Nobody’s Story: The First Kingdom by Stephanie Mayor


1stkingdomcoverNobody’s Story: The First Kingdom by Stephanie Mayor, paperback novel, 248 pages, published by This Story is Mine Publishing in 2016.

The First Kingdom is the second book in the Nobody’s Story series. This book follows on from The Golden Locket, which saw Stephanie, and her cat, Angel, arrive in the land of Metilia after opening her locket for the first time. Now the Familian Princes have arrived in Metilia purporting to want peace between the nations. Whilst Princess Stephanie and her friends are showing the Princes around Yorkyin Land, Stephanie suddenly disappears seemingly into thin air. She finds herself alone in a strange and unknown land. Her journey home is full of danger, excitement and new friends.

I was super excited when The First Kingdom arrived! It had been a long wait, and I was looking forward to a trip into Metilia. It seems first I had to visit with those awful Familian princes, Kirk, Joel and Nathaniel. They are such a scheming lot. Then back to Metilia and beyond, a beautiful country full of talking animals, Princes and adventures. Within this book, you will find clans of big cats and wolves, mysterious strangers, kidnapping witches, giants, exciting new lands to explore and even a dragon!

This fantasy novel is beautifully written with witty characters and an exciting plot. I really enjoyed learning the history of Artinear and Metilia through Zanir’s teachings. Mayor has created a fantasy world rich in culture and history, with many layers still yet to be unravelled. The landscapes are stunning, and the inhabitants intricately described. It was quite eye-opening to visit Camtra and Famila, two countries that are very different from Metilia!

I really loved the new characters, Zanir and Icha. The sly fox, Icha, was particularly funny, while his two little kits were very cute. Zanir was more serious, but still had her moments of humour, and I enjoyed the conversations she had with Stephanie while they travelled. The skirmishes between Angel and Chitchat also made me laugh a lot. Deep down, the feisty cat, Angel really adores Chitchat, despite his squirrelyness, I’m sure of it! Angel generally makes me smile with her sassy attitude and her dislike of all things princely, her fierce loyalty and love for Stephanie and her ability to sleep at the drop of a hat. She was rivalled by the newcomer, Zanir, who also becomes dedicated to protecting Stephanie. It will be interesting to see what sort of relationship Zanir and Angel will develop in the future.

The chapter titles gave me a kick. There were some great puns there, which made me snort-laugh more than once!

The First Kingdom is suitable for middle and upper primary through to high school students, and will appeal to anyone interested in fantasy and adventure. I was ripping along through this book, but I forced myself to put it down, as I just didn’t want it to end yet. Oh, the wait for the next book will be too long…. but it will be oh so exciting when it’s here!


*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.


D is for Dudley & Other Nature Tales by Ron Chandler


dudleycoverD is for Dudley & Other Nature Tales by Ron Chandler, paperback, 74 pages, published in 2015.

D is for Dudley & Other Nature Tales is a collection of short stories, mostly about animals and the environment.

The first couple of stories in the book were too short and lacked substance. This didn’t bode well for the rest of the book, but I continued hoping to find that the other stories were better. There wasn’t one I liked much until about half way through the book, with the title story, “D is for Dudley”. It was a little unbelievable, I would definitely be suspicious if my kids volunteered to do the washing!, but I liked the theme. Striving to protect the environment and animals it contains, is quite noble, and these kids do their best to save the extremely large terrapin from hunters within the bay.

The best story in this collection was by far “Chicken Feathers”. It is the story of a young girl who grooms a rooster for the county fair. She is competing against her much older and more experienced neighbour. Despite her young age, she believes in her ability to win, and even when her rooster is looking scraggly, she doesn’t lose heart, she tries even harder to get him in shape. This is a lovely lesson showing that determination and persistence are often rewarded. The only downside to this tale is a slight undertone of racism.

It states in the blurb on the back of the book that the stories “celebrate nature”, but these stories don’t so much do that as they do showcase humanity’s depravities. Throughout the book there were people behaving badly. There were alcoholic parents, bickering couples, dog fighters, hunters, and animal abusers. I found most of the stories to be very depressing and often distasteful. One story made an offhand comment about a twelve year old girl skipping meals to stay skinny. This is not only awful and inappropriate, it also had no relevance to the story. In another tale a boy looked a girl over from her toes to her shoulders in an appreciative way. Again, this was an unnecessary addition to the story, and it’s quite sexist, it’s as if she had no face. There are also girls being told that they will want to dress up and go to balls, instead of doing “tomboy” things. I found there to be a sexist vibe throughout the book, which was disappointing. I also felt that hunting for sport, which is something I’m opposed to, was condoned as a suitable activity for kids.

This book is aimed at kids aged 8 to 12, but I really can’t recommend it to anyone. Even aside from the sexism throughout the book, most of the stories weren’t particularly good. They all lacked description and depth, and sometimes even a clear direction. Since I was expecting a book full of the gloriousness that is nature, I found this to be very disappointing indeed.


*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Goodwood by Holly Throsby


goodwoodcoverGoodwood by Holly Throsby, paperback novel, 384 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2016.

In 1992 in a sleepy little town in NSW something very unusual happens. Young Rosie White disappears overnight, leaving her mother devastated and the townsfolk speculating. Just one week later another member of the community disappears; Bart McDonald, local butcher, upright citizen, all round good guy. He went fishing and never returned. Could their disappearances be connected, or is it merely co-incidental? And will the citizens of Goodwood ever know the truth?

In Goodwood there are a few shops, a couple of drinking establishments and just out of town, a lovely lake, perfect for fishing and boating. Seventeen year old Jean Brown introduces us to this small town, where everyone knows everyone. And where everyone’s business is kept by the whole town. Some people have learnt how to keep secrets, but eventually most secrets come to the surface. Jean lives with her mother nearby her grandparents, who have been in Goodwood forever.

A complex web of secrets and intrigues shrouds the members of Goodwood, which only start to unravel after the shocking disappearance of two very different people. Like an iceberg, much more lurks beneath the surface in Goodwood, hidden behind the public facade of each household. There is plenty of gossip, and just maybe some of it is true. Rosie works in the takeaway shop, having just left school the year before. Jean is a little bit in love with Rosie, who seems so cool and in control. In contrast, Bart is middle-aged and always has time for everyone, even the annoying old lady that visits his shop everyday mostly for a chat. They are very different people, superficially without a lot in common, just what is it that links their disappearances?

Goodwood sucked me in very early on. The plot was intricate, the characters interesting, and the pace moderate. It is a most enjoyable read about small town life and the impact that a sudden and unexpected event can illicit among the townspeople. It also has coming-of-age elements as Jean learns more about herself, her relationships and her place within the community.

I found this novel quite nostalgic, pulling me back into my childhood. Through description and characterisation, the world as it was in the early nineties came flooding back. The writing perfectly captured that time, and I was left with a feeling of familiarity and contentment. It was like having a spotlight shone upon a time that I had mostly forgotten as a young child, and that brought pleasing memories forth. This helped me feel connected to Jean, and thus connected to the story. Goodwood was a delight to read.

Goodwood is reminiscent of Peyton Place and The Dressmaker; if you liked these, try Goodwood, I’m sure you will not be disappointed! It is suitable for upper high school students and adults, particularly appealing to mystery fans and those that enjoy the complexities of small community life.


*I received this book from the publisher as an uncorrected proof through an online competition. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Black by Fleur Ferris


blackcoverBlack by Fleur Ferris, paperback novel, 276 pages, published by Random House Australia in 2016.

Ebony ‘Black’ Marshall has been devastated by the loss of three of her closest friends, on three separate occasions. Most of the town thinks she is cursed, and friends of Black are destined to die. Black has built a protective wall around herself, enduring the bullying and the fear. Then Aiden pops into her life, her parents start acting a little weird, and a connection is made between her and an old abandoned house. Now she must get to the bottom of the mystery, and she might even find love along the way.

This intriguing young adult novel kept me up reading. I completed it in one day as it was so difficult to put down. It is dark and thrilling, and oh so good. It was the mystery that pulled me in; why was Black so ostracised? Why was Father Ratchet so creepy? What was Ged’s problem? So many questions that I needed answers to! The pace was very fast and the story unravelled beautifully, making it a delightfully quick, spine-tingling read.

Black was an extremely interesting character. She is seventeen and finishing high school in a small town and she works at the water plant that her dad established. I felt very sad about the way many of the other kids, and some of the adults, in the town treated her. No one should be bullied and harassed like that, no wonder she was counting down the days until she could leave. Despite the treatment she had received, she was strong, competent, and capable, as well as nice.

I really liked Ed. He was gallant and supportive, definitely Black’s knight in shining armour! He was also quite funny, and I liked the way he was with Black. Aiden was also a nice character and a good friend. The not so nice characters were also written very well written; the mention of Father Ratchet was enough to make my skin crawl. He was seriously creepy.

Black is suitable for middle to upper high school students. Fleur Ferris has another book available called Risk, which I now want to read too!

Time Away


Focus, concentration and motivation have been rather lacking in my life lately, as I slowly recover from illness, and the death of a loved one. I just haven’t been able to work or even read for pleasure, leaving me woefully behind in my read-and-review stack. I apologise if you have been waiting for a review or feedback. I don’t know how long it will be until I find myself back on my feet again, I’m just taking things one day at a time.
Thank you all for reading my blog and sharing your work with me and my readers. I hope to continue the Today We Did journey soon, and I hope you will come along for the ride🙂

Sara xx

The Road to Winter by Mark Smith


roadtowintercoverThe Road to Winter by Mark Smith, paperback novel, 230 pages, published by Text Publishing in 2016.

Finn watched as his little town on the Victorian coast was ravished by a mysterious virus, leaving few survivors. Finn is a survivor, and he has kept himself and his dog, Rowdy, alive for the past two years, despite his youth. He’s also escaped the notice of the violent gangs of Wilders who have taken control of the land to the north. A girl suddenly appears on Finn’s beach, injured, tired and running from the Wilders. He makes a split decision to help her; he is not alone any more, but she does pose a huge complication to his otherwise repetitive life of hunting and surfing.

What a debut for Mark Smith! An intense dystopian novel set in Australia, The Road to Winter is about the struggles to survive in a world turned upside down. There are also themes of friendship and love, including the special bond that Finn has with Rowdy. I really got wrapped up in this story as I read. I stayed up late to finish reading it, and when I awoke the following morning, all I could think about was getting back into the book to find out what happened next. I was extremely disappointed when I remembered that I’d already finished it and the next one isn’t available yet.

Such rich characters, having experienced loss, trauma and hardship. In some ways they are all broken, but they also possess much strength to have survived the sickness and the collapse of society. I really liked Finn, his gentle and caring nature, his independence and his love for Rowdy. He is quite resourceful also, trapping rabbits and diving for abalone to eat. Rose and Kas are much more feisty, and maybe even more determined to survive than Finn. They are also capable, clever and beautiful. Ramage, on the other-hand, is cruel and vindictive, a truly ugly person capable of the most heinous acts. I think many of the Wilders do Ramage’s bidding because they are frightened of him, and with good cause. It’s a shame the virus didn’t take him out! The sound of his trail bike is chilling; it announces impending hostility and fear, hard to forget.

The author has included a rather controversial and topical aspect to this story in the form of ‘Sileys’. This is slang for asylum seekers. In the story these ‘Sileys’ were bought and sold like slaves, property for their owners to do with as they saw fit. Australia is currently up in arms about the treatment of asylum seekers, who face off-shore detention in poor conditions indefinitely. It’s scary to think that our current methods of processing asylum seekers could ever devolve into open slave labour like in the story.

A thrilling read, The Road to Winter is suitable for high school students. It is to be the first in a series, so now I have to wait (trying to be patient, and failing miserably!) for the next book.

New Library Additions July ’16


IMG_7880July was a quiet month when it came to book buying. I did pick up some lovely 2 for $30 Australian YA from Dymocks on the last day of the month, and I ordered some books from the kids Scholastic bookclub catalogue, but they haven’t arrived yet.

Physical Books:



  • Minecat by P.T. Evans (chapter book)