Footprints in the Snow

Footprints in the Snow was written by Maggie Holman and first published in 2017. It is a festive work of contemporary fiction with light fantasy elements, focusing on a young boy’s trip to see his Grandfather at Christmas. The novella stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Christmas is only days away and Jamie has been sent to stay with his Grandfather in the Forest of Dean. It is the first time he’s been to stay there without his mother and so he’s understandably quite worried about being so far away from home, however his anxieties soon begin to lift as he settles in and helps his Grandfather to decorate the house.

It’s not long before Jamie starts to get to know the people who live nearby. He becomes particularly friendly with Caro, Finn and Molly – part of a family of Travellers – and learns about their way of life and deep respect for the wildlife of the forest. This lesson is particularly important as there have been sightings of a panther stalking the woods, and Jamie is worried about what will happen if he comes to face to face with the creature.

This becomes increasingly likely when he decides to take a walk in the forest by himself. Although Jamie is confident that he can find his way to the Travellers’ camp, it’s not long before he takes a wrong turn and finds himself lost in the woods. With the temperature dropping and the panther on the prowl, will Jamie manage to find his way home or will he become lunch for the creature?

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dEaDINBURGH: Vantage

dEaDINBURGH: Vantage was written by Mark Wilson and first published in 2014. It is a horror story, focusing on two teens as they try to survive in a zombie infested Scottish city. The novel forms the first part of the Din Eidyn Corpus series and is followed by dEaDINBURGH: Alliances (2015), dEaDINBURGH: Origins (2015) and dEaDINBURGH: Hunted (2016).

For hundreds of years the plague mutated beneath Mary King’s Close, slowly reanimating the long dead victims and giving them a hunger for human flesh. When they first began to rise from their graves, people initially thought it was a hoax. It wasn’t until the disease began to spread and the power went out that they realised how much trouble they were in. Soon after, the government walled Edinburgh off from the rest of the world. At first, the survivors believed that a rescue would come. However, as the years ticked by, they soon realised that they had been abandoned.

Joey MacLeod was born within the zombie-infested city and has never known a different life. He has been raised by the Brotherhood – a sect of monks who worship the zombies – and fears the day that they will force him to take his vows, giving up life on the surface forever. Alys Shephard’s life could not be more different. She has grown up as part of an all-female commune and been trained since childhood to protect herself from both zombies and men. Alys feels nothing but contempt for the Brotherhood, until the fateful day that Joey saves her life.

An unlikely friendship is forged between the two, but it is put to the test when a sinister man named Bracha targets the people closest to them. Learning that Bracha is searching for a cure for the disease, the two of them set off across Edinburgh to find it and have their revenge. However, to locate Bracha they will need to cross into territory belonging to the Exalted – a cult who believe that the living should be fed to the dead…

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Days of Blood and Starlight

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

Days of Blood and Starlight was written in by Laini Taylor and first published in 2012. It is the second book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and is preceded by Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011) and followed by Dreams of Gods and Monsters (2014) and the spin-off novella, Night of Cake and Puppets (2013). As the story picks up shortly after its prequel left off, you really need to read the books in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

When Karou broke the wishbone with Akiva, everything changed. The memories of her life as Madrigal came flooding back to her, bringing with them the shame of her treason. Learning what Akiva did to Brimstone was the final straw, sending her fleeing to Eretz to see what became of the Loramendi for herself. In its ashes, she finds Thiago – the man who once executed her – and accepts her fate as the new resurrectionist of the chimaera army.

Akiva returns to his people broken and world-weary. When his search for Karou uncovers a thurible bearing her name, he convinces himself that she must have perished. As the seraphim, under the lead of their ruthless general, Jael, begin to turn their wrath on unarmed chimaera farmers, Akiva begins to do all that he can to keep Karou’s memory alive by sabotaging their attempts by night.

However, Akiva and Madrigal’s dream of peace seems further away than ever. As the seraphim target the weak and unarmed, Thiago retaliates by tasking Karou with building more powerful bodies for his men – over-muscled and able to match the seraphim in flight. It seems as though both sides will fight until they wipe each other out, until an old friend delivers a message to Karou, offering a different way to end the conflict…  More

Countryside: The Book of the Wise

Countryside: The Book of the Wise was written by J.T. Cope IV and first published in 2014. It is a middle grade novel about a young boy who discovers that he has ties to a magical world. The book forms the first part of the Countryside series and is followed by Countryside: The Tears of Adina (2015). At the time of writing, no further instalments have been announced.

Luke Rayburn has lived his whole life in suburban Texas, but since he turned eleven he has started seeing odd things. He has been followed by strange, dark figures that no one else can see and he’s pretty sure that he managed to save a tree spirit from some bullies. However, things become stranger after his father leaves for a year of military service. His family is forced to move to his Grandparent’s home in the town of Countryside, and he learns the secret that his parents have been hiding from him.

Countryside is a magical holding, only accessible to those who have some aptitude in controlling the Flame, and the Rayburn family are the wealthiest people who live there. Their home is a castle and they are in charge of the guards who maintain the holding’s wards and protect against the Darkmen and Soulless that would destroy their way of life.

As Luke enrols in the local school and makes new friends, he starts to learn about an ancient prophecy. The Darkmen seem to be searching for the legendary Book of the Wise – an artefact with the power to allow someone to take over the world – and it seems as though they think it has something to do with the Rayburn family. The book has been lost for centuries, but Luke knows that he must find it before it can fall into the wrong hands. If he does not, Countryside – and the world – could be in great danger.

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Hero at the Fall

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

Hero at the Fall was written by Alwyn Hamilton and is due for release in February 2018. The book forms the final part of the Rebel of the Sands Trilogy and is preceded by Rebel of the Sands (2016) and Traitor to the Throne (2017). As this novel carries on directly where previous instalments leave off, I’d recommend reading them in sequence if you want to fully appreciate what is going on.

The rebellion is in pieces. So many of their number died during the Auranzeb celebrations and the Sultan still unknowingly holds the Rebel Prince as a prisoner. To make matters worse, he has used the slain djinn’s fire to conjure a dome around Izman, trapping the surviving rebels inside. Amani knows that they need to escape the city and find their missing friends. Every moment they remain puts them at risk of being found by the merciless Abdals.

If they can leave the city, Amani knows that they still have a chance of winning the war. Stories about the Rebel Prince and his closest allies are already beginning to spread. As the Sultan has allied himself with the magic-hating Gallan army, people who respect the magic of desert are already starting to rally against him. If Amani can only get to Iliaz, she is sure that she can still convince Prince Bilal to lend her his army, even if it means giving him the Demdji bride that he craves.

However, even with an army at their back, the biggest problem is still the Abdals. In order to defeat the clay soldiers and destroy the barrier, Amani knows that she must find a way to disable the Sultan’s machine. However, the machine is not designed to be easily turned off. If she is to destroy it, who knows what will happen to the supernatural fire that burns within. To save Miraji from the Sultan, Amani may be forced to sacrifice herself… More

Cloud Cuckoo

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for The Never Dawn. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Cloud Cuckoo was written by R.E. Palmer and first published in 2016. It is the second novel of The Never Dawn series and falls between The Never Dawn (2016) and The Gates of Dawn (2017). As the book carries on directly where its prequel left off, you really need to read them in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

When Noah wakes up after his night of exploration with Rebekah, he immediately knows that something is wrong. Mother must have done something to his memories as he can hardly remember what he saw. Stranger still, he seems to have missed a day in which all of his fellow workers were rewarded with a great celebration, yet all of them seem to believe that he was present for it.

When Mother immediately summons them to the square, Noah starts to feel worried. It seems that the prefects have not discovered Moses’s journal and now everyone must be punished. As Mother ushers them into the previously unseen lower levels, the Purges begin. Anyone who steps out of line – or is implicated by their fellows – is dragged away to the Trench, never to be seen again.

As Noah tries to remain inconspicuous, he realises that his days may be numbered. The stress of the Purge is pushing him close to breaking point and, even though his memories are still muddled, it’s clear that Barnabas is suspicious of him. If he does not think of something quickly, the entire rebellion could be in great danger…

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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

Hey, guess what? This post marks my 350th review on this blog. Yay for me! Thank-you everyone for your support over the last few years. I suppose that means that I really should take a celebratory look at J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece once again. Be warned, I’m kind of assuming that most of you have already read this novel, so this review will contain massive spoilers.

As I’m sure you probably already know, Harry Potter is a massively popular series about the adventures of a young wizard. 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). The series is supplemented by a number of short-stories and scripts that further expand the world.

Harry’s fourth year has gotten off to an exciting start as the Weasleys invite him and Hermione along with them to the Quidditch World Cup. However, the huge event ends in disaster as a group of masked wizards start a riot. Harry soon discovers that they are the Death Eaters – supporters of Lord Voldemort – and their sudden appearance worries him. Their master has been gone for thirteen years. Why would they choose that moment to come out of hiding?

However, Harry quickly forgets about this as he returns to Hogwarts. This year, his school has been chosen to host the Triwizard Tournament – a dangerous contest that pits a champion from Hogwarts against those of two rival schools: Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. The three champions are chosen by a magical artefact known as the Goblet of Fire which has been enchanted to prevent anyone under the age of seventeen from taking part. However, as the Goblet reveals who has been chosen, something unexpected happens. It spits out the name of a fourth champion: Harry Potter.

Suddenly, Hogwarts does not seem so welcoming to Harry. Not only does a jealous Ron turn against him, but he must also face the very real possibility that someone wants him dead. The Triwizard Tournament is incredibly dangerous and he is three years younger than his rivals. It seems likely that Voldemort is in some way responsible but, if that is the case, who could possibly be helping him from inside Hogwarts?

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Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball is due for release in October 2017 and is the first novel that has been both written and illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson. It is a humorous Gothic fantasy for younger readers that focuses on a vampire’s attempt to rescue her pet from a wicked prince. The novel forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

The Kingdom of Nocturnia is a place where things are more than happy to go bump in the night. The ghoulish inhabitants have only one thing to fear, and that is glitter. They know that they are safe so long as they are home before dawn, as that is when terrible things like unicorns, faeries and kittens wake up. Nobody wants to find themselves face to face with a faery. The very thought is too terrible to contemplate.

Amelia Fang is pretty happy on the whole. Her mother is obsessed with looking pretty and her father is a crossword enthusiast but she has two great friends – Florence the Yeti and Grimaldi the Grim Reaper – and a loyal companion in her pet pumpkin, Squashy. However, everything changes when Prince Tangine enrols in her school. Amelia knows that the Prince’s mother was eaten by a faery and wants to feel sorry for him, however he makes it very difficult. Prince Tangine is rude to everyone and is given whatever he wants, even if that thing belongs to someone else.

When the Prince comes for dinner at her house and takes a liking to Squashy, Amelia’s mother immediately hands the poor pumpkin over as a gift. Amelia is heartbroken. She cares about Squashy more than anything and knows that Tangine won’t treat her pet nicely. With Florence and Grimaldi’s help, she embarks on a mission to get him back. However, in doing so she discovers that there is more to her enemy than she first thought…

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Animorphs 42-45

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 | Back to Before

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

It’s been quite a while since my last Animorphs review so I think we should probably take a look at the next few novels in this series. In case you haven’t read any of these posts before, these reviews are intended to be a retrospective look at K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs series and so may contain spoilers. For the purpose of this review, I’ll be talking about books 42 to 45 only – The Journey, The Test, The Unexpected and The Revelation.

The Animorphs thought that they had seen the last of the Helmacrons, but the minuscule aliens are still determined to take over the world. To do this, they know that they need the Escafil Device to power their engines but they know that the Animorphs will not just hand this over. In order to convince them, a group of Helmacrons enter Marco’s body and threaten to stop his heart. His friends have no choice but to shrink themselves down and follow the invaders. But Marco’s body is a hostile battlefield and could kill them long before they catch up with their foes.

However, this is not the only threat that the Animorphs face. Tobias is forced to relive his traumatic past when he is captured by Taylor once again. Taylor claims to have switched sides and wants to help them to destroy Visser Three, however the Animorphs are not sure if she can be trusted. If she is lying, she could be leading them to a fate worse than death. Cassie is also put in danger when a mission goes wrong and she is separated from the others. Trapped on a plane heading to Australia and surrounded by Controllers, she is forced to do everything that she can to survive.

Yet all of this pales in the face of their biggest challenge. When Marco’s father discovers Z-Space, he becomes a target for the Yeerks. As he is captured and taken to be made into a Controller, Marco is forced to make a terrible choice. Either he reveals to his father the truth about the invasion, or he loses another parent to the enemy…

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Contagion

Contagion was written by Teri Terry and first published in 2017. It is a science fiction thriller that focuses on two teenagers as they investigate a deadly disease that is sweeping across the United Kingdom. The book forms the first part of the Dark Matter series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Callie barely remembers anything about her life before she was taken to the laboratory. She doesn’t remember her parents or where she lived. The pain that the mysterious Dr 1 inflicted on her has erased everything but her name. They told her that she was sick and they were trying to help her, yet their “cure” proved to be fatal.

Yet Callie didn’t die. At least, not entirely. Freed from her physical form, she drifts around the complex. She witnesses the first outbreak of the disease and sees it spread amongst the scientists and nurses, rapidly causing organ failure and death. Yet she can’t seem to find Dr 1 anywhere and so she sets out on a mission to locate him and learn the truth of who she once was.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, a teenage girl called Shay meets with Callie’s older brother, Kai. Shay is pretty sure that she witnessed the disappearance of Callie the previous summer, remembering seeing the little girl being taken away by two men in a black car. She offers to help Kai investigate her disappearance, but they have made little headway before the disease begins to spread. Soon, Scottish cities begin to go into lock-down and the death count steadily rises. Yet Shay and Kai are still determined to discover what happened. However, to do so they will now have to cross quarantine zones and even risk becoming infected themselves…

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