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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Archie Greene and the Raven’s Spell

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

Archie Greene and the Raven’s Spell was written by D.D. Everest and first published in 2017. It is a fantasy novel about a young boy who is determined to save the magical world from corruption. The novel forms the final instalment of a trilogy and is preceded by Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret (2015) and Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse (2016).

When the Greaders manage to steal a book from the Royal Society of Magic, Archie and his friends know that something bad will soon follow. Their worst fears are realised when it is revealed that the book is the most dangerous of all Terrible Tomes – The Book of Night. Sealed within the book is the Dark Flame of Pandemonium and three powerful darchemists known as the Pale Writers. If they are released, they will slowly corrupt all the good magic in the world until nothing is left but darkness.

The only thing that stands a chance of stopping them is the Opus Magnus – the original magic spell – but this text has been lost for centuries. The only person believed to know its whereabouts is Fabian Grey and he has been missing since the Great Fire of London. Yet Archie has reason to believe that he is alive. When notes signed “FG” begin to appear in the alchemy lab, Archie realises that perhaps Grey has always been closer than he thought.

Yet Archie may not have long to figure things out. There could well be a traitor working at Mothballs. Animals have been disappearing from the mythical menagerie and the Flame of Pharos has been growing weaker. If Archie can’t figure out who is responsible soon, the Museum could be sabotaged from the inside and all magic will fall into the hands of the Greaders…

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Megamorphs #4: Back to Before

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:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32 | 33-37 | 38-41

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor’s Secret

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles | Visser

This review has been a long time coming, but I think it’s about time that I took a look at the final Megamorphs book. In case you haven’t read any of the previous instalments of my retrospective, this series is a spin-off of K.A. Applegate’s epic Animorphs series. There are four of these books in total and they stand out from the main series as they tend to be a little longer and contain more narrators. For today’s review, I’m going to be talking about Back to Before which was first published in 2000. In terms of chronology, it should be noted that this novel is designed to be read after The Other (the 40th book in the main series).

Jake just wants the war to be over. After a particularly brutal battle, he reaches his limit and finally considers throwing in the towel. It’s in his moment that the Drode appears before him. It brings a deal from the Crayak. His master has the power to erase all the horrors that Jake has experienced, to make it so the Animorphs never met Elfangor and got their powers. All he has to do is say please.

When Jake awakes, it is like nothing ever happened. He just gets on with his normal teenage life with no clue that things could have been very different. But then the changes start happening. Cassie begins to have dreams of a strange blue creature trapped beneath the sea and Tobias, with no one else to protect him, begins to take an interest in The Sharing.

When Marco comes face to face with his supposedly dead mother and gets fired at by thugs wielding ray guns, the teens suddenly realise that nothing is quite right. But, as bug fighters fill the skies and the full invasion begins, what can a group of ordinary kids hope to do to stop it?

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Heart of Power: The Siren’s Awakening

Heart of Power: The Siren’s Awakening was written by S.L. Giger and first published in 2016. It is a paranormal romance novel which focuses on a teenage girl who is magically transformed into a siren. The book is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Serena’s life changes forever during a school trip to Malaysia. When she sneaks off to explore a remote waterfall with her crush, the two suffer an accident that no one could hope to survive. Yet, miraculously, Serena wakes up in a cave surround by three strange women. Cathy, Melissa and Roisin inform her that her life has been saved, but it has come as a cost. They have transformed her into one of them – a siren – and she will now have to give up her old life.

Reluctantly taking on the new identity of Nathalie, she travels with Melissa to America and poses as her sixteen year old daughter. Melissa deems it important that Nathalie completes high school and spends time around other people her age. However, being a siren is wrought with problems. The mysterious Orbiters that govern the sirens decree that no mortal can be made aware of their existence. This is very difficult for a young siren, who must hide the fact that she doesn’t eat, bleed or age.

Things grow more complicated still as Nathalie finds herself attracted to Alex, a local college student who believes that Nathalie is a lot older than she actually is. As the two grow closer, Nathalie begins to imagine a future with him. Yet, as Alex slowly grows suspicious of her strange behaviour, Nathalie finds herself torn between keeping her secret and keeping him…

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Animorphs 38-41

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:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32 | 33-37

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor’s Secret

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles | Visser

Wow, it’s been a couple of months since my last retrospective. I think it’s about time that we take another look at K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs series. As with previous posts, please note that there will be spoilers in this review. In case you’ve never heard of it before, Animorphs was a science fiction series that ran from 1996 to 2001. It consisted of fifty-four novels, as well as eight specials and two choose-your-own-adventure stories. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to be looking at books thirty-eight to forty-one – The Arrival, The Hidden, The Other and The Familiar.

The Animorphs have now been defending Earth for a long time and know that they can’t keep it up forever. There are only six of them and, if the Andalite fleet don’t arrive to help them soon, they know that they will be inevitably overpowered by the Yeerks. However, their hopes rise when they learn that a small team of Andalites have arrived on Earth. They claim that their mission is to assassinate Visser Three but Ax begins to doubt this when cracks in their story start to show.

Yet these four soldiers may not be the only Andalites on Earth. It’s not long before the Animorphs encounter another. Gafinilan is a war hero who claims to be caring for his friend Mertil, who was injured in a crash. Yet, when Jake and Ax go to meet with him, they detect no trace of his supposed friend. Could it be that Gafinilan is lying and, if so, what could he possibly want with them?

Yet not all of the Animorphs missions revolve around the Andalites. When the Yeerks develop a machine that can track the Escafil device, Cassie is forced to keep it moving to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. Jake also has a weird experience when he wakes up one morning to find that he has aged ten years. Trapped in a dystopian future where the Yeerks have won, he must find a way to locate his friends and make it back to his own time…

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Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse was written by D.D. Everest and first published in 2016. It forms the second part of a trilogy and is preceded by Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret (2015). The final instalment of the series – Archie Greene and the Raven’s Spell – is due for release at the start of next month. The series is aimed at middle grade readers and focuses on the continuing adventures of an apprentice caretaker of magical books.

Archie Greene loves studying book mending under the watchful eye of Old Zeb, but is thrilled that he will soon receive his second firemark and learn what school of book magic he will be learning next. Better still, it is almost his cousin Thistle’s birthday, and so he will also be taking the fire test and joining them at Mothballs – the Museum of Magical Miscellany.

However, when Thistle arrives to take his test, the Flame of Pharos begins to act strangely. Instead of one of the usual three firemarks, both boys receive a golden one in the shape of a snake eating its own tail. Three other students – Bramble, Rupert and Arabella – also find themselves similarly inflicted. It is the alchemist’s mark – a symbol that has not been seen since the time of the Great Fire of London – and it means that the five are capable of writing their own magic!

With the alchemist’s mark, the five children realise that they could finally begin repairing the fading magical books and ushering in a new age of magic. However, their marks carry a sinister history and ties to dark magicians of old. When Archie also discovers that there is a fork in his destiny, he begins to grow worried. His entire future hinges on one unknown moment when he will have to choose between using his power for good or evil. Yet how can he avoid a terrible fate if he does not know what form this moment will take?

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Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret

Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret was written by D.D. Everest and first published in 2015. It is a fantasy story for middle grade readers, focusing on a young boy who discovers that he belongs to a family of magical book wardens. The novel forms the first part of a planned trilogy and is followed by Archie Greene and the Alchemist’s Curse (2016). The final part of the series – Archie Greene and the Raven’s Spell – is due for release later this year.

Since the tragic deaths of his parents and sister, Archie Greene has grown up living with his Grandmother and led a wholly unremarkable life. However, all this changes on his twelfth birthday when a stranger appears with an unusual gift for him. The man comes from London’s most secret law firm and has come to deliver a sealed book and a message. The weird thing is, the book has been with them awaiting for delivery for over four hundred years.

The message instructs Archie to deliver the book to the Aisle of White, a book shop in Oxford. It is here that he learns the truth about his family. Archie is a descendant of one of the men who protected the Library of Alexandria – the place were all magic books were kept until it was destroyed by fire. When the Flame of Alexandria recognises his potential, he is apprenticed to Old Zeb – a master book binder – and begins working for the Museum of Magical Miscellany (or Mothballs as it is known to the other apprentices).

Yet Archie soon learns about the dangers of the magical world. Mothballs is home to four of the Terrible Tomes – magical books that could bring about the end of everything. On Archie’s first day, another apprentice is targeted by Greaders – people who are desperate to get their hands on the Tomes’s power. Realising that they could have mistaken the boy for him, Archie begins to grow suspicious about the book that he delivered. Could it be that it’s what the Greaders are searching for?

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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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Animorphs 33-37

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:

Animorphs:  1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-19 | 20-22 | 23-27 | 28-32

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor’s Secret

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles

Welcome again to my retrospective of K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs. In case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts, this is my gradual look back over a popular-science fiction series that ran between 1996 and 2001. The series consisted of fifty-four main books and ten spin-offs, though for the purpose of this review I’m only going to be looking at volumes thirty-three to thirty-seven – The Illusion, The Prophecy, The Proposal, The Mutation and The Weakness. Be warned, there will be spoilers below the cut…

Due to Rachel’s struggle against herself, the Animorphs failed to stop the development of the Anti-Morphing Ray. Now that it’s ready to be tested, the team know that it could reveal that they’re really human and put all of their lives in danger. Their only hope is to fool Visser Three into believing that it’s broken and the only way to do this is to use Tobias. The hawk is his true form and so if the ray is turned upon him, nothing would happen. However, tricking the Yeerks requires for him to first become their prisoner.

Following this, the Animorphs are contacted by the last of the Arn. He wishes to breed a new strain of Hork-Bajir to free his plant for the Yeerks, but to do so he needs to find a cask of armaments that was once hidden by Aldrea. To locate this, he needs to transfer Aldrea’s consciousness into a willing host. However, there is no way of knowing if Aldrea will be prepared to give the person their body back.

Yet some of the Animorph’s biggest challenges occur close to home. Marco struggles to control his morphing power when put under stress by the possibility of his father remarrying, and Jake is forced to make difficult decisions when the team are taken captive by a race of aquatic humanoids. Yet the biggest challenge comes when Rachel is left in charge while Jake takes a vacation. Her reckless plan to show up Visser Three puts the lives of her friends in danger. Just how far will she go before she realises that she is in over her head?
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Young Adult Comics

graphic-novels

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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