Esme’s Gift: #LoveOzYA Review

51631189. sx318 sy475 Esme’s Gift (Esme Series #2) by Elizabeth Foster
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication: November 30th 2019
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Source: Review copy from Author – Thank you Elizabeth
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver is faced with her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift – the power to observe the past – and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends – old and new – travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must confront their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places. Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is an enthralling fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

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


Esme’s Gift follows 16-year-old Esme as she and her friends travel around Aeolia tracking down ingredients for a magical elixir to try and save her mother. We see Esme’s gift (magical ability) develop further and she her learn to control it just in time. Esme and her friends all must use their varied gifts to figure out the correct ingredients for the elixir, collect them and outsmart the bad guy.
There was even more dragon riding in this the second book and who doesn’t love a story that involves dragons and the characters getting to ride them!!

The founders of Aeolia were refugees from Ancient Greece and the stories architectural backdrop reflects this bit of Foster’s world-building. The world of Aeolia is familiar enough for the reader to feel at home, yet unique enough to keep you entertained. As with the first book, the writing followed well, was well-paced and easy to read.

I thoroughly enjoyed journeying with Esme and her friends again. I found this book to be like a good long hug from an old friend. It lifted my spirits immensely.

Esme’s Gift is a well-rounded fantasy tale with a satisfying ending, and yet enough is left untold to keep you looking forward to the next installment. – We still need to catch Mare and find out what happened to Seth!

Esme’s Gift is a story of friendship, a story of love, a story of never giving up and never losing hope.

I would recommend the Esme series to any #LoveOzYA aficionados and lovers of YA fantasy like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and The Medoran Chronicles.

Click HERE for my review of the first book in the Esme’s Series, Esme’s Wish.

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Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

The Coven Queen: Excerpt

Become the witch you were born to be.
Harley Sinclair has had more than her share of heartbreak, and now she’s all alone once again, trying to hold her life together and move on from the tragedies and the losses of both the dead and the living.
However, she cannot indulge in grief over heartbreak nor death.
Bodies are being found all over London, and then one turns up in the Coven’s confines. Someone is hunting witches and wizards, and with the Coven leaderless, they are more vulnerable than ever.
In order to escape the memories haunting her, she agrees to fly to Chicago to find the source of the murders before everyone she knows is killed.
Discover the magic, mystery, and mischief in the final installment of the #1 bestselling Coven Series!

*** PLUS *** books 1-4 are 99c each!

EXCERPT:

The man yanked Harley up from her seat, still keeping the gun on her, and pulled her across the hall, kicking open the door where Caelum was being held.

He was being held still by two men, while the one woman held a silver blade to his throat. The third man had a gun pulled on him from the corner of the room. His wrists were bright red, as was the area of his neck where the blade touched. The silver was burning him. They had figured out he was a shapeshifter.

“What are you waiting for? Kill him!” the man holding her commanded.

Everything after seemed to happen in slow motion. The woman dug the tip of the blade into his throat and moved it downward, obviously to stab his heart and kill him. Caelum gasped and closed his eyes, absolutely helpless. He looked ready to swoon from the pain.

Harley’s body began to tingle from head to toe as her magic blossomed within her, hot and angry and ready to strike as though it was a living thing.

The man holding her let go abruptly, as her magic burnt him, eyes wide as he stared at her.

She paid him no mind, however. Her eyes, and her heart, were on Caelum.

No!” she cried, and at her word, as though it was a command, her magic seemed to break free, uncontrolled and harsh. The cuffs holding her snapped apart and fell to the ground with multiple clinks while her green magic flew out, attacking every single human in the room. As if it were a wave, it dispersed, knocking all six humans into the walls. Now not held up by anyone, Caelum fell in a heap to the ground, blood slowly dripping from his wounds.

No longer shaking and filled with brimming magic, Harley rushed forward, not checking on a single human. She kicked the knife out of the way and felt for a pulse on Caelum. It was there, they hadn’t reached his heart yet when her magic had stopped them.

“Caelum,” she whispered, feeling her hand tremble as she held her palm over his wounds. “Plaga reparo,” she cast over and over, until he was no longer leaking blood. Without saying a word, her magic went out on its own once more and shattered the handcuffs so that he was no longer burning. Gingerly, she took his hands in hers and healed the round burn marks on his wrists.

People clattered behind her and she leapt up, ready to defend them both if need be. But to her surprise, she saw Director Mancini and three other agents from the PID. Judging by the Dark energy, two of those agents were vampires.

“What happened here?” Mancini asked, looking around.

“We found the hunters’ lair,” Harley replied. “I will fill you in later; Caelum needs help. He fainted as they were trying to stab him with a silver blade.”

Mancini went down by Caelum and said, “I believe he’s simply unconscious now, but we will take him back to the PID and get a Medic to look at him. Are you all right?”

“Yes, sir,” Harley said.

“How the Hell did you knock them all out?” one of the other agents asked, nudging one of the hunters with her boot.

“I–” She wasn’t sure what to say. To admit that she didn’t have full control of her magic to the paranormal police was a bad idea.

“Never mind. Are they all alive?” Mancini asked.

“Not this one.” The other vampire agent pointed to the woman who had held the knife to Caelum’s throat. “Her skull’s been shattered.”

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Magic Harbor: Review & Giveaway

Magic Harbor
Kristen L. Jackson
(Keeper of the Watch, #2)
Publication date: October 10th 2019
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

When Alyx Eris convinced him to become a keeper of the watch, Chase Walker knew he gained the ability to traverse the twelve dimensions.

He knew there were others—the hunters—who would do anything to put an end to the watches’ existence.

He knew his status as a keeper was completely binding until his nineteenth birthday.

Most importantly, he knew he’d be spending the year by Alyx’s side.

What he didn’t know was that in this dimension resides a ruling mage that poses more of a threat than the hunters ever could.

He didn’t know that magic-born hybrid beasts lurk in every corner of the surrounding forests.

And he didn’t know that nothing—and no one—is what it seems in the mystical world of Dimension 8.

Magic Harbor kicks of with a really strong start that had me hooked. The book was action packed and fast paced throughout – never was their a dull moment, but never did anything seem too rushed. I certainly didn’t feel that starting at book two hindered my enjoyment or understanding in anyway.

I loved the premise – Twelve parallel worlds, the existence of which remained hidden from most people within those dimensions. The keepers being granted the ability to jump to a new dimension each month of their eighteenth year, visiting all twelve by the end of it. Of course they have tasks their are suppose to carry out in each dimension, defeat the hunters and find the last Keeper. But after their year is complete, so long as they survive it, they can then pick a dimension to live out the rest of their lives in.

This book is set in the 8th dimension, with the previous book being set in the 7th dimension. Early on in the story the keepers, Chase and Alyx, get separated. The story bonces around between Chase and Alyz, and later on the POV’s of some other characters that we meet along the way. Sometimes swapping multiple POV’s can get confusing, but this story and the writing flowed well and I never once found myself muddled. I especially liked getting visit the past through Liz’s memories as it rounded out the characters and the world building.

This book is filled with action, adventure, magical beasts and waring dark mages. The story is about consequences, dimension jumping magic, the bonds of family and friendship and doing what you feel is right.

I really enjoyed reading this book and am keen to see what happens in book three and the 9th dimension.


Author Bio: Kristen L. Jackson been a teacher for over twenty years, and lives in Reading, Pennsylvania with her husband, two grown sons, and three large-breed dogs. Books inspire her. From children’s picture books to adult literature in all genres, she has loved reading all her life. Becoming a published author has been her dream come true, and she loves to share her stories with readers of all ages. Sign up on her website to follow her blog to stay up to date on what she’s working on now! Kristen loves writing, reading, and spending time with her family and dogs at their cabin in the Poconos…her favorite place to escape and write!

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon / Instagram / Pinterest


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Devil’s Ballast: YA historical fiction review

42285280. sy475 Devil’s Ballast by Meg Caddy
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Publication: May 7th, 2019
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
– Thanks Text 🖤
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ANNE Bonny was eighteen when she ran away from her
violent husband, James, into the arms of pirate captain
Calico Jack Rackham. Now she’s ensconced aboard Jack’s
ship Ranger, passing as a cabin boy, and playing her
ruthless part in a crew that is raining down mayhem and
murder on the ships of the Caribbean.

But James Bonny is willing to pay to get his ‘property’
back. And pirate-hunter Captain Barnet is happy to take
his money.

The Ranger’s a fast ship: Anne might just be able
to outrun Barnet. But can she outrun the consequences
of her relationship with Calico Jack?

Action-packed yet nuanced, culturally relevant and
sharp as a cutlass, this new novel by the remarkable
Meg Caddy brings to life one of history’s most fascinating
anti-heroines.


I was over the moon when this book landed in my PO Box and I was itching to get into it immediately. But alas life got in the way and it took me longer to get to her read than I would have liked.

Devil’s Ballast by Meg Caddy is a fictionalised historical YA tale based on the life of female pirate Anne Bonny, that came out on the 7th of may. The story opens with:
“I counted fifteen dead men working the deck of the Kingston.
Well, they weren’t dead yet, but the day was young and I had a full belt of shot.”
Of yeah, that got me excited for a rip roaring story of pirate-y murder and mayhem.

The book is set at the start of Bonny’s pirating career, when she first runs off to sea and subsequently meets Read (Mary Read, another notoriously famous female pirate from yesteryear). The friendship between Bonny and Read was the shining highlight of the book for me and I would love to read a sequel that follows the two creating pirate-y mayhem together.

Anne Bonny is somewhat considered a historical bisexual figure, so I was a little disappointment when her only sexual love interested was a man. I got over it when a friendship started to develop between Bonny and Read. I felt it was their confiding in each other and the mutual respect and friendship that grew, to be what really picked up the pace of the story and had me racing through the pages until the end.

There is no way to historically prove that Bonny was bisexual, where as her relationship with Calico Jack is documented – so you can’t blame Caddy for using him as her love interest – but personally I would like to have seen those bisexual rumours/suspicions explored, even if only a little.

Both in real life and in this book Anne Bonny and Mary Read partook in cross-dressing: Bonny to hide the fact she was a woman and Read to hide the body he’d been born with. With Read being transgender and the kinship between him and Bonny, ultimately I feel like I did get a queer fix with this book. So yay for that.

I think the authors note at the end of the book sums it up. “…it should be noted that almost every account of her life, including this one, is filled with sensationalism, mysteries, inconsistencies, rumour and outright lies. I think she’d like it that way.” I think both Bonny and Read would like it that way 🙂

“Nothing like a stiff drink after a good murder”, Read murmured.
“Just so.” Darling pulled up a chair. “What are we going to do with the bodies?”
“Harbour after dark.”
“A time-honoured tradition,” he agreed.

Conclusion: If you are a lover of pirate filled tales and strong leading female characters, then this is the book for you. If you were hoping to see a bisexual icon taring up the seas taking up a variation of lovers along the way, then this won’t hit the spot. But it’s still a damn good read that I enjoyed. I’m crossing my fingers for a sequel – so I think that in it’s self says enough.


Devil’s Ballast and Meg Caddy links: Goodreads | Text Publishing | Booktopia | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Bookdepository 

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Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

Christina Bauer: Guest Post


My Top Five Inspirational Books

By Christina Bauer

As part of the launch tour for my new book, UMBRA, the lovely Sarah at The Adventures of SacaKat asked me to share the top five books that inspire me as a writer. (Actually, they asked me for ten, but I got blabby).

So without further ado, here are the top five books!

Book Number Five. The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien

This book had a massive impact on me when I read it for the first time as a teenager. This was back in the 1980’s, and the fantasy genre was a lot less developed than it is today. LOTR opened my eyes to a new kind of fantasy that was separate from fairy tales, and I loved it.

Book Number Four. Grimm’s Fairy Tales by the Brother’s Grimm

My first entrance to fantasy was through the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Now, I’m not referring to the sanitized Disney version, although I enjoyed those as well. I’m talking the gritty stuff where Snow White ends up dead, that kind of thing. My work is often classified as dark fantasy and this is where it all came from!

Book Number Three. Mythology by Edith Hamilton

This is not so much a story as a compendium of Greco-Roman myths written in the style of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Such an eye opener in terms of themes, character, magic and fantasy!

Book Number Two. The Egyptian Story of Isis

I read this one for a decade—in different translations—before I truly understood it. Isis was the original goddess story and stretches back in use at least 40,000 years. It’s a tale of power, sacrifice and intellect. For more analysis, check out my blog post on the subject.

Book Number One. The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

The first time this crossed my path, I was in high school. Campbell writes about what he calls the hero’s journey. I then became interested in mapping out the heroine’s journey, which brings me to why I write today.

So there you have it—the five books that most influenced my journey as a writer! I enjoyed sharing this list with you and hope to return on a future tour!


Umbra by Christina Bauer
(Dimension Drift Prequels, #2)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: March 26th 2019
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult

A prequel novella to the new series from USA Today’s ‘must read YA paranormal romance’ author, Christina Bauer.

One day, eighteen-year-old Thorne will be the Emperor of the Omniverse, the single being who rules countless worlds. Trouble is, his father Cole–who’s also the current Emperor–is a sadistic freak.

In fact, Cole won’t even keep his promises to the very humans who got him his throne.

Thorne won’t stand for it. He decides to travel to the human world and make good on his father’s promises. What he doesn’t count on is falling in love….

“I love how Bauer manages to add some awesome new world building to each of her books.”Woven Magic

This new series is perfect for: fans of urban fantasy, action and adventure, cool science, evil corporations, forbidden romance and hot new classmates who may or may not be aliens.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

Author Bio:

Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Be the first to know about new releases from Christina by signing up for her newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/CBupdates

Blog / Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn

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Defensive Play: Release Blitz & Giveaway

DefensivePlay_OutNow

DefensivePlay

Title: Defensive Play
Series: A Boys on the Brink Novella
Author: Jamie Deacon
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Release Date: November 30, 2018
Genre: Gay YA Sports Romance
Length: 21,500 words

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One glance is all it takes to bring his defences crashing down…

Seventeen-year-old Davey has never made friends easily. Shy, geeky, crippled with social anxiety, he feels isolated from his peers, and only his position as defender for the school football team fills the void of loneliness. On the pitch, his deft footwork has earned him the respect and acceptance of his squad, though at a price. Desperate to hold onto this camaraderie, Davey conceals the truth from everyone, even his own family.

Then, during the annual Brookshire football tournament, his eyes meet those of a rival player across the field and a spark flares between them, one neither boy can deny. Adam is everything Davey longs to be—confident, popular, comfortable with his sexuality. Davey aches to explore their connection, to discover where it might lead, but how can he follow his heart and risk rejection by his teammates, the closest thing to friends he has ever known?


⇒  E X C E R P T  ⇐

The rain has stopped. A soft mist hangs in the air, turning the distant streetlights a hazy orange. After the stuffiness of the clubhouse, the night is bitterly cold and I pull on my sweatshirt against the chill. I sit on the steps overlooking the car park, heedless of the damp that seeps through my jeans. Elbows on knees, I rest my chin in my hands and close my eyes, attempting to clear my mind. I don’t want to think anymore. I just want to sit with nothing but the dark and the quiet for company.

I haven’t been hunched there long when the door opens, ejecting a stream of warmth and thumping bass. I glance behind me, although I know who it will be. My body goes still. Adam lets the door swing shut and, just like that, we’re alone.

He doesn’t seem surprised to find me on the steps. Perhaps he saw me leave. Has he followed me? My insides clench. What if Adam thinks I did it deliberately, that I meant to lure him out here. Maybe I had. Maybe, deep down, a part of me hoped Adam might come, even while the rest of me prayed he wouldn’t.

This time, when our gazes connect, there’s no one to see, no football match to act as a buffer. I drink him in. Even in the faint glow filtering through the frosted pane in the door, his eyes are a vivid blue.

“Hey,” Adam says. Such a simple word that expresses so much. There’s recognition there, like we’re childhood friends meeting after years apart, but uncertainty, too. He has a nice voice, I register through my turbulent thoughts—warm and slightly husky.

“Hey.” My reply emerges somewhere between a croak and a squeak. Cringing, I stare down at my feet.

“It’s Davey, right?”

I fling him a startled look. Had this boy—this confident, gorgeous boy—actually gone to the trouble of finding out my name?

One side of Adam’s mouth lifts in a crooked smile. “Well, I had to know who the lunatic was who almost took my leg off.”

“God.” I bury my face in my hands. Of course Adam was going to ask about me after what happened on the pitch. “I’m so sorry.”

He laughs and nudges my thigh with the toe of his trainer. “I’m kidding. Seriously, you did us a favour.”

I dare a peep at him, unable to rid myself of the thought that he has pursued me out here to take the piss. That wouldn’t be anything new, after all.

“It’s true.” Adam crouches on the step beside me, his expression amused but without malice. “Rob warned me about you. He said the rest of your defence was pretty solid, but probably weren’t quick enough to catch me. You were the real threat.”

I grimace. “I’m guessing he wasn’t expecting me to take you out quite so spectacularly, though.”

“Funnily enough, that wasn’t included in the pep talk. Still, I should be thanking you. You made our job a whole lot easier.”

“Don’t remind me. You should’ve heard the guys after the match. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Adam laughs again, and I can’t hold back a smile. Here I am, having an actual conversation with an amazing-looking boy—a boy who’d caught me checking him out, no less—and I’m not making an ass of myself.

The door behind us bursts open and several guys spill out. I tense, guard raised. Will they think it odd us sitting out here alone? I scan their faces, but none are from Farnstead. A moment later, they barrel down the steps without giving either of us a second look and head for one of the cars parked nearby.

As they pile in and the engine growls to life, I exhale, shoulders slumping. I can feel Adam studying me and keep my gaze lowered.

“You’re not out,” he says, “are you?”

“What?” My entire body goes rigid. He knows. I’d already guessed as much, but suspecting it is one thing; being confronted with the indisputable truth sends me spiralling back into panic mode. Why had he really followed me out here? I’d thought…been sure I’d read something in his eyes when they locked with mine, but what if I’m wrong? Do I truly believe someone like Adam, someone popular and self-assured, would have sought me out? Unless…

I see again the Brookminster players in their huddle, sniggering, moments after Adam caught me staring. I’d reassured myself they weren’t laughing about me, but perhaps my fears had been well founded. The cold certainty settles like a snowball in my gut. I’d given myself away, and now the other lads have sent Adam out here to chat me up, trick me into an admission I won’t be able to take back. For all I know, his mates are somewhere close by as we speak, listening in.

“Hey.” Adam extends his palms in what is probably supposed to be a calming gesture. “It’s all right. I know and it’s all right.”

“You don’t know anything,” I snap. The instinct for self-preservation, to keep my protective wall intact at any cost, propels me to my feet. “You hear me? You don’t know anything about me.”

Before he can respond, I’m down the steps and sprinting into the darkness, phone already out to call my parents. All I want is to go home, crawl into bed, and forget today ever happened.


⇒  Purchase Your Copy!  ⇐

Kindle UK | Kindle US | Nook | Apple Books | Kobo
Smashwords | Beaten Track Publishing

Rainbow Books

⇒  About Jamie Deacon  ⇐

Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are forced to navigate the sometimes painful reality of growing up, coming out, and falling in love.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

⇒  G I V E A W A Y  ⇐

To celebrate the release of Defensive Play, Jamie Deacon is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card. For your chance to win, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open to entrants world wide, and closes at midnight EST on Friday December 7, 2018.

Good luck! [ENTER HERE]

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The Art of Taxidermy: YA Review

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The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot
Genre: Young Adult, Poetry, Fiction
Publication: July 1st, 2018
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review Copy – THANK YOU
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Lottie collects dead creatures and lovingly cares for them, hoping to preserve them, to save them from disintegration. Her father understands—Lottie has a scientific mind, he thinks. Her aunt wants it to stop, and she goes to cruel lengths to make sure it does.

And her mother? Lottie’s mother died long ago. And Lottie is searching for a way to be close to her.

The Art of Taxidermy is a heartbreaking verse novel exploring love and death, grief and beauty, and the ways we try to make sense of it all.


The Art of Taxidermy has been marketed as “for fans of Steven Herrick (The Simple Gift) and Diana Sweeney (The Minniow)”. I’m a big Herrick fan, and I’m inclined to agree with this statement. I haven’t read any Sweeney, but I do intend to rectify this.

Australian born Lottie is the daughter of two German migrants. After the loss of her mother, Lottie’s aunt takes over the maternal role. Lottie is trying to preserve the beauty of life with her taxidermy experiments. Trying to understand the world around her. Trying to make sense of the devastating losses she has had to face at such a young age. But her aunt doesn’t understand this, or really understand Lottie at all.

Sometimes reading MG or YA the mother/adult in me takes over and I side with the parental figure. But at times while reading this I was internally screaming at Lottie’s aunt and wanted to slap her back to last Friday.

I found the protagonist Lottie easy to connect with. I was Lottie! I think that is a sign of how well a story is told, of how good the story is, If you are so engrossed that you can’t unattach yourself from the character. That you struggle to see it any other way, other than the way the character sees it.

We (as the reader) feel the grief that drags Lottie down and together we deal with it, learn how to live again, and figure out who we are without the ones we love.

Words I would use (and am) to describe this book: beautiful, moving, engrossing, captivating, heart-breaking, heart-warming, hopeful and healing.

This #LoveOzYA verse novel by Mount Barker native Sharon Kernot is a moving testament to life and death. This is a hauntingly beautiful story that will stay with me for a long time.

Find it @ Booktopia | Bookdepository | Goodreads | Text Publishing

 

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Starry Eyes: YA Review

From Jenn Bennett, author of Night Owls and Alex, Approximately comes a sizzling, starry romance, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and John Green 

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Genre: Contemporary, YA Romance
Publication: June 1, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Review copy from Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best-friends-turned-worst-enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day version of the Montagues and Capulets. But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to try to make their way to safety. But as the two travel deeper into the rugged Californian countryside, secrets and hidden feelings surface. Soon it’s not simply a matter of enduring each other’s company, but taming their growing feelings for each other.

Wait, let me recover from the adorable overload that was Starry Eyes.

Jenn Bennett, I love you. You writer of beautiful feel good young adult romps you.

I cannot fault Starry Eyes. It had the right amount of drama, humour and heart to make me laugh out loud, swoon and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The two main characters of Zorie & Lennon are easily likeable. Childhood friends who through a series of miscommunications, and a selfishly meddling father, have a falling out and lose each other. But fate intervenes and thanks to a series of events (some rather amusing) they end up stranded together in the middle of nowhere. Cue high emotions, teenage awkwardness and wildlife galore – snakes and wildcats and bears, oh my.

This story gives us: a POV character that is a spunky young budding astrophysicist, some terrific supporting characters, friendships (the good and the bad), positive examples of same sex couples who rock at parenting and the practising of safe sex (not OTT or graphic). AND SUPER CUTE MAPS.

It deals with: parental infidelity, loss of a parent, hiking hijinks, forgiveness and LOVE (in multiple forms). – Yeah, it’s a lot, but it all comes together wonderfully thanks to Jenn Bennett’s skilled story telling.

Starry Eyes was an absolute joy to read and a book that I can see myself reading again when i’m in need of a mental hug.

 

Jenn Bennett is an award-winning author of young adult contemporary romance books, including: Alex, Approximately; Night Owls; and Starry Eyes. She also writes romance and urban fantasy for adults. Her books have garnered multiple starred reviews, won the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award, and been included on Publishers Weekly Best Books annual list.

Jenn Bennett’s – Twitter | Instagram | Website

Starry Eyes on Amazon | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD | Readings | Kindle | iBooks

Check out the whole Blog Tour HERE 

If you want the chance to win a copy of Starry Eyes keep an eye on my twitter, HERE. I will be running a giveaway. All it takes is a Retweet (AU only, open until the 20th June). Good luck.

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

Gabrielle Reid: Guest Post

Gabrielle Reid is an Australian author based near Newcastle, NSW. She has previously worked as a high school English teacher and still does creative writing workshops in schools from time to time. Gabrielle has published short stories in a variety of literary journals and regularly posts on her website and blog at http://www.justkeepreiding.com. The Things We Can’t Undo is her debut novel, published by Ford Street. It is available from May 1st in Australian bookstores (links at the end).

Time to hand it over to Gabrielle.

If you ask me what the key themes are in my novel, The Things We Can’t Undo, top of that list has to be consent. It’s about other things of course – friendships, reputations, social media, secrets – but the primary issue from the very first chapter is: did Dylan (my main character) rape his girlfriend Samantha? And is it possible for justice?

“ – that no means no, drunk means no, off your face means no, and I don’t know/I’m not sure means no…
… And never forget, kids – sex is a joyful, integral expression of being human. It’s fun!”
– Fiona Wood, Wildlife, chapter 61

In the past five years or so, the conversation about sex and consent has shifted, as victims of assault and abuse are given more space to tell their stories and feminists work harder to repeat the message: this was not your fault. Thanks to this openness and the recent #metoo movement, it’s getting harder and harder for people to pretend that sexual harassment and assault is a rarity committed by strangers in dark alleys just waiting to prey on girls walking alone.

I think, however, the message is doing a better job of reaching women than it is reaching men. There’s a tendency for men to get defensive – either crying #notallmen or throwing up their hands and declaring it’s too hard to know where the line between flirting and harassment is anymore. And in a way, this is understandable. I’m not a man, but I am white, and if there’s one thing white Australians are good at, it’s declaring we’re not racist while simultaneously enjoying the privilege that racism gives us. It comes down to intention. We think that because we don’t mean to be racist, then we’re not. And I wonder, is it the same for men committing assault?

Ask a roomful of young men if they would ever rape someone. I doubt any are going to say yes. I doubt any are even going to think “yes, if I had the opportunity and knew I could get away with it”. But the statistics are frightening, and there’s no way all of these assaults are being committed by sociopaths who go out of their way to hurt people.

So I began to wonder, what would it be like to be a teenage boy who believes he is a “nice guy”, who is seen by others as a good person, who says and thinks he would never rape somebody, and yet, who does?

Enter Dylan West.

Whatever else I might have done to be a bad boyfriend or to somehow hurt her, I know I’m not a rapist. You don’t accidentally rape someone.”
– Gabrielle Reid, The Things We Can’t Undo, chapter 7

In my book, Dylan and Samantha have a prior relationship. I needed him to genuinely care about her, so the accusation would be even more baffling to him and to those who knew him. If he was too evil, too irredeemable, then no one would relate to him. I also needed him to have redemptive qualities for my own sense of security in the world – I have to believe that it’s possible, with education and empathy, to prevent people from becoming perpetrators.

When you write about a topic like this, there’s constant questioning that goes through your head. Would people misread it as blaming Samantha for not being more confident? Was I silencing her voice by not giving her a first-person narration? Does Tayla, Samantha’s outspoken best friend, give feminism a bad name, or are her good intentions clear? Do boys like Dylan actually exist, or was I being naive to write about them?

The story was in my head for years before I put pen to paper. I had the opening scene and the ending so clear before I knew what was going to happen in the middle. In the end, I couldn’t not write this book. And I decided that if putting it out in the world meant some people would hate it or be angry with me, that was a risk worth taking to start conversations.

Because when it comes to consent, the conversation needs to be had – time and time again.

38402124The Things We Can’t Undo by Gabrielle Reid

There’s no backspace key for life’s decisions.

Samantha and Dylan are in love – everyone knows it. So it’s no big deal when they leave a party for some time out together. But when malicious rumours surface about that night, each feels betrayed by the other.

Will Sam make a decision she can’t take back?

Published: May 1st 2018 by Ford Street Publishing

BLOG TOUR:

Bookish Kirra 24th April (Review)
Better Words Podcast 25th April (Podcast)
The Literary Casanova 28th April (Review)
Genie in a Book 30th April (Interview)
#LoveOzYa 1 May – RELEASE DAY! (Summary and Q&A)
The Adventures of Sacakat 3rd May (Guest post) * You are here 😛 *
Of Wonderland 6th May (Review)
Infinity Reads 7th May (Interview)
Musings & Wanderings 9th May (Guest post)
Written Word Worlds 10th May (Review & interview)
One Bookish Girl 12th May (Interview)

GABRIELLE’S LINKS:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

The Things You Can’t Undo on Goodreads | Ford Street| Amazon AU

I will be reading and reviewing The Things We Can’t Undo a little bit later on, so check back in if you are interested in my thoughts 🙂
As always, thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat
and Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

The Weekend Bucket List: YA Review

The Weekend Bucket List by Mia Kerick
Genre: Contemporary YA (LGBTQ)
Publication: April 19th 2018
Publisher: Duet Books
Source: Review copy as part of Blog Tour
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

High school seniors Cady LaBrie and Cooper Murphy have yet to set one toe out of line—they’ve never stayed out all night or snuck into a movie, never gotten drunk or gone skinny-dipping. But they have each other, forty-eight hours before graduation, and a Weekend Bucket List.

There’s a lot riding on this one weekend, especially since Cady and Cooper have yet to admit, much less resolve, their confounding feelings for one another—feelings that prove even more difficult to discern when genial high school dropout Eli Stanley joins their epic adventure. But as the trio ticks through their bucket list, the questions they face shift toward something new: Must friendship play second fiddle to romance? Or can it be the ultimate prize?

Right out the gate this story entertained me. The POV alternates between the three main characters – Cady, Cooper and Eli. I found all three characters relatable and easily likeable.

The bucket list is Cady’s way of making sure she and Cooper experience all the things that “normal” kids do in high school. The things that they missed out on while they were being model students. Things like getting drunk, going skinny dipping, sneaking into a movie and having a first kiss. She’s also hoping they might be able to figure out their feelings towards each other.

The entry of ‘Hot Jesus’ (aka Eli) cracked me up. Eli’s been drifting, traveling as carny since he ran away from home before finishing high school. His entrance is spectacular. And the combo of a straight female and two bisexual males as leads worked brilliantly. Nobody knew what they were feeling or for who. Oh teenagers. Growing up really is hard to do. But friendship, the truest, strongest and purest form of love wins out in the end. Happily, so. The Weekend Bucket List leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling in the end.

I’m really impressed by Mia Kerick and her writing. It seems that she’s trying to be inclusive and very LGBTQ positive. Bravo Mia, I commend you. I will defiantly be reading more of Mia’s books in the future.

The story touched on: friendship, love, sexually, self-discovery, alcohol and drug abuse, parental pressures and expectations. But it was still a funny, warm and entertaining read.

AUTHOR LINKS:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook | Amazon

GIVEAWAY:
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Blog Tour Organized by: YA Bound Book Tours

Want more of the tour > > View tour schedule (and links)

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂 .