All The Little Bones

All The Little Bones
Circus Hearts Book One
Written by Ellie Marney
Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Published September 1st 2018
179 Pages
Thank you to Ellie Marney
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A teenage trapeze artist and an apprentice strongman on the run from a terrible crime…

Seventeen year old Sorsha Neary’s life is changed in one night when she defends herself behind the vans of her family circus troupe. Now Sorsha and apprentice strongman Colm Mackay are travelling south, to evade the fallout and escape the long arm of the law. All they have in their favour is talent, an old promise, and slim acquaintance with the crew members and performers of their new home, Klatsch’s Karnival. But the question for Sorsha and Colm isn’t if the police will catch up with them, but when…

Dark YA romance, with a criminal twist. Circus Hearts. Step. Right. Up.
Saoirse Neary is evading the authorities. Defending herself against a sexual assault, the seventeen year old trapeze performer is escaping persecution accompanied by strongman, nineteen year old Colm Mackay.

The Performers
Sorsha Neary is a beautiful young woman. Orphaned as a child, Sorsha lives with caregiver, aunt Morrighan. Fostered by the stoic woman, also a fortune teller within the northern travelling circus. Frightened for the repercussions after the attempted assault, Sorsha flees. Escaping the intimate northern family troupe, Sorsha and Colm travel south.

Colm Mackay is a gentle, compassionate young man, protective of Sorsha although the two performers are virtual strangers. Colm joined the intimate northern troupe several years prior, his mother an abusive, exploitative woman. Sharing the small confined space of Colm's car is an intimate experience, establishing a tentative friendship encompassed by their shared experience.

Swoony Sexy Times
A tentative friendship, a smouldering attraction creating an intense, sensual romance. As her protector, Colm is gentle and understanding and relies upon verbal consent before touching affectionately or intimately, apprehensive and compassionately the gentleman. Moments of intimacy are beautifully written with fragility and vulnerability. Considering the possibility of being captured, while Sorsha performs, Colm is employed within the mechanics yard, the troupe unable to provide a position for the former performer. Colm embraces his new position, his priority is to ensure Sorsha is protected.

Step Right Up
Klatsch’s Karnival is a company of distinguished characters and performers. Unbeknown to the troupe performers, the significance of the attempted sexual assault induces anxiety and trepidation for Sorsha. Immersing herself within the atmosphere of the carnival and despite expressed caution from Morrighan, Sorsha is unwilling to appease Fleur Klatsch, daughter of the Ringmaster and traipse performer. Fleur is a hostile and antagonistic young woman and expeditiously, is suspicious of Sorsha and her capacity within the troupe. Fleur embraces her notoriety intensely and is determined to ostracise Sorsha.

Atmospherically exhilarative, All The Broken Bones embraces the essence of anticipation amid the performance, awakening the decadent and historical carnivals of yesteryear through intrigue and romanticism.

Ellie Marney, you are exceptional.

Out now from Amazon US  Amazon AU  iTunes  Kobo and other great retailers

Contemporary Quickies

Open Road Summer
Written by Emery Lord
Contemporary, Road Trip, Romance
368 Pages
Edition Publishing September 1st 2018
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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After breaking up with her bad news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s twenty four city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls only summer of break up ballads and healing hearts.

But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy next door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.
Seventeen year old Reagan O'Neill is embarking on a summer of tour buses, plush hotel suites and watching from the wings as best friend and America's country music darling Lilah Montgomery completes the leg of her Southern tour. Behind the stage presence, Dee is heartbroken and nursing the breakup of her teenage sweetheart. Although the narrative follows Reagan's journey, best friend and superstar Dee is a wonderful secondary character, reminiscent of Taylor Swift's beginnings as a country music darling. 

For Reagan, the summer long tour is an opportunity to mend, having escaped an abusive relationship, her alcoholism and underage drink driving charges. Her once single, now remarried father is repairing their parental relationship while maintaining his sobriety with the support of his new wife. When vicious rumours begin to surface surrounding Dee's private life and wholesome image, long time friend and fellow musician Matt Finch joins the tour creating a media distraction. With his boyish good looks and southern charm, the last thing Reagan needs is another distraction.

Reagan portrays a tough girl image, confident and often shallow. Beneath the surface lies an insecure young woman who is beginning to piece her life back together for her father she feels abandoned by, for her friend Dee but most importantly, for herself. The issue I found with Reagan is her assumptions and judgement of other females around her, especially in regards to Matt, after joining the tour.

Matt is lovely and clearly attracted to Reagan, she challenges him, frustrates him and the two share wonderful banter and chemistry. As a performer, Matt is also a heartthrob for teens and the young female audience, to which Reagan takes issue. Wearing slim, short, revealing clothing or heavy makeup does not equate to being sexually promiscuous. Even if a character chose to engage in sex with multiple partners, that's great as long as they're being safe and the sex is consensual.

Apart from the slut shaming not being addressed, it was a fun, wonderfully written, summer read with a loving friendship, swoony romance and beautiful moments of imperfections that make life perfect.

Written by Karen Gregory
Contemporary, Activism, LGBT, Romance
320 Pages
Published July 1st 2018
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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We watch the bird as it flies high above us, singing like it's the only thing in the world that matters.

And I feel it, that life can be beautiful. That there are possibilities.

Keep your head down and don't borrow trouble is the motto Joni lives by, and so far it's seen her family through some tough times. It's not as if she has the power to change anything important anyway. Like Dad's bad back, or the threat of losing their house.

So when Annabel breezes into her life, Joni's sure they're destined to clash. Pretty, poised, privileged, the daughter of the richest family in town must have it easy.

But sometimes you find a matching spirit where you least expect it. Sometimes love can defy difference. And sometimes life asks you to be bigger and braver...
Karen Gregory creates such wonderfully realistic narratives about life and human struggles. The honest, working class family on the verge of financial ruin due to big corporation purchasing their small, low income housing estate with plans to raise the rent beyond the means of residents. Working parents with young families, single parents on pensions and the elderly that call Cherry Tree estate home. Including the Cooper family.

To help make ends meet, Joni Cooper works at her local library over the summer holidays alongside Annabel Huntington, a girl from the wealthy side of the tracks. I loved their tentative friendship as they begin to understand one another, those uncertain moments of whether their friendship is venturing into romantic love. It was so lovely and gentle, one of my favourite aspects of the storyline.

While it's often easier to deny the inevitable for Joni's parents, older brother Jamie is determined to fight against the injustice of eviction. The central focus is on the socioeconomic repercussions of the small estate takeover will potentially leave hundreds of families homeless, it's a David verses Goliath battle that begins to unite the community. I enjoyed the political activism and grass roots campaign that Joni involved herself with, although it placed further strain on her family, relationship and also employment.

Overall, it was a quick yet satisfying read. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Grace And Fury

Grace And Fury
Grace And Fury Book One
Written by Tracy Banghart
Fantasy, Dystopian, Survival
Published July 31st 2018
320 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other on an island prison where women must fight to survive.

Serina has spent her whole life preparing to become a Grace, selected to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining example of the perfect woman.

But her headstrong and rebellious younger sister has a dangerous secret and one wrong move could cost both sisters everything.

Can Serina fight? And will Nomi win?
In the Kingdom of Viridia, young women compete for the prestige of Grace, chosen to reign without influence or authority. Gender inequality is prevalent throughout Viridia. Attractive young women are cultivated to become subservient, representing the throne and Kingdom respectfully. Women are refused an education, disciplined as concubines or handmaidens, both subservient positions.

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves
Serina Tessaro is a Grace, a young woman of impeccable benevolence and revered for her physique and sensuality. Nomi Tessaro is a young lady of servitude in her position as handmaiden, ensuring Serina is overindulged. To be chosen as concubine to their heir of Viridia is an accomplishment, families are reimbursed monetarily, surviving poverty and low socioeconomic conditions, incentive for labour weary families. Nomi advocates for gender equality, the freedom to be educated, to be literate, to eradicate concubines and the female voice to be acknowledged and celebrated. Rebelliously, Nomi has learnt to read, a crime punishable by life imprisonment, her defiance capturing the heir, Prince Malachi and brother Asa, as Nomi is chosen to become a Grace in Serina's place.

And Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce
The essence of Grace and Fury is liberation against the patriarchy and oppression of women. Although a Grace, Serina is a resilient young woman accused of concealing forbidden literature and removed as the appointed handmaiden, incarcerated on Mount Ruin, an island prison for women ostracised from society. Nomi is reluctantly navigating her new position as Grace, determined to pursue the disappearance of Serina as revolution within the palace begins to rouse. 

Serina's awakening is remarkable. Viridian women are sentenced to the island penitentiary, patrolled by armed and opportunistic male wardens. Estranged women are segregated, contending for meagre rations to survive. Girls are competitively conditioned throughout their lives, prevalent on the island where violence reigns. Afflicted by an insurmountable loss, Serina invokes change inspired by Nomi and her own defiance.

The Tale Of Two Princes And An Extra Guy
Prince Malachi is heir to the Viridian throne, a restrained, commanding presence. Asa is tender young man, unequivocally determined to revolutionise society, challenging inequality. His ideals captivate Nomi, sharing his fear for a tyrannical reign as the health of his father deteriorates. Supposedly, Nomi is an elementary challenge for Malachi to conquer as heir as the young Grace is manipulated and exploited.

On the island, Serina finds companionship in Valentino, a young soldier under the command of the Viridian monarch. Entrusting Valentino, Serina is desperate to escape the island, fearing persecution for inciting revolutionary conflict. The imprisoned female population of Mount Ruin is uprising.

Misogynist Bastards
Deception and betrayal reign within the kingdom, the patriarchy have ensured women remain docile and ignorant. Viridia hides an abhorrent history of misogyny, women in positions of authority were eradicated and now viewed as subordinate, deserving of servitude or to be aesthetically pleasing. Nae feckin' way. Rise up ladies.

Author Tracy Banghart has created a scintillating narrative, young women non conforming, demolishing the confines of traditional societal positions. Empowering, captivating and inciting until the final page.
For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet... And who stood up anyway.

Bright We Burn: The Finale To My Most Loved Series

See reviews for And I Darken and Now I Rise
Bright We Burn
The Conquerors Saga Book Three
Written by Kiersten White
Historical, Alternative History, Young Adult
Published July 16th 2018
400 Pages
Thanks to Penguin Random House Australia
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Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed and would he even want it?

Lada's rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won't rest until everyone knows that her country's borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed's peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister's indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before, including her relationships, can Lada truly build the country she wants.

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.
The Prince of Wallachia is a revolutionary leader among her European borders, a young woman guiding her beloved country to freedom from the Ottoman Empire.

Lada Dragwyla
Lada Dragwyla is an unprecedented character in young adult literature, malevolent and ferociously inhumane. Raised as a young woman destined for traditional female servitude, Lada has escaped for the freedom of Wallachia, reestablishing control alongside her trusted Emissaries. Her journey is contravened by inequality, ignorance and chauvinism, her position as Prince inconceivable. Lada has established the admiration of her compatriots and an equitable Wallachia.

Radu Dragwyla
Radu Dragwyla is a spiritual and compassionate young man, sheltered from atrocities and brutality until the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman forces. The legitimate heir to the Wallachia throne, Radu circumvented his homeland and responsibilities to advocate for the Mehmed the Conqueror and the Ottoman Empire. Abandoning Lada and the dishevelled, presumably incorrigible, antagonistic relationship. As abandoned children of servitude, Lada and Radu are educated on the Ottoman occupation and prophet Muhammad. Radu embraced the Muslim faith, Lada's determination and defiance captivating Mehmed, the young Ottoman heir.

Mehmed The Conqueror
Mehmed is an aggravating antagonist. As a child heir guided by the Sultan, Mehmed is an idealistic young man possessing grandeur illusions of a region united under Islam. Although Lada and Radu were captivates of the Sultan, Lada establishes a physical relationship with Mehmed creating resentment and hostility in gentle Radu, who is exploring his sexuality. Mehmed often exploits Radu's attraction, therein lies the issue with his character. Appointing Radu as an adviser and attempting to subdue Lada as a compatriot and companion.

Gender Inequality
In Bright We Burn, Lada is tenacious, unrelenting and although aggravated in retaliation, she's accused of genocidal atrocities. Mehmed conquers Constantinople and is applauded and revered for his initiative. As Prince of Wallachia, Lada is held accountable, male counterparts exonerated for the savagery against humanity. Women in positions of domination are inconceivable. Male lineages occupy Europe, women are wives, concubines and adhere to the traditional female roles prevalent throughout the European kingdoms and Lada Dragwyla, a young woman of influence, revolutionising Europe against the Ottoman occupation.

Character Diversity
An amalgamation of religion and sexuality. Muslim, Christian, same sex relationships and Radu's exploration of sexuality and faith. Radu particularly is confronted by the Wallachian Christianity and upon his captivation by the Sultan, embraced Islam by engaging in sessions of prayer and the Holy Month, experiencing the peaceful teaching of Islam throughout Radu's narrative. The gentle relationship between Nazira, her partner Fatima and Radu is exquisite and although society recognises heteronormative relationships, Nazira and Radu share a familial, nonsexual relationship of affection and tenderness.

Historically, Mehmed the Conqueror was rumoured to have been sexually attracted to men which is unclear throughout The Conquerors Saga. Mehmed shares intimate moments with Radu, gentle gesturing, alluding to the rumours that his harem as Sultan contains consenting men for the Sultan's sexual gratification. To disperse rumours, Mehmed ostracises Radu to Constantinople, unclear if Mehmed is sexually attracted to Radu or exploiting the young Dragwyla's affections. 

The Conquerors Saga is a brutal alternative history of the Prince of Wallachia, blending historical fiction with a cruel and calculating antihero that pushes gender roles, stereotypes and labels. A breathtaking, historical alternative of the Ottoman Empire during fifteenth century Europe and an impeccable finale to what is an outstanding young adult series.

Muse of Nightmares

Contains spoilers for Strange The Dreamer. Read my review here.
Muse of Nightmares
Strange the Dreamer Book Two
Written by Laini Taylor
Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Publishing October 2nd 2018
432 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old. She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise. She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice, save the woman he loves, or everyone else, while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected. Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed, must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.
Lazlo Strange perches high above the city in the Citadel where the body of Sarai lies, her soul consumed by the malevolent, warmongering Minya and tethered to the Unseen City. The citadel continues to conceal the history of the Mesarthim and their offspring, the humans of the metropolis enduring captivity and enforced to procreate. Thousands of Mesarthim were slain throughout the Citadel, an eternally preserved mausoleum above the City of Weep.

Siblings Novali and Korako Vasa are interesting characters and indispensable to the narrative. The Mesarthim journeyed provinces and communities pursuing exceptional young individuals for servitude. Novali and Korako are the offspring of Nyoka, a Mesarthim combatant. Korako is a superior being, collared and separated from her sister. The nonlinear narratives converge spectacularly in an abundance of breathtaking revelations.

Lazlo Strange is Mesarthim, orphaned and his identity concealed and now feeling a sense of acceptance and belonging. Lazlo, a child of thousands conceived within the Citadel, created by coercion and a nonconsensual relationship. The abuse is addressed and condemned within the narrative, reiterating the importance of consent. Sarai is tethered to Minya and the Citadel and although her physical body is cremated, her spirit remains corporeal and able to interact with her environment. Including Lazlo. Lazlo and Sarai continue their relationship, able to explore one another within the safety of Lazlo's conscious, lucid dreaming.

The blue of her skin, the silver stars and moon. She was the sky. Heavy, bewitched, he leaned forward and brushed his lips over a star.

An adult captured within perpetual juniority, Minya is an intriguing character and often misunderstood. A tender child as the Citadel was decimated by the Godslayer Eril Fane, Minya is resolved to protect her family, the surviving offspring of the Mesarthim and is acrimoniously vengeful. Although appearing heinous, Minya is a causality of her environment and has nurtured the Godspawn children since infancy. Throughout the narration, Muse of Nightmares touches upon learning from our ancestral transgressions, resolution beginning when we absolve others. Warmongering is not our only recourse. 
Minya's conviction was absolute. The humans has slain her kind. She had stood in the passage and heard the screams dwindle, baby by baby, until silence has reigned. 

Laini Taylor is a remarkable author, weaving imaginative and atmospheric narratives. The lyricism is breathtaking, intricate and incredibly enchanting, transcending fantasy literature. Absolutely exceptional.

I anticipate the beginning of a new adventure.

Whisper of the Tide

Check out my review for Song of the Current
Whisper of the Tide
Song of the Current Book Two
Written by Sarah Tolcser
Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
416 Pages
Published July 2018
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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Caro Oresteia spent her life waiting to be called by the river god, as those in her family had been for generations. But when she’s swept away on an adventure to save the Akhaian royal prince, Markos, her destiny is sealed by the sea god instead.

For now, Caro is landlocked, helping Markos reclaim his throne after nearly his entire family was assassinated in a political coup. Without any financial or military support, Markos is desperate for allies, and Caro has fought off more than one attempt on his life. When a powerful Archon offers his army in exchange for Markos’s marriage to his daughter, Caro must choose.

Her love for Markos, or the fate of Akhaia? And more importantly: How much is she willing to risk to defy the sea god’s wishes and chart her own course?

With shipwrecks, lost treasure, old and new enemies, dark magic, and breathtaking romance, Sarah Tolcser weaves another epic story about chasing your fate.
Seventeen year old Caroline Oresteia was a privateer on board the Cormorant, alongside her father, a humbled Wherryman, now evading capture for her thievery upon the everglades of Kynthessa. Caroline is a tenacious young woman, her fortitude is inspiring. Altruistically, she is now assisting Markos as he attempts to converge military and political allies. Markos Andela is the legitimate Emparch of Akhaia, his family slain by Konto Theucinian and displaced from his kingdom.

Mitigation emerges from Lord Pherenekian, Archon of Eryth. A proposal of a fifteen thousand person artillery in exchange for the political union of Markos and his daughter Agnes Pherenekian, an unconventional young woman interested in academics and potential Emparchess. Quite the conundrum for Caroline, conflicted between her fondness for the Prince and a Kingdom in disarray.

Whisper of the Tide is a maritime adventure of resilience and endurance. Generations of Oresteria Wherrymen have been guided by the River God, speaking the language of the Everglades. Except for Caroline, claimed by the Sea Goddess and destined for adventure. The relationship between Caroline and Markos is convoluted and apprehensive, Caroline placing her aspirations aside to preserve the revolution and subjugate Konto Theucinian, while desperately yearning for the wild blue yonder.

A ship was not meant to sit at anchor in the harbor, and neither was I.

The secondary characters are meticulously created, including a former adversary. Cousin and apprentice Shadowman Kenté. Merchant manager Docia Argyrus. Opportunist Sophronia Hypatos. Dido Brilliante the Pirate Queen and capitalist merchant Tamaré Bollard. Distinctly tenacious women who have challenged gender equality and celebrated the female achievement.

Sarah Tolcser has created an enchanting and captivating narrative, an entertaining adventure for the marauder at heart. Avast ye scalawags and buccaneers, all hands ahoy!

From Twinkle, With Love

From Twinkle, With Love
Written by Sandhya Menon
Contemporary, Romance
Published May 22nd 2018
336 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen.

So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy, Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true.

When mystery man N begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily ever after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile. The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favourite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.
Twinkle Maher is an aspiring director, destined to share the untold stories of the world. As a young Indian American woman of a low socioeconomic status, Twinkle is determined to persevere within the patriarchal dominated society with tenacity. Twinkle is the primary caregiver for her grandmother, her father an aide for displaced adolescents, her mother tormented by undiagnosed depression and unable to return to India. Her grandmother is an inspiring and wonderful support for Twinkle, also offering perspective in the absence of parental influence.

I admired her fortitude but Twinkle is often unable to compromise. Whether a necessity for perfection or to control her environment, she describes it as not having her voice heard, often accompanied by feelings of being a woman of colour within a patriarchal system. It intensifies the need to raise marginalised voices but often excuses her demanding behaviour throughout the narrative. Twinkle's journey of realisation is difficult as her popularity cultivates, friendships are constrained as her world becomes increasingly more exclusive, alienating Hannah her childhood companion.

Sahil Roy is a film aficionado, a connoisseur of stories told. Dissimilar to sibling Neil, Sahil is an academic who is determined to be recognised for his own achievements. Serendipitously, Twinkle and Sahil collaborate on a film tor the Pikes Peak Charter Midsummer Night, an annual event celebrating cinematography.

The tentative companionship is lovely, Sahil encouraging Twinkle foremost as a creative young woman and professionally, financing the film. I appreciated that Sahil was incredibly gentlemanly throughout the process, allowing Twinkle freedom of creativity. Through interactions with friends and an anonymous online journal, Sahil is incredibly attracted to Twinkle. Unfortunately, although Twinkle has developed a fondness for Sahil, she believes Neil Roy is the ideal brother to enhance her social status, unbeknownst to Sahil. The romance is convoluted, tumultuous but entirely authentic as Twinkle discovers Neil represents an ideal, rather than the connection she shares with Sahil.

Sandhya Menon is an exceptional author, creating vibrant and diverse characters and beautifully imperfect narratives of adolescent exploration and actualisation. In a series of letters written to accomplished female filmmakers, From Twinkle, With Love will captivate and delight readers until the final page. 

Grace Beside Me

Grace Beside Me contains sensitivities such as racism, abuse and attempted sexual assault.
Grace Beside Me
Written by Sue McPherson
Contemporary, Indigenous, #LoveOZYA
Published December 2012
224 Pages
Thank you to Magabala Books
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A warmly rendered story of life in a small town that interweaves the mundane with the profound and the spiritual.

Told through the eyes of teenager, Fuzzy Mac, awkward episodes of teen rivalry and romance sit alongside the mystery of Nan’s visions and a ghostly encounter. Against a backdrop of quirky characters, including the holocaust survivor who went to school with Einstein and the little priest always rushing off to bury someone before the heat gets to them, Grace Beside Me is full of humour and timely wisdom.
Thirteen year old Ocean Skye McCardell, affectionately known as Fuzzy Mac, lives within the small outback town of Laurel Dale. Since her mother passed, Fuzzy has lived with her grandparents, known to the town as Nan and Pop, her father employed in the mining industry and unable to care for his only child. Thirteen years of age will become a monumental year for Fuzzy as she begins to see spirits, a long held tradition of Seer passed down through the McCardell women. Navigating adolescence as Fuzzy finds her sense of self, her ancestry and her role as an Indigenous, Irish and South Sea Islander young woman.

It's the listening and telling of stories that bring our people close, both young and old. Stories keep our culture strong and our faith alive. 

Politically, the landscape of Australia is changing. The Australian government have announced a national day of apology, a small step towards the process of healing Indigenous communities, touching on long held racism, prejudice and the Stolen Generation. Grace Beside Me places the focus on family and the small community of Laurel Dale's societal issues. The neighbours experiencing domestic violence, Holocaust survivors, Uncle Lefty who through loss of identity, is now on the straight and narrow. Nan and Pop are pillars of the small town community, caring for the downtrodden.

The diversity of characters are wonderful. Nan is biracial Indigenous and Irish, her mother Koori and father of Irish heritage. Nan and her sisters were only young girls when they were stolen from their families. Pop is a descendant of the South Sea Islanders, enslaved and brought to Australia. Indigenous Australian, Māori, European and white Australia coexist within the small community that is beautifully portrayed. 

The writing is incredibly organic, Sue McPherson engages readers within the narrative as I felt as though I was part of the Laurel Dale community. Simple, wonderful storytelling at its finest.

Watch the Adaptation

Kyliric Masella shines as the character of Fuzzy Mac, a beautiful young Indigenous girl who is coming of age. After her mother died of an overdose, Fuzzy has been raised by her grandparents, her father working in the mines and unable to care for his daughter. Her journey begins on the morning of her thirteenth birthday, coinciding with the spiritual Spooky Month, leading Fuzzy to learn she is to become a Seer of spiritual insight, guided by the spirits of her ancestors.

Each episode of the thirteen part series follows Fuzzy as she learns about her gift and the spirits that need assistance before moving on. It entwines the Indigenous spiritual beliefs with a wonderful sense of family, as Nan and Pop are always a positive influence in Fuzzy's life, helping guide her moral compass. 

Navigating her adolescence, friendship, family and responsibilities, Grace Beside Me is a beautiful blend of diverse Australiana and the celebration of Indigenous country, spirit and history. Adapted from the award winning novel by Sue McPherson, published by Magabala Books and previously screened on NITV, you can watch season one of Grace Beside Me on ABC iView here. Or check out the trailer by clicking here.

 Grace Beside Me
Magabala books is a non for profit arts organisation and independent Aboriginal Corporation with the objective of restoring, preserving and maintaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and the rights of traditional storytellers and artists. To read more about Magabala Books and to donate, visit their website.
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