Gaslight

Gaslight was written by Eloise Williams and first published in 2017. It is historical fiction, set in 19th Century Cardiff, which focuses on a fourteen-year-old girl in search of her lost mother. The story stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Nansi remembers that her mother was beautiful and kind and on the run from someone. Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember anything more than that. She can’t remember how she came to be floating in the River Ely. It was lucky that Sid found her when he did. If he hadn’t been there to rescue her and give her somewhere safe to live, who knows what would have happened to her.

She knows that she should be grateful to Sid, yet sometimes it’s difficult. People call him Pernicious Sid with good reason, as he forces her to steal things to help pay his substantial debts and punishes her brutally if she fails. Still, at least he has given Nansi her own room beneath his theatre and promises that he will save money for her until she can afford a private detective to help search for her mother.

Yet everything changes on the day that Constance and Violet join the theatre. The fact that Sid overlooks Violet’s cruelty causes Nansi to finally see how he really is, and Constance brings a vital clue concerning her mother’s whereabouts. Soon, Nansi finds herself on the run from Sid and his men. Her only hope is to find her mother before he can catch her. If she doesn’t, who knows what fate Sid will have in store for her…

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Tree Magic

Tree Magic was first published in 2017 and is Harriet Springbett’s debut novel. It’s a fantasy coming of age story about a young teen who learns that she has the power to control trees. It’s a stand-alone story, and seems unlikely to form part of any future series.

Rainbow Linnet does not have a particularly great or interesting home life. Her father died when she was little and now her Mum lives with Bob. Well, if you can really call it living. Bob shares her Mum’s love of music but doesn’t have anything good to say about her spiritualism. Most of the time they just argue and Rainbow does her best to stay out of the way.

It’s while she’s hiding out in her tree house that she first discovers her power – a deep connection with trees and the ability to control and shape them to her will. Sharing this discovery only with Michael – an adult who she trusts – she begins to explore her gift and becomes an expert on the different temperaments of trees. That is, until the incident.

All at once, Rainbow realises that her power can be abused. It’s not something that she can necessarily control and it can hurt people. When she reveals her ability to her mother and Bob, things get even worse. Bob is reluctant to believe what he sees and her mother embraces it, determined to find her a guru who can explain her place in the world. Soon, things start to become too much for Rainbow and her future grows increasingly unclear. Is she better off embracing her potentially destructive power, or denying it and leading a normal life?

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Snow Island: Chronicles of a Wererabbit

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

Snow Island: Chronicles of a Wererabbit was written by M.Y. Zeman and is due for release later this month. It is the third instalment of the series, following after Snowball: Chronicles of a Wererabbit (2015) and Snow Bunny: Chronicles of a Wererabbit (2016). Although Zeman does try to bring new readers up to speed with her early chapters, I’d advise reading these books in order if you want to have a full grasp on what’s going on.

Snow and her family are on holiday in Florida when a fortune teller gives her a terrible prediction. Not only do the fates say that she isn’t going to remain happily with Josh, but her very existence has caused a ripple in causality. As John cheated death by saving her as a baby, now someone close to her is sure to lose their own to compensate.

Although shaken by this, Snow is forced to quickly push it to the back of her mind as Josh begins to recover some of his lost memories. His dreams lead them to a mysterious island which has been converted into a macabre holiday resort by persons unknown. On the island, all manner of extinct and mythological creatures roam free. Unfortunately, they are only there to provide sport for big game hunters.

Snow and her family know that they need to do something to shut the resort down, however it will not be easy. Not only are the hunters armed, but many of the creatures are savage and will devour them on sight. It will be the most dangerous mission that Snow has ever undertaken and could certainly be the one to prove the fortune teller’s prediction right…

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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

This is my 300th review. Yay! Thank-you to everyone who’s followed or otherwise supported this blog over the last three-and-a-bit years! To celebrate, I’m going to dip once again into J.K. Rowling’s magical world.

In case you’ve just returned from a lengthy stay on Mars, the Harry Potter series is known and loved across the world. It consists of seven main novels – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s 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). Since then, the series has also been expanded to include a couple of scripts – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016 – a sequel stage play) and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016 – a prequel film) – as well as a number of short companion books which further expand the world.

Harry is about to begin his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and couldn’t be more excited to get away from the abusive Dursleys for another year. However, things get off to a bad start when he accidentally blows up his Aunt Marge. Believing that his unauthorised use of magic will get him expelled, he flees into the night. However, he doesn’t get far before he encounters the Grim – the spectral black dog that is believed to bring death to all those who catch sight of it.

Harry manages to survive his encounter and soon meets the very relieved Minister of Magic. Everyone was especially worried about Harry as the infamous mass-murder, Sirius Black, has just escaped from Azkaban and they have reason to believe that Harry could be his next target. The safest place for him to remain is Hogwarts as the Dementors – Azkaban’s terrifying guards – have been posted at the school.

Yet the Dementors may not be enough to protect Harry. In his first Divinations class, Professor Trelawney predicts that Harry will soon die. As Black is sighted within the castle, it soon becomes clear that nowhere is safe. Yet just how is the killer sneaking past the guards? Could he be having help from the inside and, if so, who else has it in for Harry?

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Two Hearts Asunder

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

Two Hearts Asunder was written by Ingrid Seymour and is due for release at the beginning of next month. It continues the story of Marielle and Faris as they find themselves at the mercy of a powerful djinn. The novel forms the second part of the Djinn Empire trilogy and is preceded by One Wish Away (2017). The final instalment of the series – provisionally titled Three Words Promised – is expected to be released later this year.

Marielle knows that she is being selfish. Ever since she inherited her Grandfather’s magical stone, she’s reunited with her father, helped her loved ones find peace, and gained a loving boyfriend. But something is still missing. Faris can’t say the three words that she most wants to hear or he will lose his powers. With Akeelah still at large, he can’t allow himself to become human. If he did, there would be no one left who could stop her.

Far away, Akeelah is starting to put her plans in motion. The laws of nature prevent her from directly hurting humans, so she’s forced to recruit new assistants from America’s criminal underbelly. Her task for them is simple. They are to pursue Marielle wherever she goes and stop at nothing to kill her. It’s not long before Marielle discovers that nowhere is safe. Her enemies have no trouble doing away with anyone who gets in their way.

Faris knows that he can’t expect his love to spend her life in hiding. He has no choice but to do what Akeelah commands, leaving Marielle in order to assist the djinn in realising her darkest desire. Marielle is devastated, but she’s not about to leave Faris to Akeelah’s machinations. With Abby and Maven in tow, she sets out to find a way to save her boyfriend and stop Akeelah forever…

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Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer was written by Laini Taylor and is due for release later this month. It’s a fantasy epic which tells the story of a young librarian’s quest to discover a legendary city. The novel forms the first part of a duology, though a release date for its concluding part has not yet been announced.

Lazlo Strange has long lived up to his unusual name. Raised by monks, and later finding his calling as librarian in the Great Library of Zosma, he has spent his life ardently researching the myths and folklore that the other scholars sneer at. His goal is to learn all he can about the Unseen City – a place lost to the world years before when its name was stolen from the minds of all who knew of it and replaced with a single word: Weep.

Yet everything changes when the Tizerkane – the legendary army of Weep – come to Zosma. Their leader Eril-Fane – a man known as the Godslayer – is in search of the wisest men in the world. He needs them to solve a problem that has been plaguing Weep, but he will not speak of exactly what that problem entails. Although Lazlo has no skills to offer, he still manages to impress Eril-Fane with his stories and thus secures a job as the Godslayer’s secretary.

Lazlo dreams of discovering all of the mysteries that Weep has to offer, yet everything he finds just raises more questions. Fifteen years previously, something terrible happened in the City – something that gave the Godslayer his title but also left him filled with shame. As a blue-skinned woman begins to appear in Lazlo’s dreams, he slowly starts to put the pieces together. Yet who is this mysterious stranger, and could she possibly be somewhere in Weep?

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The Scarecrow Queen

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

My exam is over and I passed – yay! Let’s celebrate by looking at something new and exciting.

The Scarecrow Queen was written by Melinda Salisbury and first published in 2017. It is the final instalment of The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy and is preceded by The Sin Eater’s Daughter (2015) and The Sleeping Prince (2016). The novel carries on exactly where the previous book left off, so please note that you really need to read them in sequence to have the faintest idea of what’s going on.

From his seat in Lormere, Prince Aurek has absolute control. The people are too afraid of his golem army to rise against him and, with Errin and Silas taken captive, all hopes of deconstructing the Opus Magnum seem to have been lost. With only Hope, Nia and Kirin left for support, Twylla flees across the land in search of a safe haven but there is none to be found. One by one, all of the kingdoms are falling to the Sleeping Prince.

It’s not long before Twylla realises what needs to be done. Aurek can’t be allowed to remain in power. It’s up to her to rally the support of the oppressed peasants, gathering them together and training them to fight. Although Aurek’s army is vast, they only follow him because they are afraid. Using the things that she learned as Daunen Embodied, Twylla knows that she can restore the thing that he has taken from them: their hope.

In Lormere Castle, Errin must face a struggle of her own. Not only is she the prisoner of Aurek, but she is bound by magic to obey his whims. She knows that if she slips up he can easily order her to kill herself or, worse still, take out his anger on Silas. Yet she also has hope. Behind Aurek’s back, she plots with Merek – planning an escape for both them and their friends. Yet their alliance is wrought with danger. One mistake would reveal to Aurek that the former King of Lormere hides right under his nose, and would result in a painful death for them both…

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Young Adult Comics

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I haven’t had time to prepare a proper review for today as I’m currently studying for an exam. Don’t worry though – so long as I pass, everything should be back to normal for next week!

Anyhow, instead I thought I’d use today’s post to talk about something a little different. If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll already know that I’m also an avid comic book reader. While comics are a bit more mainstream now than they once were, they’re still often looked down upon as being of lesser value than other forms of art and literature. This is quite frankly crazy – as with the novels that I’ve reviewed, the quality of comics can vary quite wildly between titles, writers and artists.

Therefore, I thought I’d use this post to talk about my favourite comics for middle grade and young adult readers. Everything on this list (apart from Nimona) is an ongoing series so you should be able to find them at your local book store, library or comic book shop. I also should note that all of these series are all Western comics. While I do also read manga, these days I’m more of a Western comic book reader and so I’m not up on the most recent Japanese titles to recommend.

Anyhow, let’s start with some Marvel comics!

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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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One Wish Away

one-wish-away

One Wish Away was written by Ingrid Seymour and is due for release at the beginning of February. It is a paranormal romance novel about a girl who finds herself irresistibly drawn to a djinn. The book is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced. Many thanks to the author for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.

Marielle has not had an easy upbringing. Her mother tragically passed away and her father abandoned her, choosing to drown his sorrows in drink. She was instead raised by her grandfather, helping out in his esoteric flower shop, until one tragic afternoon when he too lost his life. Left with no family and shouldering her grandfather’s extensive debt, she is forced to turn her hopes to the unusual object that he left to her. A magical stone.

Trapped within the stone is Faris, an ancient djinn who is cursed to grant three wishes to whoever owns the stone. He is only free so long as that person is making their choices. Once voice is given to the final wish, he vanishes again until the stone changes hands. Marielle immediately regrets summoning the djinn. She remembers enough of her grandfather’s stories to know that he can’t be trusted. He will seek to seduce her, doing anything in his power to prevent her from making her wishes so that he can enjoy his freedom.

Yet Marielle’s suspicion blinds her to the truth. Faris is more complex than she gives him credit for and is hiding shocking secrets of his own. Although she has had nothing but bad experiences with men, she slowly starts to trust him. Yet doing so puts her in tremendous danger as Faris’s brother, Zet, makes his presence known. Zet has plans for his older brother and isn’t above hurting anyone who gets in his way…

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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