The #AusYaBloggers 2018 Reading Challenge: January

It’s Back Baby! The challenge is based on four prompts each month, including one prompt that will be specifically for a #LoveOzYA title.

YA Graphic Novels can be counted, as can YA Novellas and MG novels, but only one can be used each month and a book may only be used once per prompt. There are three YA book price packs up for grabs and it’s not too late to join.

Disclaimer: to be eligible for the prices you must be either an Aussie or Kiwi, be a member of the #AusYaBloggers and signed up for the challenge.

> > Find out more here < <


My Pick #1: Shadows of the Realm, is a self-published #LoveOzYA fantasy novel that is the first in a trilogy. I’ve had this book on my shelf and TBR list since I met Dionne at a Hunter Writers Centre event in 2013. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to crack it open.

My Pick #2: The YA romance Every Day, is another one that has been on my TBR list for a while now and as above, this seemed like the perfect opportunity read it.

My Pick #3: The 2017 highly anticipated #LoveOzYA Contemporary Take Three Girls went on my TBR before it was even published and I got my hands on a copy as fast as I could. Bring it on Cath, Simmone and Fiona.

My Pick #4: And last but not least, Gemina. Ah Gemina, I pre-ordered you back in 2016 because I loved Illuminae so much, but *sigh* I haven’t had a chance to read you yet – this is the perfect excuse to push you forward on my TBR!

Ballad for a Mad Girl: #LoveOzYA Review

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Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield
Genre: YA, Mystery, Contemp/Paranormal
Publication: May 29th, 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review Copy
Thank you TEXT
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Everyone knows seventeen-year-old Grace Foley is a bit mad. She’s a prankster and a risk-taker, and she’s not afraid of anything—except losing. As part of the long-running feud between two local schools in Swanston, Grace accepts a challenge to walk the pipe.

That night she experiences something she can’t explain. The funny girl isn’t laughing anymore. She’s haunted by voices and visions—but nobody believes a girl who cries wolf.

As she’s drawn deeper into a twenty-year-old mystery surrounding missing girl Hannah Holt, the thin veil between this world and the next begins to slip. She can no longer tell what’s real or imagined—all she knows is the ghosts of Swanston, including that of her own mother, are restless. It seems one of them has granted her an extraordinary gift at a terrible price.

Everything about her is changing—her body, her thoughts, even her actions seem to belong to a stranger. Grace is losing herself, and her friends don’t understand. Is she moving closer to the truth? Or is she heading for madness?


Damn, what can I say to get you to read this book without giving it all way. – The only thing that disappoints me about this book is that I’ll never be able to read it again for the first time!

I felt a connection to the protagonist, Grace almost immediately. You only make it to the third page before she tells you of her mother’s death. Grace’s hides her grief and dark inner thoughts from everyone around her, behind the shield of being her school’s resident joker and daredevil.

An incident late one night, during one of her daredevil stunts, leaves Grace questioning her sanity. Grace struggles keep a grip on her normal day to day life resulting in her relationships with her friends and family becoming strained, this then pushes her to keep dangerous secrets and go off on her own. Grace is compelled, seemly to her by an outside force, to Investigate a twenty-year-old mystery. The disappearance of a local girl named Hannah. Investigating Hannah’s disappearance leads her to discover secrets about two other local’s deaths, one being her own mothers.

This is a brilliant bloody book. The tale Grace has to tell is deliciously dark and spine tingling. The story’s pace and flow are fantastic. A thrilling murder mystery with some seriously creepy scenes. The story explores grief, belief in the paranormal, family, friendship, mental illness and criminal redemption. 5/5 a #LoveOzYA must read.


Links: Vikki’s Website | Twitter | Instagram | Mad girl on Goodreads | Booktopia | Bookdepository | Amazon | Text Publishing

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

Esme’s Wish: YA Review

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Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication: 30th October 2017
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Source: Review copy from Author
Thank you Elizabeth
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“A fresh new fantasy of an enchanting world.” – Wendy Orr,author of Nim’s Island and Dragonfly Song.

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.

Esme’s Wish is the first book in the Esme series.

Esme’s Links: Goodreads | Booktopia | Bookdepository | Amazon AU | Amazon US

Elizabeth’s Links: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Odyssey Books


My Review: The story starts off with a wedding, but unfortunately for Esme it is not a happy one. Esme lost her mother when she was only eight years old and has never been able to move on. Esme never truly believed her mother had disappeared at sea and spurred on by her father moving on, she decides the time has come to go off on her own and discover the truth. What she soon discovers is another world full of magic, myth and secrets.

Back home Esme and her mother were always considered outsiders and as a child Esme struggled to find real friendship. On her journey Esme meets Daniel and Lillian, both offering friendship and whatever help they can. At first she finds it hard to believe that anyone would want to help her, let alone be her friend. She learns to trust in Daniel and Lillian as they join and help her on her journey.

The writing followed well, was easy to read and the story was steadily paced for the most part, kicking up with a action packed fast paced last few chapters. I raced through the last few chapters desperate to know how the story ends – and if that isn’t a sign of a good story, then I don’t know what is. 

The bad ‘guy’ was deplorable and the good ‘guys’ easily likeable. The setting for the story, a mythological wonderland. There were Dragons – always a plus. And they rode them – even more of a plus!

The ending gives us just enough resolution for it to be satisfying, but also leaves enough unanswered that it makes you really want to read the next book.

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

Happy New Year Everybody!

I sat down to do a Fave Reads of 2017 post, but have realised it is going to be way too hard to narrow a few down. I gave 31 five-star reviews on Goodreads this year (94 read all up).

I will say that The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Marsh and Me by Martine Murray, No Stars to Wish on by Zana Fraillon, No Limits by Ellie Marney, Never Again by Lily Luchesi, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor and Fence #1 & #2 by C.S. Pacat (Author) & Johanna the Mad (Illustrator) were highlights,

 but there were also many more.


I am Super excited for continuation of Fence in 2018.

And have already pre-ordered Lynette Noni’s February and May new releases.

Bring on 2018.

Happy Reading Everybody.

 

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

Marsh and Me: Aussie MG Review

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Marsh and Me by Martine Murray
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Publication: May 1st 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review copy from Text
Thank you Text, you awesome people
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

There’s a hill out the back of Joey’s house. Hardly anyone goes there—it’s not a beautiful place, just a covered-over old rubbish tip. But Joey likes it up there. It’s his hill—somewhere he likes to go to wonder about life. He longs to be the best at something, to be a famous astronaut, or mountain climber, to stand out.

When Joey discovers a tree house in an old peppercorn tree on the hill, he is annoyed that someone has invaded his special place. But he is also curious about who the intruder could be. But making contact isn’t easy. The tree-house girl is wild and hostile and full of secrets—Joey needs to work out a way to win her over. And as he does, he finds a way to shine.

Marsh and Me is a story about friendship and trust and learning to believe in yourself and what makes you special. Martine Murray’s beautifully rounded characters, with all their self-doubts, yearnings and wise insights, will delight readers young and old.

Marsh and Me Links: Goodreads | Booktopia | Bookdepository | Text Publishing
Martine Murray Links: Website | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitter


Marsh and Me is a story of friendship, family, social and self acceptance and the healing power of music.

The story is told from Joey’s point of view (the Me part of the title). Joey comes from what I take to be a middle class white australian family. He is a sensitive, thoughtful and caring boy. Joey begins the story full of self doubt, not knowing where he fits in the world or who he wants to be.

Joey has his hill. His oasis in a world where he doesn’t feel he fits. March turns up on his hill. His peace is shattered. His sanctuary invaded.

Marsh (or Ruzica) is stuck in the in-between, she is both Serbian and Australian. Born in Australia to migrant parents, she’s never felt she belonged in either place. As her father struggles to cope with the loss of her mother, March seeks shelter. She builds a fort on a hill to hide away from the world.

Marsh is stand-off-ish at first and scares Joey away, but he preservers and a friendship that they both benefit greatly from grows. As the story progresses we get to see Joey’s friendship help March and her father start to heal. And we see Marsh help Joey believe in himself and attempt things he always wanted to, but was too afraid to do alone.

We get a little taste of Serbian culture and music through Marsh and her father. And it was wonderful seeing Joey learn about Marsh’s family’s migrant experience and learn to understand and feel their pain – a fantastic lesson in empathy the MG audience won’t realise they are getting. Joey’s family are supportive of the friendship and completely accepting of Marsh and her father.

This book left me with feelings of love and hope and I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to go get my hands on more of Martine Murray’s work. 5/5 warm and fuzzy stars

Marsh and me is a beautiful and powerful story that I think is a must read for all Aussie primary schoolers and Aussie MG/ #LoveOzYA aficionados.

Edit: I read Marsh and Me in November and I am now just posting the review (life got in the way), I’ve now also finished reading Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars. It is a story about friendship, family, being your best self and having a connection to the world around you. 4/5 adorable stars.

 

 

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

Quotes Collection Part Two

I read The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout back in March 2017. The following quote is from Chapter 9 where Mallory is describing Rider’s smile.

Ah, nothing like being punched in the chest by a man’s beauty – ummm what! For whatever reason, back in March, I was drawn to this string of words so much that I wrote them down in my Quote File.

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout ia a story about abusive foster homes, social labels and second chances.
Mallory and Rider, the two main characters live in the same foster home as youngsters and are each others worlds. Separated by a horrific turn of events, they are then reunited in their late teens.
While the romance/plot of was rather predictable and the pace was a little slow at times, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it did touch on some deep issues.

And in March I was obviously loving the idea that a person could be so beautiful it causes physical harm. Or something like that.

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

#LoveOzYABloggers – Gift Recs

#LoveOzYABloggers is hosted by #LoveOzYA, a community led organisation dedicated to promoting Australian young adult literature.

The theme for this fortnight is ‘Gift Recs’.

Keep up to date with all new Aussie YA releases with their monthly newsletter, or find out what’s happening with News and Events, or submit your own!


I’m a little slow, but I still made it to the party! Here are my picks for this fortnights (although it’s closer to the next fortnight’s) prompt.

Gift recommendations, hmmm. What’s the best thing you can do for a loved one – get them addicted to something! Just stick with me here.

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Get them addicted to an awesome YA fantasy a series with the first book in The Medoran Chronicles.

Akarnae (The Medoran Chronicles #1 by Lynette Noni

With just one step, sixteen-year-old Alexandra Jennings’s world changes—literally.

Dreading her first day at a new school, Alex is stunned when she walks through a doorway and finds herself stranded in Medora, a fantasy world full of impossibilities. Desperate to return home, she learns that only a man named Professor Marselle can help her… but he’s missing.

While waiting for him to reappear, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora’s boarding school for teenagers with extraordinary gifts. She soon starts to enjoy her bizarre new world and the friends who embrace her as one of their own, but strange things are happening at Akarnae, and Alex can’t ignore her fear that something unexpected… something sinister… is looming.

An unwilling pawn in a deadly game, Alex’s shoulders bear the crushing weight of an entire race’s survival. Only she can save the Medorans, but what if doing so prevents her from ever returning home?

Will Alex risk her entire world—and maybe even her life—to save Medora?

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Get them addicted to a brand spanking new aussie authored YA comic series.

Fence (Fence #1) by C.S. Pacat (Author) & Johanna the Mad (Artist)

Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Cox is an outsider to the competitive fencing world. Filled with raw talent but lacking proper training, he signs up for a competition that puts him head-to-head with fencing prodigy Seiji Katayama…and on the road to the elite all-boys school Kings Row. A chance at a real team and a place to belong awaits him—if he can make the cut!

Get them anything by Ellie Marney, Melissa Keil or Amie Kaufman – because once you’ve read one of their books you’ll wanna read more!! More I tell you!

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

Hugo Makes A Change: Children’s Picture Book Review

34146459Hugo Makes A Change
by Mauro Gatti & Scott Emmons

Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Publication: November 1st 2017
Publisher: Flying Eye Books (Walker Australia)
Source: Review Copy
Thank You Walker Books

Add to Goodreads

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Hugo the vampire craves red, juicy meat for every meal! But when his eating habits leave him feeling sluggish and bored, he goes on the prowl for something new… Maybe those strange-looking things growing in the garden aren’t as bad as they look?

After trying fruits and vegetables for the first time, he discovers the joys of a more balanced diet. The story is told in rhymed verse accompanied by simple, charming, graphic illustrations.


Hugo Makes A Change is a delightful story about a vampire that goes on a journey learning about healthy eating.

Plot Summary: We see Hugo eat lots of meat and little else. Hugo then gets sick. He starts to realise there is a connection between his meat heavy diet and feeling bad. Hugo goes off searching for alternatives. At first, he fears trying new things. Finally, Hugo gets the courage to try something new and he enjoys it. Hugo then goes on a journey trying as many different fruits and vegetables as he can find. After eating all the fruits and veggies, Hugo starts to feel well again, to feel better than he’s ever felt before. Hugo goes on to realise he can still have meat in his diet if he pairs it with fruits and veggies. In the end Hugo finds that if he eats a balanced diet he will be healthy and happy.

My four-year-old loved the story asking all sorts of questions about what Hugo was eating and repeatedly requesting we read it again. I think this book is a real winner. Through Hugo’s adventure in healthy eating children can start to learn the connection between what we eat and how we feel. It is a delight to read out loud with rhythmic sing song sentences and the artwork is easily understood and enticing to a young audience.

I think this book would make a fantastic Christmas gift for any fussy little eaters you know.

Hugo Links: Walker Books | Booktopia | Bookdepository

Never Again: Paranormal Review

36543599Never Again by Lily Luchesi
Genre: blended fiction; paranormal-historical-horror (MA15+)
Publication: December 2nd 2017
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Source: Review copy from Author
Thank You Lily
Add to Goodreads
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

In this standalone spin-off of the Paranormal Detectives Series, we discover the true horrors during Hitler’s reign.

In World War Two, not all monsters were human.

Male siren Sean Wireman was ostracized from his small village in Israel in the sixteenth century, forced to wander the world until he settled in America in the 1920’s. Since he doesn’t age like a normal person, he was fit to fight in World War Two, to defend the heritage he spent his whole life running from.

Seventy years later, after he has lived a whole other life since Hitler was defeated, from attending law school to becoming a bona fide rock star, the monsters the Nazis released upon the Jews in concentration camps have returned, and he is the only one who can destroy them.

But can he save his people once again, or will this fight take a deadly toll?


I finished reading Never Again and pondered the book producing powerhouse that is Lily Luchesi. I think Never Again is my favourite book of hers to date and i’ve read quite a few since coming across her looking for reviewers for Stake-Out (PDS#1) in a goodreads request group. It feels like forever but when I looked it up it was actually early 2015. Damn Girl, you have bled out a phenomenal amount of words in the last three years. I’ve enjoyed Lily’s writing from the beginning, but it feels as if she’s found her rhythm, her knack and she’s grown confident and is owning her style now.

Lily has really outdone herself this time with Never Again. The writing is strong and confident, the story compelling, a blend of paranormal and real world historical events.

There is swearing. There are some extremely deplorable and violent bad guys (obviously as a large chunk of the book features war). As well as post-traumatic stress disorder being explored in detail. But there is also love and hope to balance out the hate and despair.

The story’s sole protagonist is Sean, a 526-year-old male siren who originated in Israel. Thanks to his slowed siren aging process for the most part of the story he only looks like he’s aged between 20 to 40.

526 years – does he have a story to tell? You bet he does. His life story. 526 years, experiencing ancient Israel, the Ottoman Empire, the Tudors, the Nazis and modern rock and roll. Sean is, despite his species and the fact he regularly refers to himself as an asshole, a good guy and a war hero.

So yes this is a Paranormal Detectives Series Spin-off and if you’ve read any of the PSD books you’ll recognise a fair few characters and locations. But if you haven’t that’s okay, this this is a stand alone and a great way to get a feel for Lily’s writing style.

Lily’s Links: Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse: Children’s Picture Book Review

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The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse
Written by Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Publication: November 1, 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
Source: Review copy from publisher
Thank You Walker

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

They may have been swallowed, but they have no intention of being eaten… A new comedy from the unparalleled team of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen.

Early one morning a mouse met a wolf and was quickly gobbled up…When a woeful mouse is swallowed up by a wolf, he quickly learns he is not alone: a duck has already set up digs and, boy, has that duck got it figured out! Turns out it’s pretty nice inside the belly of the beast – there’s delicious food, elegant table settings and, best of all, dancing. And there’s something more: no more fear of being eaten by a wolf! Life’s not so bad, considering the alternatives. That is, until a hunter shows up… With a nod to traditional fables and a wink to the reader, the award-winning Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, Extra Yarn and Triangle offer a tale of cooperation and creative cuisine that is sure to go down easy.


Early one morning, a mouse met a wolf, and he was quickly gobbled up.

The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse is a fantastical story of a Duck and a Mouse who refused to be eaten and a humorous lesson in why wolves howl.

“I may have been swallowed,” said the duck, “but I have no intention of being eaten.”

Quick plot rundown: A Mouse meets a Wolf. The Wolf eats the mouse. The Mouse meets a Duck inside the Wolf, they then proceeded to live happily partying it up. The Wolf gets sick from all the hubbub inside him. Now weak and sick the Wolf becomes the target of a hunter. The Duck and the Mouse knowing their new way of life is in danger jump out of the Wolf and scare off the Hunter. Then they all live happily ever after, sort of – The duck and the Mouse do, the Wolf, not so much – but you’ll have to read it to understand what I mean by that.

When I opened the box from walker I actually gasped out loud. The hardcover’s illustrated sleeve is a real treat for the eyes. The book is full of delightful and easily “readable” earthly toned illustrations – simply glorious!

The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse is an easy and well-paced read (text to picture ratio) and flows well off the tongue. I would recommend this book for ages four and up. I think children any younger wouldn’t be able to grasp the impossible and bizarreness of Duck and Mouse’s activities and the humour that makes this book a joy to read.

If you have any kiddlets in your life, The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse would make a captivating Christmas present.

Goodreads | Walker Books | Booktopia | Bookdepository 

Mac Barnett: Website | Twitter – Jon Klassen: Website | Twitter