of Gems

Star Sapphire and the Land of Gems is a trilogy by Anthony Pardoe. The books – The Ride of Doom, The Raging Torrent and The Crystal Cavern – were all published in 2015 and won the 2016 Purple Dragonfly Book Award. They focus on a ten year old girl who braves a subterranean kingdom of crystals in order to reunite a lost pebble with his friends. As none of the books in the series exceed 200 pages, I will be looking at all three of them in this review.

Star Sapphire has had a strained relationship with her mother ever since her father disappeared while exploring the jungle. While her father was fun to be around, her mother is determined to spoil her summer, forcing her to stay at home and do homework instead of playing at the beach. However, Star is drawn into an adventure when a small pebble in her garden starts to speak to her.

The sea pebble, who she names Jasper, has no legs and so has been stranded away from his friends ever since the sea receded thousands of years before. He begs for Star to carry him down to beach to be with them and, even though it means disobeying her mother, Star knows that she can’t refuse someone who needs her help.

On the way there, disaster strikes. Jasper rolls into an abandoned mine and when Star chases after him, the entrance collapses behind them. Using fluorescing rocks to guide their way, Star and Jasper venture deep into the mine to find a way out. Soon, they come across a kindly agate who informs them that their only hope lies with the Great Sapphire. They must journey to the Crystal Cavern and present their case to him to be allowed to leave. If he refuses them, they will be trapped in the Land of Gems forever…


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