20 Feb 2017
in Contemporary Fiction, Surnames A-H, Thriller, Title A-H
Tags: Arkham Reviews, Book Blog, Book Review, Born Scared, Contemporary Fiction, Kevin Brooks, Review, Thriller, Thriller Novel, Young Adult, Young Adult Reviews
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?
18 Dec 2016
in Fantasy, Philosophical, Surnames R-Z, Thriller, Title A-H
Tags: Arkham Reviews, Bone Gap, Book Blog, Book Review, fantasy, fantasy novel, Laura Ruby, Philosophy, Thriller, Young Adult, Young Adult Reviews
Bone Gap was written by Laura Ruby and is due for release in the UK later this month. It’s a modern faerie tale, set in a town where everything is not quite as it first appears. The novel won the 2016 Michael L. Printz Award and is a stand-alone story. I’d like to thank Faber & Faber for providing me with an advance copy for review.
There is something strange about Bone Gap. The small farming town has always been full of gaps, as though the bones of the world a just a little looser there. Some of those gaps are so big that a person can fall into them and disappear. Perhaps that’s why no one takes Finn seriously when he claims that Roza has been kidnapped. The fact that Finn O’Sullivan can’t even describe the man who supposedly took her doesn’t help matters. Roza was young and beautiful. No one really expected her to stay on the farm with Finn and his older brother Sean for long.
Besides, everyone knows that Finn isn’t normal. People call him Moonface or Sidetrack due to the trouble he has concentrating. It seems typical that he’d make up the kidnapping. After all, his mother also just slipped away and abandoned him. Only Petey, the beekeeper’s daughter, takes him seriously. Yet Petey has troubles of her own. She knows that she’s ugly and is concerned that Finn only likes her because she seems easy to get.
Roza, on the other hand, faces discrimination of another kind. She finds herself in a strange world, guarded by a savage hound and kept prisoner by a man who cares only for her beauty – one who patiently waits for the day that Roza loves him back. Escape seems impossible, but she knows that she must find a way. Roza dreams of returning to her native Poland and can’t allow a manipulative stranger to keep that from her…
02 Aug 2016
in Mystery, Surnames A-H, Thriller, Title I-Q
Tags: Anthony Horowitz, Arkham Reviews, Book Blog, Book Review, Fiction, Mystery, Mystery Novel, Point Blanc, Review, Thriller, Young Adult, Young Adult Reviews
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…
23 Jun 2016
in Fantasy, Mystery, Surnames A-H, Thriller, Title A-H
Tags: Arkham Reviews, Book Blog, Book Review, fantasy, Guilt Trip, Maggy Farrell, Mystery, Review, Thriller, Young Adult, Young Adult Reviews
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…
05 Jun 2016
in Fantasy, Mystery, Surnames A-H, Thriller, Title R-Z
Tags: Arkham Reviews, Book Blog, Book Review, fantasy, fantasy novel, Laure Eve, Mystery, Review, The Graces, Thriller, Young Adult
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…
24 May 2015
in Surnames I-Q, Thriller, Title A-H, Title R-Z
Tags: Arkham Reviews, Book Blog, Book Review, CHERUB, Class A, Review, Robert Muchamore, The Recruit, Thriller, Thriller Novel, Young Adult, Young Adult Reviews
The CHERUB series was written by Robert Muchamore and focuses on a branch of the English secret service that specialises in training orphans into undercover agents. The original series ran for thirteen books – The Recruit (2004), Class A (2004 – also published as The Dealer and The Mission), Maximum Security (2005), The Killing (2005), Divine Madness (2006), Man vs Beast (2006), The Fall (2007), Mad Dogs (2007), The Sleepwalker (2008), Dark Sun (2008 – novella published for World Book Day), The General (2008), Brigands M.C. (2009) and Shadow Wave (2010). Muchamore has also written Henderson’s Boys – a spin off series about how CHERUB was founded – and a sequel series called Aramov.
Eleven year old James Choke knows that his life will go nowhere. He lives in a council flat in a rough area of London, his mother runs a shoplifting ring and he’s already been expelled from school for hurting a girl in his class. When his mother dies suddenly in the night, he is separated from his sister and sent to a care home. He knows that nothing could get any worse.
However, when a prank played by some older kids ends with James in police custody he finds himself given a second chance. A branch of the MI5 known as CHERUB has become aware of him and is willing to offer him a place at their institute. Here, James will be offered a comfortable home and the best schooling but only so long as he also if he acts as a spy. Criminals are always wary of adults in case they are undercover agents but children are able to easily slip beneath the radar, getting close to low-lives and stealing their secrets in ways that full-fledged agents cannot.
The Recruit focuses on James’s early life at CHERUB, including his grueling 100 days spent in Basic Training and his first ever mission. In Class A, James embarks on an even tougher mission – to infiltrate a London drug gang and find evidence that links wealthy family man Keith Moore to the cocaine trade. Although his job seems simple, it is wrought with difficulties. One false move could easily reveal CHERUB’s existence to the world…or lead to his death.
10 Feb 2015
in Humor, Mystery, Surnames A-H, Thriller, Title I-Q
Tags: Anthony Horowitz, Arkham Reviews, Book Blog, Book Review, Mystery, Mystery Novel, Public Enemy Number Two, Review, Thriller, Young Adult, Young Adult Reviews
Please note that this review may contain spoilers for its prequel, The Falcon’s Malteser. You can read my review of this novel [here].
Public Enemy Number Two is the second novel in Anthony Horowitz’s The Diamond Brothers series and was first published in 1987. It was preceded by The Falcon’s Malteser (1986) and followed by South by South East (1991), Three of Diamonds (2004 – consisting of the short stories The Blurred Man, The French Confection and I Know What You Did Last Wednesday), How the Greek Stole Christmas (2008) and The Double Eagle Has Landed (2011). The stories follow the cases of Tim Diamond (real name: Herbert Simple), a London-based private detective, and his younger brother Nick who is infinitely more competent.
Six months have passed since the case of the Falcon’s Malteser and Nick and Herbert have long since spent all of their reward. Just as the brothers are run out of baked beans and prepare for starvation, their luck finally changes when Herbert finally finds a new case. A Ming vase called the Purple Peacock has been stolen from the British Museum and his client is paying generously for its safe recovery.
At the same time, Nick is approached by Chief Inspector Snape and offered a job of his own. Snape wants him to go undercover in a young offenders institute and befriend Johnny Powers – Public Enemy Number One. Although Powers is only fifteen his has already become the leader of a London gang and Snape needs to know the name of the person who is fencing all of the goods that Powers has stolen.
Although Nick initially refuses, he quickly discovers that he has no choice. On a school trip to a stately home he is framed for having stolen a priceless ruby. Nick is condemned to spend eighteen months in prison and naturally finds himself as the cellmate of Powers. The choice that he has is obvious. He either needs to survive his sentence or find out the identity of the Fence. However, things become more complicated as he discovers that Powers is planning a gaol break…
20 Dec 2014
in Mystery, Surnames A-H, Thriller, Title R-Z
Tags: Arkham Reviews, Book Blog, Book Review, Charlie Higson, James Bond, Mystery, Review, SilverFin, Thriller, Young Adult, Young Adult Reviews, Young Bond
I’ve already taken a look at Charlie Higson’s horror novels in my reviews of The Enemy and The Dead but for today’s post I’m going to be talking about some of his earlier work. The Young Bond series tells the story of James Bond’s teenage years, while he was an Eton student in the 1930s. Although Ian Fleming Publications originally wanted each novel in the series to be penned by a different author, Charlie Higson ended up writing the initial run of five novels – SilverFin (2005), Blood Fever (2006), Double or Die (2007), Hurricane Gold (2007) and By Royal Command (2008). The first book of the second series, authored by Steve Cole, was released in 2014 and titled Shoot to Kill. For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at SilverFin only.
After spending a couple of years being home schooled, James Bond finds it difficult to get used to life at Eton. The uniform is itchy and uncomfortable and the strict rules just seem to beg to be broken. Worst of all, he finds himself singled out by a group of older students – lead by the handsome American George Hellebore – who are intent on making his life a living Hell.
During the holidays, James heads to Scotland to stay with his Aunt and Uncle. On the way, he befriends a cockney rogue called Red Kelly who is heading north in search of his cousin Alfie who has recently disappeared. As Bond gets used to life in the country, he learns that Alfie’s disappearance is not the only strange occurrence to happen in the area.
George’s father – Lord Randolph Hellebore – has taken up residence in a castle on Loch Silverfin and erected fences around the whole area, threatening death to all those who trespass. As James and Red explore, they learn that Hellebore is under investigation from the Pinkerton Detective Agency and observe his men feeding fresh meat to something living in the Loch. James knows that he needs to get inside the castle if he is to learn the truth of what has happened to Alfie, however what he discovers could be deadly…
01 Oct 2014
in Horror, Surnames R-Z, Thriller, Title R-Z
Tags: Arkham Reviews, Book Blog, Book Review, Enoch St. John, Horror, Horror Novel, Squeal, Thriller, Thriller Novel, Young Adult, Young Adult Reviews
In my FAQ, I state that I only give out praise where I think that it is deserved. I’m not one of those reviewers who give out nothing but glowing praise because I believe that is unfair to you as a reader. Why do I bring that up now? Well, today’s novel was given to me by its author in exchange for a fair review and I note that it’s gained a measure of positive feedback on Amazon and Goodreads, yet it unfortunately was not the novel for me. Let me tell you why.
Squeal was first published in 2014 and is the debut novel of Enoch St. John. It is a horror thriller which focuses on a group of six teenagers who are forced to survive in a remote jungle while being tirelessly pursued by a ferocious beast.
The WISH program is designed to be a way to rehabilitate troubled teenagers. Seven teens – Joe, David, Narine, Bluto, Ralph, Luz and Melanie – are taken into the Hoh Rainforest by an experienced guide in order to learn social skills in the hope that they will soon see the error of their ways. The program has had nothing but success in the past and its coordinator, Jake Huntsman, is convinced that this time will be no different, even though this group contains a violent thug, an arsonist and a pathological liar.
Yet what Jake does not know is that a horrible threat lurks deep within the forest. A razorback boar – huge, feral and bred for savagery – has gotten loose and has a taste for human blood. It is not long until the teenagers find themselves fighting for survival against the beast. However, the hog is not necessarily the most dangerous thing in the woods. Even if they manage to escape the boar, can they ever escape the monsters within?
23 Sep 2014
in Fantasy, Mystery, Surnames I-Q, Thriller, Title A-H
Tags: Arkham Reviews, Book Blog, Book Review, fantasy novel, Fiction, Mystery, Mystery Novel, Shelley R Pickens, The Haunting of Secrets, Thriller, Young Adult, Young Adult Reviews
This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for The Haunting of Secrets, hosted by Bewitching Book Tours.
The Haunting of Secrets was first published in 2014 and is the debut novel of Shelley R Pickens. It is a murder mystery, focusing on a teenage girl with strange powers as she tries to prevent a serial killer from picking off the students in her school. The novel is the first of a planned series, although at the time of writing a release date has not been given for its sequel.
Sixteen year old Aimee has gained a reputation at her school for being weird. She dresses entirely in black clothes that cover all of her skin, avoids extra-curricular activities and only socialises with a handful of friends. What they don’t know is that she possesses an incredible power. With a single touch, Aimee can read a person’s memories and therefore absorb all the secrets that are hidden deep in their hearts.
When a bomb detonates in her school cafeteria, Aimee’s life is thrown into chaos. As she escapes the collapsing building, she accidentally brushes against another student and discovers that he leads a terrifying double life. Although he projects the image of an ordinary teenager, he has already savagely murdered two girls and will do so again.
Aimee is horrified by what she has seen but has one problem – she does not know whose memories she absorbed. With the help of her friends, she begins to piece together the evidence to reveal the killer. But time is running out. The murderer is aware that she is on to him and plans to permanently silence her before she can uncover his identity.