One Of Us Is Lying

One Of Us Is Lying was written by Karen M McManus and first published in 2017. It is a mystery novel set in an American high school, where four students find themselves suspected of murdering one of their classmates. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to read any of McManus’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Bronwyn is a diligent student with high hopes of getting into Yale. Cooper is a brilliant pitcher who is already been scouted for several baseball scholarships. Addison is the beautiful homecoming queen with a perfect boyfriend. Nate is a known drug dealer, one slip-up away from being sent to juvie. Simon is the notorious editor of the school’s gossip app.

All five students find themselves in detention when banned mobile phones are planted in their bags before a spot check. While the students believe themselves to be victims of a practical joke, things take a sinister turn as Simon suddenly goes into anaphylactic shock and dies in the room. While it looks to be a tragic accident, it turns out that Simon’s water had been spiked with peanut oil – something that he was deathly allergic to.

As no one else could have entered the room, it seems clear that one of the four others must have poisoned him. Suspicion grows as it is discovered that Simon had dirt on each of them and was planning on making it public. As Simon is renowned for always being right, it’s clear that none of the suspects are as clean as they first seemed. Every one of them hides a secret, yet would any of them be prepared to kill to protect it?

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Moonlocket

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

Moonlocket was written by Peter Bunzl and first published in 2017. It is a steampunk novel targeted at middle grade readers, focusing on two young protagonists as they attempt to outwit a master criminal. The novel forms the second instalment of The Cogheart Adventures series and is preceded by Cogheart (2016).

Although he has been welcomed into John and Lily’s home, Robert still does not feel welcome. He mourns for his father and feels nothing but animosity towards his mother – the woman who abandoned him when he was just a baby. However, everything changes when he sees a ghostly figure in the window of his old home. On investigation, he comes face to face with a dangerous vagabond and slowly starts to realise that there is more to his family than he ever realised.

The stranger is Jack Door – an infamous escape artist and thief – who was imprisoned after he managed to steal the Blood Moon Diamond right off the head of the Queen’s mechanical elephant during the Jubilee. He has now escaped from prison and is searching for his prize, and has reason to believe that Robert’s mother has hidden it from him.

Robert knows that they can’t let Jack get his hands on the diamond. With Lily and Malkin at his side, he travels to London in search of the jewel and his long-lost mother. His only clue is a broken locket and the mysterious cipher that it contains. However, he must be careful. Jack Door is a dangerous man and would stop at nothing to beat them to his treasure…

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The One Memory of Flora Banks

The One Memory of Flora Banks was written by Emily Barr and first published in 2017. It is a contemporary novel which focuses on a girl with amnesia on a quest to find her lost love. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

When Flora was ten years old, an operation to remove a brain tumour left her without the ability to make memories. She remembers everything up to this but anything that she has learned since leaves her mind within a few hours. Despite now being seventeen, she will never lead an ordinary live. It’s not even safe for her to leave her home town. That is, until she kisses a boy on the beach.

Flora wakes up the next morning and is shocked to find that she remembers this vividly. She quickly convinces herself that the boy – Drake – has some sort of special ability that will restore her memory. Trouble is, Drake is leaving to study at the North Pole and so she has no chance of ever seeing him again.

However, that’s before her parents are forced to rush to the bedside of her sick brother, leaving her in the care of her friend Paige. This is Flora’s chance. With her parents far away, no one will stop her from just getting on a plane and going after Drake. However, nothing is quite what it seems. Flora will need all of her bravery if she’s ever to discover who she truly is, and survive her adventure to the Land of the Midnight Sun…

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The Name of the Star

the-name-of-the-star

The Name of the Star was written by Maureen Johnson and first published in 2011. It’s a paranormal fantasy story which focuses on a teenage girl who is drawn into a supernatural murder investigation. The novel forms the first part of the Shades of London series and is followed by The Madness Underneath (2013) and The Shadow Cabinet (2015), as well as a prequel novella titled The Boy in the Smoke which was published for World Book Day 2014.

Sixteen-year-old Aurora “Rory” Deveaux is thrilled to be leaving Louisiana to study at a real London boarding school. It’s always been her dream to visit England and she can’t wait to get stuck into her new life. However, she arrives in the city at a terrible time. A brutal murderer has just struck, replicating Jack the Ripper’s first murder to the tiniest detail, and London is rife with gossip as people wait to see if he will kill again.

Although her new friend Jerome is fascinated by the case, Rory is more interested in focusing on her difficult classes and overcoming her culture shock. However, this proves impossible when the Ripper strikes on the school grounds. To make it worse, Rory might well be the only witness to a crime. She had thought it odd to have seen a strange man in the square but the weirdest thing was that her roommate, Jazza, claimed not to have seen anyone.

Following this encounter, Rory’s life just gets weirder and weirder as she continues to see people that no one else can. When she is approached by a strange young policeman who seems to want to help her, she starts to realise that nothing is as it seems. She has abilities that might just be able to catch the Ripper. But who will be his next target, and how do you stop someone that isn’t exactly human?

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Inspired by Frost

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…

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Another Episode S/O

Another Episode S-O

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

This novel is a little hard to describe… 

This edition collects two spin-off stories from Yukito Ayatsuji’s horror novel, Another, which was written in 2009 and first published in English in 2014. The spin-offs are a short prequel manga (Another Episode O) and a novella – titled Another Episode S – which focuses on a ghostly encounter that Misaki Mei had during the events of Another. The collection was released in English in 2016.

During the summer of 1998, Misaki was forced to leave Yomiyama and head to her family’s summer home. Although this trip put her safely out of reach of the curse, she still intended to spend her vacation searching for a way to save her class. Sakaki Teruya – the man who owned the neighbouring estate – was a survivor from an earlier “on” year and she hoped to discover if he remembered anything about how to stop the deaths.

However, she quickly found that she was out of luck when she encounters Sakaki’s ghost. It seemed that he passed away three months earlier in rather strange circumstances. He dimly remembered falling from a great height and hearing his sister’s voice, yet she swore that Sakaki has just left on a trip. Assuming that he had not passed on because he did not receive a proper burial, Sakaki enlisted Misaki to help him search for his body.

Yet not everything was as it first appeared. As they explored the house, Misaki started to learn that the Curse of Class 3 has had a lasting effect on Sakaki and may have been partially responsible for his faulty memories of the night of his death…

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Point Blanc

Point Blanc

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

Point Blanc was written by Anthony Horowitz and first published in 2001. It’s the second book in the massively popular Alex Rider series, preceded by Stormbreaker (2000) and followed by Skeleton Key (2002), Eagle Strike (2004), Scorpia (2004), Ark Angel (2005), Snakehead (2007), Crocodile Tears (2009), Scorpia Rising (2011) and Russian Roulette (2013). The series follows Alex Rider, a fourteen year old boy who is recruited by the MI6 to undertake missions that would be impossible for adult operatives.

Following the defeat of Herod Sayle, Alex wanted nothing more than to return to his normal life. However, Blunt has other ideas. Two billionaires have died in mysterious accidents and the only link between them is that their children attended the same school. Point Blanc is an elite academy hidden deep in the French Alps that claims to be able to reform even the most troubled of teenager. The MI6 fear that this might be the front for something more sinister.

Alex assumes the identity of Alex Friend – the delinquent son of a wealthy supermarket tycoon – and enrols at the academy. Once there, he’s surprised to find just how strange the school is. It’s run by two mysterious people – the creepy Professor Grief and his weightlifting assistant Mrs Stellenbosch – and all the boys exhibit the same weird body language. Only one boy – James Sprintz – seems to have the same concerns as Alex and is determined to escape but this seems impossible – Point Blanc is at the top of a dangerous mountain and Professor Grief has confiscated every set of skis.

As James starts to behave more like the other boys, Alex realises that the MI6 were right to suspect that something is wrong. He’s tempted to abort the mission and get himself to safety but he knows that he can’t abandon the other boys. He needs to find evidence of what Grief is up to before it’s too late and he becomes like all the rest…

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More Than This

More Than This

This book is another difficult one to review and so apologies if this post is a little shorter than normal. More Than This was written by Patrick Ness and first published in 2013. It’s a philosophical science fiction story about a teenage boy who awakes to find himself in an abandoned town. The novel stands alone and so you don’t have to have read any of Ness’s other novels to fully appreciate it.

Seth remembers drowning: the icy chill of the water and the sensation of his bones breaking as he smashes against the rocks. Yet he somehow doesn’t die. He wakes up in an abandoned English town which he soon recognises as the place where his family lived before moving to America. As he explores the barren streets, he’s forced to relive the worst memories of his childhood. Most specifically, the time a terrible incident befell his brother. One that was entirely Seth’s fault.

Seth also starts to remember the incidents that led up to his death: his romance with another boy, the unexpected outing of his sexuality, and how these events alienated him from his closest friends. He starts to wonder if the town is actually Hell, existing to make him relive the lowest points of his life over and over for all time.

However, he soon starts to realise that may not be the case at all. He is not the only person roaming the wasteland. There are other teenagers who have woken up to find themselves in that lonely world and they are being relentlessly pursued by a mysterious being called the Driver. Together, they try to piece together their broken memories to find out if the town is real, if they are dead, or if something else is happening to them…

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Guilt Trip

Guilt Trip

Guilt Trip was first published in 2014 and is Maggy Farrell’s debut novel. It’s a paranormal mystery story about a teenage girl who starts to have strange visions following her mother’s death. The novel stands alone and does not form part of a longer series.

Sixteen year old Melissa was riding with her mother on the day of the accident. Their car skidded on black ice and plunged into a river. Since that day, Mel has been haunted by dreams of the crash. She knows that she could have saved her mother, however in her panic she could only think about her own escape.

A year has passed since then and Melissa has spent a lot of time bonding with her father over his interest in geology. To spend some quality time together, her Dad arranges a holiday to coincide with his business trip. The rural town where they stay is quaint and boasts a number of distinct natural features, including the famous Hellsgate Caverns.

Yet the trip only serves to make Melissa’s dreams worse. Auditory hallucinations begin to haunt her waking hours and she is plagued by an unmistakable sense of déjà vu. While she fears that her survivor’s guilt is worsening, she quickly begins to feel that something more is afoot. How else can she explain the reaction of Luke, the landlord of the hotel, who acts as though he recognises her…

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The Graces

The Graces

After months of hints and teasers, I’m proud to be able to bring you a review of The Graces by Laure Eve. Many thanks to Faber & Faber for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel! The Graces the first part of a planned duology and is due to be released in September. It is a paranormal thriller about a teenage girl who grows obsessed with a family who may be witches. As I’m reviewing this novel based on an unedited proof, please bear in mind that some small details may change prior to publication.

All the locals spoke about the Graces with a mixture of fear and awe. Everyone knew that they were witches. They were beautiful, successful and sinister events always followed the birthday of their eldest children. In school, the Grace siblings were treated like celebrities. Everyone was desperate to get into Thalia, Fenrin and Summer’s inner circle as doing so assured instant popularity. To be shunned by the Graces was a fate worse than death.

Like everyone else, River is obsessed with the Graces. She longs to be noticed by Fenrin, the golden boy who seemed to have a different girl on his arm every week. Yet it is Summer, the youngest Grace, that finally notices her. The two quickly became friends, bonded over their shared weirdness and fascination with magic. Yet the closer they grow, the more River begins to realise just how strange the Graces are.

Hidden behind the glamour and strange family rituals, River starts to see that the Graces are not what they seem. Their freedom is just an illusion and they are bound by something may not be easily broken. Yet Summer believes that, as an outsider, she may just be the one who can free them. Yet in her eagerness to please, she overlooks the danger. Everyone has secrets and some of them might be deadly…

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