Who In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Who In The World is Carmen Sandiego was first published in 2019. It is an adaption of the first couple of episodes of the new Carmen Sandiego Netflix series, written by Rebecca Tinker and based on the screenplay by Duane Capizzi. The story finally gives the origins of the famous art thief, detailing her early training and how she first came to learn about the criminal organisation known as VILE. It does not really require you to know anything about the character to fully appreciate it.

Carmen Sandiego is one of the most wanted criminals in the world and Interpol Agent Chase Devineaux is determined to be the one to catch her. Unlike most art thieves, she seems to delight in taunting the authorities. She makes no effort to remain hidden as she wears a scarlet fedora and trench coat, yet always escapes with her prize. However, this time Carmen could have bitten off more than she can chew. While trying to steal the priceless Eye of Vishnu, she sees an object that she thought was lost forever and stumbles across an old foe.

This discovery causes Carmen to recall her past – a time when she was an orphan known as Black Sheep. Raised by faculty of a mysterious school, she soon learns that her “parents” are really a cabal of master thieves. Going under the name of VILE – Valuable Imports, Lavish Exports – they take in only the most promising students each year and mould them into the criminal elite. Carmen is determined to join their ranks and, despite only being a child, is finally granted a chance to become their youngest ever member.

Earning a place within in VILE will not be easy as one of her teachers – the ninja Shadowsan – seems to be determined that she will fail. However, Carmen slowly learns that she is walking the wrong path. VILE hides many terrible secrets, even from its students. With the help of a young hacker called Player, she soon discovers that there are far better uses for her talents.

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Slender Man

Slender Man was first published in 2018 and penned by an author who, it seems, wishes to remain anonymous. The novel is formed by a collection of journal entries, police reports and newspaper cuttings which slowly piece together the tale of a teenage boy’s encounter with a certain modern-day myth. The novel stands alone but would probably be best enjoyed by people who are already familiar with the “nature” of Slender Man.

If it wasn’t for his nightmares, Matt Barker would be a perfectly ordinary teenager. Although he rarely remembers what causes him to wake up in the night, his parents have decided that it would be best for him to talk to someone about it. When his psychiatrist advises that he keeps a journal of his thoughts, Matt initially thinks that it is ridiculous. However, it soon becomes the perfect way for him to document the strange things that are happening around the city.

It all starts when his childhood friend, Lauren Bailey, walks out of her family home in the early hours of the morning and disappears off the face of the earth. There is no evidence of foul play – no body, ransom note or signs of trouble. Although everyone at school seems to have an opinion of what might have happened, only Matt knows the truth. As his dreams grow increasingly sinister, he realises that Lauren’s obsession with Creepypastas has lured something terrible to her door.

As Matt starts to research the Slender Man for himself, he realises that there is a tiny chance that he might be able to get Lauren back. However, the Slender Man does not release his victims for free. In order to save his friend, he might have to pay a terrible price. But who knows what the Slender Man does to those that disappear and is Matt strong enough to find out?

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The Wizards of Once

The Wizards of Once was written by Cressida Cowell and first published in 2017. It is a middle grade fantasy series, set in a world where magic using Wizards and non-magical Warriors are constantly at odds with each other. The novel forms the first part of a series and is followed by Twice Magic (2018).

In the Dark Ages, the woods of the British Isles were a place of magic. Wizards practiced their crafts in the Wild Woods, making potions and befriending the sprites, giants and snowcats that lived nearby. However, they never saw eye to eye with the Warriors, who confined themselves to the Warrior Fort and the surrounding countryside. The Warriors did not have magic and used iron, which had the ability to sap a Wizard of their power. They were also completely unreasonable, believing that all magic was evil and punishing any Wizard that they found.

Xar is the youngest son of King Encanzo of the Wizards but carries a secret shame. He is thirteen years old and so his magic should have come in by now, yet he can’t cast a single spell. However, he has a cunning plan. He intends to hunt for a Witch – a legendary creature that is believed to be extinct – and find a way to steal their dark powers. However, his Witch hunt is called short when it is interrupted by Wish – the youngest daughter of Queen Sychorax of the Warriors – who has recently come to possess two enchanted artefacts and is keen to hide this fact from her mother.

Seizing a chance to gain powers for himself (and show up his older brother Looter), Xar steals Wish’s magical sword and heads home to enter himself in a Spelling contest. Yet it soon becomes clear that his rash actions have terrible unforeseen consequences. When one of Xar’s friends is cursed, he is forced to team up with Wish to hunt for the cure. Unfortunately for him, this cure can only be found deep in Queen Sychorax’s dungeons…

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The Twisted Tree

The Twisted Tree was written by Rachel Burge and first published in 2018. It is a dark fantasy story about a girl who finds herself isolated in a remote Norwegian forest as something terrible lurks outside. The novel stands-alone, so you don’t have to read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

On the day that Martha was blinded in one eye, she gained a surprising power. She only needed to touch a person’s clothing to feel their emotions and gain glimpses into their past. Naturally, she felt that she had lost her mind. Due to a combination of this and loathing of her scarred face, she became more withdrawn and started to avoid social gatherings. The only person that she tried to confide in was her Mormor in Norway, however she never received a reply to any of her letters.

When Martha catches her mother burning a letter from Mormor, she knows that she needs to find a way to visit her grandmother in person. However, on arrival at her remote Norwegian island, she discovers that she has made a huge mistake. Mormor has passed away and a strange boy – Stig – has taken it upon himself to squat in her vacant home.

However, as Martha speaks with Mormor’s neighbours, she begins to learn that something strange is afoot. Mormor’s dying wish was that her family continue to tend the warped tree her garden – the very one that Martha fell from and lost her sight. Yet, as Mormor’s request has gone unheeded, Martha soon realises that something is going wrong. She begins to have strange visions about the tree and something terrible stalks the woods at night. With Stig’s help, she searches the house for some clue as to what Mormor has been hiding from her. In doing so, she learns a terrifying secret about her family that will change her life forever…

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Evermore

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

Evermore was written by Sara Holland and first published in 2018. It is a fantasy novel set in a world where time is currency, focusing on a teenage girl’s mission to defeat a wicked sorceress. The novel forms the concluding part of the Everless series and follows on directly from where Everless (2017) left off, therefore I would strongly advise reading the novels in sequence to have any idea of what is going on.

Jules Ember’s life has been turned upside down. Not only has she been framed for the deaths of both the Queen and Lord Roan, but she now knows the truth about her power to slow the flow of time. She is the reincarnation of the Alchemist – the hated figure of legend who stole the immortal Sorceress’s heart and bound time to the blood of everyone in Sempera. Now, nowhere is safe for Jules. Not only is she hunted and despised for her supposed crimes, but Caro will stop at nothing to recapture her. The Sorceress wants her heart back and that means it first must be broken.

Although Liam and his friends try to smuggle Jules to safety, she knows that she cannot run away. Her sister Ina – now the new Queen – has no idea of what Caro is or the danger that she represents. The only way that Jules can protect her sister is by finding a way to kill the Sorceress but doing so seems to be impossible due to the Sorceress’s terrifying ability to regenerate herself. If only Jules can find a way to access her inherited memories from the time of the Alchemist. Perhaps they could contain some way to stop her archenemy.

With Liam’s help, Jules travels across the land in search of places that were significant to the Alchemist. In doing so, it’s not long before she sees glimpses of an ancient jewelled dagger which could well have the power to kill the unkillable. Yet can these memories be trusted, or are they just another way for Caro to trap her…

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Yokai and Mermaids and Hollows, Oh My!

Hello everyone!

Now that my SantaThing reviews are all posted, it’s time to settle back into business as usual here on Arkham Reviews. And boy do I have some exciting reads lined up for the next couple of months! Although I am very likely to get distracted by some new releases, here are some other examples of what you can expect next on the blog:

Evermore by Sara Holland

The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

Firestarter by Tara Sim

A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

The Shield of Kuromori by Jason Rohan

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

Glow: Book 1 – Potency by Aubrey Hadley

Day 7 by Kerry Drewery

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

Ice Kingdom by Tiana Warner

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

It’s a lovely selection of new releases, stand alone novels and sequels, and I really can’t wait to share them all with you. Look out for my review of Evermore in the next few days.

Unspoken

Unspoken was written by Sarah Rees Brennan and was first published in 2012. It is a paranormal romance novel about a teenage girl who learns that her imaginary friend is real. The novel forms the first part of The Lyburn Legacy series and is followed by Untold (2013) and Unmade (2014), as well as a couple of short-stories that further expand the world.

As long as Kami Glass can remember, she has had Jared. Although the other kids at school thought that she was weird, she has always talked to the strange boy in her head as though he was there with her. While she’s never really doubted his existence, he’s never quite felt real to her either. Yet that is before the Lyburn family returned to her small hometown of Sorry-in-the-Vale.

The Lyburn family have been gone for years but never forgotten. They are the founding family of the town and are revered by almost everyone, yet no one seems to want to talk about why. As a budding journalist, Kami is determined to get a scoop about them despite the wall of silence. The best way to do so seems to be through the two teenage Lyburn boys. It’s not long before she runs into charming Ash at school, yet it is his brooding cousin that she finds more intriguing. Especially when she learns that his name is Jared.

Yet, at the same time that the Lyburns return, strange things begin to happen in Sorry-in-the-Vale. Kami stumbles across what seems to be the site of a dark ritual in the woods and soon after is attacked herself. Rallying a small group of friends, Kami makes it her mission to discover the secret of the mysterious family. Yet it soon becomes clear that this investigation could risk both her bond with Jared and her life…

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The Thief

The Thief was written by Megan Whalen Turner and first published in 1996. It is a high fantasy story that focuses on a small group of men on a quest to find an object with mystical powers. The novel forms the first part of The Queen’s Thief series and is followed by The Queen of Attolia (2000), The King of Attolia (2006), A Conspiracy of Kings (2010) and Thick as Thieves (2017). A sixth instalment – Return of the Thief – is expected to be released later this year.

Determined to prove himself as a master thief, Gen stole the seal of the King of Sounis. Unfortunately, he then had the foolishness to brag about his victory to everyone in the local inn and soon found himself a prisoner in the inescapable royal gaol. It seems as though he has been left there to rot, until the day when the magus – advisor to the King – comes to him with a proposition.

The magus has discovered the location of an ancient artefact – one with the power to crown a new ruler of the neighbouring kingdom of Eddis. Unfortunately, all parties who have gone to retrieve it have never returned. The magus needs the skills of a thief and is willing to offer Gen his freedom in return. However, if Gen refuses, the magus has the power to ensure that he will never see the light of day again.

With the protection of a skilled soldier called Pol, and the magus’s two apprentices – Sophos and Ambiades – the party sets off on a long journey across three nations, each on the edge of war with each other. Their success will determine who will rule over these countries for centuries to come. However, if any of the other rulers catch wind of what the magus has planned, they will stop at nothing to destroy them.

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Happy New Year from Arkham Reviews

Hello Everyone and Happy New Year! I hope that you’ve had a fantastic festive season, however you chose to celebrate it.

Following the tradition of my previous years on this blog, I decided to take part in LibraryThing‘s “SantaThing” event. This is a Secret Santa in which you post up your reading preferences (such as young adult novels) and a random person selects a handful of books for you on that basis.

As my books did not quite arrive in time for the holiday, I’ve decided that I will dedicate my next few reviews to looking at them all. Here’s what you have to look forward to over the next couple of weeks:

Arabella of Mars by David D Levine

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Jumper by Steven Gould

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

It’s quite a varied selection and so I’m really excited to get started. If none of these take your fancy, check back in two weeks time for a sneak peak of my reading plans for the next few months!

The Sobeks 2018 – Part 4

Woohoo! We made it! Happy New Year everyone!

Yet, before I start on my substantial pile of 2019 reads, it’s time to take one last look back over the previous year. The Sobeks are my prestigious annual awards that showcase the very best novels that I have reviewed. These are the ones that I have awarded 4 stars or above to on Goodreads, which is a select few as I am a bit stingy when it comes to giving out high ratings!

Just in case your Christmas money is still burning a hole in your pocket, here is the last set of winners. They are all taken from novels that I read and reviewed in October, November and December. Check back on the 3rd January for a sneak peak about what will be coming up next on Arkham Reviews over the first few weeks of this wonderful new year!

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