American Monsters

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

American Monsters was written by Derek Landy and first published in 2016. It follows the continuing adventures of Amber and Milo as they try to find a way to finally stop Amber’s twisted parents. The book forms the final instalment of The Demon Road Trilogy, and is preceded by Demon Road (2015) and Desolation (2016). I’d strongly advise that you read the books in sequence if you want to have any idea of what’s going on.

Amber is struggling to come to terms with her new role as the Shining Demon’s representative on Earth. She’s stronger than ever, her demonic side fuelled by vials of her benefactor’s blood, but using these is starting to come at the cost of her sanity. And then there are the things she must do – things that enable serial killers to go on killing. She knows that she needs to find a way to break her contract before she completely loses her soul.

And then there is the problem of her parents. Bill and Betty are still on the run and know that they’re living on borrowed time. When Amber finally catches up with them, they cut a deal. They know that they won’t live long while the Shining Demon is still in power. They want Amber to deliver the monster to them so that they can devour him and take his place. If Amber can do that, they promise that they’ll leave her alone to live her life.

Amber knows that her parents can’t be trusted, but there is one small problem. They’ve taken Kelly hostage and will kill her if Amber doesn’t deliver the goods within six days. With Kelly’s life on the line, Amber and Milo have no choice but to hit the road to find chains powerful enough to bind a Lord of Hell. However on the way they will encounter many old friends and enemies and, now that it’s known that Amber is the Shining Demon’s lapdog, it’s difficult to know who they can trust…

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Animorphs 28-32

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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 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Sorry it’s taken so long for me to post this – life is busy. Anyhow, let’s return to my retrospective look at K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs books. As with previous reviews, please note that there will be spoilers. In case you’ve never heard of it before, Animorphs was a science fiction series for young teens that ran from 1996 to 2001. It consisted of fifty-four main novels, as well as ten spin-off stories. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to be looking at books twenty-eight to thirty-two only – The Experiment, The Sickness, The Reunion, The Conspiracy and The Separation. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started!

The Battle for Earth is drawing on and the Yeerks are being forced to grow craftier in their approach. When the Chee come to learn that the Yeerks have taken control of a research lab and meat processing plant, the Animorphs know that they have to infiltrate both to discover why. What they find is a complex plot to change the food supply in order to remove human free will. However, can they destroy the Yeerks’s research without winding up as hamburgers?

Following on from this, the Animorphs are forced to embark on a number of sensitive personal missions. Cassie’s trust is put to the test when she is contacted by a Yeerk who claims to be part of a peace movement. His ally, Aftran, has been captured and will inevitably reveal everything about the Animorphs once Visser Three tortures her. Yet, with all the other Animorphs sick, it’s up to Cassie alone to rescue her and, to do that, she must morph into her worst enemy…

Jake and Marco face crises of a different source when their families are targeted by the Yeerks. Jake must pull out all the stops to protect his unknowing father as Tom tries to either infest or destroy him, while Marco learns that his mother is still alive and is forced to make the impossible choice whether to risk his friends to save her or let her die. Meanwhile, Rachel is forced to face the danger within when she finds herself split in half. With the threat of the Yeerks developing an Anti-Morphing Ray, the team needs to be more focused than ever. But how can they stop it while Rachel is at war against herself?

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Born Scared

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Born Scared was written by Kevin Brooks and first published in 2016. It’s a thriller that focuses on a teenage boy who is afraid of everything. As it’s a stand-alone story, you don’t have to have read any of Brooks’s other novels to fully appreciate it. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a copy for me to review.

From the moment that he was born, Elliot has known nothing but terror. Although experts have been unable to put a name to his condition, his whole life is governed by acute fear. Every sight and sound, from sheep to the colour red, cause his mind to spiral into uncontrollable panic and so he rarely leaves the safety of his “fear-proofed” bedroom.

The one thing that takes the edge off his panic are the little yellow pills that his doctor prescribes. However, due to mix up at the pharmacy, it’s Christmas Eve and he’s running out. His mother leaves in a blizzard to get more. The trip should only take half an hour but as the minutes tick by and she doesn’t return, Elliot realises that something must have gone horribly wrong.

With his last pill beginning to wear off, Elliot is forced to do something terrifying – to head out into the snow to find her. His journey should take him less than a mile away from his home, but the outdoors are unpredictable and his fear is rapidly returning. Will he be able to conqueror it for long enough to find her?

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Wererabbits Need Your Support!

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Hi everyone. This is a post of different sort. If you’ve followed me for a while, you might remember that I’ve posted a couple of reviews about M.Y. Zeman’s Chronicles of a Wererabbit series. These are great books for young teens, which focuses on the adventures of the world’s only Wererabbit. They also contain things like werewolves, hyper-intelligent rats, talking motorbikes and sabre-toothed tigers. Oh, and Snow’s dads are both vampires – how neat is that?

The long and the short is that the series is tonnes of fun, however it’s published entirely out of the author’s pocket. As she wants to make the third book – Snow Island – as cool it can be, she’s taken to Kickstarter to raise funds to cover its publication.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT SNOW ISLAND’S KICKSTARTER PAGE!

The author is looking to raise $1,000 to cover her expenses and offers all kinds of things as rewards, from copies of her books to crocheted mice. If you could spare a little change to help her out, she’d be massively grateful. Plus, you’d have done your bit to help out independent publishing and woodland creatures would love you. I think…

Anyhow, if you need any more convincing, here are some links to my reviews of the first two books. You can bet that I’ll also be reviewing the third, just as soon as I get my hands on a copy!

Snowball: Chronicles of a Wererabbit

Snow Bunny: Chronicles of a Wererabbit

Caraval

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Caraval was written by Stephanie Garber and first published in 2017. It’s a fantasy story about the experiences that a young woman has when she’s invited to take part in a magical game. The novel is the first part of a planned duology, although at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Scarlett has always dreamed of seeing Caraval – a yearly performance known for its audience participation and magic – but it seems that her chances have run out. Her abusive father has arranged for her to be married to a nobleman that she’s never met and Scarlett knows that she has no choice but to obey. He’ll only hurt her younger sister – Tella – if she displeases him.

When her long-awaited invitation to Caraval finally arrives, Scarlett is disappointed but knows there is nothing that she can do. However, Tella is not about to let her sister’s last chance at adventure slip away. Teaming up with Julian – a young sailor – the two fake a kidnapping and spirit Scarlett away to the festival. However, as soon as they set foot on the island, things start to go wrong.

Legend, the enigmatic master of Caraval, spirits Tella away. The game this year is to be a hunt for the stolen girl and the winner is promised to receive a wish in return. Scarlett is not interested in the prize but knows that she needs to get her sister back before the five days are up, otherwise she risks missing her wedding. Teaming up with Julian, the two work together to solve Legend’s clues. However, Caraval is a place of illusion and magic and Scarlett finds herself pitted against dozens of other players, all willing to go to any length to win…

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World

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Today, I’m going to be taking a look at something a little different. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World was written by Shannon and Dean Hale and first published in 2017. It’s a middle grade science fiction story, based around the Marvel superheroine of the same name. The novel stands alone, so you don’t need to know anything about the character before picking it up.

Doreen Green is aged fourteen (and well aware that those things rhyme). She likes to think that she’s a typical teenager. She likes making new friends, dancing and talking to squirrels. Okay, well maybe one of those isn’t that typical. You see, Doreen has a secret. She hides the fact that she has a five-foot-long prehensile tale, the ability to talk to select woodland creatures and the proportional speed and strength of a squirrel!

In secret, Doreen has taken to thinking of herself as Squirrel Girl and dreams of one day joining the Avengers. However, she knows that she needs to keep her abilities secrets. Her parents have always told her that if others see her awesome tail, they’ll only be jealous of it. It’s really a shame as Doreen has just started a new school and is struggling to fit in. The only girl who is remotely friendly with her is Ana Sofía, and that’s partially because they both tend to be ignored by the “Somebodies”.

However, when someone starts setting lethal squirrel traps around the city, Doreen knows that she’s hero that Shady Oaks needs. Donning a hood to protect her identity, she starts out her career small by rounding up stray dogs, cleaning graffiti and saving babies. However, it’s not long until she attracts the attention of the Micro-Manager – a brand new super villain who has decided that Squirrel Girl would make the perfect nemesis…

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Boudica’s Daughters

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Boudica’s Daughters was written by Sheridan Winn and first published in 2016. It’s a fantasy story with historical elements, focusing on a family who are drawn closer together by both personal tragedy and an archaeological find. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Lilla has always seen ghosts, though she often finds that people don’t believe her. Therefore, it’s not really surprising that when her family moves out into the Norfolk countryside, she starts to see spirits of ancient warriors. Two thousand years before, the Iceni tribe was known to live in the area and when Lilla uncovers an ornamental hare in the woods behind her house, she quickly learns that it belonged to the daughter of Queen Boudica.

However, her investigation into the ghosts is put on hold when her sister returns home from University. While Lilla has always been a bit weird, her sister Janey was the life and soul of the party. Yet Janey’s not the same as she was. In the past year, she’s gone increasingly off the rails and fallen in with a bad crowd. It’s not long the family discover why, and the tragic revelation shocks all of them to the core.

In an attempt draw her sister out of her depression, Lilla enlists her to help scour the woods for Iceni treasure. As they discover more than they ever could have imagined, the sisters slowly begin to grow closer as they search for a way to both help Janey and the restless spirits find peace.

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Coming up next on Arkham Reviews

Hi everyone!

I hope you enjoyed my little series of Secret Santa reviews. It was certainly more Historical fiction than I’ve read in a long while! It’s time to return to my actual scheduled reviews so expect a more variety (and indie books) over the coming weeks.

At the moment, I’m reading both Boudica’s Daughters by Sheridan Winn and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon and Dean Hale and I hope to share the reviews with you very soon. I also intend to continue with my series of Animorphs reviews now that Christmas and my Birthday are both out of the way.

Here’s a sneak peak of the reviews that will follow!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Born Scared by Kevin Brooks

American Monsters by Derek Landy

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The Three Worlds by Nara Duffie

The Madness Underneath and The Boy in the Smoke by Maureen Johnson

One of us is Lying by Karen M McManus

The Spectra Unearthed by Christie Valentine Powell

Sea by Sarah Driver

The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

dEaDINBURGH: Vantage by Mark Wilson

Countryside: The Book of the Wise by J.T. Cope IV

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was written by Holly Black and first published in 2013. It is a dark fantasy story, set in a world where a vampire plague has swept America. The novel is loosely based around one of Black’s short stories, and the original can be found in the collection The Poison Eaters and Other Stories. However, this story is intended to stand alone and so you don’t have to have read any of her other work to fully appreciate it.

The world changed rapidly after the existence of vampires was revealed. While they had previously kept to themselves, a rogue vampire went out of his way to spread their sickness across the globe. Bitten humans quickly became Cold, rapidly gaining an uncontrollable desire for human flesh. If they managed to consume this, they then transformed into a true vampire. In a bid to contain the infection, the American government created the Coldtowns – quarantined areas where both vampires and Colds could live without fear of being hunted.

Tana is in trouble. She woke up after a party to find that all her friends were dead. While trying to find a way to escape without waking the vampires who feasted on them, she came across a strange scene. Her Cold ex-boyfriend, Aidan, and a strange vampire both chained in one of the bedrooms. Unable to leave them to the mercy of the killers, she tries to rescue both. However, during this escape, she is grazed by a vampire’s fangs. Realising that she may now be infected, Tana drives towards the nearest Coldtown. She knows that she has no choice if she wants to keep her family safe.

Tana just wants to find a place to sweat off her infection, but Coldtown is not as safe or glamorous as the internet feeds make it appear. Most of the population are humans who have thrown away their freedom for a chance at immortality. If these people realise that Tana and Aidan are Cold, they would do anything to force them to complete their transformations. Added is the complication that Gavriel – the vampire she saved – has a history with the most popular superstar of Coldtown. If Tana wishes to survive, she may need to become a monster…

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The Dark Days Club

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The Dark Days Club was written by Alison Goodman and first published in 2015. It’s a dark fantasy story set in England’s Regency Era, focusing on a young lady finding out about the existence of a demon-hunting secret society. The novel forms the first part of the Lady Helen series and is followed by The Dark Days Pact (2017). The final instalment of the trilogy has yet to be announced.

Lady Helen Wrexhall has just reached eighteen years of age and is finally old enough to make her debut in society, attending balls and soirées to make a good impression on any potential husbands. Although she carries the stain of her family name, her uncle is convinced that the inheritance left to her by her disgraced mother will be enough to attract a suitable match.

However, the first man that seems to be interested in Helen is the infamous Lord Carlston – a man suspected of murdering his previous wife. Helen’s uncle is not impressed that Carlson – a distant relation of his – is trying to use their name to catapult himself back into high society. However, Helen soon learns that Carlston is not interested in her as a match. He is a Reclaimer – a member of a secret society called the Dark Days Club – and he believes that Helen is one as well.

Through secret meetings with Carlston, Helen learns all about his organisation, the horrible monsters that they fight and their sacred duty to protect humanity. However, the more that Helen sees of their world, the more certain she is that she doesn’t want anything to do with them. Yet Carlston is certain that a powerful creature known as a Grand Deceiver is on the rise. How could Helen be able to deny her calling when she could be the only one capable of stopping it?

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