The Portal: YA Review

39836110The Portal by Ashley Uzzell
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication: April 13th, 2018
Publisher: Self-Published
Source: Review copy from Author – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵

Five children find themselves stuck in a beautiful jungle on a strange planet. But all is not as peaceful as it first appears.

Twelve-year-old Charlotte has been different all her life. It isn’t just that her father left when she was a child, or her mother ignores her. What really makes her an outsider is the fact that she has strange abilities that she can’t explain and struggles to control. Everything changes in the summer of 1993 when she feels drawn to a certain spot outside of town. Unfortunately, she isn’t alone when things go sideways.

When the children realize they are definitely not on Earth anymore, they have to learn not only how to fend for themselves, but how to get along. The problem is, even Charlotte has no idea how to get off the alien planet. And, perhaps, she doesn’t want to.
It doesn’t take long for the five to realize they aren’t alone in this strange land and that life here is more dangerous than they could have imagined.


This story is split into three parts and when I got to the end of the first, below is verbatim what I jotted now in my notebook:

“Part one: absolutely delightful. I love the magic and the young witch that Ashley has created. I love the way that Charlotte connects with nature. I love the ragtag gang of earth kids and journeying with them as they are stranded in the strange new world. So far the story feels fresh and exciting. So far the story has touched on bullying and feeling like you never fit in.”

I didn’t take any notes after parts one and two – I was just racing through to the end. And once I got there I would have happily kept on reading.

The Portal is the first book in Ashley’s Tales of Mentara series, with the second installment planned for april next year (2019). The series intends to follow the main set of characters as they grow from middle graders into teens and on. In this the first book the eldest of the main characters is 12, but due to their life circumstances most of them act quite mature for their age. I actually kept forgetting that they were meant to be middle graders, I kept seeing 15/17 yr olds in my head. I am looking forward to seeing these kids grow and seeing the dynamics of their relationships change. I’m especially keen on seeing how Charottle’s whitchly powers develop as she ages and what becomes of Thomas’s health.

The YAY parts: The ragtag group of earth kids stranded in a strange new world. Their adventures in a new world. The tribe of native war orphans who accept the earthlings into their ranks. The way Charlotte connects to the world around her. The story touching on bullying, acceptance and the beauty of nature.

The NAY parts: To me the Characters felt older than they were meant to be and as such I had some Huh? moments, but not enough to disrupt the story flow or hinder my enjoyment too much. And damn, it was so long ago that I was twelve how would I know how a twelve year olds think and behave these days. 

Conclusion: A fantastical tale of friendship, nature magic and mysterious new worlds – best suited to the younger YA audience.

Ashley’s Links – Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon US | Amazon AU | Goodreads 

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

Review: Immortal Writers by Jill Bowers

30423330Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she’s kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book’s antagonist, she thinks that she’s fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans… until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her. Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it’s brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

Ebook, 296 pages. Expected publication: November 5th 2016 by Blue Moon Publishers
Thank You Netgalley and Blue Moon Publishers for allowing me a copy to read and review.

immortal-writers My Thoughts: The plot for this story is awesome. Writers who become immortal because of the power of their words. Sounds awesome, right?

As this is labelled as a young adult fantasy I was expecting a light-hearted humorous fantastical romp with William Shakespeare and Jane Austin riding off into the sunset on unicorns. Ok well not actually Shakespeare and Austen, but you catch my drift.

The story started strong and I was super excited, but as I got further into the book that excitement started to dwindle.

I found the lead character Liz’s serious and tortured back story detracted from what could have been a ridiculous light-hearted simple and fun read. And I mean ridiculous in a good way! Because the story was never going to be believable with Shakespeare, Tolkien, Austen, Plath, Hemingway, Twain, Poe and Wells hanging about a castle that’s being attacked by dragons in modern day America.

I found myself rolling my eyes at the romance. I mean it was so frigging cheesy at some points I could have used it to make a grilled sandwich. Yet Liz had this dark and abusive back story, which would be perfect for a modern contemporary, but was sending up red flags and contradicting everything in my mind. Liz the writer and Curtis the hero of her story get all loved up. She hooks up with her fictional creation. This isn’t sane or healthy. Hence why I think the story needed to stay light and funny so that it could pull it off. But that dark and abusive back story! Why Jill Bowers, why?

I don’t think the issue’s I had with this story would affect a younger audience, say 13-15. I think it would go over their heads and they would just see a young woman coming to terms with her past, standing up for herself and winning the battle over her inner and outer demons, while picking up a dragon battling hottie/spunk/fine-male-specimen along the way – which is what I think Bowers was going for.

All things considered the story ended quite strong with an action packed final showdown with the bad guy.

Conclusion: There were parts of the story I enjoyed but over all I’m feeling disappointed. As for a star rating, hmm somewhere between Two and Three stars.