The Undercurrent: #loveOzYa Review

35111722The Undercurrent by Paula Weston
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Publication: 31st July 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review copy
Thank You Text
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Eighteen-year-old Julianne De Marchi is different. As in: she has an electrical undercurrent beneath her skin that stings and surges like a live wire. She can use it—to spark a fire, maybe even end a life—but she doesn’t understand what it is. And she can barely control it, especially when she’s anxious.

Ryan Walsh was on track for a stellar football career when his knee blew out. Now he’s a soldier—part of an experimental privatised military unit that has identified Jules De Marchi as a threat. Is it because of the weird undercurrent she’s tried so hard to hide? Or because of her mother Angie’s history as an activist against bio-engineering and big business?

It’s no coincidence that Ryan and Jules are in the same place at the same time—he’s under orders to follow her, after all. But then an explosive attack on a city building by an unknown enemy throws them together in the most violent and unexpected way.


This #LoveOzYA Sci-Fi is sure to please with its sweet romantic subplot and poignant back drop of a not-so-distant future Australia.

This story has it all; big business bullying, blackmail, corporate corruption, attempted murder, unsanctioned secret military trials, genetic modification of crops and livestock, as well as the continued and worsened struggles of living and working on the land and potential nuclear disaster.

The way the world is going the plot seemed rather plausible and for the most part I didn’t feel like I was reading a Sci-Fi – more like a contemporary YA thriller written 20 years early.

The story rotates between four POV’s – Jules, Ryan, Jules’s mum Angie and Ryan’s boss Major Voss. I found that even though the rotating really amped up the pace, it was a little frustrating at times. I’d be really getting into the action, the chapter would end, and then I’d be somewhere else with someone else. It had me tearing through the pages at a ferocious pace to find out what was happening, everywhere with everyone – Frustrating, yes. But it made the book unputdownable, so I guess that’s actually a good thing. Right?

The ending was a bit of a letdown – as in – I wanted it to keep going. I wanted to see what ended up happening with the Paxton’s, and Angie and Voss. But mainly I just really wanted to keep hanging out with Jules, Ryan and Tommy for a while longer. And to see how Jules and Ryan’s lives together unfold. I already know that they are characters that will linger in my mind for a long time.

On the cover of the copy I read there is an orange star that proclaims “Guaranteed Great Read” and it’s speaks the truth people!

Undercurrent Links: Booktopia | Bookdepository | Amazon | Text Publishing

Paula Weston Links: Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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
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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 :-).

Esme’s Wish: Guest Post by Elizabeth Foster

33634667Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication: October 30th 2017
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Paperback: 252 pages


This was her last chance.

Her hand twisted high in the air.

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 – 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.


Thank you for inviting me to write a few words about the inspiration behind Esme’s Wish!

The idea first popped into my head many years ago, after I finished reading the final book of the Harry Potter series. There was something about HP that reminded me of books I’d read as a child, stories which made me feel like I was sitting by a fireplace sipping hot chocolate. I never wanted that feeling to end and was at a loss! Not knowing the extent of the task I was about to set myself, I decided to try and write a book of my own. My book, of course, is nothing like Harry Potter, apart from the fact that it explores magic and is set in a world not too dissimilar from our own.

Esme’s Wish is, for the most part, set in the canal city of Esperance, capital of the parallel realm of Aeolia. I set the story in a glittering canal city because I love Venice and the sea. There’s already something magical about winding canals and drifting gondolas, so to infuse such a setting with real magic was something I couldn’t pass up. Aeolia has its own unique mythology, but I was also inspired by Greco-Roman myth, especially one of the oldest stories in the world, Homer’s Odyssey. Keen-eyed readers will spot plenty of references to the Odyssey in Esme’s Wish.

But above all else, my inspiration was the sea. I’ve always lived near water and I suppose, like many Australians who reside along the coast, the sea is in my blood. The sea has been a muse for so many writers over the ages, but it has gotten a bad rap, in my eyes. It’s mostly been grist for stories about grief and tragedy. Yes, the sea is dangerous and mercurial, but it’s also a source of life and beauty. Esme’s Wish draws a little from both perceptions.

So if you like the ocean, magic, sea dragons, and a pinch of mythology sprinkled throughout, you might also enjoy Esme’s Wish.


Find out more about Esme’s Wish and where to buy it at Elizabeth’s website. You can also watch the book trailer on YouTube or read a free preview of the first chapter on Kobo (via the contents page).

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Kobo

The Sydney launch for Esme’s Wish is on November 25 from 3.30 – 5.30pm at North Spoon Café at McMahon’s Point.
The launch will be fully catered with canapes, wine, champagne, real coffee and cake!.

The North Spoon Café is a gorgeous café near the harbour, so it should be something special.

If you’re interested you need to RSVP’s by November 10. Click HERE to RSVP.

New Release Q&A with Lauren James

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Publication: TODAY
Publisher: Walker Books
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Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

Lauren James – Q&A

  1. Where did the inspiration for The Loneliest Girl in the Universe come from?

Funnily enough, it started with a question from some Physics coursework at university! The question was about special relativity, and went something like this:

An astronaut travels in a spaceship to a new planet. After a few years, a newer faster ship is developed and launched, which overtakes the first ship. How old are the two astronauts when they each arrive on the planet?

I started thinking about what it would be like to be that first astronaut, and dedicate years to travelling alone in space, only for your ship to be overtaken by a faster one before you even arrive! What would that feel like? What kind of relationship would you have with the person on the faster ship? From that, the story of Romy Silvers was born.

I’ve always loved stories of isolation – it’s a great way to really get to know a character. I knew that if I was writing a whole book where there was only really one person, I would need to create a character who would keep the reader’s attention and loyalty. It was a big challenge, but I fell totally in love with Romy while I was writing about her, and I hope everyone reading The Loneliest Girl in the Universe does too.

  1. Did you always dream of becoming a writer?

I started writing The Next Together when I was sixteen, and finished the first draft when I was nineteen. I never intended to get the story published – I was writing just for myself, for fun! The first draft was very self-indulgent, and included cameos from some of my professors, and lots of in-jokes. There was no pressure to write something good. I was just writing for myself, telling myself a bedtime story after classes. I never saw it as doing something scary or difficult.

I always loved the idea of being a writer, but I absolutely didn’t think it was possible. I thought people who became authors must have spent their whole life writing, and I was too interested in doing other things for that.

My second novel The Last Beginning, which I wrote after I’d got a book deal, was about twenty times harder because suddenly there was all of this pressure. I had to push past a lot of fear which had never been there before.

Being an author is quite similar to how I imagined it, though – spending a lot of time alone, staying up late at night to write, summoning the devil in exchange for book ideas..….wait, what?

  1. How did you feel when secured your first publishing deal at 21?

It was very exciting and scary, and I still feel very lucky! When The Next Together was finished I left it for a few months, and when I came back to it, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t as terrible as I remembered. It even made me laugh a few times. I decided to send it off to some literary agents, just to see if they could give me some useful feedback.

I had absolutely no idea how the publishing industry worked, and I think I read one How To article on query letters before writing one and blithely sending it off into the aether. I found an A to Z list of agents and started emailing with the Z’s, because I thought they’d have the least submissions. In the end, I found an agent on W, after I’d emailed only six agencies. It was a very naive way to apply, but I got very lucky – my agent is incredible, and last year she was shortlisted for the Bookseller’s Agent of the Year award.

We then submitted to publishers after a whole year of revisions (I was still at university so could only really work on it during the holidays) and within two weeks, two publishers had offered. Saying it now, that seems so easy and fast, but at the time it was the most stressful, delirious fortnight of my life. I’ve been through the submission process several times since then, and it does not get any easier.

  1. What is your favourite book?

I love Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, Lirael by Garth Nix, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susannah Clarke and Far From You by Tess Sharpe.

  1. What authors have influenced your writing?

Neil Gaiman, Rainbow Rowell, Sarah Waters, P. G. Wodehouse, Audrey Niffeneger.…..I could go on all day, I think! In particular I’m always making notes when I read books by Douglas Adams – he’s the master of humorous sci fi. I’ve adored his work since I was young.

I read a wide range of genres, and because of that I try to make my books a little bit of every genre – The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is a bit fandom, a bit thriller, a bit romance and a bit sci fi.

I think if I didn’t write a variety of different genres, I’d probably get bored. My next books are a mix of different genres again – my latest book, which I’m still writing, is a paranormal supervillain origin story. So something completely different, again!

  1. What book do you wish you had written?

I love The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. She has an incredible way of really making her characters seem like real people, and I learn so much about writing different perspectives from her work. The set up of that series is just absolutely my favourite thing, and I’m forever jealous I didn’t invent the character Gansey.

I also read Laura Ruby’s writing with a huge amount of jealousy. Her latest, YORK, is so so so good.

  1. What issues do you like to explore in your writing?

I always try to include LGBT+ characters in my books. I was so frustrated as a teenager because, as a huge sci fi fan, I could never find diverse characters in the worlds I loved. Recently there’s been some amazing progress in this direction (like The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet) but at the time, it felt a completely barren wasteland. I wanted to write about a character who was gay, but the book wasn’t a coming out story. I wanted them to get to do things, while being gay.

  1. How has your interest in science influenced your writing?

I studied Chemistry and Physics at university, so if I hadn’t become a writer, I would probably be a research scientist focusing on physical chemistry. I would love to go back to science one day – I really miss it!

I always try to make the science in my books as accurate as possible, and I did a lot of research into space travel and the theory of space travel behind NASA’s equipment when writing The Loneliest Girl in the Universe.

The time machine in The Last Beginning is also based on real life research into sub-atomic particles at CERN, like the Large Hadron Collider. Based on the predictions physicists have made about the possibilities of time travel, I thought that was a logical starting point to progress from. I wanted to feel very real and possible – it’s simplified a lot in the book from how these things might actually work, but the grounding of the science is very plausible. I hope! [crosses fingers no physicists immediately call me on my mistakes]

  1. What was it like to see your books translated into another language?

It’s huge. Seeing my words in another language is something I’ve always wanted to have – so it’s incredible that it’s actually happened! I can’t quite believe it still.

I’m especially proud of the Brazilian edition, as I studied in America for a year, and spent most of my time hanging out with Brazilian students who were also studying abroad for a year. So there was a LOT of excitement amongst my friends when the translated edition came out in Brazil. They keep sending me pictures of it, and trying to persuade everyone to buy it!

  1. Would you go into space if you could?

I’m not sure. I think I’m probably not as brave as Romy. I might go after tourism space travel has been running for a few decades and it has been proven its safe, but definitely not yet!

Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics.

She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university.

The Next Together described by The Bookseller as ‘funny, romantic and compulsively readable’ and Kirkus as ‘An ambitious, promising premise . . . James is one to watch’. It was longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, a prize given to recognise an outstanding novel by a first-time writer.

Her other novels include The Last Beginning, the epic conclusion to The Next Together which was named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for kids and young adults by the Independent. Two short stories set in the world of The Next Together series, Another Together and Another Beginning, are also available.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature scientists in prominent roles.

Lauren is published in the UK by Walker Books, in the US by HarperCollins and in translation in five other countries around the world. She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, Tumblr at @laurenjames or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk, where you can subscribe to her newsletter to be kept up to date with her new releases and receive bonus content.

Stealing Liberty: Blog Tour

Title: Stealing Liberty

Author: Jennifer Froelich

Genre: Young Adult

A heist so monumental, it may cost them everything… When Reed Paine is sent to a secret detention school for teens whose parents are branded enemies of the state, he doesn’t expect to find friendship – especially after coming face to face with Riley Paca, a girl who has every reason to hate him.

 But when Reed, Riley and a few others start reading the old books they find in tunnels under the school, they begin to question what they are taught about the last days of America and the government that has risen in its place.   Then the government decides to sell the Liberty Bell and Reed and his friends risk everything to steal it – to take back their history and the liberty that has been stolen from them (Stealing Liberty/Clean Reads).

Excerpt
My escort pushes me. “Pick up the pace, kid.” I stumble on a sharp rock and cut my toe. It hurts more than it should and I pull up to face him, fists curled at my side. I’ve grown about a foot since my sixteenth birthday, which means I can stare him down, eye to eye. He just smirks.  How about I smash your nose?  For a minute the urge is so powerful, my pulse pounds against my throat and red spots blur my vision. Don’t do anything stupid, Reed. Pick your battles. The voice in my head is my dad’s, so I listen. We climb aboard a rusty hybrid bus parked in front of the bombed-out terminal. “Welcome,” says the autopilot. It’s one of the retro models, formed like a human, with LED eyes and everything. When magnetic tracks were first installed, citizens didn’t trust computers to maneuver vehicles safely along roadways. At least that’s what my grandmother told me. Humanoid pilots were designed to make them feel safer.  Pretty soon, people had more important things to worry about.  My escort takes a seat behind the pilot, but I keep going. Only one other passenger is on the bus — a girl with long blond hair who sits in the fifth row, pressed against the window. Bruises swell on her left cheekbone and along her jaw. Her lip is crusted with blood and her right eyelid is swollen shut. Nausea washes over me, along with fresh anger.  “Sit!” our escort barks.  The girl flinches. I take a seat across from her and shift toward the window. The door squeaks closed and the bus lurches forward. We travel on an old freeway so desolate, we don’t encounter a single other transport. I wish I was calm enough to sleep — so numb to the government’s strong-arm tactics, they no longer get to me. Instead I stare past the landscape and try not to shake. Try not to relive my nightmare or think about how it felt to wake up with a gun to my head. I imagine a different outcome. Fighting back — or breaking out of the state home before they showed up. If only.


About the Author

Jennifer Froelich published her debut novel, Dream of Me, in late 2011, which reviewers praised as “well-orchestrated with outstanding imagery.” Her second novel, A Place Between Breaths, published in 2014, was called “a roller-coaster ride with enough twists and turns to keep everyone interested” and won an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 23rd Annual Self Published Book competition. Jennifer is a frequent contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul.  A graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, Jennifer worked for many years as a freelance editor and writer before publishing her own work. She lives in beautiful Idaho with her husband, two teenage kids, and a rescue cat named Katniss.

Links Website | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook

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

Book Tour: Path of a Novice by R.K. Lander

Title: Path of a Novice: The Silvan Book 1

Author: R.K. Lander

Genre: Fantasy

A land at war, a failing king, a light in the forest …

Bel’arán, land of mortals, immortals, and those that dwell in between. The elven forest realm of Ea Uaré is threatened by ruthless Sand Lords seeking water, and the undead Deviants who crave the mindless destruction of elves.

The powerful Alpine lords strive to dominate the leaderless native Silvans through power games, leaving in their wake a bereft king, assailed by grief and a family unable to forgive him.

As the king drifts in endless sorrow, the forest people are loosing their identity. Discriminated and belittled, they are the warriors but the Alpine lords are their commanders – until a child is born to the Deep Woods – an elf with the face of an Alpine and the heart of a Silvan, an orphan whose only dream is to dare become a Silvan captain in a world dominated by Alpines – Fel’annár, Green Sun.

A born warrior, to his friends, Fel’annár becomes Hwind’atór, the Whirling Warrior, and together, they will step upon the path of a novice.

Adventure, hardship and self-discovery will mould the warrior he will become. But destiny will not be ignored, and Fel’annár is confronted with the truth of his own abilities and the mystery of his past, one shrouded in sorrow and intrigue – one that may change the course of history.

From child to novice warrior and beyond, Fel’annár is, The Silvan.

Author Bio:

R.K. Lander was born in the UK. Fantasy was always a central part of her life and soon began reading authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Azimov, Ray Bradbury and J.R.R. Tolkien. Now living and working in Spain, Ruth runs her own business and writes as an independent author.

The Silvan is her first work, a YA epic fantasy trilogy revolving around the figure of a Silvan elf, Fel’annar. The first in the series, Path of a Novice is available now on amazon, and the second, Road of a Warrior, is approaching the editing stage.

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Smoke billowed into the air as thatched roofs were engulfed and the people stumbled out of their homes, choking and crying as they desperately searched for a way out, but the Sand Lords were everywhere, their black cloaks billowing in the winds of battle, like the leathery wings of black bats grappling for prey. They descended upon the Silvans with their jewelled swords and senseless cries of fury, severing limbs and slitting throats, sending a frenzy of terror throughout the disorientated villagers. Some had no time to react as they were ran through, while others ran too slowly and were taken from behind, their heads twisted mercilessly.

Fel’annár saw it all through hazy eyes as he fired, again and again until there were no more arrows and he pulled his long sword in one hand and sabre in the other. He saw them fall, saw the women die such tragic deaths, their panicked children reach even to the enemy for comfort, only to be cruelly slaughtered. He saw it all and he fought – the battle before his eyes and the other in his mind; do not think – do not feel

Screeches and screams mixed with the sound of scraping metal and the thud of arrowheads imbedding in flesh. A roar of victory from the Sand Lords surely meant a warrior had gone down.

With a ruthless flash of metal, Turion slit another Sand Lord’s throat with a curl of his lip and then chanced a glance at Fel’annár who was facing off with two cloaked devils that twirled their scimitars deftly in their hands. The novice simply held his stance and watched them, long sword poised strangely over his head, and although he wanted to watch, Turion had his own foes to face. Moving before his next victim, he bore down on the black demon in utter fury, until a panicked cry escaped the strange being and Turion moved in, thrusting his sword right through his opponent’s chest, the squish of flesh and organs leaving no doubt in the captain’s mind that he was dead.

Fel’annár’s whirled and swivelled, sliced and parried. There was no confusion, no anxiety even though the colours were back. His mind was sharp and in control, all of its skill centred on his body and his senses, in spite of the death and carnage, the suffering of his kin and of the trees. He felt none of this, did not hear the scream of frantic mothers or the desperate wails of injured civilians, he did not feel the weight in his chest or the pain in his throat. Duck, bend, flex; push, cut, slash and stab. Flip backwards, somersault forwards, side twist and parry; kill, kill, kill…

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Lander’s Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website | Youtube | Amazon US | Amazon AU

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Cover Reveal: The Price of Magic by K.J. Taylor

You are here because you were born different. Born with a gift … and a curse.”

Big things are expected of Pip. Can he deliver? Magic is all around him and he is expected to be a great mage, but the path before Pip isn’t simple. Will he fulfill his parents’ expectations? Will he fulfill his own?

In Pip’s world, only those born with defects or deformities can wield magic. Struggling to find his place in an institute of talented mages, Pip sets out on a perilous quest to help his master face the suffocating cost of her gift. For every mage has a price; but in return for that price is power. Magic. The ability to shape the world and create wonders. But is it enough? Is the price of magic worth it?front-cover

K.J. Taylor published her first work, The Land of Bad Fantasy, when she was just 18 and went on to publish another six titles in quick succession. Published by the Black Phoenix Publishing Collective, The Price of Magic is a stand-alone fantasy novella encompassing the best of Taylor’s creative appeal.

To celebrate the release of The Price of Magic cover, the Black Phoenix Publishing Collective is running an eBook giveaway competition. Sign up to the Black Phoenix Publishing Collective mailing list, and WIN an eBook copy of The Price of Magic by KJ Taylor. Follow this link to be part of the conversation: http://www.blackphoenixpublishing.com/contact.php.

Competition is open to Australian residents only, and will run until 5PM 13 December 2016. The winner will be announced the very next day on the bPPc Facebook page!!

See the bPPc Facebook page for further details. Terms and conditions can be found here: http://www.blackphoenixpublishing.com/Terms-and-Conditions.php

This beautiful cover was designed and developed by Brisbane-based artist and graphic designer Sabrina Raven. You can view her portfolio HERE.

Links for Aussie K.J. Taylor (#LoveOzYA): Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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

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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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* * * * * * * 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