Category: Young Adult Fiction

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Esme’s Wish” (Esme’s Series Trilogy: Book One) by Elizabeth Foster

Posted Saturday, 30 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 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”. 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. This marks my second book review and I am humbled in joy for the conversations and the stories I’ve discovered this 3rd Year of Wyrd And Wonder through Odyssey Books!

I received a complimentary copy of “Esme’s Wish” direct from the author Elizabeth Foster 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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What truly attracted me to read “Esme’s Wish”:

I was caught up in the essence of where this novel could take me as a reader – I love poetic stories which seek to give us something wonderful from their stories. I have been enjoying my journey back into Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction – however, most of the stories I enjoy the most from those branches of literature are within the Speculative realms. Writers who are writing #SpecLit for these readers are truly tapping into a beautiful vision of how Science Fiction and/or Fantasy can be imagined – whilst giving us layered stories in which to feel we’ve lived elsewhere for a short spell outside our own living experiences.

I knew this was going to become an emotional read for me – the heart of the story, even before reading it is a daughter’s search for her Mum; in different ways in how a daughter can look for her Mum whilst dealing with the realities of having this chasm of ambiguous loss between what Esme remembers from the past and where she currently finds herself in the future. Esme doesn’t remember exactly what became of her Mum – only that she knows others treat her mother’s absence as if she died and despite the tragedy of that moment, they’ve chosen to move on. Yet for Esme how can you move on when you cannot reconcile the past?

This story I felt would be an entry into how Urban Fantasy can feel wonderfully grounded in a contemporary lifestyle and yet, have small touches of the fantastical slowly take over the scope and depth of where the story can take the reader. This gentle hand in guiding us forward into the Esme’s Series is what I loved more about Foster’s writing style. She gives you such a firm grounding of place and setting – of allowing us to better understand her characters and then, she takes us on this wild adventure we simply are better for having experienced. This is why I wanted to read Esme’s Wish and this is why I am wicked thankful it became a part of my #WyrdAndWonder journey this 3rd Year!

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Two things I was attempting to do differently this year is to participate more in the #WyrdAndWonder Challenge (wherein I could take photos and share them on #bookTwitter) but I also wanted to create posts outside reviews & guest features. As the month wore on I realised the few times I was able to respond to the challenge prompts and the vlog video I had made featuring my #bookmail for #WyrdAndWonder might be all I would be able to contribute this year. I am most proud about how this turnt out as I have only released a handful of these so far overall!

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”.

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Esme’s Wish” (Esme’s Series Trilogy: Book One) by Elizabeth FosterEsme's Wish
by Elizabeth Foster
Source: Direct from Author

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the actions of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1925652246

Genres: Dragon Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Mythological Fantasy, Portal Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction


Published by Odyssey Books

on 30th October, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 252

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Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

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Esme’s Series (trilogy):

Esme’s Wish (book one)

Esme’s Gift (book two)

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Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #EsmesWish, #YALit, #YAFantasy
as well as #YoungAdult; #IndieAuthor, #IndieFantasy and #WyrdAndWonder

About Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Once she started writing, she never looked back. She’s at her happiest when immersed in stories, plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Saturday, 30 May, 2020 by jorielov in #Unboxing BookMail, #WyrdAndWonder, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Book Review (non-blog tour), Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Content Note, Dragon Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Greek Mythology, Juvenile Fiction, Life Shift, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Portal Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven” (Dawnhaven: Book One) by Owen Crane

Posted Saturday, 23 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: Right before #WyrdAndWonder, I received a review request directly from the author Owen Crane. It was good timing as I was starting to assemble my chat schedule of guest authors for @SatBookChat for May as I knew I wanted to highlight Indie Fantasy authors during the chat whilst Wyrd And Wonder was underway. As a bit of a meet-greet for participants and authors as well as for my regular chatters to gain some exposure and introduction to what Fantasy can provide as a reader and/or learn about the craft from a writer’s perspective. Thereby, I offered to host Mr Crane during #SatBookChat whilst accepting his novel for review.

I received a complimentary copy of “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven” direct from the author Owen Crane in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Reading and Chatting about Dawnhaven during #WyrdAndWonder:

I truly enjoyed being able to chat about this series, the debut of the author’s and to highlight another introductory conversation about Fantasy during #SatBookChat! It allowed me to present Fantasy in an approachable manner to my regular chatters who might not read as much Fantasy as I do but feel inclined to discuss it in case it might become a new niche of joy for them to chase after as well. It also gave the participants of Wyrd And Wonder a chance to ask an author direct questions about his writerly style of approaching Fantasy, why he personally loves the genre of Fantasy and what his plans were for the series which first begins with “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven”!

During the chat we were able to root out there are five books planned for this series which follows the five year Journey Ariella is undertaking with the Guardians. I felt this made the most sense when Crane disclosed it because it would allow for the most growth out of Ariella as well as the secondary cast of characters to have their chance to shine throughout the saga, too. I love long series in genres – it allows you to gain further knowledge about the world itself, the characters who live there and in a way, you get to stay longer in worlds you don’t wish to exit if it had only been a one-off story.

As we were chatting, we also discovered how much I appreciate reading Fantasy where the Light is not snuffed out by the Darkness. Nor do I seek out overtly gritty and gruesomely violent stories – (in Fantasy or other genres!) as I like to sink my teeth into stories which have quests for the characters to endure and/or there is something they need to either achieve or overcome but not to the point where the context of their stories are erasing the joy in which I pursue the stories I want to be reading. I was thankful a writer of Middle Grade Fantasy also felt this way because too often I am finding Middle Grade & Young Adult Fantasy are becoming a bit to adult in how they are either too darkly lit or too adult in their themes and story-lines.

There is a wonderment of joy seeking out Fantasy as a younger reader – that suspension of reality and the fantastical where innocent curiosity and joy can be nurtured through a story which doesn’t seek to erase that innocence but to capitalise on a well-told story in this ‘otherworld’ place which feels like ours but is wholly new & exciting to explore. I have oft felt Middle Grade & Young Adult stories should be focused more on encouraging younger readers to read well-rounded stories – where there can be adversity and challenge as well as growing transitions in their lives but not to the brink where it feels oppressively dire. This is one reason why I seek out a lot of coming-of age stories – as those can lend better to the kind of story I am seeking out of Children’s Literature.

Having the chance to discuss this series and to talk about Fantasy with Mr Crane was a true delight of joy for me because I like shining a light on Indie Authors who are curating the kind of stories which give me a wicked good time reading! If I could help encourage other readers to try his series and to give an Indie Fantasy series a chance at being one of their next favourite reads – I’ve happily passed forward the joy of discovering his novel! I am thankful he found my blog and submitted a review request – otherwise none of this would have been possible! 

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven” (Dawnhaven: Book One) by Owen CraneAriella and the Curse of Dawnhaven
by Owen Crane
Source: Direct from Author

Ariella Lightharbour is heir to the crown with a nation at her feet but knows she’s meant for more. Forsaking her throne she chooses to become a Guardian. As she embarks on The Journey she must find the courage within herself to battle the deadly Ghost Raiders that murdered her father, discover the identity of the elusive shadow and fight to end the curse that threatens to overwhelm the land.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8607648008

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle Grade Fantasy


Published by Self Published

on 29th March, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 214

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This is a Self-Published Novel

The Original Title for this story was Ariella and the Blood Curse (2015)

Converse via: #Dawnhaven, #MGLit, #MGFantasy
as well as #MiddleGrade #Fantasy, #IndieAuthor/s, #WyrdAndWonder

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Saturday, 23 May, 2020 by jorielov in #Unboxing BookMail, #WyrdAndWonder, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Book Review (non-blog tour), Childhood Friendship, Coming-Of Age, Fantasy Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Life Shift, Light vs Dark, Middle Grade Novel, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Solomon’s Bell” (Book Two: Genie Chronicles) by Michelle Lowery Combs

Posted Wednesday, 20 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: A few years ago now, I started to review for World Weaver Press – until I reached the day where my focus on the stories I was receiving for review fell by the wayside. A lot of this had to do with my personal health, the recovery of my father’s stroke and other things which bring adversity into your life which can and will affect your readerly life. I cannot remember exactly what first took me away from reading “Heir to the Lamp” or the sequel “Solomon’s Bell” – however, I did attempt to read them at various moments throughout the past few years including shortly after I received “Solomon’s Bell” for which I posted a Cover Reveal and Extract.

During our 2nd Year (2019) for #WyrdAndWonder, I wanted to redeem myself a bit by getting back into the stories I attempted to read during our 1st year of #WyrdAndWonder (2018) but due to the migraines and other issues I was having with my health, I was unable to complete my reading schedule for the event. This is one of the series I was most eager to read and am thankful I finally was able to start reading it during our 2nd Year of Wyrd and Wonder whilst finishing it in our 3rd. As I know there are other readers who are following or joining the event directly who appreciate Magical Realism and/or stories of the Jinn as much as I do. Perhaps they will find a new author through my ruminations and as always, I hope whenever I feature a story or anthology by World Weaver Press – word will continue to get out about this lovely Indie Publisher for Speculative Fiction!

I received a complimentary copy of “Solomon’s Bell” direct from the publisher World Weaver Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

I admit it, ever since I met a ‘Golem’ & a ‘Jinni’, I’ve been intrigued by Magical Realism stories involving the Jinn!:

Set during a pivotal game for Virginia as a competitive JV Girls’ Basketball competitor – we open the story as Ginn is about to receive some humbling and surprising news about herself, her destiny and the ways in which she previously perceived her world. You can intuit this through the revelation at the end of the game – where her team is down for the count, the opposing team has a new member whose height puts them at a distinct advantage and where Ginn’s team is doing everything they can not to  lose the faith they could win the game from the underdog status they found themselves trying to overcome. It is here – as we are with Ginn in the car with her family as they make their way to the gym to see the game, we notice a few things about her – she’s not comfortable being in a large family nor is she enthused about having as many siblings as she has which were achieved through adoption.

The adoption side of her life is lightly touched upon – mostly through the angst of a thirteen year old who isn’t quite sure why her parents wanted to keep adding to their family or have to take-on the world whenever someone from outside the family grew critical of their choices in life; especially in how they grew their family through adoption. You can understand her perspective on the matter – as she has an eclectic sibling group whilst you can also appreciate the heart and humbled spirit of her parents who wanted to raise children and did not have a preference of whether or not they were all biologically related to them. I have a soft spot for stories involving Adoption – as I am desiring to adopt from foster care in the future – therefore, whenever I see a story involving Adoption, I do take a more critical eye on how it is discussed and how it fits into the story being told.

I think part of the reason I was struggling to anchour into story and to get into step with Ginn is how her story was being disclosed. It felt a little disjointed at first – but then, once you see her with her mother and she starts to talk about her grandmother – you start to notice her differently, seeing how much she’s trying to understand this transitional period of her life and somewhere at that junction her story starts to move forward in a way you can soak into her world.

Ginn is a girl on the brink of entering her teenage years but she’s more bogged down in worrying about what is plaguing her mind moreso than going through puberty. She has a caring mother who looks after her whenever she’s not feeling quite up to par and even goes out of her way to ensure her daughter will feel a bit better which I felt was a sweet touch. What was lovely though was seeing how a few life lessons and life philosophies were being layered into the story-line – guided by Ginn’s Mum but also, turnt over for introspective reasoning by Ginn herself. There is a point about how nightmares can overtake you if your not careful about how you extract yourself from them but also, on the importance of family. This is a close-knit family who appreciate being with their grandmother but also with each other – even if half the time, I suspect they drive each other a bit batty round the edges, as all good-natured large families do.

You have to laugh, really! Combs has worked in some cleverly placed real-world cultural points of interest into the background of the story – such as Ginn’s Mum having an affinity of interest for the cooking shows we all get excited about time after time – giving her children a bit of an interesting voyage into the culinary arts! I was smiling the whole time as apparently Ginn’s Mum isn’t as gifted in the kitchen as my Mum is nor is she as naturally intuitive about how certain ingredients work best together. This is why I was smiling the most – hearing Ginn tell it, they would be better off if they cooked from ready-made boxes and ate out on occasion if they could afford to do it.

Where the story took a turning into the fantastical is when Rashmere shows up rather unexpectedly and how he points out to Ginn all the different ways her current life is about to unravel. The expressive nature of Rashmere is too adorable! You’ll have to read the story to find out the species Rashmere is on first sight but somehow, Combs tapped into how he could be expressive despite his small presence when he initially enters Ginn’s life. In essence he steals the scene!

I immediately felt connected to Gran – she’s the kind of grandmother you can warm up to rather quickly because of her approach to life! She has a zest for humour and she has a winsome attitude when it comes to how she disarms your nerves. I loved her back-story about how she had to overcome the odds against her on the Army bases her husband had been stationed on? It shows how sometimes the people who exhume the most confidence can sometimes have their own struggles to bear and work through just like everyone else. Mostly though – she just seemed like a wicked awesome grandmother and definitely someone you could confide in the worries weighing on your mind such as the kind Ginn had on hers.

Gran had a keen ability of telling Ginn her back history in such a way that makes it credible despite the fact it has a lot of fantastical elements inside it – as this is a heritage which involves the Jinn. Though not quite the kind of Jinn everyone has heard of before but the kind who has a mixed heritage that involves the Jinn and humans. From there, what was quite impressive is how well Gran took to ensure Ginn of the details even to discuss how her feelings on this matter of disclosure were not the same as her parents – which struck me a bit as an interesting piece of information – as if Ginn’s adoptive parents dismissed a portion of her back-story, than if it weren’t for Gran disclosing the fuller story to her on her birthday, one had to wonder – would Ginn have started to deepen her curiosity about all the unexpected events happening to her since she turnt thirteen?

As we shift into the story of the Jinn – Combs does a wonderful job at educating us on the past histories of the Jinn, how they can exist and what their nature involved in regards to how they used their gifts of magic. It never felt like a specific section of information being given to you as she used Ginn’s own lack of understanding her birth origins as a route of information being passed onto the reader. The closer Ginn went with her own research, the closer we felt we understood who the Jinn were and the laws of how they existed. This also broached the topics of the books of Jinn known as the ‘grimoire’ and how the ancestry of the Jinn was as ancient as it were timeless.

Personally, my favourite character was not Ginn but Rashmere! He had the best attributes as a character but also, I felt his role in the story was so rounded and fleshed out, that his presence was a true delight to have threading through the background. I definitely am hoping he has a strong presence in the next volume of the series Solomon’s Bell as he was a keenly pivotal character within Heir to the Lamp.

This is a good novel to serve as a gateway into Magical Realism (as its the lighter side of the genre) whilst also giving a good footing of insight into Urban Fantasy and mythological Fantasy involving the Jinn. I think it would appeal to a lot of readers who are seeking a bit of danger and adventure within a fantastical world where not everything is exactly as it seems on the surface of what is being presented but where if you dig a bit deeper into the heart of what is being said, you’ll find the truth glimmering as strong as the purple smoke which is Ginn’s trademark.

-quoted from my review of Heir to the Lamp

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Solomon’s Bell” (Book Two: Genie Chronicles) by Michelle Lowery CombsSolomon's Bell
Subtitle: Genie Chronicles Book Two
by Michelle Lowery Combs
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Sarena Ulibarri
Source: Direct from Publisher

Ginn thinks she has problems at home until she magically lands herself in 16th Century Prague. To save her family, Ginn uses her newfound genie powers to transport herself and her friends to 16th century Prague. Only one thing there remains the same as at home: she can't let anyone know what she really is.

The Emperor of Prague and those closest to him are obsessed with magic. In pursuit of it, they’ve waged war on the citizens of their city. In the citizens' defense, someone has brought to life a golem, a dangerous being with connections to an artifact capable of summoning and commanding an entire army of genies.

Can Ginn escape the notice of the Emperor as she attempts to discover a way to defeat Prague’s golem in time to save her family from a similar creature?

Solomon's Bell is the sequel to Heir to the Lamp and the second book of the Genie Chronicles series.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on World Weaver Press

ISBN: 978-0997788877

Also by this author: Solomon's Bell (Cover Reveal + Extract), Heir to the Lamp

Also in this series: Heir to the Lamp


Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Magical Realism, YA Fantasy, YA Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction


Published by World Weaver Press

on 7th March, 2017

Pages: 224

Published By: World Weaver Press (@WorldWeaver_wwp)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

The Genie Chronicles series:

Heir to the Lamp by Michelle Lowery CombsSolomon's Bell by Michelle Lowery Combs

Genre(s): Speculative | Young Adult | Fantasy | Lore & Legends

the Jinn (or Jinnis or Genies) | Adoption

Similar Reads: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (see also Review)

About Michelle Lowery Combs

Michelle Lowery Combs

Michelle Lowery Combs is an award-winning writer and book blogger living in rural Alabama with her husband, one cat and too many children to count. She spends her spare time commanding armies of basketball and soccer munchkins for the Parks & Recreation departments of two cities.

When not in the presence of throngs of toddlers, tweens and teens, Michelle can be found neglecting her roots and dreaming up the next best seller. She is a member of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, Jacksonville State University’s Writers’ Club and her local Aspiring Authors group.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 20 May, 2020 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Adoption, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Review (non-blog tour), Brothers and Sisters, Equality In Literature, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, Foster Care, Indie Author, Magical Realism, Orphans & Guardians, Siblings, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, World Weaver Press, Young Adult Fiction

#WyrdAndWonder Middle Grade Graphic Novel Book Review | “Ultra Squad: Adventures under the Strangebow” (Book Two of the Ultra Squad series) by Julia Devillers, illustrated by Rafael Rosado

Posted Tuesday, 19 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 1 Comment

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created 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 copy of “Ultra Squad: Adventures under the Strangebow (Graphic Novel)” direct from the author Julia Devillers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I felt this would be a good series to showcase during #WyrdAndWonder:

I participated on my first Graphic Novel blog tour during #IndieApril – wherein I was first introduced to the Ultra Squad series. I felt the series had some positives going for it and a few choices within the context of the story which I felt were either irrelevant or missed the mark a bit for me. For instance – it has the marketing of being a diverse universe and thereby a diverse cast leads us into the stories themselves but there isn’t a lot of development within the characters (at least in book one) to where you can see those individualistic qualities and distinctions; each of the girls’ nearly collide into each other visually because their own voice wasn’t as strong as I had hoped they would become.

Also – there was a maze for the reader to solve in the middle of the story – which to me felt out of context with the overall vibe of the story itself. I hadn’t remembered those being inclusive of the previous graphic novels I’ve read in the past and how it was inserted just struck me as being rather odd. However, it did have a few strong points too – about friendship, finding leadership and living outside your comfort zones.

Part of hosting the original blog tour – I was given the option to read the sequel – which is why  I elected to run it during my #WyrdAndWonder showcases. The key reason is because this is a bit of a genre bender – it is part Science Fiction and part Fantasy; wherein I would deem this #SciFantasy as it has a few bits from both genres to give readers something to contemplate as their reading the series. It is also a perfect blend of ‘wyrd and wonder’ if you think about the origins of our event and why we started hosting it. It isn’t quite like what you’re expecting to find and it is in of itself a wholly new way of seeing a story come to life.

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What my takeaways were about the first Ultra Squad story:

There is definite cheeky humour – although also a few words I think had a few liberties taken with their usage – as studenting might have raised a few brows for me as a middle grade reader. The humour itself thought was how Devillers was referencing the danger imagery and how she was anchouring the foreshadowing into the action of the present within the series itself.

Ooh my dear ghouls – when the secretary requests the presence of the four girls’ in her office – this is when Ultra Squad meets Galaxy Quest! In such a stroke of genius really – as similar to what you love about the film transitioning seemingly regular and quite ordinary humans into outer space to counter-act against a reptilian terrorist – you now find yourself at the mercy of ULTRA and what this entails for the girls’ being recruited to aide in their missions!

The segue into meeting the girls’ families was lovely because you had the chance to see their different backgrounds – including how one of the girls’ has a military family. It also showed a bit of back-history of the Ultra Squad as it was implied this was a legacy appointment and not just a random bit of good news in the middle of an ordinary school day where your not expecting much except homework, class-time and a disappointing lunch!

There is a lot of verbiage in the storyline which is slightly more urban slang than contemporary cool – mostly as the context has to be understood before you proceed with reading it. I was never the kind of kid who was clued into contemporary slang or acronyms as they were difficult for me to process as a dyslexic reader and learner. Therefore as an adult dyslexic reader entering into this series – I’d have to say, if I were to give this to a middle grade reader I’d ask them a few questions about shortcuts in contemporary language patterns and if they knew shorthand for certain phrases as the wordplay is altered and is attempting to come across as ‘clued in’ to the language of younger children although for me, I felt it fell a bit short on that end of it. I almost thought the author was trying a bit too hard to pull that off and should have just kept the girls’ speaking in a language pattern which was more reflective of their own personalities than what would be considered the ‘best’ en-vogue collection of terms and phrases.

Where the story grows in empathy is showing how each of the girls’ have their own strengths and weaknesses – which proved to be a learning curve for their ‘sidekicks’ which were really quite the awkward collection of aliens! Their superhero strengths played off their own individual talents on Earth and thereby gave them superhuman qualities in space! I liked how the girls’ acted their actual age and showed how they still needed a bit of guidance to understand new situations and new experiences where they might have felt a bit overwhelmed by the circumstances.

The ending reminded me a heap of what happens in Back to the Future Part II – in fact, that was one of the films I loved watching at the age I would have naturally picked up this to read. There were some moments where I wish we could have understood more about the girls’ themselves – what made them unique and different from one another – I know the story focused on their individual talents and weaknesses, but I wanted a bit more back-story about the girls’ themselves. I would have preferred a lot less slang and shorthand as well – as again, even as an adult dyslexic reader I find half of that distracts from the story as I am constantly trying to sort out what the abbreviations are referencing and referring to whilst if the story just said what it had meant I would have been able to follow the story a bit easier.

Overall, the biggest surprise was really the unmasking of the villain which reminded me why we always looked forward to that reveal during an episode of Scooby Doo. I felt Ultra Squad borrowed a lot from other pop cultural stories and superheroes – wherein, it was struggling to have its own identity from the crowd. There are some good moments between the sidekicks and the girls’ but there was a bit of a downside in having them stay in-scene and not sound ridiculous too. I think this would be good for readers who might be even a bit younger than projected for the story itself as it is definitely geared towards newer readers who are not actively reading every week or month but might occasionally pick up a story.

-quoted from my review of Ultra Squad (Book One)

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#WyrdAndWonder Middle Grade Graphic Novel Book Review | “Ultra Squad: Adventures under the Strangebow” (Book Two of the Ultra Squad series) by Julia Devillers, illustrated by Rafael RosadoUltra Squad
Subtitle: Adventures under the Strangebow
by Julia Devillers
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

An evil, strange rainbow! A former nemesis! And four girls who look exactly like the UltraSquad! It’s an epic battle on an alternate universe for the UltraSquad, a secret superhero team, with a mission to save the universe through teamwork, positivity, and justice. Can the girls and their sidekicks, the Pallies, once again save the world and make it a better place through teamwork, positivity, and unstoppable fierce girl power?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1732703025

Also by this author: Ultra Squad

Also in this series: Ultra Squad


Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Children's Literature, Graphic Novel, Illustrated Stories, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade, Superhero Fiction


Published by Justice Studios

on 12th November, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 96

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The Ultra Squad series:

Ultra Squad (Book One) by Julia DevillersUltra Squad Under the Strangebow by Julia Devillers

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Ultra Squad (book one) – (see also Review)

Ultra Squad: Adventures Under the Strangebow(book two)

Ultra Squad: Galaxy Dance Off (book three)
← *forthcoming 1st March, 2021

Ultra Squad: Time After Slime (book four)

Available formats: Trade Paperback

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Converse via: #UltraSquad, #GraphicNovel & #SuperheroFiction
as well as #MiddleGrade, #MGLit and #diverselit or #WeNeedDiverseBooks

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Posted Tuesday, 19 May, 2020 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Book Review (non-blog tour), Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Indie Author, Juvenile Fiction, Lola's Blog Tours, Middle Grade Novel, Science Fiction, Soft Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event