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 :-).

Counting to D: YA Review

18518158Counting to D by Kate Scott
Paperback, 227 pages
First published January 28th 2014 by Elliott Books
Source: Review copy from publisher
Thank You Eliott
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A contemporary young adult novel about a bright dyslexic teen struggling to find her place in a literate world. Counting to D is sure to resonate with anyone who has struggled with learning disabilities, young love, or just being a teen!

The kids at Sam’s school never knew if they should make fun of her for being too smart or too dumb. That’s what it means to be dyslexic, smart, and illiterate. Sam is sick of it. So when her mom gets a job in a faraway city, Sam decides not to tell anyone about her little illiteracy problem. Without her paradox of a reputation, she falls in with a new group of highly competitive friends who call themselves the Brain Trust. When she meets Nate, her charming valedictorian lab partner, she declares her new reality perfect. But in order to keep it that way, she has to keep her learning disability a secret. The books are stacked against her and so are the lies. Sam’s got to get the grades, get the guy, and get it straight—without being able to read.

My Thoughts

 Counting to D is the uplifting tale of dyslexic teen Samantha Wilson. The story follows Sam as she moves interstate, meaning a new school and leaving behind the most important things to her in the whole world, her friends, Arden and Gabby. She makes new friends easily enough, but then battles her self-doubts as to how much of her true self she is willing to show them.

The author Kate Scott was diagnosed with Dyslexia as a young child and it shows in the depth of Sam’s character. She feels real. Her struggles feel real and her coping mechanisms are explained in detail. Sam is easily likeable and you can’t help but root for her.

While the story is rather light and fluffy it touches on a lot of extremely important topics beautifully; friendship, peer pressure, social norms, social acceptance, learning disabilities, self-worth, first times and first loves (just to name a few). It is a heart-warming, fun and fast read. I got to the end of the story and wished there was more. I would have happily kept on reading about Sam’s life.

Counting to D was Kate’s debut Novel, she has since gone on to write a second The Evolution of Emily, which set in the same high school and yes Sam is in it as a supporting character. I’m really looking forward to reading it as well.


Kate Scott: Goodreads | Twitter

Buy Links: Amazon AU | Amazon US | Bookdepository | Booktopia

Night Swimming: YA Review

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Night Swimming by Steph Bowe
Paperback, 311 pages
Publication: April 3rd 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review copy from publisher
Thank You Text
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Steph Bowe is back. Night Swimming is a love story with a twist, and a whole lot of heart.

Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…


“In real life, there’s no such thing as happily ever after, there’s just life passing day by day. After you ride off into the sunset, then you’re just in the middle of nowhere on a horse at night, aren’t you?” – Oh Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, how I adored your Internal monologue.

The story follows 17-year-old Kirby Arrow, her bestie Clancy Lee and her pet goat Stanley as they navigate day to day life in the small town of Alberton. I read this book in one day! and that’s not the norm for me. It was delightful and easy to read. An adorable feel good romp about growing up, finding your inner strength and place in the world.

Kirby wants to stay in Alberton, much to her mother’s dismay. She is determined that nothing in her life will change. Kirby’s mother wants her to go off and explore the world, as she never had the opportunity to do so. Clancy wants to leave Alberton to pursue musical theatre, while his parents want him to work in the family restaurant. The besties may seem to be on different paths at first, but they are both just trying to balance their dreams with family expectations.

The arrival of Iris and her family, rising flood waters and the inevitability of growing up, all threaten Kirby and Clancy’s friendship. I really enjoyed the whole Kirby+Clancy+Iris dynamic. You know someone is going to get hurt, you know the ball is going to drop sooner or later, that the goat poo is going to hit the fan etc. etc.

There are plenty of high jinks between these pages but ultimately this is a heartwarming story about first love, true friendship and finding the courage to move forward.


Steph’s Links: Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Buy Links: Booktopia | Bookdepository | Amazon AU | Amazon US

Night Swimming is a sweet story of coming of age, family and first requited love. There is a genuine-feeling desire in the story to see the good intentions in lightly sketched but complex characters, which gives the book a lot of heart. It will appeal to fans of realistic Australian YA and to readers searching for sweet and hopeful queer love stories.’ – Books + Publishing.

‘This bittersweet comedy of romantic misunderstanding, life management and family relations is poised at the emotional intersection between forgiveness and self-acceptance. Despite its whimsical tone, Night Swimming tackles serious themes of mental health, family upheaval and sexual coming-out with commendable delicacy and humanity.’ – Readings.

“The utterly charming story of two best friends, the small town they live in and the girl they both fall for. It is a tender and humorous tale of family ties, friendship and first love.” – Erin Gough.

“Night Swimming is a love-letter to outsiders, the kooky and complex – it’s an ode to first times and best friends…but above all else, it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to have a writer like Steph Bowe in our midst” – Danielle Binks, Alpha Reader.

Flash Fiction Friday: Bob of Mongaloo, a 353 word story short.

It is a chilly autumn night out and about in the Mongaloo Mountain ranges. There is a beast watching two teenage boys with intense interest. The two young men are sitting down congratulating themselves with some stolen beer after a five hour trek up the mountain trail and a two hour struggle trying to pitch their tent and get a fire going.

Donavan, the younger of the two boys sits staring up at the stars. “The air is cold on this dark night. But the fire is warm and the stars are bright.”

Barnett snorts shaking his head at his cousin. “Donavan sits warming his exhausted muscles by a raging campfire while stating the obvious in poetic verse.”

“Shut the fuck up.”

“Barnett gives Donavan a look that indicates his feelings have been hurt. That look then turns into a cheeky and devilishly handsome grin.”

Donavan turns to look at his cousin, a smile spreading across his face. “Modest aren’t you.” Then his attention returns to the stars. “But seriously look at the stars, have you ever seen them so bright.”

“Jesus, I Don’t know Don. Probably just look brighter ’cause there aren’t any lights up here.” Barnett walks over to the tent to retrieve a large back pack. He pulls out a cooler bag on his way back to the fire. “Give me a hand with the camp oven will ya. I wanna get this lamb cooking.”

There is a rustle in the nearby bushes drawing both boy’s attention. Out steps a magnificent dark purple dragon “Did I hear someone say lamb.”

Both boys are frozen still, slack jawed, staring at the Doberman sized dragon. The dragon continues to walk over to the fire without taking its eyes of the lamb roll in Barnett’s hands. The only things that move on the boys are their eyes as they follow its strutting stride. The firelight causes a glittery glow to cascade along its back and large folded wings. It sits down opposite the boys, perched on its hind legs while taking them both in with its iridescent green eyes.

“Hi my names Bob”.

I’m not completely sure who these characters are yet really, but they’ve been in my head for over a week so I thought I better remove them and put them down on paper (so to speak).

It started with the line “The air is cold on this dark night. But the fire is warm and the stars are bright” entering my head with the image of two boys by a campfire on a mountain top. We’ll have wait and see if the boys and their dragon entre my dreams again and become anything more.

Review: The First Third by Will Kostakis

17185857Life is made up of three parts: in the first third, you’re embarrassed by your family; in the second, you make a family of your own; and in the end, you just embarrass the family you’ve made.

That’s how Billy’s grandmother explains it, anyway. She’s given him her bucket list (cue embarrassment), and now, it’s his job to glue their family back together.

No pressure or anything.

Fixing his family’s not going to be easy and Billy’s not ready for change. But as he soon discovers, the first third has to end some time. And then what?

It’s a Greek tragedy waiting to happen.

* * * * My Thoughts * * * *

I read The Sidekicks and loved it. I’ve now read The First Third and loved it. I must get my hands on more! You, Mr Will Kostakis are brilliant and I love your humorous and heartwarming style.

In The First Third we follow 17 year-old Bill as he navigates first love and the monumental task his ill Grandmother has given him to put his broken family back together. With the help of Bill’s best friend Lucas and a pretty girl named Hayley, Bill manages to make some major progress with his family and help some other people out along the way. The ending leaves you with tears in your eyes, a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart and hope for the future.

Bill is a total sweetheart and reading along with his interactions with his friends, family and especially his Yiayia is a treat for the soul.

As with The Sidekicks the story flows beautifully, the characters are engaging and feel real. There is no denying that Mr Kostakis has the ability to tell a meaningful and captivating story. I am looking forward to reading more by him in the future.

Five Stars

Kostakis Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Website | Facebook

Booktopia | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Bookdepository 

Review: Raelia (The Medoran Chronicles #2) by Lynette Noni

Review: The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

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The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd.

All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac’s gone, what does that make them?

Will Kostakis, award-winning author of The First Third, perfectly depicts the pain and pleasure of this teenage world, piecing together three points of view with intricate splendour.

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Paperback, 256 pages. Published February 29th 2016 by Penguin Australia.
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Goodreads WebsiteTwitter – Facebook

Amazon AUBooktopiaAmazon USBook Depository

* * * * * * * My Thoughts * * * * * * *

Set in northern Sydney The Sidekicks is the story of three very different boys. While on the verge of manhood they suffer the loss of a mutual friend. We follow each of the boys as they go on to deal with their friend’s death. The trauma initially separates them, but by the end of the book it has brought them together with a closeness they never had before. This is a story of love, loss, friendship, sexuality, homophobia and just wanting to fit in.

The Boys:

“The Swimmer” I was immediately drawn to Ryan (Thommo). His character straight up felt kind hearted and genuine. My heart wanted to reach out and hug him. The poor boy not only had to deal with the loss of his best friend, but with coming out to the world.

“The Rebel” Scott (Harley) is bloody adorable. Harley was the kind of boy I swooned over in school, and rightly so, thanks for proving me right Harley. Harley really grows up after losing his mate and he does everything he can to put things right. I outwardly applauded him (seriously my husband looked at my like a was mad clapping at a book) as he ran off to find and support Ryan.

“The Nerd” I was most afraid for Miles after the loss of Isaac. He really ends up in a dark place, but thankfully that big beautiful dastardly brain of his sees the light and lets the other two boys in. I wasn’t as drawn to Miles as the other two boys at first, but seeing the world through his eyes and his projected vision of the future, was a really strong and brilliant way to finish the story off.

star.5

Review: Klaw by Antoine Ozenam

image (2)A population of secret were-animals hide among us, and young Angel Tomassini is about to learn just how widespread — and dangerous — it is! Beautifully illustrated by Joel Jurion, best known throughout Europe and the worldwide animation industry for his gorgeous and dynamic character design, written by Antoine Ozenam, this exciting young adult series explores a world of ancient conflict hiding just under the surface of modern life as we know it. With identifiable coming of age themes overshadowed by thrilling action sequences and a deep, enthralling mythology, this book will introduce readers to a world unlike anything else on shelves today.

Klaw: The First Cycle byAntoine Ozenam(Writer), Joël Jurion(Illustrator), Yoann Guillé(Colorist), Mike Kennedy(Translator).

Collecting the first three chapters of this original ongoing series — AWAKENING, TABULA RASA, and UNIONS — this book comprises “THE FIRST CYCLE” in the epic, hidden universe of KLAW!image

Pre-order from Book Depository or Booktopia

 * * * * *  MY  THOUGHTS  * * * * *

Firstly, I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

When we first meet Angel Tomassini he is getting beaten up my bullies, he is set up to seem like an underdog but he came off more like a spoiled rich kid to me, but Angel redeemed himself.

The reader follows Angel as he finds out about the power that resides within him, learns who his allies and who his enemies are, finds out the truth about his father and goes on to become the vigilante/superhero known as ‘The Klaw’.

This graphic novel chucks at lot at the reader at rapid pace; Bullying, Friendship, First Loves, Shape-Shifting, Mythology, Astrology, Super Heroes, Mafia Men, Super Villains and Paranormal Government Agents.

I’m giving it THREE “I enjoyed it” STARS. The premise of the story was interesting, but I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. As a whole the story felt a bit rushed and I would have liked more time spent on character development.

I really enjoyed the scenes showing Angel’s relationship with both his mentors, watching them train, the banter between them etc. Actually Angel and Dan hiding out in the warehouse training was my favorite part of the story, shame it didn’t last longer.

All in all, I’m glad I read it, but It didn’t blow me away.

The Dog, Ray by Linda Coggin

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Published: October 1st 2015 by Hot Key Books (first published August 1st 2010)

Age Rating: 9+

Pages: 288

Thank you to Ms Coggin and Hot Key Books for giving me a copy to read in exchange for a honest review.

> Add To Goodreads <

*     *     *     *     *     S y n o p s i s     *     *     *     *     *

A girl, a dog, a boy, a journey.

“When my death came, it was swift. Swift as a racing horse.”

Twelve-year-old Daisy has just died in a car crash. But in a twist of fate, and through a heavenly bureaucratic mistake Daisy ends up, not where she is supposed to be – but in the body of a dog. Daisy may now be inhabiting a dog’s body, but inside she is still very much Daisy, and is as bouncy, loyal, positive, energetic as she ever was.

Daisy’s only thought is to somehow be reunited with her parents, who she knows will be missing her. And this is how she meets Pip, a boy who is homeless and on his own journey, and a lasting, tender and very moving friendship between boy and dog/girl is formed.

A charming and beautifully written story with a bit of quirk and a lot of heart.

*     *     *     *     *     M y      T h o u g h t s    *     *     *     *     *

Yes, this book is a story of death and reincarnation, but it’s also a story of love, friendship and second chances. It is heart-breaking and heart-warming all at the same time. It is quite an easy read, that has a nice flow and fast pace.

In Taking the wrong door, Daisy who was a twelve-year-old girl, goes into a new life as a new born puppy with all her memories. The door she was supposed to take would have erased her memories, wiping her slate clean.

Dog Daisy is determined to get back to her human parents and recreate some former resemblance of her old life – this doesn’t go very well.

A sequence of events (I don’t want to give too much away!) finds Daisy out on her own and struggling to stay alive a stray dog. Fate and a drifter named Jack bring Pip and her together. It is Pip who gives Daisy the name Ray (as in a ray of sunshine), which is the first step in Daisy’s healing process.

Pip is a fourteen-year-old boy who has run away from his foster carers on a mission to track down his father.

Pip and Ray need each other and they form a deep and pure bond.

There are plenty of twists and turns in Pip and Ray’s adventure/search for Pip’s dad and even though it’s not what he imagined, Pip gets a happy ending.

Slowly Daisy slips away as she comes to terms with her death and embraces the life of Ray. In the end she is at peace and happy.

The way Ms Coggin wrote the way Ray thought was believable and I felt she captured the heart of a dog beautifully in this book.

It is a sweet story with some beautiful characters that I don’t think I’ll forget any time soon.

Purchase Links:

Amazon AU | Amazon US | Booktopia | Book Depository | Amazon UK

Author’s Links:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

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Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

Published 6th August 2015

304 pages paperback

Thanks to the author, Hot Key Books and The Five Mile Press for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis mk3“Of course I didn’t like Digby when I first met him. No one does.”

“Preparing to survive a typical day of being Digby’s friend wasn’t that different from preparing to survive the Apocalypse.”

The first time Philip Digby shows up on Zoe Webster’s doorstep, he’s rude and he treats her like a book he’s already read and knows the ending to.

But before she knows it, Zoe’s allowed Digby—annoying, brilliant, and somehow…attractive? Digby—to drag her into a series of hilarious, dangerous, and only vaguely legal schemes all related to the kidnapping of a local teenage girl. A kidnapping that might be connected to the tragic disappearance of his little sister eight years ago. When it comes to Digby, Zoe just can’t say no.

But is Digby a hero? Or is his manic quest an indication of a desperate attempt to repair his broken family and exorcize his own obsessive-compulsive tendencies? And does she really care anyway?

This is a contemporary debut with razor-sharp dialogue, ridiculously funny action, and a dynamic duo you won’t soon forget.

planet digby

After her parents get divorced, high school junior Zoe Webster moves with her mother from Brooklyn to upstate New York, determined to get back to the city and transfer to the elite private school her father insists on. But then she meets Philip Digby–the odd and brilliant and somehow attractive?–Digby, and soon finds herself in a series of hilarious and dangerous situations all centred on his search for the kidnapper of a local teenage girl who may know something about the tragic disappearance of his kid sister eight years ago. Before she knows it, Zoe has vandalized an office complex with fake snow, pretended to buy drugs alongside a handsome football star dressed like the Hulk, had a serious throw down with a possible religious cult, challenged her controlling father, and, oh yeah, saved her new hometown.
For fans of John Green and David Levithan, this is a crime novel where catching the crook isn’t the only hook, a romance where the leading man is decidedly unromantic, a friendship story where they aren’t even sure they like each other, and a debut you won’t soon forget.

+Goodreads button

My Thoughts mk3My first thought upon finishing this book was “God, I hope they do a sequel! I want to know what Digby finds out off of Ezekiel about his sister.”

I think the synopsis above comprehensively lays the story out. If your not hooked by that hook, then I’m not sure what I can tell you. I’m giving this book Five Stars. I had a lot of fun reading it.

Hot Key Books labels this book as 50% Mystery, 30% Humour, 20% Friendship. There is a twisting and turning Who-Done-It-vibe the whole way though. Teenagers just trying to survive being teenagers. Heart warming moments. Multiple creepy bad guys. And tonnes of fun.

By the end of the second page I was hooked on the story and hooked on Digby “the local troublemaker”. Sixteen year old me would have been eating her heart out over Digby.

Right from the start Digby causes Zoe grief and gets her into trouble, and that trouble is addictive. The way Digby sasses every one rubs off on Zoe and it’s for the better as she finally stands up to her ass of a father.

While the kidnapping of the local teenage girl is solved. The mystery of Digby’s little sisters disappearance deepens and we are left with a Kiss and open ending to the book.

I loved Digby, Zoe, Henry and Felix. Especial Felix when he comes flying out of the Ambulance towards the end – Ok I’m just going stop, I wouldn’t want to give any of the surprises away.

I tweeted Mrs Tromly in regards to the unfinished business at the end of book and bless her she tweeted me back within minutes saying that YES, a sequel named Trouble Makes a Comeback will be out next year. I’m excited.

5sAuthor’s Links mk3

tromly

 

Stephanie Tromly was born in Manila, grew up in Hong Kong and now lives with her husband and son in Winnipeg. She is working on her PhD in English Literature.

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