Illuminae... Aussie Epicness!

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Illuminae The Illuminae Files Book One
Written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Science Fiction, Space Opera
Expected Publication November 2015
608 Pages
Thank you to Bookworld Australia and Allen & Unwin
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One moment, Kady Grant and Ezra Mason have nothing bigger to worry about than each other. Specifically, avoiding each other in the wake of their messy break-up. In the next second, their entire world falls apart.

The year is 2575 and one of the mega corporations that control much of deep space has just fired the opening salvo in an intergalactic war, destroying Kady and Ezra's planet. Forced to flee on a small fleet of crippled rescue ships alongside thousands of other refugees, the fear of enemy warships chasing them down is at first all consuming but soon becomes the least of their worries. A deadly plague is ravaging the refugees on the ships, the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be an enemy, and High Command is refusing to acknowledge that there may be a serious problem. As Kady plunges into a tangled web of data in search of the truth, she realises that Ezra is possibly the only person who can help her save the refugees before it's too late.
Seventeen year old Kady Grant was still at school when the first explosion signaled the beginning of the intergalactic war, the sky raining fire down upon the illegal mining community of Kerenza. Kady knows the settlement must evacuate, even if former boyfriend Ezra Mason is standing in her way. To survive the deadly BeiTech strike, Kady finds herself on board the scientific vessel in Hypatia, escaping into the dark reaches of outer space. BeiTech are determined to destroy any survivors, having unleashed a deadly bio weapon with the potential to kill mankind. Their fleet has taken on heavy fire and the journey to a jump port to reach a populated core system is months within reach, with BeiTech still in pursuit.

The Alexander is a battle carrier transporting refugees from Kerenza, recruiting civilians in plight for survival. The Alexander is armed with an Artificial Intelligence Defense Analytics Network that has been severely damaged during their escape, shutting down the on board amenities and overriding personnel. Kady is the brains, Ezra the brawn and through a series of infiltrated accounts, surveillance and documents, together they will uncover a series of deception, conspiracies and a deadly plague that threatens to kill what's left of the survivors.

ponderings of a booknerd

Fucking incredible.

Illuminae is one of the most unique and incredible experiences that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Presented in a series of documents, security footage and instant communications, it tells the story of Kady and Ezra and what is ultimately the evacuation of their home planet in Kerenza after it was attacked. Their world is blow apart by BeiTech, a mega corporation who have overtaken the small planet Kerenza to mine for resources while killing it's inhabitants in the process. Both Kady and Ezra managed to escape and now on board space vessels who are looking for a safe passage into another galaxy, with the in pursuit BeiTech warship determined to ensure no survivors remain alive. What ensues is a phenomenal science fiction story with an intense romance that will leave readers feeling exhilarated.

"Am I not merciful?"

The unique format is nothing short of brilliant. The storyline is told through a series of documents, interviews, images and various forms of correspondence presented as a inquiry portfolio. The illustrations, the recorded email and messages recorded only heighten your experience as a reader. It left me utterly breathless.

As a reader, you're thrust into what is an internal inquiry on board the survival ships, in order to understand what happened prior to boarding. With resources low on board both vessels, civilians are recruited to fight against the pursuing hostiles. Ezra will join the assault while Kady finds herself in intelligence training on board the Hypatia, allowing her access to online network communications. It soon becomes apparent that any information inhabitants are given is little more than propaganda, and Kady uses her position to access the secure communication system in order to find answers.

It's within the system where she communicates with Ezra while a deadly plague threatens to wipe out all on board. AIDAN, the artificial intelligence that commands the vessel is dysfunctional at best. Through the turmoil, emerges a tentative friendship between Kady and Ezra, repairing their relationship and trust in one another once more.

The storyline was intensely fierce and Kady an extraordinary heroine while Ezra was charismatic and charming. Although told through the perspective of being a bystander, the in depth reports, interviews and conversations allow readers to immerse themselves within the storyline effortlessly, observing what is essentially conspiracy theories and witnessing Kady expertly working her way through a series of digital breadcrumbs. I had expected a well written space opera, but what I found was an intelligent and brilliantly written science fiction thriller that far exceeded my expectations. Tenfold.

the final verdict

Mind fucking blown. Believe the hype. Every. Fucking. Word.

Illuminae is a visual masterpiece. Blending engaging characters with a unique format and explosive storyline was nothing short of breathtaking. Both Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have created a phenomenal and flawless narrative that will captivate readers until the final page is turned. Strap yourself in for one hell of a ride.

One by Sarah Crossan

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Written by Sarah Crossan
Contemporary, Verse
Published September 1st 2015
448 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Grace and Tippi are twins, conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world, a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined...
Sixteen year old Grace and Tippi have always shared a life. Two minds, two souls who are merged and the hips and share one lower part of their bodies. Conjoined twins who have always been home schooled, sheltered from a cruel and unforgiving world. But with their father turning to alcoholism, becoming retrenched and public donations from well wishes being exhausted, Grace and Tippi have been offered a place at at a prestigious private school, where they prepare themselves to be ridiculed by their peers.

But instead, they meet Yasmeen, who knows all too well what it's like to be labelled and feared. She and her sidekick in Jon don't see Grace and Tippi as one, but as two unique individuals who need to experience all that life has to offer, including falling in love. Until one of their lives is in jeopardy. The only way Grace and Tippi have a chance at surviving and to lead separate lives is to undergo surgery, both in the hope that the other will survive. Two heads, two arms and two hearts who have never known a life without sharing with the other.  

ponderings of a booknerd

One left me an emotional mess and by far Sarah Crossan's best storyline to date. Told in verse, the storyline follows Grace, one half of conjoined twins along with sister Tippi. Where Grace is quiet and prefers not to rock the boat, Tippi likes to charge into any situation and likely to confront those who stare at the girls both in horror and wonder. With their mother losing her job and her father already out of work, the public donations for the twins have dried up and to finish their education, they're facing the prospect of attending school among the whispers of their peers. While both are terrified what lies within the hallowed walls, Grace is more open to the prospect of finding friends, even finding love.

Their story isn't unique to young adult, but their situation is. I haven't come across any other books that have explored the theme of conjoined twins and as Grace's character mentions, even the twins themselves were not expected to live into their teens. The twins have always been the sole focus of the family, whether it be due to their health or finances and younger sister Dragon is a product of unintentional neglect and faces her own upheaval. It felt incredibly realistic, as their parents were torn between providing for their family with what little means at their disposal and wanting to protect Grace and Tippi from the cruel injustices of the world. At school among the stares, the girls find solace with new friends Yasmeen and Jon. Yasmeen is fiercely protective of her new friends, while Jon and Grace share moments of something more than friendship between the two. Grace's situation doesn't allow for privacy and despite Tippi's warnings of not becoming attached, Grace finds herself falling in love. I found the romance a bit too bizarre and felt flippant where Tippi was concerned, seeing as the twins has always shared a closeness beyond their physical attachment. But I do understand Grace and her need for normalcy, especially as she feels like the weaker twin and refers to herself as a parasite upon Tippi's life.

the final verdict

The verse aspect was lovely, so few words creating an incredible impact on the reader. It's poignant, emotional and uplifting, a story of hope which will ultimately leave readers anguished and needing more. Sarah Crossan is one of the young adult contemporary authors who creates passionate and sentimental storylines with sensitivity and a realism rarely seen within our characters. Although beautifully heartbreaking, One was a joy to read.

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

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May contain spoilers for book one The Bone Season

The Mime Order The Bone Season Book Two
Written by Samantha Shannon
Fantasy, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Paperback published September 1st 2015
528 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Add to Goodreads
Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...

As Scion turns its all seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime lords and mime queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.
Welcome back to Scion London, where Paige finds herself an enemy of the state having escaped Sheol and leading a small group of imprisoned Voyants to freedom, with the hope that many more will now follow in her wake. As the sinister and heinous leader of the Rephaim, Nashira will refuse to simply allow Paige to go free, coveting her gift of being The Pale Dreamer while the Rephaim begin to infuse their race into the world. With no where to turn, Paige realises she must return to Jaxon and the Seven Seals, taking her place as his mollisher once more to secure her safety against the Scion employed Vigiles, oppressive guards who have been sent to find the Sheol fugitives.

The Mime syndicate is in ruin, when a rival Mine Lord is murdered along with his band of vigilantes. Paige becomes the main suspect, which Jaxon believes is the prime opportunity to secure his most prized possession. With the introduction of a new prototype that will peruse those with unnatural abilities, the Voyants of Scion will need to unite to fight against Scion. But animosity towards the new alliance will come from those who Paige has underestimated, her claims of the Rephaim will be challenged, alliances will be tested and if Paige wants to change the world, she'll need to take control of her own fate first. No matter the consequences.

ponderings of a booknerd

Hope is the lifeblood of revolution.
Without it, we are nothing but ash, waiting for the wind to take us.
After having escaped the confines of Sheol, Paige has reclaimed her freedom and is back in Scion, determined to protect the Voyants of London from the oppressive rule. The Bone Season briefly introduced readers into the world of Scion London, the hierarchy between the levels of clairvoyants and the relationships between the sectors. The storyline begins soon after The Bone Season, where Paige has escaped Sheol leading a small group of Voyants to freedom, leaving Warden behind. She's determine to expose Scion for what it is, a cruel and oppressive reign that has sold the Voyants into a life of slavery and death. Paige is fierce. She's still on edge from her time at Scion and debating whether to return to Jaxon and the Seven Seals, but as her face is plastered throughout the city her decision is made and Jaxon may be her only chance at survival. As a rival Mime Lord and his group are brutally murdered, Jaxon sees the opportunity to take the city for himself and expects Paige to be by his side, now that she is in his debt.

But Exposing Scion and the Repahim is Paige's main priority and despite Jaxon's intent to silence her, Paige forges on and plays the Mime Lord at his own game. It was glorious. Yet again the most endearing quality of the series is the vivid world around them. I loved exploring London from it's opulent lifestyle to it's seedy and dangerous slums, in which most of the Voyants dwell. Readers gain the insight into rival Voyant gangs and learn to appreciate Jaxon's lure and protection, siding with Paige's decision not to go it alone. As the storyline builds, tensions arise between Paige and Jaxon with the latter attempting to keep her on a tight leash which only makes Paige more determined to expose their world.

The Mime Order flowed effortlessly. Samantha Shannon is a natural storyteller, immersing readers into her vividly imagined world from the very first page. Despite conflicting reviews, I found the storyline easy to follow with both installments but it certainly keeps readers on their toes. It's intelligent young adult bordering on new adult due the age of the characters and Paige being nineteen. Likened to Sarah J. Maas but without the dramatic shift between character relationships, I absolutely adore this series and simply can't recommend it highly enough. It's not a typical fantasy, but an epic fusion of fantasy, dystopian and science fiction with a touch of romance to keep the storyline fresh and adding intensity. The final few chapters are nothing short of breathtaking, they left me lost for words and with a mixture of pride and self high fives all round. But expect a twist that may or may not shock or delight.

the final verdict

This is by far one of the best series I've discovered thus far. Vivid, beautifully imagined and unique in a flooded expanse of fantasy books that all seem to engulf non fantasy readers. It's nothing short of phenomenal and book three just can't come soon enough. Buy it. Loan it. Beg for a copy. You won't be disappointed.
Read an excerpt from The Mime Order here and enter to win a copy.

The Foretelling of Georgie Spider by Ambelin Kwaymullina

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Check out my reviews for books one and two in the series

The Foretelling of Georgie Spider The Tribe Book Three
Written by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Science Fiction, Dystopian, Cultural
Published August 1st 2015
448 Pages
A storm was stretching out across futures to swallow everything in nothing, and it was growing larger, which meant it was getting nearer... Georgie Spider has foretold the end of the world, and the only one who can stop it is Ashala Wolf.

But Georgie has also foreseen Ashala's death. As the world shifts around the Tribe, Ashala fights to protect those she loves from old enemies and new threats. And Georgie fights to save Ashala. Georgie Spider can see the future. But can she change it?
Prime Talbot has been removed from the office of Gull City and Prime Belle Willis has been instated. With the change of power, comes the prospect of having the Citizenship Accords banished, something Ashala and The Tribe at Firstwood have been fighting for. Ashala has been summoned to the city to speak with neighbouring Primes, as the symbol of illegals everywhere. Taking Connor with her, Ashala has left Daniel and Georgie in charge of The Tribe in her absence, especially since the group of illegals are on edge.

Georgie continues to weave her maps, intricate threads connecting The Tribe with the land. But when she discovers that Ashala's life is in danger, The Tribe will rally around their leader to keep her safe. Ashala is the key to saving not only Firstwood, but the world as they know it. Terrance is determined to enslave the illegals, and The Tribe in in danger of becoming little more than a small pocket of resistance, who fought for a better world.

Ponderings of a Booknerd

The Tribe series has been an incredibly journey. Engaging, enthralling and so incredibly unique. It follows the story of three girls, Ashala, Ember and now Georgie. All three girls hold the unique ability to see into the past, the present and future, using their insight to guide not only The Tribe but for humanity. Woven throughout the series is the beautiful and mesmerising history of the Aboriginal Dreaming, passing on important knowledge, cultural values and belief systems to later generations. It made my heart soar. Not often in Australian young adult do we see the inclusion of indigenous beliefs, making the series a phenomenal experience.

But woven throughout is the story of three girls who will ultimately change the world, the world is on the verge of dying. The Firstwood where The Tribe call home is thriving, members feeding the soul of the forest and the forest giving them life in return. In The Foretelling of Georgie Spider, we finally learn about Georgie and her gift to weave maps, foreseeing into the future. She dwells in the caves of the Firstwood, weaving the futures of The Tribe, along with Daniel and her masses of helper spiders. She committed and frenzied in her work, staying behind while others fight against the oppression of the ruling Primes, and the illegal ruling to outcast and detain those with special abilities. But when one of their own is in trouble, The Tribe rally around their leader and vow to keep her safe.

The final verdict

The Tribe series is phenomenal. It blends the magical Dreaming with relatable characters and an underlying message of to take care of our environment and each other. Ambelin Kwaymullina is a beautiful and haunting voice in Australian young adult fiction, and I can't wait to discover what she's working on next.


We do not live in a monochrome or one dimensional world. We live in a diverse one, and as an Indigenous author, I am part of that diversity. But the world in which the human species exists is not reflected in YA literature. There are consequences of this for those of us who are part of the excluded; an ever increasing sense of isolation and disconnection. This is a topic that has been addressed by many diverse Australian YA writers. Sarah Ayoub has written that "Across Australia teens of diverse backgrounds are hungry for the comfort these stories offer, showing them they’re not alone in whatever identity struggle they might be facing." Erin Gough has said that the biggest imperative behind her writing is "to give readers who may not have seen themselves represented in YA before that thrill of recognition, and the message that they mean something, that they matter." And I have asked people to imagine a world where no mirror ever shows you your own reflection, or worse still, only a distorted one - if that was the only face you ever saw, if that was the image continually reflected back at you, might you not come to believe that it was all you could ever be?

Books by diverse authors are windows into other realities. They are also inherently respectful places where the author has made choices about what they wish to share of their realities, and how they wish to share it. So when I want to learn of things outside of my experience I go looking for a storyteller to tell me of their world – and in so doing, I expand and enrich my own.


Monday, 21st September The Loony Literate.
Tuesday, 22nd September Cassie the Weird
Wednesday, 23rd September Diva Book Nerd
Thursday, 24th September Inside My Worlds
Friday, 25th September Genie in a Book

Thank you to Ambelin and Walker Books Australia

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

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Fuzzy Mud
Written by Louis Sachar
Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Published August 1st 2015
256 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
If you go down to the woods today... Well, every child knows not to. Don't they?

Tamaya is on a scholarship to the prestigious Woodridge Academy and every day she and seventh grader Marshall walk to school together. They never go through the woods. And when they arrive at school they stop talking to each other, because Marshall can't be seen to be friends with a little kid like Tamaya. Especially not with Chad around. Chad the bully, who makes Marshall's life utterly miserable. But today, hoping to avoid Chad, Marshall and Tamaya decide to go through the woods... And what is waiting there for them is strange, sinister and entirely unexpected.

The next day, Chad doesn't turn up at school, no one knows where he is, not even his family. And Tamaya's arm is covered in a horribly, burning, itchy wound. As two unlikely heroes set out to rescue their bully, the town is about to be turned upside down by the mysterious Fuzzy Mud.
Tamaya is a quiet achiever, intelligent and takes pride in being a model student. Each day she and neighbour Marshall walk to school together, often not speaking much to her annoyance. Once a former and stately home, Woodridge academy is now a prestigious school for the wealthy and intelligent. Surrounded by forest, students are warned not to enter the woods, the myth of it being inhabited by a hermit who eats children keeping most of the children from straying beyond the boundary.

Each day the two walk the same route to and from school, until resident bully Chad challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid trouble, Marshall takes a short cut through the woods home with Tamaya followed closely behind.

Beyond the woods lies an environmental disaster, a revolutionary new fuel is set to ensure the world's supplies never deplete. But within the new biotechnology, miniscule spores are spreading throughout the woodland, multiplying and eroding anything they touch. So when Chad finally catches up to Tamaya and Marshall, Chad will be the least of their troubles.

Ponderings of a booknerd

Having not read the authors previous work in Holes, I still expected an incredible middle grade read, but it felt disorganised and fell flat sadly. It follows the storyline of Tamaya and Marshall, neighbours who walk to school together each day but wouldn't consider one another a friend. Both are great kids, buck lack any real character depth beyond a brief background. To avoid a bully, the two companions decide to take a short cut home, despite numerous warnings to avoid the woods at all cost. It's there where a silent threat lies in wait. Microorganisms who are spreading throughout the environment, called Fuzzy Mud for their appearance. The storyline switches back and forth between Tamaya and Marshall, and the senate inquiry into the disastrous accident after the event.

Despite the eccentric creator, the inquiry was an over detailed and often difficult to understand scientific discovery. A new fuel was being forged using microorganisms that have somehow escaped into our environment and mutated. The concept just seems far too complex for the middle grade intended audience. The creator in Jonathan Fitzman spends the majority of the book denying that the mutation of the cells is possible, flailing his arms about as he speaks to a senate inquiry. He was completely out of place within the storyline and as a tool used to inject humour into a flat storyline, sadly it didn't succeed.

I love middle grade as a whole and even with it's somewhat muddled environmental message, Fuzzy Mud is a quick read that will no doubt be adored by it's target audience. I needed to be able to connect and sadly there was nothing that I could hold onto to form that attachment.

The verdict

Clearly I've missed the bigger picture with Fuzzy Mud and the hype surrounding Louis Sachar. I felt as though I was being told half a story. It had potential but lacked any real depth, just confusion.

This Broken Wondrous World by Jon Skovron

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This Broken Wondrous World Man Made Boy Book Two
Written by Jon Skovron
See my review for Man Made Boy
Fantasy, Science Fiction, Retelling
Published September 2015
376 Pages
Thank you to Allen & Unwin
Add to Goodreads
"My fellow monsters," said Moreau. "No longer will we hide in the shadows, cringing, cowardly, hiding our true potential. You see, the humans do not view us as people. We must force them to expand their view of personhood to include us. By any means necessary."

A year ago, Boy, the son of Frankenstein's monster, had never even met a human. Now he's living with his human 'family', the descendants of Dr Frankenstein, in Switzerland. That is, until the maniacal genius Dr Moreau, long ago banished to a remote island for his crimes against humanity, asks for his aid.

Moreau wants Boy to join his army of animal/human hybrid creatures and help him overthrow human society. Boy must choose: side with the twisted doctor and save his fellow monsters, or try to defend the humans who run the planet?

Boy will do anything to save this broken, wondrous world from the war that threatens to split it in two. But how much will he have to give up? And is the world worth saving?
The son of Frankenstein's monster is off on his first adventure into the world, Boy having spent most of his life hidden within the shadows of the New York theater company which hides the worlds monsters. But now he finds himself in Switzerland, his host family none other than the descendants of his fathers maker and wants nothing more than to assimilate and study, leaving behind the only life he's ever known.

Boy wants nothing more than to merge the community of underground monsters with our world, but the diabolical Dr Moreau believes the only way two worlds will transition into one is to forge a war against the humans, creating a legion of monsters to fight against a world he sees as cruel and unjust. But Dr Moreau isn't working alone. An old enemy will resurface as Boy returns to find his beloved New York home in ruins. With a war being forged, how will the little patchwork monster fight for the humans who are unaware his community exists?

Ponderings of a booknerd

Man Made Boy was one the loveliest storylines I had the privilege of enjoying almost two years ago, hoping for a sequel that was rumoured but never came to fruition... Until now. I adore the little patchwork monster simply known as Boy. He's intelligent and although made of a series of body parts from the dead, his crude stitching and gentle nature completely enchant me. And This Broken Wondrous World is no different. At the end of Man Made Boy, Boy is contemplating seeing the world and traveling to Switzerland to stay with the Frankenstein family, descendants of the man who had created his father. Loving and accepting, is isn't long until Boy is treated as family and is befriended by his cousin Henri. The only rule is that he not tell the Frankenstein's about the New York community, the humans still unaware of the network of monsters who live among them. But when an old foe lures them into what seems to be a trap, Boy has no option to involve Henri and deal with the consequences later.

When Boy needs them most, old friends come to his aide. Claire Hyde and Sophie Jekyll, the granddaughters of the Jekyll and Hyde are back, Boy needing his girlfriends by his side as he faces the prospect of war. The Trowe will return as does a gruff shapeshifting wolf, as monsters will be forced to choose to support Boy in his plight or to fight for Dr Moreau and his band of newly formed monster army. Although superbly entertaining, This Broken Wondrous World lacked the emotion of Man Made Boy, with Boy having lost his naivety which I found incredibly endearing.

The verdict

Despite not feeling an emotional connection, I thoroughly enjoyed This Broken Wondrous World. Wonderfully written, it's ultimately the story of acceptance and making the most of the hand that life has dealt. I'm completely smitten with the little patchwork monster.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon... Mind Blowing!

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The Bone Season The Bone Season Book One
Written by Samantha Shannon
Fantasy, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Published August 2013
480 Pages
Purchased. Published by Bloomsbury Australia
The year is 2059. Nineteen year old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job, to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford, a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.
Paige Mahoney lives in a world where the unique are feared and eradicated, where on her nineteenth birthday, her life would be irrevocably changed forever. Paige is a Dreamwalker, she can sense the intricate landscape of an opponents mind, pushing the boundaries with the ability to end a life with a single thought. Even among the small pockets of clairvoyant community, her gift is considered rare and for who are classed as unnatural, there are only two ways to survive against Scion. To scrounge the streets to survive in the shadows of London or affiliate yourself with a Mime Lord, the latter being Paige's only means for survival.

She's known as The Pale Dreamer, the most prized possession in Jaxon's band of Seven Seals. Until Paige is captured and imprisoned in Sheol, a city where Voyants are sold by the capital into slavery to a race known as the Rephaim, while fighting off an enemy that that feeds on human flesh. Paige is claimed by a Rephaim she must only refer to as Warden, a man who has never shown an interest in humans. But ruler Nashira has plans for The Pale Dreamer, with those taken into slavery must train and show they are worthy of the opportunity, while succumbing to hunger and the fight to survive. If living on the streets of Scion has taught Paige anything, is to fight back for not only herself, but the teens enslaved by their cruel and unforgiving captors.

But the Warden isn't the brutal and callus imprisoner that Paige had believed and the two form a somewhat tentative bond, despite Nashira having laid claim upon him. With her rare and valuable status and her bond with Warden having not gone unnoticed, her only chance to survive is to escape and free as many Voyants from the Rephaim imprisonmen.

Ponderings of a booknerd

Oh good lord. Why did I wait so long to immerse myself in Samantha Shannon's world of The Bone Season? It was absolutely incredible, so intricate and vividly imagined. I adored it. I must admit that I was hesitant to start the series especially seeing I'm not an avid fantasy reader, but within the first few chapters I was completely captivated. It follows the storyline of Paige or The Pale Dreamer as she's known within her sector. Paige is a Dreamwalker, able to access the mind and dreamscape of those around her, making her Jaxon's most prized possession. Jaxon is a flamboyant wolf in the guise of a lamb but seeing her only alternative is to live on the streets and beg, Paige sees her work for the The Binder as the lessor of two evils and works alongside Jaxon as his heir. Scion London is segregated into two groups, Amaurotics who are natural and solely human and the Voyant community, those with Clairvoyant abilities who are deemed as illegal by a ruthless and oppressive government. The Voyants pay with their lives or in a new revelation, sent into slavery with a race of dangerous and cruel captors

It was so refreshing to see a fantasy series not based on kingdoms but rather feature a syndicate or organised crime rivalry throughout the districts of London. There are varying levels of clairvoyance among the Voyant community, from tarot readers to those who can bind spirits of the dead to use as weapons and none more revered than Paige. The hierarchy between the characters is delicious. I really enjoyed seeing the personalities beyond their abilities, with each character not only distinctive but wonderfully crafted.

Paige isn't your average heroine. She doesn't harbour feelings of grandeur or self importance, nor does she live in luxury with material possessions and given her rare gift, she certainly could be living the high life. She's insecure, in love with man who doesn't reciprocate her feelings and works for a man she is beginning to despise. The barely there romance was slow burning, yet incredibly intense similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Warden is an unusual love interest. Distant and gruff, Paige may be able to forgive his past deeds but the streetwise girl is reluctant to trust the Rephaim that keeps her captive. Although Warden shows signs of redemption, I can't help but wonder if Paige's interest is little more than a form of Stockholm Syndrome.

The final verdict

The characters, the world building and the vividly imagined London were breathtaking. Not since Throne of Glass has a series captured, enthralled and enchanted me so. I simply adored it. Samantha Shannon is a phenomenal author who's has crafted one of the best fantasy fusion series I've read to date.

Read an excerpt of The Mime Order and enter the giveaway here.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway... Gentle and Lovely

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Emmy & Oliver
Written by Robin Benway
Contemporary, Romance
Published July 2015
320 Pages
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia
Add to Goodreads
Oliver's absence split us wide open, dividing our neighborhood along a fault line strong enough to cause an earthquake. An earthquake would have been better. At least during an earthquake, you understand why you're shaking.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. But now Oliver is back, and he's not the skinny boy next door that used to be Emmy's best friend. Now he's the boy who got kidnapped. A stranger, a totally hot stranger, with a whole history that Emmy knows nothing about.

But is their story still meant to be? Or are they like the pieces of two different puzzles, impossible to fit together?
Emmy and Oliver were inseparable, best friends and neighbours who share a birthday. They had been friends since the day they were both brought home as infants, up until the day that Oliver was picked up outside of school by his father and never returned. In a bitter separation, Oliver was stolen away by his father, leaving his distraught mother broken and irrevocably damaged. The police search began to scale back, the media coverage slowly dwindled, but the neighbourhood closed ranks around the children left behind, devastated that their friend was taken from them.

But ten years after Oliver was taken, he's been found alive and thriving in New York City. He's now on his way home to his mother, now having remarried with twins girls of her own. With Oliver back home, Emmy and best friends Caroline and Drew finally feel their group is complete. But Oliver isn't the same seven year old who was stolen from them ten years earlier. He's grown, he's matured and is missing his now fugitive father while he struggles to reconnect with his mother and her new family.

While Oliver was gone, Emmy dealt with the aftermath of two over protective parents who refused to let her live life, clipping her wings for the fear of how Oliver was taken. Together Emmy and Oliver form a tentative relationship, but with ten years of separation, will the memories of their childhood be enough to keep Oliver this time?

ponderings of a booknerd

Emmy & Oliver was an absolute delight. I braced myself for the dramatic flare that is usually reserved for young adult contemporaries, but instead found a lovely, yet intensely subtle storyline that proves distance really does make the heart grow fonder. Oliver has lived for the past ten years, believing his mother no longer wanted he or his father and living mostly in New York, home schooled apart from a few course subjects his father allowed him to take. It's on a school excursion when Oliver's identity is discovered, the seventeen year old wanting to return to his mother. But his father is never far from his thoughts. Torn between both his biological parents, Oliver is finding it difficult to adjusting to life with his new family, a life he barely remembers, including Emmy. His had vague memories of girl who lived next door, his best friend and partner in crime. But a ten year absence sees the two teens building a new and tentative friendship, Emmy a shoulder to lean on while she hides her own secret life from her overprotective parents.

I loved the realism of Oliver's turmoil. His father is hiding from authorities, yet Oliver understands why he took such desperate measures, his parents messy separation and his mother intent to obtain sole custody of the then seven year old. But as enamored as I was with Oliver's story, Emmy on the other hand was mildly irritating.

Since Oliver was taken, Emmy's parents have imposed a strict curfew, growing up being protected from new experiences in the hope to keep their only child safe. Emmy has been surfing for the past two years, has applied to college and all against her parents wishes. While Oliver struggles to assimilate, at times Emmy seemed more concerned with her own issues which pale in comparison. Caroline, Drew and Emmy were all friends with seven year old Oliver, but she seemed to shut both friends out in favour of keeping Oliver to herself. As much as I enjoyed and even adored Oliver, Emmy continued to test my patience.

the verdict

Emmy & Oliver is a wonderful, yet heart wrenching story about finding home. Although Emmy was mildly irritating, Oliver was an incredible young man who's life had been stolen by his father, taking away his choices while trying to navigate his way through a life he barely remembers. It was a lovely and gentle read, proving that sometimes absence really does make the heart grow fonder.