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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Legion

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

Legion was written by Julie Kagawa and first published in 2017. It is the fourth instalment of The Talon Saga, raising the stakes as Talon finally reveals their terrible plan for world domination. As this novel follows on directly where Talon (2014), Rogue (2015) and Soldier (2016) left off, I’d recommend reading the novels in sequence if you want to have any idea of what’s going on.

The Patriarch has been defeated and the Order has fallen into disarray, but it came at a terrible cost. Garret won the duel but still fell to his treacherous commander’s blade. As he bled to death in the middle of nowhere, his salvation came from an unexpected person. Riley offers his blood for transfusion, saving Garret’s life. However, the implications for him doing this are unknown. Garret is a human and Riley is a dragon. There is no way of knowing if he will survive, or what will become of him if he does.

However, Ember and the Rogues do not have time to find out. When a small town is wiped out in a sudden accident, they know that Talon must have something to do with it. What they discover chills them to the core. Talon have completed their army of Vessels – soulless clones bred purely for war – and Dante will be the one to dispatch them to destroy the last vestiges of the Order.

Ember knows that they must stop them, even if it means forging an alliance with their enemy. However, the Vessels aren’t the only threat. When she is taken captive by Dante, she meets the Elder Wyrm for the first time and learns of her true plan. Ember has a vital role to play in the Elder Wyrm’s schemes – one that will mean a fate worse than death for her…

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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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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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Northern Lights

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Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass as it is known in America) is really a book that needs no introduction. It was first published in 1995 and forms the first part of Philip Pullman’s epic His Dark Materials trilogy. The novel is followed by The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000). It has since been adapted into many formats, including a film and graphic novel, and a companion series has recently been announced with the first title due for publication at the end of this year.

Since the death of her parents, Lyra Belacqua has been raised at Jordan College and is content roaming the roof tops and fighting the travelling Gyptian kids with her friend, Roger, and daemon companion, Pantalaimon. However, nothing can last forever. Roger mysteriously disappears one evening and, shortly afterwards, a beautiful woman named Mrs Coulter expresses an interest in adopting Lyra. Although worried about her friend, Lyra is excited to live with such a beautiful and intelligent woman. However, the Master of Jordan expresses concern about Mrs Coulter’s intentions. He gifts Lyra a rare truth telling device called the alethiometer and makes her swear to never show it to her new guardian.

The longer that Lyra spends in Mrs Coulter’s home, the more that she realises that the woman isn’t as kind as she first seemed. When Lyra discovers that she is directly linked to the Gobblers – a group of kidnappers who may be responsible for Roger’s abduction – she runs away and sets off on a journey of her own. Her goal is to save Roger and then head North in search of her Uncle Asriel – a prisoner of the panserbjørne – and deliver the alethiometer to him.

However, Lyra’s journey is filled with danger. Armoured bears, warring witch clans, and the terrible secret behind the Gobblers all stand between her and her goal. Most mysterious all is the nature of Dust, unexplained particles that drift down from the Northern Lights and stick to adults. Is it true that they pour from a parallel world? And if so, what are Lord Asriel’s plans for it?

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One Wish Away

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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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Podkin One-Ear

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Podkin One-Ear was written by Kieran Larwood and illustrated by David Wyatt. It was first published in 2016 and is a middle grade fantasy story which tells the tale of a warrior rabbit. While the novel reads as though it’s the first book in a series, at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Every bunny has heard of Podkin One-Ear – the legendary hero who saved all rabbitkind from the monstrous Gorm. Stories are told of the battles he fought against giants and vampire rabbits. Yet as a bard approaches the Thornwood Burrow on Bramblemas Eve, he brings with him a different tale. You see, he knows the true story of Podkin’s origins. And it’s not what a young rabbit may expect.

Before he was a warrior, Podkin was the spoiled son of a Chieftain. He knew that one day he’d inherit his father’s burrow and didn’t really care, instead shirking from his lessons to sleep or play. Yet things changed on Bramblemas Eve when the Gorm invaded his home. The Gorm were once rabbits but since they uncovered an evil artefact they became monsters of flesh and metal. Their leader – Scramashank – murders Podkin’s father and forces the young rabbit to flee into the night with his sister and brother, Paz and Pook.

That could have been the end of things, but Podkin took with him the Starclaw – a magical copper dagger sacred to his burrow. Somehow, the Gorm realise this and begin to relentlessly pursue him through the forest. Alone, Podkin and his family have no hope of escaping the monsters. Yet Podkin has an incredible destiny and soon finds that allies can be found in the strangest of places…

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Nature’s Confession

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Nature’s Confession was written by J.L. Morin and first published in 2015. It is a science fiction novel (falling into the sub-genre of “cli-fi”), set in a futuristic and heavily-polluted Earth. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of Morin’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Planet Earth is dying. For years, the people who lived there have ignored renewable energy sources and instead plundered resources of fossil fuels. The Emperor of Earth and Ocean is keen that no one argues against him, and thus has turned schools into places were children are encouraged not to think for themselves, rewarding only those that conform to his capitalist philosophy and keep their mouths shut.

However, Boy finds that he is immune to their brainwashing mist and starts to question why his teachers refuse to answer his questions. Boy is a code writing genius and is soon contacted by a mysterious benefactor who wishes for him to design a programme that allows all who use it to upload ideas. The seas are poisoned and it’s not going to be long before the air becomes unbreathable. The stranger wants to give the people a platform that they can use to voice their ideas regarding how the environment can be saved.

Boy creates his program but quickly learns that his benefactor was not being entirely truthful. It is instead the spark that will allow machines to become self-aware, leading to the possibility of creating artificially intelligent androids. As the beloved benefactor of these robots, Boy and his family soon find themselves catapulted across the universe. When the Emperor sets his sights on destroying other worlds, only they can raise awareness of his crimes and fight back.

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Megamorphs #2: In the Time of Dinosaurs

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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

Megamorphs: The Andalite’s Gift

Animorphs Chronicles: The Andalite Chronicles

In the Time of Dinosaurs was written by K.A. Applegate and first published in 1998. It is the second book of the Megamorphs series, a spin-off on the popular science-fiction series, Animorphs. Although the novel is a spin-off, it’s designed to be read after The Decision (the eighteenth book of the main series) so I wouldn’t advise picking up this one until you’ve at least reached that point.

It’s Marco that first hears about the nuclear submarine. The vessel ran into difficulties off the coast of his hometown, trapping its crew at the bottom of the sea. The Animorphs know that they can use their morphing powers to save the day, yet the rescue attempt goes wrong in a way that none of them expect. The submarine explodes with such force that it creates a Sario Rip, sending the Animorphs hurtling back through time.

They find themselves stranded in the late Cretaceous Period, a time when humans do not exist and dinosaurs rule the Earth. Now, at the bottom of the food chain, even their battle morphs are utterly useless. When a kronosaurus devours Rachel and Tobias, the rest of the team have no choice but to flee for their lives. If they are going to survive long enough to find a way home, they know that they will have to acquire some powerful new morphs.

As they explore the jungle, they come across something that none of them were expecting. Two alien races battle for control of the planet – the peaceful Mercora and the vicious Nesk. Caught in the war between them, the Animorphs must find a way to use their technology to recreate the Sario Rip. Yet their time could well be running out as a comet has appeared in the sky…

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Nevernight

nevernight

Nevernight was written by Jay Kristoff and first published in 2016. It is a dark fantasy novel about a teenage girl who seeks revenge for the murder of her family. The story forms the first part of The Nevernight Chronicle, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

When Mia Corvere was just ten years old, she watched as her father was executed for the role he played in a rebellion against the Senate. Yet the tyranny of Consul Scaeva did not end there. Her mother and infant brother were sentenced to a lifetime in the bowels of the impenetrable prison known as Philosopher’s Stone and Mia was sentenced to death. Scaeva did not like to leave loose ends.

This could have been the end of Mia’s tale, yet it was then that she discovered that she possessed a terrible power: the ability to control the shadows to flit between patches of darkness or make herself invisible. The revelation came from Mister Kindly – a talking cat made of pure shadow – who immediately joined her as a companion. Lost and with nowhere to go, Mia was taken in by an elderly assassin named Mercurio who agreed to train her in his art. Mia studied hard to become a killer. It was the only way that she could avenge her family.

Six years later, Mia makes her first successful kill. Mercurio deems her worthy of the journey to the Red Church – the place where the greatest killers study under the eternal gaze of Niah, Goddess of the Night. Yet life at the academy will be Mia’s biggest challenge. Of the thirty students, only four will prove worthy enough of becoming Blades. The rest are destined for a life or servitude or a sudden, gruesome death…

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