Spontaneous

Spontaneous was written by Aaron Starmer and first published in 2016. It is a book aimed at older teens that focuses on love, friendship, being a teenager and spontaneous human combustion. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s other work to fully appreciate it.

Mara Carlyse’s life is pretty normal. She goes to school, experiments with alcohol and likes hanging out with her best friend Tess. She knows that life as the daughter of a deli owner is far from eventful. That is, of course, until Katelyn Ogden explodes in her calculus class. While people initially suspect that it’s some kind of bizarre terrorist attack, they soon realise that the truth is far stranger. Katelyn has just randomly popped like a balloon.

Although people try to chalk this up to a freak occurrence, things grow more insane when another student explodes during a group therapy session. As more and more teenagers randomly blow up, it begins to attract world attention. It’s clear that something is wrong in Katelyn’s school but no one can quite figure out what. People blame race, sexuality and drug use yet patterns grow blurred as more and more students are effected.

It’s not long until the town goes into lock-down to prevent the students from potentially infecting others. Yet Mara and her classmates slowly start to realise that the American government doesn’t really care about them at all. Their lives are rocked by the combustions and basic rights, such as graduation and even the ability to attend a prom, are stripped from them. Mara knows that they need to take some kind of stand. She just needs to figure out what she can do to convince the others…

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Awoken

Awoken

Awoken is Serra Elinsen’s debut novel and was first published in 2013. It’s both a pastiche and parody of a young adult paranormal novel which takes the form of the story of a teenage girl who falls in love with Cthulhu. The novel is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Andromeda “Andi” Slate hates Portsmouth and longs to return to the sun-drenched shores of California. Everything about her new home is dull and she’s generally ignored by everyone but her two closest friends, Vik and Bree. But then she starts having strange dreams about an octopus-faced sea monster and a gorgeous teenage boy. The dreams seem unusually vivid and she wonders what they could mean.

When Vik comes into possession of a copy of the Necronomicon, the group ignore all the warnings about its curse and read it out loud. Moments later, Andi runs into the same boy from her dreams. It turns out that he’s the new exchange student, Riley Bay. He seems do nothing but glare at Andi but for some reason, he still seems to relentlessly stalk her wherever she goes. Andi is quite rightly baffled by this behaviour. Could it mean that he likes her?

But boys aren’t all that Andi has to worry about. The stars will come into perfect alignment on the night of the Pumpkin Ball, giving evil cultists a chance to summon Great Cthulhu from his slumber to destroy the world. To do this, they need to get their hands on two books. The rare and precious Eldritch Grimore…and the Necronomicon.

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Dealing with Dragons

Dealing with Dragons

And finally, here’s the last of my Secret Santa reviews. Sorry they ran over so much! Next time we’ll be back to the usual schedule.

Dealing with Dragons was written by Patricia C Wrede and has also been published under the title Dragonsbane. It was first released in 1990 and forms the first part of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, followed by Searching for Dragons (1991), Calling on Dragons (1993) and Talking to Dragons (1985).

As a Princess of the Realm, Cimorene has always been expected to act properly. Her life is defined by etiquette and strict rules, from how to greet foreign ambassadors to the correct way to scream if she gets kidnapped by a giant. Cimorene finds all of these things quite dull but whenever she tries to pursue her own interests – fencing, magic, cooking – her father quickly finds out and puts an end to it. Princesses are supposed to be proper.

When her parents announce that she is to be married to a neighbouring Prince, Cimorene knows that she must take matters into her own hands. She takes off in the night and heads straight to the mountain stronghold of the dragons. There, she gives herself over to Kazul, one of the most dangerous dragons. It is highly improper for a Princess to kidnap herself but luckily Kazul is impressed by her attitude and takes her on as a Dragon Princess.

Life as a Dragon Princess is difficult and often dangerous. Over her first few months living with Kazul she’s forced to deal with cooking for a dragon banquet and seeing off the countless knights who come to rescue her. When suspicious wizards begin hanging around the caves, Cimorene makes it her business to find out what they’re planning. If she doesn’t her new-found freedom and the lives of her dragon allies may be at stake!

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Artemis Fowl / Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident

Artemis Fowl 1 + 2

Artemis Fowl is one of those books that I’ve always felt as though I should read because people tend to mention it in the same breath as Harry Potter. The series was written by Eoin Colfer and focuses on a young criminal mastermind as he tangles with a society of subterranean faeries known collectively as the People. The series ran for eight novels – Artemis Fowl (2001), Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident (2002), Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code (2003), Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception (2004), Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony (2006), Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox (2008), Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex (2010) and Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian (2012). For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at the first two novels only.

Artemis Fowl is far from ordinary. Although he is only twelve years old, he’s the son of a successful criminal and has a genius level IQ. With his father missing-presumed-dead and his mother insane with grief, it is now his duty to maintain his family’s wealth and restore their honour. Aided by his Butler, his bodyguard and only friend, he plans a heist unlike any the world has ever seen. For him, failure is never an option.

In Artemis Fowl, Artemis comes into possession of the Book of the People – a codex carried by every faerie. With his intelligence and the technology he has at his disposal, it is not long before he has deciphered their language and learned all of their secrets. Using this new knowledge he manages to capture Holly Short, an agent of the LEPrecon unit, and plans to ransom her back to her people for faerie gold. However, the faeries are not about to part with this without a fight. Soon, Artemis finds his mansion under siege. The LEP believe that saving Holly will be an easy matter but they may have woefully underestimated their human foe…

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Sleeping in the Morgue

Sleeping in the Morgue

Phew. I’ve sure reviewed a lot of fantasy novels lately. As much as I love them, I think it’s time to have a break and review some different genres for a while.

Sleeping in the Morgue is a darkly comical novel about a teenage girl who takes drastic measures to ensure that she gets into college. It was written by Jennifer Tressen and first published in 2014. The novel is a short, stand-alone story and is suitable for older teens.

Paige Thorton is overjoyed when she gets accepted into Harvard but her excitement doesn’t last long. It turns out that her mother has frittered away her college fund and now she is $10,000 short of being able to afford her tuition fees. Although she applies to many scholarships, she realises that she has no chance of making the money unless she gets a job. Without, she is doomed to take over the family business and that means running the town’s morgue.

Although Paige’s mother is happy to pay her $500 for every corpse that she prepares, Paige knows that this will not be enough to make up the funds that she needs. The local care home has recently closed and people just don’t die fast enough. Yet, as she is approached by an old man who is desperate to be with his deceased wife, she hits upon an idea. Perhaps there is a way to drum up some more business and help her community as she does so.

As Paige investigates, she discovers that many people that she knows hide dark secrets. If they were to meet with tragic “accidents”, Paige knows that the town would be better off. However, it is not long before her police officer boyfriend, Brock, begins to see connections between the deaths. Will Paige be able to raise her tuition fees before the deadline or will Brock figure out that all clues point towards his girlfriend?

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Adventures with Ragweed: A Collection of Whimsical Tales

Adventures with Ragweed

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Adventures with Ragweed: A Collection of Whimsical Tales, hosted by Sage’s Blog Tours.

This review is likely to be slightly shorter than my usual posts as its focus is on a book of short stories rather than a single novel.

Adventures with Ragweed: A Collection of Whimsical Tales was first published in 2013 and was written by Linda Lou Crosby and illustrated by Andy Atkins. It contains a selection of ten short stories, each focusing around the adventures of a young girl named Ragweed.

Ragweed is a young teen with unruly hair and a penchant for getting into trouble, even when she sets out with the best intentions at heart. With her long-suffering friend Marney in tow, Ragweed manages to turn even the smallest task into an adventure. From cooking eggs to building a float for the Christmas parade, somehow everything she does leads to chaos and wacky mishaps.

Although her actions often cause trouble for herself and her parents, she faces every challenge with a sunny disposition and a unique world view. At least, at the end of the day, her life is far from dull.

Adventures with Ragweed Banner

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Dunnard’s Pearl: What to Do with the World When You Can’t Get Off

Dunnard's Pearl

Dunnard’s Pearl: What to Do with the World When You Can’t Get Off is the debut novel of Mike Williamson. It was first published in 2013 and provides a satirical critique of big business and the attitude that the 1% hold towards the rest of society.

Following a nasty accident, James Justice awakes to discover that he is no longer on Earth. Exploring the alien surroundings, he soon learns that he has somehow been transported onto a space station called the Dunnard’s Pearl, and that relationships between the various groups of people who live on board is at an all-time low.

At one time, the farmers, the manufacturers and the engineers worked side by side to maintain the vessel, but overtime a fourth faction arose with the perceived notion that they needed to manage the rest. Known as the administrators, they quickly grew in number and contributed nothing of value to society. Consequently, living conditions for the other sectors has deteriorated to dangerous levels.

Realising that something needs to be done, James sets off to speak with the Grand Administrator. On the way, he discovers that he is not the only stranger on the Dunnard’s Pearl. Both Jo Honeydaze (the girl he loves) and Ben Deadwood (the boy who bullies him) have also been mysteriously taken aboard, as well as a shape shifting alien duo known as Harold and Maude. Working together, they seek to find a way to help the less fortunate members of society and find a way to return home.

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