Desire in Frost

Desire in Frost

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Desire in Frost, hosted by YA Bound Book Tours. Please note that this review may contain spoilers for its prequel, Fire in Frost. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Desire in Frost was written by Alicia Rades and first published in 2016. It is the second part of the Crystal Frost series and follows the continuing adventures of the title character as she learns to control her psychic gift. The novel follows on directly from Fire in Frost (2015) and so the series really needs to be read in sequence to be fully appreciated.

Although Crystal was initially optimistic that she could use her powers to find Hope, she’s starting to be doubt herself. Nights have passed and she’s haunted by the same dream, witnessing the little girl’s abduction but unable to see the face of the kidnapper. Although she’s confident that the girl is alive, the trail is growing ever colder and soon even the police begin to give up on finding Hope alive.

Yet it’s Thanksgiving and her Mum and Teddy have arranged a trip to Florida to visit Teddy’s parents. Crystal hopes that the break will be just the thing to help her focus and gain a greater understanding of her abilities. Unfortunately, Teddy also invites along his nephew Robin – a secretive teen who never has a kind word to say to anyone – and so the holiday soon proves to be less peaceful than Crystal hoped.

However, not all seems to be lost. The further south they drive; the stronger Crystal’s visions become. Slowly, the pieces begin to fall into place and Crystal begins to understand exactly why Hope was taken. With Teddy still uncertain about her gifts, Crystal turns to Robin to help her rescue the little girl. Yet as she begins to develop feelings for her soon-to-be cousin, things become even more complicated. Will she be able to find love and rescue Hope while still keeping her psychic powers a secret?

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The Enchanted Rose

The Enchanted Rose

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for The Enchanted Rose, hosted by Bewitching Book Tours.

The Enchanted Rose is the debut novel of Nadia Nader and was first published in 2015. It is a modern faerie story which centres on a teenage girl’s investigations regarding ancient curse. The story is the first novel in the Misty Hills series but at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Vivian’s bad luck begins with the sudden death of her mother. As her father is unable to cope with raising her alone, she is sent to live with her Aunts Agnes and Beatrice – sisters of her mother who Vivian had never been told existed – in the isolated town of Misty Hills. When she arrives, she discovers that the two women live in a mansion and rarely leave the grounds of their enormous estate.

As Vivian explores her new home, she discovers that there is something strange about it. The house and grounds are poorly kept and everyone that she speaks to warn her to stay out of the neighbouring woodland as it is very dangerous. To make matters worse, a lot of the townsfolk are deeply superstitious and seem to be keeping secrets from her, yet they are reluctant to tell Vivian just what it is that they fear.

As Vivian tries to find out more about her strange family, she quickly unearths many secrets and as she does she realises that her mother has kept her ignorant of her heritage. There is a curse on her bloodline, one that brings death and misery to the first born girl of every generation. As Vivian realises that magic is real, she begins to wonder if there is anything that she can do to save the lives of the people that she loves…

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Public Enemy Number Two

Public Enemy Number Two

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for its prequel, The Falcon’s Malteser. You can read my review of this novel [here].

Public Enemy Number Two is the second novel in Anthony Horowitz’s The Diamond Brothers series and was first published in 1987. It was preceded by The Falcon’s Malteser (1986) and followed by South by South East (1991), Three of Diamonds (2004 – consisting of the short stories The Blurred Man, The French Confection and I Know What You Did Last Wednesday), How the Greek Stole Christmas (2008) and The Double Eagle Has Landed (2011). The stories follow the cases of Tim Diamond (real name: Herbert Simple), a London-based private detective, and his younger brother Nick who is infinitely more competent.

Six months have passed since the case of the Falcon’s Malteser and Nick and Herbert have long since spent all of their reward. Just as the brothers are run out of baked beans and prepare for starvation, their luck finally changes when Herbert finally finds a new case. A Ming vase called the Purple Peacock has been stolen from the British Museum and his client is paying generously for its safe recovery.

At the same time, Nick is approached by Chief Inspector Snape and offered a job of his own. Snape wants him to go undercover in a young offenders institute and befriend Johnny Powers – Public Enemy Number One. Although Powers is only fifteen his has already become the leader of a London gang and Snape needs to know the name of the person who is fencing all of the goods that Powers has stolen.

Although Nick initially refuses, he quickly discovers that he has no choice. On a school trip to a stately home he is framed for having stolen a priceless ruby. Nick is condemned to spend eighteen months in prison and naturally finds himself as the cellmate of Powers. The choice that he has is obvious. He either needs to survive his sentence or find out the identity of the Fence. However, things become more complicated as he discovers that Powers is planning a gaol break…

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Mortlock

Mortlock

Mortlock was first published in 2010 and was the debut novel of Jon Mayhew. It was the first of The Mortlock Books and was followed by The Demon Collector (2011) and The Bonehill Curse (2012). Although all three novels share a setting and some background characters, they are stand-alone stories and can therefore be enjoyed in any order.

In 1820, three men – Edwin Chrimes, Thurlough Corvis and Sebastian Mortlock – journeyed deep into the jungles of Abyssinia in search of the Amarant, a legendary flower which was rumoured to have power over life and death. Although they succeed in finding the plant, they realise that using it would come at a horrible price and swear an oath that none of them will ever take it for themselves.

Thirty-four years passed and Chrimes has since made a living for himself as a stage magician under the name of the Great Cardamom. He has also become the guardian of an orphan named Josie, who acts as his knife-throwing assistant. The two of them live in relative comfort until one evening when three women, claiming to be Chrimes’s Aunts, appear on his doorstep.

As Chrimes is suddenly taken ill, Josie comes to realise that the Aunts are not all that they seem. There is something unnatural about them and they are fixated on retrieving the Amarant for their master. As Chrimes finally succumbs to his illness, he manages to impart a final request on Josie. To unite with her twin brother – a boy that she never knew existed – and destroy the Amarant forever.

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Seeking Dr. Magic

Seeking Dr. Magic

Seeking Dr. Magic was written by Scott Spotson and was first published in 2013. It is a mystery story containing fantastical elements which focuses on a retired FBI agent’s attempts to uncover the identity of a powerful wizard. The novel stands alone as a complete story in its own right and so you do not have to have read any of Spotson’s earlier works in order to fully appreciate it.

It is a perfectly ordinary afternoon when the first phantom ninja throws itself off a building in Chicago. The mysterious creature proves that it is able to survive a fall of a hundred feet before it leaps back up the side of the building and disappears. As videos are uploaded to the internet, it rapidly becomes apparent that the same thing is happening worldwide yet no one can explain how the stunts could take place.

Theories about the phenomena vary wildly, from holograms to alien invasions, but Tony Hetfield is not convinced by them. He is a former FBI agent, now working as a private investigator after an injury forced him to retire. Since he solved a high profile case, the detective has enjoyed celebrity status and is quick to make his opinions on the phantom ninjas heard. He believes that they can only have been created by a powerful wizard – a man he dubs Dr. Magic.

Although his former colleagues ridicule him, Tony reaches out in an attempt to contact Dr. Magic and soon succeeds. In their brief meeting, he manages to deduce a few things about his past and this gives him everything he needs to begin an investigation. As he delves into Dr. Magic’s origins, he looks to answer two questions – is Dr. Magic human and is he capable of hurting others?

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A Series of Unfortunate Events 4-6

A Series of Unfortunate Events 4-6

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

I am sorry to say, dear reader, that you have stumbled upon this blog at precisely the wrong time. While other internet reviewers may be currently looking at novels that focus on talking animals or handsome princes, it is my unhappy duty to delve further into Lemony Snicket’s chronicles pertaining to the multitude of misfortunes to befall the Baudelaire Orphans. This review is likely to contain coupons, pinstriped suits, parsley soda and (most tragically of all) no chance of a happy ending. If you would rather read a review about talking animals or handsome princes, you have come to the wrong place and I advise that you return to Google and search for a more pleasant blog. If you continue reading, I advise that you prepare yourself for the very worst as I analyse the next three instalments of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to keep up that writing style for the rest of the review (sure is fun though). As you might have gleamed from the title, today I’m going to be looking at The Miserable Mill (2000), The Austere Academy (2000) and The Ersatz Elevator (2001). These are novels #4-6 of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. They were preceded by The Bad Beginning (1999), The Reptile Room (1999) and The Wide Window (2000) and followed by The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005) and The End (2006).

The novels follow the continuing adventures of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire as they are shunted between different guardians, all the while trying to avoid being captured by the evil Count Olaf. The children have inherited a vast fortune after their parents died in a fire (though can’t claim it until Violet turns eighteen). Olaf is intent on stealing their fortune and is prepared to kill anyone or adopt any disguise in order to do so.

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The Haunting of Secrets

The Haunting of Secrets

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for The Haunting of Secrets, hosted by Bewitching Book Tours.

The Haunting of Secrets was first published in 2014 and is the debut novel of Shelley R Pickens. It is a murder mystery, focusing on a teenage girl with strange powers as she tries to prevent a serial killer from picking off the students in her school. The novel is the first of a planned series, although at the time of writing a release date has not been given for its sequel.

Sixteen year old Aimee has gained a reputation at her school for being weird. She dresses entirely in black clothes that cover all of her skin, avoids extra-curricular activities and only socialises with a handful of friends. What they don’t know is that she possesses an incredible power. With a single touch, Aimee can read a person’s memories and therefore absorb all the secrets that are hidden deep in their hearts.

When a bomb detonates in her school cafeteria, Aimee’s life is thrown into chaos. As she escapes the collapsing building, she accidentally brushes against another student and discovers that he leads a terrifying double life. Although he projects the image of an ordinary teenager, he has already savagely murdered two girls and will do so again.

Aimee is horrified by what she has seen but has one problem – she does not know whose memories she absorbed. With the help of her friends, she begins to piece together the evidence to reveal the killer. But time is running out. The murderer is aware that she is on to him and plans to permanently silence her before she can uncover his identity.

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Forest of Whispers

Forest of Whispers

This review is brought to you as part of the Virtual Book Tour for Forest of Whispers, hosted by Rockstar Book Tours.

Forest of Whispers was written by Jennifer Murgia and first published in 2014. It is a historical fantasy set in 15th Century Bavaria which focuses on a teenage girl who finds herself caught up in the horror of the witch trials.

Abandoned by her mother when she was just a baby, fifteen year old Rune has grown up as the apprentice to the local healer. Both respected and feared by the townsfolk of nearby Württemburg she has spent her childhood largely in isolation, avoiding other people wherever possible in case she is recognised. However, her life is thrown into turmoil when an accident sparks mass hysteria across the land. Plague has struck, wiping out an entire village, and the Bishop is adamant that a witch’s curse is to blame.

As her home is ransacked, Rune manages to flee to safety within the forest. It is here that she encounters Laurentz – heir to the Electorate of Eltz. Laurentz has been sent by his father to warn the townsfolk of the plague but finds himself shocked by the barbarism that he discovers in the town. Captivated by Rune at first sight, he swears that he will do everything in his power to keep her from harm.

But the situation is more complex than either teenager can imagine. There is a greater conspiracy at work, headed by one who would benefit greatly from the witch hunts. On top of this, Rune is haunted by the voice of her dead mother and it forever urges her to accept her birth-right – to embrace her blossoming powers and take revenge on all those who have ever hurt her.

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The Falcon’s Malteser

The Falcon's Malteser

For over thirty years, Anthony Horowitz has enjoyed a highly successful career as a children’s author. Working across a number of genres, he has created such well-loved series as the Alex Rider novels, Groosham Grange and The Power of Five. However, for the purpose of today’s review we’re going to be looking at one of his earliest novels, featuring the first case of Tim Diamond.

The Falcon’s Malteser was originally published in 1986 but has been released many times since then. It is the first novel of the Diamond Brothers series and was subsequently followed by Public Enemy Number Two (1987), South By South East (1991), Three of Diamonds (2004) (which collected the stories The Blurred Man, The French Confection and I Know What You Did Last Wednesday) and The Greek Who Stole Christmas (2008). The title of the novel is a spoof of The Maltese Falcon, the famous 1929 detective novel by Dashiell Hammett.

The novel is a comic mystery story that focuses on the Tim Diamond (real name: Herbert Timothy Simple), a somewhat inept young man who is determined to make his name as a private detective, despite the fact that he has no money and lives with his thirteen year old brother (Nick) in small flat above a supermarket in West London.

As Nick wonders how they will survive on their last £2.37, a man by the name of Johnny Naples turns up on their doorstep asking to hire them. He wants them to keep a parcel safe for him until he returns to collect it and offers to pay them handsomely for their trouble. Overjoyed by their sudden windfall, the two boys head out to celebrate but return later that day to find that their office has been ransacked. Someone evidently wants the parcel badly, but when the Diamond Brothers open it they find that it only contains a box of maltesers.

Confused, the brothers head out to find their client but arrive at his hotel moments before he is shot dead. It quickly transpires that a criminal known as the Falcon has recently passed away and Johnny Naples could very well have been the only person to know where he had hidden his vast fortune of diamonds. Realising that the maltesers must somehow be the key to this treasure, Nick and Tim enter into a race against to clock to recover the diamonds before another gangster can discover them and take over the Falcon’s mantel as a new international crime lord.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events 1-3

A Series of Unfortunate Events 1-3

Although I am not going to argue that A Series of Unfortunate Events is in any way aimed at a teenage audience, I’ve decided to make it the subject of today’s review. As I noted in my FAQ, I will also occasionally consider books for a younger market if I feel that they have the ability to appeal to older readers. I think that this series more than fits that criterion.

A Series of Unfortunate Events was written by Lemony Snicket (pen name for the author Daniel Handler) and is a fascinating series for many reasons. The first novel, The Bad Beginning, was original published in 1999 but has been rereleased in a number of different special editions since then. It was rapidly followed by twelve sequels – The Reptile Room (1999), The Wide Window (2000), The Miserable Mill (2000), The Austere Academy (2000), The Ersatz Elevator (2001), The Vile Village (2001), The Hostile Hospital (2001), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), The Slippery Slope (2003), The Grim Grotto (2004), The Penultimate Peril (2005) and The End (2006). Many short supplementary novels have also been published in order to further flesh out the story, though I’m not going to talk about them (if you wish to learn more, Wikipedia is your friend). For the purpose of this review, I am only going to focus on the first three novels only.

The series are told by Lemony Snicket himself, an unidentified individual who has been researching the tragic story of the Baudelaire siblings. Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire were three ordinary children whose lives were thrown into disarray when their parents were suddenly killed in a terrible house fire. Their parents left to their children an enormous inheritance and stated in their will that they wanted their children to live with a relative until Violet turned eighteen and was able to claim it.

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