Lumberjanes: The Good Egg

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

Unicorn Power! | The Moon is Up

The Good Egg was written by Mariko Tamaki and first published in 2018. It forms the third part of the Lumberjanes series, which focus on a group of young girls who have fantastical adventures while at summer camp. The series is based around the award-winning comic book of the same name and the previous instalments are titled Unicorn Power! (2017) and The Moon Is Up (2018). I would certainly recommend reading them in sequence if you want to have any idea of what is going on.

Following the good-spirited rivalry of the Galaxy Wars, the coordinators of Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types have decided that the girls’ next task should be something that unites them. Enter the flamboyant Annabella Panache, resident drama instructor. Pairing up girls from different cabins, Miss Panache decides that each group will enact an elaborate retelling of a faery story. And she does not do anything by half.

While Ripley generally loves to sing and dance, she finds herself distracted. She has discovered a nest of giant eggs in the forest and has become particularly attached to the smallest of the bunch, which she names Eggie. When the other eggs hatch and leave Eggie alone, Ripley enlists Barney’s help to keep it safe until its parents return for it. Her other friends are so busy planning their play, they hardly notice that she’s gone.

However, things take a bad turn when Eggie is stolen by a cult of greedy egg thieves. Ripley is devastated by the loss and the worry turns her into a shadow of her former safe. It’s up to the other members of the Roanoke and Zodiac cabins to pull together and rescue Eggie and they don’t have long to do it. Eggie’s parents have found the camp, and they are not too happy that their child is missing…

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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

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

Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone | Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire | Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The fact that I’m returning to Hogwarts can only mean one thing. That’s right readers, today marks my 450th review on this blog! Thank you so much for your continuing support and recommendations. I wonder what gems we will find amongst the next 50…

Anyhow, with that out of the way, let’s continue. As always, please note that this post will undoubtably contain huge spoilers, as I do kind of expect that a lot of you are at least acquainted with the movie that is based on this book. However, in case you’re not familiar with this series, Harry Potter has been a worldwide phenomenon for over 20 years. It was written by J.K. Rowling and the main series consists of seven novels – Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (1997), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), 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). This has since been supplemented by a play, a spin-off movie series and number of short-stories and reference books that further expand the world.

Unlike the previous summer, Harry has found that he has not been left to wallow in his misery. In the aftermath of the battle at the Ministry of Magic, it is not long before Dumbledore comes to Privet Drive to ask for his assistance. It soon becomes apparent that he is necessary to convince an elderly teacher by the name of Horace Slughorn to return to Hogwarts, though Harry isn’t entirely certain why this is important at all in the greater scheme of things. Every day, Voldemort’s Death Eaters seem to be becoming bolder and people who defy them are meeting unpleasant ends.

On the way back to Hogwarts, Harry becomes suspicious that Draco Malfoy may have an inside knowledge of what the Dark Lord is planning. However, no one else seems to share his concerns. They only see Malfoy as an arrogant teenage boy and just can’t accept that he would have anything to offer Voldemort. Yet Harry knows that Malfoy is hiding something and vows to keep a closer eye on his rival than ever before.

As the school year begins, Harry starts to have secret lessons with Dumbledore in which he learns more about Voldemort’s childhood. During these lessons, Dumbledore reveals the truth about Slughorn to Harry. Dumbledore believes that the professor once told a terrible secret to Voldemort and he needs Harry to discover exactly what that was. However, as Harry starts to get closer to Slughorn in his potions lessons, he stumbles across another mystery. An old potions book hidden in the classroom that has been annotated by a student who seems to know more about the subject than his teacher and has a definite malicious streak. A student that goes by the name of the Half Blood Prince…

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Diamonds and Deceit

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Secrets and Sapphires. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Diamonds and Deceit was written by Leila Rasheed and first published in 2014. It is a historical romance set in the early 20th Century that focuses on the lives of the people who live and work on the wealthy Somerton Estate. The novel forms the second part of the At Somerton series – following Secrets and Sapphires (2013) and preceding Emeralds and Ashes (2015). Because of this, I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

A few months have passed since Lady Rose was formally adopted as one of Lord Westlake’s daughters and she is struggling to fit in. The other young Ladies refuse to accept her as one of them, disgusted by her poor upbringing. However, the serving staff behave strangely around her too, projecting a sense that they believe it improper for one of their station to ever believe that they belong in high society. As her season begins and she becomes attracted to a known ladies man, the Duke of Huntleigh, she knows that her feelings will never be reciprocated. What will Huntleigh think when he learns who she truly is?

Her sister, Ada, is also having a miserable time of things. There is a lot of pressure for her to accept Lord Fintan’s offer of engagement in order to save her family from poverty, however how can she do so in good conscience? Even though Ravi has returned to India, she still loves him dearly. It seems unfair to both of them to enter a loveless marriage. However, her choice may soon be taken from her. Charlotte is determined to have her revenge against her stepsister and has more than enough information at her fingertips to publicly shame both Ada and Lord Fintan.

Yet these are not the only dramas unfolding at the Somerton Estate. Sebastian is determined to prove that his love – Oliver – is innocent of murder. Michael must choose between going to Eton and finding a way to start a life with Priya, the Indian nursemaid. Georgina must find a way to stop the staff from leaving in protest of the authoritarian new housekeeper. If any of these scandals are discovered, they could spell the end of the Westlake family. Is there any way that they can hope to keep things together until Ada’s wedding can save the estate?

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My Best Everything

My Best Everything was first published in 2015 and is Sarah Tomp’s debut novel. It is a contemporary romance that focuses on a teenage girl who will do anything it takes to escape from her small home town. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other books to fully appreciate it.

Luisa “Lulu” Mendez can’t wait to leave Dale. All her life, her father has told her that she needs to get out of the small Virginian town, and now she can finally do that. She just has to last one more summer before she can head off to college in San Diego and finally kiss her part-time job at the local junkyard good-bye. Unfortunately, it is not long before everything goes wrong.

When one of her father’s business deals goes south, Lulu’s family suddenly finds itself short of money. This means that her dream is cruelly snatched from her as her family can no longer afford her tuition fees. Lulu is devastated but raising the money in such a short time seems impossible. That is, until someone dumps an old moonshine still at the junkyard. Although Lulu knows that distilling alcohol is illegal without a permit, she also knows just how much money a shiner can make. With the help of her friends, Rona and Bucky, Lulu steals the still and hides it in the woods.

Yet making moonshine is dangerous and she does not know where to begin. This is why Lulu knows that she needs the help of Mason – a local boy with a troubled past. The fact that Mason’s family are shiners is a poorly kept secret and, with his help, she knows that she can succeed. However, Lulu does not realise just how dangerous making moonshine can be. As she draws closer to Mason and puts her plan in action, she soon realises that she is playing with fire. She can only hope that she makes the money that she needs before she gets burned…

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Ice Crypt

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Ice Massacre. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Ice Crypt was written by Tiana Warner and first published in 2016. It forms the second part of the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai series, following Ice Massacre (2015) and preceding Ice Kingdom (2017). The story follows the continuing adventures of Meela and Lysi as they try to end the war between their two races, and so I would strongly recommend reading the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Following her return from the Massacre, Meela knows that she needs to do something to end the fighting. She believes King Adaro’s claim about the existence of the Host – a powerful creature that has been hidden beneath Eriana Kwai. Although she knows that she can’t allow the mermaid king to harness such power, she wonders if she can find a way to turn it against him to save Lysi.

Meanwhile, Adaro has punished Lysi by sending her away from Eriana Kwai – battling alongside the mermen to quell a rebellion to the south. Although she is reunited with her childhood friend Spio, she yearns to be back with her lover. She knows that Adaro plans to have Meela and her people destroyed but can do nothing to stop it.

However, Meela and Lysi could be brought together again much sooner than anyone could imagine. As the date for the next Massacre is brought forward, Meela and her friends must hurry to find the Host before any more girls can be killed. Meanwhile, Lysi finds herself working alongside a group of rebels who have plans to assassinate Adaro…

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Thunderhead

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Scythe. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Thunderhead was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2018. It follows the continuing story of Citra and Rowan – two youths who live in a world where humans are functionally immortal and the population is controlled by an order who are known as the Scythes. The book forms the second part of the Arc of a Scythe series and follows Scythe (2016). At the time of writing, no further instalments have been announced.

Ever since she passed her trial, Citra has struggled with leaving her past behind. Although she is now a true Scythe, it is hard to think of herself as being Scythe Anastasia rather than the girl that she once was. Her revolutionary gleaning method has also been drawing the attention of her fellows. Her decision of letting her victims choose the terms of their death is unheard of, and the order is divided on whether or not they support this. While Citra is initially unconcerned about their opinions, her view changes when an attempt is made on her life. Someone has noticed how influential Citra is becoming and will stop at nothing to silence her forever.

Meanwhile, Rowan now walks a different path. He has taken Goddard’s ring and now operates from the shadows as Scythe Lucifer. His targets are those Scythes who abuse their power – the ones that kill for sport or deliberately target racial minorities. While the Scythes initially struggle to stop him, matters change when Rowan finds himself captured and at the mercy of a Scythe with a horrifying agenda. His captor is about to put a terrible plan in motion, but first they wish for Rowan to suffer.

It’s clear that the world is in a state of flux and not necessarily for the better. Although the Thunderhead – the AI that controls most of the world – can see the coming storm, it is powerless to directly do anything to stop it. The best it can do is manipulate certain key players into positions where the can make a difference, although in doing so it puts them in grave danger. Meanwhile, Faraday may also have found something that could change the course of history – a legendary city, hidden from both the Thunderhead and Scythes alike. However, travelling there is unspeakably dangerous. One slip up and he will likely find himself permanently dead…

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A Series of Unfortunate Events – Supplementary Material

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:

1-3 | 4-6 | 7-9 | 10-12

A Series of Unfortunate Events was a massively successful series for middle grade readers. The thirteen instalments were written by Lemony Snicket and published between 1999 and 2006. They follow the tragic and often dangerous adventures of the orphaned Baudelaire siblings as they attempt to discover more about a mysterious organisation known as the VFD and avoid the evil Count Olaf, who is determined to kill them and steal their fortune. But that is not what I intend to talk about in this review.

As I only have one book left to review in the main series, today I’m going to be looking at some of the supplementary material. The Unauthorized Autobiography (2002) and The Beatrice Letters (2006) were published alongside the main series and contain hints, codes and answers that help to further flesh out Snicket’s world.

The Unauthorized Autobiography is a collection of materials that were unearthed following the reported “death” of Lemony Snicket. Its aim is to answer some of the questions that plague those who have been following the mystery of the Baudelaire children, though those questions may not be quite what they thought to ask. The Beatrice Letters collects two sets of correspondence. The first of these are letters written by a young Lemony Snicket to the love of his life, Beatrice Baudelaire. The second are a series of letters written to Snicket long after Beatrice’s death, desperately trying to arrange a meeting with him. The strange thing is that these letters are also signed with Beatrice’s name…

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The Raging Ones

The Raging Ones was written by Krista and Becca Ritchie and first published in 2018. It is a science fiction story, set in a world where everyone’s death day is predetermined. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

On Saltare-3, society is based around how long a person will live. Scientists have determined accurately determine a person’s life span through a simple blood test. Babes – people who will live to be no older than thirteen – are the only ones who are allowed to wile away their short lives at leisure. The long-lived Influentials are also allowed a measure of luxury. Society deems only them worthy of education as they will live long enough to make use of it. All menial jobs are performed by the Fast-Trackers – people destined to die between the age of thirteen and thirty. They will never live long enough to become great, but at least this means they will give something back to society.

Franny Bluecastle knows that her time has come. There is no point fearing your death day when you’ve known about it your whole life. However, when she wakes up from a drug induced stupor the following day, she finds herself trapped in a nightmare. She has somehow managed to skip her death and now has no way of knowing when it will catch up with her.

She is soon discovered by two other people like her – serious Court Icecastle and laid-back Mykal Kickfall. She also learns that the three of them share a strange bond that allows them to sense the same physical sensations, even when they are far apart. Court realises that if anyone finds out that they have missed their death days, serious questions will be asked. Their only salvation is to win a place on the first manned space mission in centuries. But how can they hope to be selected when every other viable Influential is desperate for the same chance…

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Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines was written by Philip Reeve and first published in 2001. It is a dystopian science fiction novel, set in the far future when cities have become mobile. The novel forms the first part of the Mortal Engines Quartet and is followed by Predators Gold (2003), Infernal Devices (2005) and A Darkling Plain (2006). More recently, Reeve has also published a prequel series – titled the Fever Crumb series – and a film adaptation of Mortal Engines is due for release later this year.

Following the Sixty Minute War, the world fell into chaos. Faced with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, most cities were transformed into hulking traction engines in order to protect the people who lived within. Now, they follow the credo of Municipal Darwinism. The successful cities are the ones that hunt and devour others, harvesting them for precious resources and slaves. The weaker cities are quick to fall.

As prey becomes scarce, London is forced to venture out into the dangerous hunting plains. Tom Natsworthy is as excited as anyone when she manages to capture the small mining town of Salthook. It even gives him the opportunity to meet his hero Thaddeus Valentine – head of the Guild of Historians. However, his luck soon turns when Valentine is attacked by one of the citizens of Salthook. Although Tom manages to save Valentine’s life, he learns that he is responsible for the brutal scarring of his would-be assassin’s face. And unfortunately this is a secret that Valentine would prefer to remain hidden.

Although Tom survives, he finds himself ejected from London in the company of the assassin – Hester Shaw – a bitter young woman who thinks of nothing more than her revenge. As the two search for a way back into the city, they learn a horrifying secret. The Lord Mayor of London has gotten his hands on an ancient weapon and soon plans to unleash it on the world…

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A Series of Unfortunate Events 10-12

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:

1-3 | 4-6 | 7-9

Once again, I regret to inform you that I have been forced to delve into the misfortunes and murders that follow in the wake of the Baudelaire siblings…

A Series of Unfortunate Events was written by Lemony Snicket and focuses on the adventures of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire – three orphans who are struggling to uncover the secret behind their parents’ death whilst avoiding the cunning and ruthless Count Olaf. The series consists of thirteen main novels – The Bad Beginning (1999), The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000), The Austere Academy (2000), The Ersatz Elevator (2001), The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005) and The End (2006). Snicket has also published a few spin-off stories and the series has been recently adapted into a fantastic Netflix series. For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at books 10 to 12 only.

Although the Baudelaire siblings have outwitted Count Olaf time and time again, it seems that this time he has gotten the better of them. Violet and Klaus have found themselves trapped inside a caravan as it winds down a precarious mountain path, helpless to watch as the villain drives away with their little sister. However, help comes to the Baudelaires from an unexpected source. They are soon contacted by someone long presumed dead; someone who is able to finally explain the nature of the VFD.

Yet it is not long before tragedy and misery find the orphans once again. Although they are reunited with Sunny, they find themselves swept away down a raging stream. It is here that they meet another member of the VFD and begin a frantic hunt for the elusive sugar bowl. However, their investigations turn up something far more terrifying. In the depths of the Gorgonian Grotto, a deadly fungus grows. The Medusoid Mycelium is able to kill a person within an hour and Olaf will stop at nothing to get it.

Finally, the Baudelaires find themselves at the Hotel Denouement – last safe-house of the VFD. Disguised as concierges, they spy on the guests in the hope of finding out the identity of the mysterious “JS”. It’s not long before the orphans begin to recognise many faces from their previous adventures and realise that the VFD has been following them for a long time. Unfortunately, this means that they have to come to terms with how badly adults have failed them in the past. With no one left to turn to, the Baudelaires are forced to make allies in unexpected places, and start a few fires of their own…

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