After the Fire

After the Fire was written by Will Hill and first published in 2017. It is a psychological thriller which focuses on a teenager coming to terms with the horrors that she experienced while growing up in the isolated compound of a fanatically religious sect. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Moonbeam was seventeen years old on the day of the fire. She lived to witness the compound being overrun by the Governments and saw her brothers and sisters gunned down before her eyes. It was just like Father John had always taught them. The world outside the fence was filled with the Servants of the Serpent and the Governments existed to wipe out anyone who held the true faith.

Stripped from everything that she has ever known, Moonbeam is taken with the rest of the survivors to a psychiatric hospital and put under the care of Doctor Hernandez. Moonbeam knows that she is not to talk to anyone outside the commune in case their sins infect her but gradually finds herself opening up to the doctor. The truth is, her faith has been shaken ever since the Purge separated her from her mother and, for the first time ever, someone seems to be taking her side.

However, Moonbeam is not sure how much she can divulge. When an FBI agent also begins to attend her sessions, she realises that she needs to be careful. It’s clear that the Governments are trying to piece together exactly what happened on the day of the fire and, if they do, Moonbeam knows that they will uncover the depth of her sins. What will they do to her if they find out that she is responsible for every single death?

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The Children of Castle Rock

The Children of Castle Rock was written by Natasha Farrant and first published in 2018. It is an adventure story aimed at middle grade readers, focusing on a young girl’s adventures at boarding school. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Alice has become increasingly withdrawn since the tragic death of her mother. While she was once adventurous, now she just sits in her room and spends all of her time writing stories. When her family is forced to move from their beautiful home, Alice is devastated and her father and aunt worry about her isolating herself further. In an attempt to help her to find herself, they enrol her at Stormy Loch, a remote Scottish boarding school that is known for taking in wayward souls.

Although Alice feels abandoned, she quickly finds that Stormy Loch is not what she expected. Teachers encourage children to discover their talents and regular “Challenges” are a way of life. The school also doesn’t believe in punishments, though sometimes the consequences for failing the Challenges aren’t much better than these. It’s not long before Alice starts to enjoy herself and gradually starts to make friends with Fergus, a genius with a habit of getting into trouble.

When the school holds an open day, Alice is eager to show her father how great Stormy Loch is. However, he she is disappointed when he does not turn up. Later that day, Alice receives a strange parcel and a note telling her to deliver it to her father on an uninhabited Scottish island. Alice and Fergus soon hatch a plan to enable her to get there in time. However, carrying it out will require the map reading skills of their classmate, Jesse. And there is no way that Jesse will break the school rules knowingly…

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A Celebration of UKYA

Hello everyone!

As you’re probably aware, today is YA Shot and I’ve been trying to think of a good way that I can celebrate. My reviews over the next few weeks may be a little slower than usual because of Camp NaNoWriMo, but I’ve decided to ignore my regularly scheduled reviews and instead bring to you a look at some exciting titles from UK based YA authors instead!

Normal service will resume after the NaNoWriMo is over, but here’s what you can look forward to in the meantime:

The Children of Castle Rock by Natasha Farrant

After the Fire by Will Hill

The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison

How I Live Now by Meg Rossoff

Love Song by Sophia Bennett

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

The Beneath by S.C. Ransom

Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World. You can read my review of this novel [here].

2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious was written in 2018 by Shannon and Dean Hale. The young adult novel is a prequel to Marvel’s popular The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series, though you don’t really need to have read any of the comics to fully appreciate it. However, this book does carry on directly where Squirrel Meets World left off, so you may want to read the novels in sequence in order to fully appreciate what’s going on.

Doreen Green has found that having a superhero alter ego is a lot more complicated than she thought. In the town of Shady Oaks, Squirrel Girl is now a household name and she’s finding it hard to live up to people’s expectations of her. The Squirrel Scouts are always disappointed if they don’t get to see her beat up the bad guys, yet she’s sure that most problems could be solved if she just talks to them.

Yet being Doreen seems to be more complicated still. A teacher at school seems to detest her, and Doreen doesn’t understand why. To make matters worse, something is wrong with Ana Sofía. Her BHFF has been strangely distant with her lately, and Doreen is worried that she is about to lose the only person who knows her secret. Yet having friends is new to Doreen and she has no idea how to put things right.

To make matters worse, there seems to be a sinister plot at work. A contest to choose the mascot for a new mall is causing people to fight like cats and dogs. When mutant animals also begin to terrorise Shady Oaks, Doreen starts to suspect that HYDRA might be the ones behind it. Unable to enlist the help of the Avengers, its up to Squirrel Girl and her squirrel army to discover the truth and save the day.

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Jinxed

Jinxed was written by Thommy Hutson and first published in 2018. It is a horror story which focuses on a teenager and her friends as they are hunted by a masked serial killer. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to full appreciate it.

The Trask Academy is one of America’s wealthiest and exclusive art schools. Teenagers who attend there are ear-marked to become the celebrities and Broadway stars of the future, and the best of them can expect to be scouted at the school’s annual showcase. Layna is disappointed when she loses out to her friend Sydney, but totally understands why. Sydney is stunning and talented, while Layna is at the school on a scholarship. However, she receives her chance a few days later after a tragic turn of events.

Sydney is found dead, apparently having thrown herself from the window of her dorm. Although the school is keen to write this off as an isolated incident, Layna and her friends can’t quite shake off their doubts. Sydney showed no sign of being unstable and was really looking forward to the showcase. It’s not long before their fears are justified when another of Layna’s friends mysteriously vanishes from the library.

The group soon discovers that they are completely isolated as the school is on a remote island and the phone lines are down. As a killer in a theatre mask stalks the halls, Layna comes to learn that he has some connection to both her and an unperformed play written by a former student. However, as the killer continues to strike those close to her, she realises that she must find out what that connection is and unmask him before the curtain falls on her forever…

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Derailed / Ouroboros

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Ouroboros hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. Please note that it may contain spoilers for Moribund. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Ouroboros was written by Genevieve Iseult Eldredge and first published in 2018. It is an urban fantasy story, which focuses on two fae princess on a mission to stop deadly creatures from manifesting on earth. The novel forms the second part of the Circuit Fae series and carries on from shortly after Moribund (2017) left off, so you really need to read the books in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Now that Syl has awakened, she needs to learn how to control her magical powers. The threat of the Moribund still lingers over her home town. Before Agravaine died, he planted an unknown number of eggs around the city. If these aren’t found and destroyed, they quickly start to hatch out into Ouroboros – terrifying Moribund constructs that exist to infect and devour. With Rouen at her side, she spends her nights hunting down the Ouroboros. However, their mission is hindered by an unexpected complication.

As Syl is a Light Fae and Rouen is a Dark Fae, their powers are fatal to one another. To make things worse, Rouen’s touch automatically causes Syl’s powers to blaze out of control as they instinctively lash out to purify the darkness. The only way that Rouen can hope to withstand Syl’s power is by forming a soul-bond with her but that is impossible. To form a soul-bond, she would either need to best her father in a duel and become queen, or drain a Light Fae princess’s blood.

Things grow more complicated still as they are targeted by enemies both old and new. Fiann has returned to school and is as crazy as ever. She still wants to be the queen of the Dark Fae and puts a dangerous plan in motion to ensure that this comes to pass. At the same time, Syl is approached by a Light Fae prince named Aldebaran. He claims that she has been promised to him, and if they don’t become soul-bound soon it will spell the end to the Light Fae. Syl and Rouen though that their troubles would end with Agravaine’s death, but things have just become much more complicated…

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S.T.A.G.S

S.T.A.G.S was written by M.A. Bennett and first published in 2017. It is a thriller novel with horror elements, focusing on a group of teenagers on a weekend hunting trip. The story does end on a note that implies that this could be the start of a series. However, at the time of writing, no future instalments have been announced.

Greer MacDonald is lucky to have been accepted into the prestigious St Aidan the Great boarding school (known to students as S.T.A.G.S) on a scholarship, however she is painfully aware that she does not fit in. Her roommate barely speaks to her and she is often singled out by the Medievals – the school’s unofficial prefects – who make mean jokes about her northern accent and lack of class.

Greer is more surprised than anyone when she receives an invitation to spend half-term weekend on the sprawling Longcross Estate as a guest of Henry de Warlencourt – leader of the Medievals. Along with the rest of the Medievals and her fellow outcasts, Nel and Shafeer, she has been invited for a weekend of blood sports. On three consecutive afternoons, the group will be hunting, shooting and fishing. Although Greer isn’t certain that she’ll be able to stomach this, she is so flattered by the invitation that she immediately accepts.

However, it’s not long before she starts to notice that something is wrong. The Medievals are all acting strangely, friendly one minute and cruel the next. It’s not long before odd accidents begin to occur and it becomes clear that someone could get seriously hurt. Greer gradually begins to suspect that the rich kids are not only planning to hunt game that weekend. However, how can she hope to prove it when the whole village seem to be in on their plan?

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Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow was written by Jessica Townsend and first published in 2017. It is a fantasy middle grade novel about a young girl who must pass four trials to gain membership of an elite organisation. The book forms the first part of the Nevermoor series and its sequel – provisionally titled Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow – is expected to be released later this year.

Morrigan Crow has not had a happy life. As a cursed child, she brings nothing but misery to those around her and knows that she is fated to die on the eve of Eventide, which is due to fall on her twelfth birthday. Unluckily for Morrigan, fate has other ideas. When Eventide unexpectedly falls a year early, she suddenly finds herself face to face with the terrifying Hunt of Smoke and Shadow.

However, Morrigan is rescued by an eccentric gentleman by the name of Jupiter North. Jupiter has selected Morrigan to be his first ever apprentice and he intends to enter her in the trials to become a member of the mysterious Wunder Society – an organisation of talented individuals who reside in the fantastical city of Nevermoor.

While Morrigan is thrilled to have escaped her fate, she soon realises that this may just be a stay of execution. She must compete for one of nice places against hundreds of other young applicants, all whom are more familiar with the oddities of Nevermoor than she is. If she fails at any point, she will be deported back to her home world and have to face the Hunt again. To make matters worse, every applicant must be able to prove that they have a special and useful talent. Unfortunately for Morrigan, she knows that she does not have one…

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Ruby in the Rough

Ruby in the Rough was written by Steven Ruby and first published in 2013. It is a work of contemporary fiction presented as a collection of short stories that illustrate key moments in the protagonist’s life as he grew up in rural America. The novel is a stand-alone story that does not form part of any series.

Steven Ruby has not had the best start in life. His father passed away from a sudden heart attack and his mother works very hard to provide for him and his sister, Katie. However, Steven is not one to complain. He is a bright and adventurous boy, and likes nothing more than exploring his neighbourhood and tinkering with anything that he can get his hands on – often with disastrous results.

Throughout the school year, Steven does his best to avoid falling foul of the local bully and ensure that his experiments do not land him in hospital. However, it is the holidays that he really lives for. It is during the holidays that he is allowed to stay with his Uncle George and help out on the ranch. Although life on the farm is tough, Steven admires his uncle more than anything and sometimes dreams of becoming a farmer just like him.

However, as Steven grows up, it starts to become clear that not all of his childhood dreams will follow him to adulthood. Steven must discover that life sometimes has other things in store for people, as he witnesses sudden changes in the circumstances of the people he is is close to and how they cope with them. The novel focuses on Steven from the age of eight through to young adulthood as he learns important life lessons and discovers the kind of man that he wants to be.

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Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone was written by Tomi Adeyemi and first published in 2018. It is a West African-inspired fantasy novel which focuses on three teenagers on a mission to bring magic back to the world. The novel forms the first part of the Legacy of Orïsha series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

At one time, the maji were revered. They served as a connection between the powerless kosidán and the pantheon of deities that granted them the gift of magic. Everything changed on the day that magic left the world. King Saran was quick to seize control of the situations. As maji destroyed his family, he took his revenge by wiping out all of the adult maji, leaving only their children – ones who had never known the feel of magic – to live out their lives as second-class citizens.

Zélie was one such child. She once yearned to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a Reaper – a maji with power over the dead. Yet now her mother has been lynched and her father struggles to pay his ever increasing taxes. In a bid to help him, Zélie and her brother Tzain head to market to trade fish. It is there that they encounter Amari – the daughter of the King – who carries with her a strange scroll. Amari has grown tired of her father’s tyranny and stolen the one item that could have the power to bring magic back.

With scroll in hand, the three head off on a mission that will take them to the far reaches of the country. If they are successful, magic will be restored to the world and the maji will finally have a chance to overthrow their oppressors. However, it will not be easy. Lead by Amari’s brother Inan, the King’s army hounds their every step. Inan will stop at nothing to destroy the scroll and anyone carrying it, because he hides a deadly secret of his own…

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