I already took a look at the work of Anthony Horowitz a few months ago when I reviewed The Falcon’s Malteser but today I’ve decided to focus on what is arguably his most popular series. The Alex Rider series follows the adventures of a fourteen year old boy as he is recruited into the MI6. At the time of writing spans ten novels – Stormbreaker (2000), Point Blanc (2001), Skeleton Key (2002), Eagle Strike (2004), Scorpia (2004), Ark Angel (2005), Snakehead (2007), Crocodile Tears (2009), Scorpia Rising (2011) and Russian Roulette (2013) – as well as several short stories and supplementary books. For the purpose of this review, I will be focusing on Stormbreaker only.

When Alex Rider is told that his Uncle Ian has been killed in a car accident he immediately releases that something is afoot. His uncle was always safety conscious, especially in regards to wearing seatbelts, and so never would have died in such a way. He knows that the manager of the bank where his uncle worked must be lying to him. He just needs to find out why.

As he investigates into Ian’s death, Alex soon discovers that his suspicions were correct. His uncle was actually a spy for the MI6 and was gunned down while investigating a billionaire named Herod Sayle. Sayle has made his fortune by creating a powerful and cheap desktop computer called the Stormbreaker and has recently become popular across the nation by promising to gift one of the machines to every secondary school. The MI6 were suspicious of his generosity before, but Ian’s death has lead them to realise that Sayle must be up to something dangerous.

Realising that Sayle would now be suspicious of another adult operative, the MI6 recruit Alex into their ranks and pass him off as a boy who has won a contest to be the first person to try out a Stormbreaker in order to gain him access to Sayle’s headquarters. Once inside, Alex is placed in more danger that he has ever been in his life. The fate of every school child in England may hinge on his success but if he is caught he knows that he is likely to meet the same fate as his uncle…


Graham’s Charlotte

Graham's Charlotte

This review is going to be a little different from the previous ones that I have posted on this site.  Graham’s Charlotte is the first solo novel by Drew Farnsworth and is due for release on 17 April 2014. As it is not yet available for purchase, I am writing this entry based on an advanced reader copy and, because of this, I am aware that what I have read may not be indicative of the quality of the final product. Please bear that in mind as you continue with this review.

While on a trip to Costa Rica, Madison Riley is suddenly approached by a stranger who seems to know a worrying amount about her life. He claims that in two weeks’ time she will break into the headquarters of National Security Agency in order to delete a file. The stranger, calling himself Graham, claims that if she does not she will be putting her mother’s life in danger.

Madison is not inclined to believe him, but he gives her a mobile phone which he claims has the ability to predict future events. This proves to be true moments later when an earthquake rocks the airport and the phone helps Madison to escape death and rescue her trapped friends. Graham leaves her, warning her to never show the phone to anyone. There are dangerous people who would kill her in order to possess such advanced technology.

Now more inclined to trust Graham, Madison returns home and begins to experiment with the phone. It proves to be able to do virtually anything, giving accurate answers to any question that she asks of it. However, when she questions it about how she is going to break into the NSA, all it does is provide her with a complex explanation that seems near impossible for her to achieve. Yet she knows that failure is not an option, not when her mother’s life is in danger.


The Bone Dragon


The Bone Dragon boasts a rather impressive array of accreditations. It was named as a Book of the Year in 2013 for both the Financial Times and the Independent, as well as being shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and long listed for the Branford Boase Award. It was first published in 2013 and is the debut novel of Alexia Casale.

The novel is told from the perspective of Evie, a fourteen year old girl who has been adopted by a loving couple after years of terrible abuse at the hands of her maternal grandparents. At first, she is unable to open up to her new family but eventually plucks up the confidence to reveal to them the horrible extent of her injuries – she has never told anyone her ribs are broken and has been suffering in silence for years.

During her surgery, a piece of Evie’s rib is removed and the doctor gives it to her as a souvenir. Although her mother finds this morbid, her Uncle Ben helps her to carve the rib into a dragon as part of her therapy.

While Evie struggles to come to terms with her dark past by day, in her dreams the dragon comes to life and guides her on moonlit walks across the fens, allowing her to find peace in the night. At first this is therapeutic for her but gradually the dragon dreams begin to grow more sinister. Although cryptic, the dragon seems to be urging for her to take revenge on the people who have wronged her and begins to  fixate on the fact that it will soon be the time of their ‘dark moon’…


Young Sherlock Holmes: Death Cloud


Following the success of Charlie Higson’s Young James Bond series, the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle authorised a run of novels to introduce the adventures of Sherlock Holmes to teenage readers. This series, written by Andrew Lane, tells the story of a fourteen year old Sherlock as he begins to develop the deductive skills that will serve him well in later life. The first novel is titled Death Cloud and was published in 2010. It has been subsequently followed by Red Leech (2010 – published in America under the name Rebel Heart), Black Ice (2011), Fire Storm (2011), Snake Bite (2012) and Knife Edge (2013).

Due to his father’s military service and his mother’s illness, Sherlock Holmes is forced to spend his summer holiday staying with his eccentric uncle in the British countryside. At first, Sherlock is annoyed by this decision. The town where he has been forced to stay is boring, the house keeper seems to hate him and he wishes that he had been allowed to stay in London with his brother, Mycroft. However, everything changes when he discovers a dead body.

His uncle’s gardener is found in the forest, his body covered in horrible boils. The only clue is a plume of smoke that is seen rising from the corpse. This is the second death of this kind within a matter of days and it causes panic to spread as the townsfolk fear that the cause is the bubonic plague.

Sherlock is less convinced by this and, as he investigates, quickly becomes certain that the deaths were both murders. However, the further he digs; the more danger he places himself in. Trusting only in his friends, Matty and Virginia, and his tutor, Amyus Crowe, Sherlock rushes to get to the root of the conspiracy before his enemies succeed in silencing him forever.


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