Category: School Life & Situations

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “The Monster Apprentice” (Rahana Trilogy: Book One) by Felicity Banks

Posted Saturday, 16 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I first heard from Odyssey Books late last year, however, the timing of accepting their review request for “The Monster Apprentice” wasn’t the best timing for me due to my health and my migraines. As I was setting to mind what I wanted to do for Wyrd And Wonder this year, I decided to reach out to the publisher to see if I could schedule guest author features and perhaps finally accept the chance to read and review “The Monster Apprentice”. This sparked my idea of hosting Felicity Banks during @SatBookChat as 1 of 3 guest Indie Fantasy Authors for #SatBookChat (the bookish chat I host on the weekends featuring strong female characters across genres) and having the chance to read and review her novel. I was thankful I could put together a mixture of guest features (guest posts and interviews) as well as two reviews for this Indie publisher in New Zealand.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Monster Apprentice” direct from the author Felicity Banks and the publisher Odyssey Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Prior to finishing my readings of “The Monster Apprentice”

– I hosted the lovely Ms Banks during our first #SatBookChat during #WyrdAndWonder:

I love having the chance to feature Indie Authors on Jorie Loves A Story and during #SatBookChat – as it helps me showcase authors, publishers and stories I personally love seeking out myself who are on the Indie side of book world. I’ve been showcasing the Indies since I first started book blogging as at my heart as a reader is an Indie sensibility as I grew up having such a wonderful Indie bookstore in my city. Not to mention as a book blogger my knowledge of Indie publishers, press and authors is now on a world-wide scale of discovery.

Ever since Year One of #WyrdAndWonder, I’ve wanted to select Indie Authors and/or publishers to highlight, read and showcase as I want to help encourage other readers of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy to take a chance on an Indie novel and/or series. This is also the same mindset behind why I love hosting Indie Authors during #SatBookChat – whose roots were in hosting strictly Romance & Women’s Fiction novelists – however, in early 2020 I started to lay down the bones of change wherein we’re now featuring *all!* genres wherein you can find wicked strong female characters and/or stories which have a Feminist bent to them. We still focus on Romance & Women’s Fiction – however, I’m expanding it as my own readerly inclinations are more encompassing now that we’ve reached our six year of the chat!

What was so dearly delightful about Ms Banks is how she made the chat personable (sharing photos in the timeline of the chat) and how she answered questions directly about the world within the Rahana trilogy. To gain a bit of insight into how this world was constructed be sure to seek out the archive of our #SatBookChat.

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Ahead of discussing this lovely book on both #SatBookChat and on Jorie Loves A Story – I put together a short teaser of a #booktube #vlog #unboxing video which I shared on Twitter. I had a most delightful time answering one of the #WyrdAndWonder challenge prompts which was “The Best Things Come in Threes”.

I had planned to finish reading this novel and release my review last weekend – however, the hours escaped me and I wasn’t able to finish until now. I cannot wait to hear what my fellow #WyrdAndWonder readers will think once they find out about this intriguing world – wherein heroines step through ordinary lives into extraordinary circumstances!

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “The Monster Apprentice” (Rahana Trilogy: Book One) by Felicity BanksThe Monster Apprentice
by Felicity Banks
Source: Direct from Publisher

The only weapon Dance has is her name.

When pirates threaten the tiny hidden island of Luar, Dance knows her home has only one hope of survival: the magical monsters that killed her twin sister.

Dance loses her friends one by one as she attempts to prepare her strange apprentices for the showdown between monsters and pirates. Can she do it alone?

The Monster Apprentice is a powerful story of looking at the world differently and finding an answer in an unexpected place.

Genres: Children's Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle Grade Fantasy, Mythological Fantasy, Pirate Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781925652130

Published by Odyssey Books

on 1st May, 2018

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 139

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Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

Felicity Banks invented the fantasy world of Rahana while living in Indonesia. She grew up reading stories set in Narnia and Middle Earth, and she wanted to invent a fantasy world that was just as beautiful but didn’t feel British, or white, or male.

In Rahana the weather is tropical and the people are visually similar to Indonesians. Magic is common, and makes physical strength irrelevant. There are millions of islands both small and large, and sailing technology is more advanced that the other sciences. Rahana is a thriving tropical world where people are born with a love of the high seas.

Naturally, the world is full of pirates.

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #TheMonsterApprentice, #MGLit, #MGFantasy
as well as #pirates and #MiddleGrade; #IndieAuthor, #IndieFantasy

About Felicity Banks

Felicity Banks

Felicity Banks is a Canberra author specialising in fantasy and interactive fiction, including her Antipodean Queen fantasy steampunk series, which is also published by Odyssey Books. All her interactive fiction is listed under “Felicity Banks” (visit site) and most of her interactive fiction can be read via an app.

She writes about all her various pirates tales (some appropriate for children, some definitely not) on her Facebook page as well as sharing stories and images that appeal to the not-so-secret pirate within all of us.

She met her husband at a pirate ball, and has two little pirates at home.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Saturday, 16 May, 2020 by jorielov in #Unboxing BookMail, #WyrdAndWonder, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Book Review (non-blog tour), Childhood Friendship, Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Death of a Sibling, Fantasy Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Life Shift, Middle Grade Novel, Mother-Daughter Relationships, School Life & Situations, Siblings, Twin Siblings

#MiddleGradeMarch Audiobook Review | “Mary’s Song” (Book One: the Dream Horse Adventures series) by Susan Count, narrated by Caitlin Cavannaugh

Posted Wednesday, 25 March, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in [2018] before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By [2020] as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. Thereby it was with the Dream Horse Adventures series I decided to mark my return and was quite thankful this was a series she was celebrating through her touring company.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Mary’s Song” direct from the author Susan Court in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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In case you missed my Series Spotlight, let me re-share why this series appealled to me:

Let’s talk about how important *horses!* and *horse dramas!* were to Jorie when she was younger – as there came a point in my childhood where I was truly motivated and dedicated to learning Dressage, natural horsemanship, ethical care for horses and I had a dedicated eye for #horsefiction wherein I was either traversing alongside cowboys as they took wagons west into a new frontier or I was curled up inside the Children’s series of Thoroughbred, The Saddle Club and/or The Black Stallion (the series).

I could relate to these series because the lead characters had a heart for horses which mirrored my own heart and thoughts about how to be an ethically minded Equestrian whilst fusing your passion into dedicated training. I had the pleasure of riding retired thoroughbreds as the barns in which I took lessons had these available as schooling horses as thoroughbreds in order to have a happier retired life must be retrained into a new skill set. Dressage and/or Endurance racing is quite common as they expell so much energy and require a lot of focused pursuits to feel happy in of themselves.

I never lost my connection to horses, #horsefiction or horse dramas – by book, motion picture nor television series – I’ve come across more than a few and my top favourites are still: The Man From Snowy River (1982), Return to Snowy River (1988), The Black Stallion (film, 1979), The Black Stallion (Canadian tv series, 1990-93), A Horse for Danny (1995), Virginia’s Run (2002), Hildago (2004), The Horse Whisperer (film only 1998, not the book), The Long Shot (2004), Dreamer (2005), Flicka (2006), SeaBiscuit (2003), Secretariat (2010) and the Canadian tv series “Heartland” (2007-current) to name a few. One of the more dramatic entries of horse fiction as an adult reader was my readings of the at-risk (foster care) youth and the situations involving their placements (as they are hard to place) within the novel “The Language of Hoofbeats” which I found to be #unputdownable for its realism and capacity to interconnect the truth about today’s foster youth.

Whenever I come across a new series in either MG or YA Lit, I get quite excited as there is a part of my bookish heart where I hope these never lose favour with children and that today’s child can grow up in the wonderment of horse culture and Equestrian experiences as there is something magically beautiful about connecting to a horse and being connected to them as you ride together.

This is why I was truly excited to send up a boost of a signal flare to announce this series on Jorie Loves A Story – hopefully letting my fellow readers, book bloggers & followers alike know about a series like this in case they know of a boy or girl who are growing up with a fascination about horses themselves!

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#MiddleGradeMarch Audiobook Review | “Mary’s Song” (Book One: the Dream Horse Adventures series) by Susan Count, narrated by Caitlin CavannaughMary's Song
Subtitle: Dream Horse Adventures Book One
by Susan Count
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours
Narrator: Caitlin Cavannaugh

Mary's Song is completely independent of the three Selah books. It is the story of Selah's grandmother.

A young artist falls in love with a foal that is lame, just like her. The expensive surgery the foal needs has little chance to correct the problem. Still Mary plots and conspires to raise money to save the horse, even as time runs out. She sacrifices what she holds dear - the trust of her papa, to gain her heart's desire. But she could lose everything in her struggle to save the foal.

Genres: Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Children's Literature, Middle Grade, Equestrian Fiction, Horse Drama


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780997088335

ASIN: B07Y2GVYSY

Also by this author: Mary's Song (Book Spotlight), Selah's Sweet Dream (Book Spotlight), Selah's Painted Dream (Book Spotlight), Selah's Stolen Dream (Book Spotlight), Selah's Sweet Dream

Also in this series: Selah's Sweet Dream


Published by Hastings Creations Group

on 20th September, 2018

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 3 hours and 40 minutes (unabridged)

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The Dream Horse Adventures series:

Mary's Song by Susan CountSelah's Sweet Dream by Susan CountSelah's Painted Dream by Susan CountSelah's Stolen Dream by Susan Count

Mary’s Song (book one)

Selah’s Sweet Dream (book two)

Selah’s Painted Dream (book three)

Selah’s Stolen Dream (book four)

Available formats: Ebook, Trade Paperback and Audiobook (for Book One)

Converse via: #DreamHorseAdventures and #SusanCourt + #MiddleGradeMarch
as well as #MiddleGrade, #MGLit, #HorseDrama and #Equestrian Fiction

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Posted Wednesday, 25 March, 2020 by jorielov in #MiddleGradeMarch, 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Childhood Friendship, Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Indie Author, Juvenile Fiction, Lola's Blog Tours, Middle Grade Novel, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Teacher & Student Relationships, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, the Fifties

#PubDay Book Review | “Adequate Yearly Progress” by Roxanna Elden

Posted Tuesday, 11 February, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I have been a book blogger hosting publisher blog tours and/or featuring book reviews for Simon & Schuster (as well as a few of their imprints) since 2017 however I didn’t start to host for them regularly until 2018. What I appreciate about being a book blogger for this publisher is that they have the tendency of knowing the types of Contemporary & Historical stories which interest me to read even before I realise there is a new release forthcoming which I might gravitate towards wanting to read! It never fails to delight me finding one of their emails in my Inbox because they have the tendency of selecting the stories which align wonderfully with my own bookish wanderings. It is a joy to be a book blogger on their publisher blog tours and/or hosting reviews for them outside of the organised blog tours.

I received a complimentary copy of “Adequate Yearly Progress” direct from the publisher Atria Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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The reason reading ”Adequate Yearly Progress” appealled to me:

Ever since I was in school, I oft wondered what the teachers were talking about when they weren’t in the classroom. Growing up during budget cuts in the public & private school systems in the United States was an interesting view of the education system. Programs like Art, Drama, Shop (construction) and anything ‘extra’ after school were generally the first to get cut whilst they also had shortages on textbooks which is why I still remember how difficult it was to ‘lose our lockers’ in seventh and eighth grade because we literally had to go down to using ‘class sets’ without taking anything home except for copied work sheets which you could do in your sleep. In other words, for a lot of the years I was in school I didn’t feel academically challenged but what I gained instead was self-confidence, self-advocacy and self-esteem; in essence, I was building life skills and learning how to navigate the world.

Still though – there was a lot of bureaucratic red tape for the teachers, including the good ones who were student centred and held our interests ahead of their own. Some wanted to do more but were hindered by the budget or the restraints of the rules within public or private education (depending which school I was attending and which grade level). The only time I really had a chance to interact with the faculty and teachers more directly was in eighth grade where I befriended the school principal who tragically died prematurely shortly afterwards and in high school where the veil was fully lifted and I learnt far more than I expected!

For these reasons and the current state of public education in America, I decided this might be a rather timely novel to be reading. I also grew up being a dyslexic learner where most of my teachers didn’t realise I had learning difficulties because I learnt to overcompensate for my dyslexia – however, that’s a topic for another time as it lead to its own quirky complications!

Suffice it to say, from a very young age when it came to academic curiosity and literary wanderings – I did most of my educational pursuits off-campus and outside traditional education. I learnt more from my Mum who was technically my first teacher and through my family who always encouraged me to have as many experiences as I could and to seek out alternative learning opportunities.

Once I learnt how to work round my dyslexia the world of books became a cosy comfort because there wasn’t a subject I couldn’t explore on my own and there was a wide literary world out there to time travel through – in essence, what I have shared on Jorie Loves A Story is a small fraction of insight into my life as an independent learner and a self-motivating reader who continues to self-educate herself through literature and libraries.

Thus, I was dearly curious how this Contemporary novel might explore the current state of the educational system and the teachers who have a lot to deal with in regards to resources available to them in order to educate the children in their classrooms. I also thought it might have some cheeky humour along the way which is always a good thing to find!

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#PubDay Book Review | “Adequate Yearly Progress” by Roxanna EldenAdequate Yearly Progress
by Roxanna Elden
Source: Direct from Publisher

Roxanna Elden’s “laugh-out-loud funny satire” (Forbes) is a brilliantly entertaining and moving look at our education system.

Each new school year brings familiar challenges to Brae Hill Valley, a struggling high school in one the biggest cities in Texas. But the teachers also face plenty of personal challenges and this year, they may finally spill over into the classroom.

English teacher Lena Wright, a spoken-word poet, can never seem to truly connect with her students. Hernan D. Hernandez is confident in front of his biology classes, but tongue-tied around the woman he most wants to impress. Down the hall, math teacher Maybelline Galang focuses on the numbers as she struggles to parent her daughter, while Coach Ray hustles his troubled football team toward another winning season. Recording it all is idealistic second-year history teacher Kaytee Mahoney, whose anonymous blog gains new readers by the day as it drifts ever further from her in-class reality. And this year, a new superintendent is determined to leave his own mark on the school—even if that means shutting the whole place down.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Education & Learning, Literary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Teachers & Educators


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781982135027

Published by Atria Books

on 11th February, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 400

 Published By:  Published By: Atria Books (@AtriaBooks)
{imprint of} Simon & Schuster (

Converse via: #AdequateYearlyProgress, #ContemporaryFiction + #RealisticFiction
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook & Ebook

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About Roxanna Elden

Roxanna Elden

Roxanna Elden is the author of Adequate Yearly Progress: A Novel, and See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. She combines eleven years of experience as a public school teacher with a decade of speaking to audiences around the country about education issues. She has been featured on NPR as well as in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and more.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Tuesday, 11 February, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Equality In Literature, Fly in the Ointment, Learning Difficulties, Literary Fiction, Modern Day, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Publishers & Presses (Direct Reviews), School Life & Situations, Simon & Schuster, Teacher & Student Relationships, Vulgarity in Literature