The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone
Written by Jaclyn Moriarty
Fantasy, Adventure, Middle Grade, #LoveOZMG
November 2017
512 Pages
Thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia
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I was ten years old when my parents were killed by pirates. This did not bother me as much as you might think, I hardly knew my parents.

Bronte Mettlestone's parents ran away to have adventures when she was a baby, leaving her to be raised by her Aunt Isabelle and the Butler. She's had a perfectly pleasant childhood of afternoon teas and riding lessons and no adventures, thank you very much.

But Bronte's parents have left extremely detailed and bossy instructions for Bronte in their will. The instructions must be followed to the letter, or disaster will befall Bronte's home. She is to travel the kingdoms and empires, perfectly alone, delivering special gifts to her ten other aunts. There is a farmer aunt who owns an orange orchard and a veterinarian aunt who specialises in dragon care, a pair of aunts who captain a cruise ship together and a former rockstar aunt who is now the reigning monarch of a small kingdom.

Now, armed with only her parents' instructions, a chest full of strange gifts and her own strong will, Bronte must journey forth to face dragons, Chief Detectives and pirates and the gathering suspicion that there might be something more to her extremely inconvenient quest than meets the eye...

From the award winning Jaclyn Moriarty comes a fantastic tale of high intrigue, grand adventure and an abundance of aunts.
Ten year old Bronte Mettlestone is embarking on a wondrous adventure, adhering to her late parents legacy despite the concerns of Isabelle, her Aunt and guardian. Patrick and Lida Mettlestone were adventurers, abandoning their only child with Isabelle then captured by pirates. The news of their demise delivered during afternoon tea. To receive her inheritance, Bronte is to travel the kingdom and empires to deliver keepsakes to ten of her father's sisters, adhering to the specific instructions precisely or fracture the Faery thread binding her itinerary. Each fracture brings impending destruction to the town of Gainsleigh and Bronte must embark on her journey alone.
Bronte Mettlestone is a wonderful young lady, curious and dependable. Abandoned as an infant, Bronte has been raised by Isabelle in the shire of Gainsleigh, her parents traipsing around the kingdom discovering new worlds and adventures before their demise. 

Her first destination is Livingston and the Elivish Festival of Matchsticks. Emma has been imprisoned for thievery of a pepper grinder. Claire organises Spellbinder conventions and Sophy is a veterinarian at the animal hospital for dragons. At the precise moment, Bronte presents her offering of cinnamon, chilli flakes or sugar cubes, rousing fond memories of her patents spanning the continent. Bronte growing increasingly exasperated towards her deceased parents she was never afforded the opportunity to appreciate. An avalanche in the mountain village, Katherine Valley Boarding School, the Riddle And Popcorn Cruise Ship and the Kingdom of music, culminating in a gathering in Nina Bay to celebrate the lives of her parents.
Bronte's journey is enchanting and at only ten years of age, her adventures are gallant and delightfully whimsical. Following the instructions, Bronte discovers new friends in each town including the mysterious young barefoot boy, adding intrigue. The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone is wonderfully endearing, imaginative and effervescent. 

Blog Tour: Goodbye, Perfect

Goodbye, Perfect
Written by Sara Barnard
Contemporary, Young Adult
Published January 1st 2018
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
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When I was wild, you were steady...

Now you are wild, what am I?

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.

Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.

As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.
Sixteen year old Eden Rose McKinley had a precarious transition from childhood to adolescence, her narcotics dependent mother unable to provide for her children, placing Eden and Daisy into foster care, adopted by nurturing Carolyn and Bob McKinley. Although Eden has transitioned from difficult child to destructive adolescent and now discourteous young woman, Bonnie Wiston Stanley is an astute young woman. The authorities are demanding answers, where is Bonnie and why did she escape the confines of her life?

Bonnie is involved in an illicit sexual relationship with Jack Cohen, a member of the teaching facility, now absconding and evading authorities. The nonlinear narrative centers on Eden, the friend and confidant Bonnie has embroiled in her precarious circumstances. While the authorities continue to investigate Jack Cohen, Eden and Bonnie covertly communicate through messages, Bonnie insisting their four month relationship is consensual.

A friend coerced by a paedophile is confronting and distressing and Eden was determined to disregard the severity of the authoritative adult and adolescent sexual relationship. Contemplating her interactions with Bonnie during the illicit relationship, Eden concedes that Bonnie appeared despondent and burdened by ambition, unusual for the perceptive and accomplished student. Bonnie claimed she was in a relationship that Eden assumed was fabricated. 

Jack Cohen is accountable for the manipulation and coercion of a minor, using his authority to segregate a vulnerable adolescent. Bonnie was abandoned by the faculty, previously informed of the inappropriate relationships with female students and Bonnie's parents, unable to recognise the behavioural changes in their daughter.

Eden continued to deliberate whether to disclose Bonnie's location, seemingly only concerned with her own consequences rather than Bonnie's safety. Her character was insufferable and abrasive.  Despite her dishonesty, Eden continues to conceal information from the authorities. 

Goodbye, Perfect is an important discussion surrounding boundaries by an adult in a position of authority, coercion and consent. Unfortunately the narrative is monotonous and frustrating, aggravated by indecision, inadequate character realisation and an unsatisfying conclusion.

Between Us

Between Us
Written by Clare Atkins
Diverse, Political & Social Issues, Romance, #LoveOZYA
Published January 29th 2018
304 Pages
Thank you to Black Inc
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Is it possible for two very different teenagers to fall in love despite high barbed wire fences and a political wilderness between them?

Anahita is passionate, curious and determined. She is also an Iranian asylum seeker who is only allowed out of detention to attend school. On weekdays, during school hours, she can be a regular Australian girl.

Jono needs the distraction of an infatuation. In the past year his mum has walked out, he’s been dumped and his sister has moved away. Lost and depressed, Jono feels as if he’s been left behind with his Vietnamese single father, Kenny.

Kenny is struggling to work out the rules in his new job, he recently started work as a guard at the Wickham Point Detention Centre. He tells Anahita to look out for Jono at school, but quickly comes to regret this, spiraling into suspicion and mistrust. Who is this girl, really? What is her story? Is she a genuine refugee or a queue jumper? As Jono and Anahita grow closer, Kenny starts snooping behind the scenes...
Jonathan Do is the biracial son of an Australian mother and Vietnamese immigrant single father, living within the parched landscape of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Jonathan disinterested in his education and preferring intoxication rather than accountability, choosing to isolate himself from his estranged mother living in Sydney. The relationship Jonathan shares with his father is distant and impersonal, preferring the company of Minh, Dzoung's sister. After the collapse of his relationship with girlfriend Priya, Jonathan became increasingly depressed, his father now concerned is the cause of Jonathan's destruction.

Anahita Shirdel is an Iranian asylum seeker at Wickham Point Detention Centre, previously located on Nauru and Manus Island. Wickham Point is a fortress to asylum seekers from Burma, Afghanistan, Iran, Vietnam and New Zealand, pregnant women and children have been transported to Darwin without their partners, the Australian Human Rights Commission convicting the centre as inhumane, ignored by the Australian government. Anahita's mother is pregnant to partner Abdul who remains on Manus Island, transported to the mainland after being diagnosed with preeclampsia along with Abdul's son, three year old Arash. Anahita is a beautiful young woman, gentle and compassionate. The devastating conditions experienced in Iran have left Anahita traumatised, overwhelmed by nightly terrors. Australia offered an opportunity of freedom and safety, now left behind the cyclone fence and kept in oppressive, inhumane conditions.

Dzoung Do is a guard at the regimented detention compound, his narrative often confronting and intolerant. Dzoung is a Vietnamese immigrant, sponsored by his sister Minh to journey to Australia, marrying an Australian citizen and forgoing his traditional Vietnamese heritage. Determined to integrate into western society. Dzoung initially facilitates the friendship between Jonathan and Anahita, as Anahita begins her education at the local secondary college. The guards at the Wickham Point facility are often cruel, some regarding those seeking asylum as subhuman. Dzoung is an infuriating character, judgemental and increasingly without compassion. He allowed his own moral compass to be poisoned by the racist, bigoted employees at the Wickham Point facility.

The tentative friendship between Jonathan and Anahita is gentle and compassionate. Jonathan allowed Anahita to set boundaries within their friendship concerning her personal and cultural principles. Although Jonathan continues to experience casual racism, Anahita's peers are considerate and courteous. Friend Zahra's journey to Australia is indicative of the harrowing journey made by asylum seekers. Boarding substandard transport with family members often lost to the treacherous conditions.

The plight of asylum seekers is a precarious discussion for Australians. Men, women and children journey to Australia in dangerous conditions only to be denied basic human rights. They are detained behind cyclone fences in remand compounds on Nauru or Manus Island. Those granted refugee status will never be afforded the opportunity of freedom, treated inhumanely and exposes vulnerable asylum seekers to sexual, physical and psychological abuse, withheld in indefinite detention.

Clare Atkins is one of Australia's finest young adult literature authors. Between Us is a passionate conversation of Australia's inhumane treatment of those seeking asylum, reminding us of our understanding and our compassion. Compelling and influential reading. 

Sky In The Deep

Sky in the Deep
Written by Adrienne Young
Fantasy, Historical, Violence
Publishing April 24th 2018
352 Pages
Thank you to St. Martin's Press
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Ond Eldr. Breathe Fire.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen year old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple, fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield, her brother, fighting with the enemy. The brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible, unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
The Aska villages strengthen for battle every five years in the name of Sigr, including seventeen year old Eelyn and her father. Occupying the coastal villages of the fjord, it is an honour for a warrior to represent her clan, wielding her weapons beside Mýra, her friend and fellow warrior. Five years after the loss of her brother during battle, he is seen in the forest depths, ending the lives of those who wept for the young man taken from their community, now warring alongside those he had once vowed to destroy.

Seventeen year old shield maiden Eelyn is gallant and courageous, an Aska warrior compelled by the memory of her deceased brother. Five years has elapsed as the violent crusade commenced in the name of Sigr, as Eelyn strengthens her resolve alongside her father and friend Mýra. The Riki converge to defend their honour and sanctity when Eelyn is overwhelmed by a Riki combatant, shielded by her brother upon the killing fields of Hylli. Her brother whose body was ostensibly forsaken to the wintry landscape.

Eelyn is wounded and captured by Fiske, a Riki warrior and kinsman to Eelyn's brother, transported to the village of Fela. Eelyn is hostile, denouncing her brother who has brought disgrace upon her family, the Aska and Sigr, the Scandinavian deity. An Aska warrior is a disposable commodity and to ensure Eelyn's protection while recovering from her wounds, Eelyn unwillingly becomes a dýr of servitude, to be traded after the winter dissolves. Eelyn is placed in the steel collar of a dýr and although Fiske's family are initially mistrusting, Eelyn is only expected to perform domestic duties rather than sexual as the narrative insinuates. 

The Aska and Riki are being decimated by the Herja. The Herja are ruthless and inhumane, indiscriminately pillaging villages along the fjord by massacring entire communities. It is a moment of unification for the Aska and Riki villages, centuries of conflict have created a prejudice between alliances and to reconcile will ensure the survival of both communities. 

I enjoyed the broad mythology of the Viking Iron Age despite being devoid of any significant historical information. The narrative appears to take place within the Nordic Viking Scandinavia homeland rather than maritime, although the Aska villages are situated along the fjord, a ravine created by a glacier. The native language used is also fictionalised throughout the advanced readers copy and I hope the finalised novel will provide readers with a glossary. 

Sky In The Deep is magnificent. I was captivated by Eelyn and her resistance, her strength and humanity. The prose is captivating, the fictional wintry Scandinavian landscape is beautifully cinematic, exhilarating and atmospheric. 

The Secrets We Share

The Secrets We Share
The Secrets We Keep Book Two
Written by Nova Weetman
Contemporary, Early Teen, Family, #LoveOzYA
Published October 2017
Thank you to UQP
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See my review for book one here
You’ve probably figured out by now that I love this tree. I love it because it’s no longer beautiful, no longer a tree that would stop a tourist, begging to be photographed. And I love it because it reminds me of my mum.

Clem is slowly rebuilding her life after a house fire destroyed everything. She’s about to start high school with her best friends, Bridge and Ellie, and she’s happy living with her dad in their tiny flat.

So when her mum unexpectedly moves back in, Clem feels like there’s no space for her anymore.

But then she meets Matt, a funny and rebellious fourteen year old who has family troubles of his own. Clem feels like she can tell him anything... All except her deepest fear. When everything starts to unravel, Clem must decide which secrets to keep and which to share.
Clem Timmins is on the verge of starting high school with best friends Bridge and Ellie to share the daunting experience, as they slowly rebuild their lives after the fire destroyed their house. Living in the small, cramped flat has brought Clem and her father closer together, new friend and neighbour Maggie can solve any Clem related crisis with tea and cake and they've begun to rebuild their home with the insurance pay out. For the first time since the fire, things are finally going Clem's way.

Until her mother returns from her health retreat and is moving into their rented flat, her two best friends are placed in the same homeroom without Clem and Maggie has a visitor, her troubled nephew Matt has moved in.

Clem is feeling overwhelmed and neglected. Starting high school is a nervous and exciting time for Clem until she finds out that she's placed in a homeroom separate to Bridge and Ellie, who will be together. Throughout Clem's high school transition, her two friends begin to leave Clem out of conversations and although unintentionally, Clem understandably is feeling incredibly hurt and isolates herself. I liked Clem's new and tentative friendship with Matt, Maggie's nephew who is also starting a new school as he enters year nine. They were wonderful companions. Matt encourages Clem to take risks, she gains self confidence and finds her voice along their journey while Clem helps Matt connect with Maggie and appreciate his kind, tender Aunt.

In The Secrets We Keep, Clem's mother was diagnosed with depression and after the fire that destroyed their home, was able seek treatment. The discussion of mental illness was  written with a gentle hand and I really appreciated how Nova Weetman touched upon how Clem's mother's illness effected her relationship, her relationship with her daughter and her approach to her own mental health. It's also a wonderful introduction for younger readers to allow parents to guide discussions about mental wellness.

Clem's relationship with her father is lovingly tender, he's also attempting to salvage his marriage while caring for Clem and planning for the new house. Clem still harbours an incredible amount of resentment towards her mother who accidentally started the fire with her meditative candle, panicking and running from their burning home rather than call the emergency services. Her mother was attempting to make an effort but both parents were clearly frustrated with Clem, her refusal to speak, longing for inclusion and reassurance.

I enjoyed the complexity of Clem's relationships, the often awkward phase of not quite a teenager but no longer a child. Clem has already experienced so much in her young life and the residual trauma of the fire I feel played a role in her relationships. It was wonderful to experience Clem's growth as a character and young woman finding her way out into the world. Through the tolerance of those around her and positive role models, she was able to learn from her experiences. An important message for the intended audience about learning to compromise and see other perspectives.

Clem Timmins is a character that represents the wonderful adventure of growing up and finding your place in the world. The feeling of being lost but eventually making your way back home. Of learning who you are and who you are to others, a daughter, a best friend or your neighbour who loves cake and will share your love of roofing. Nova Weetman has created a character so full of life that she leaps straight from the pages.

And into your heart. 

Alex, Approximately

Alex, Approximately
Written by Jenn Bennett
Contemporary, Romance
400 Pages
Published April 2017
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia
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Bailey Mink Rydell has met the boy of her dreams. They share a love of films and talk all day, Alex is perfect. Well, apart from the fact that they’ve never actually met... And neither of them knows the other’s real name.

When Bailey moves to sunny California to live with her dad, who happens to live in the same town as Alex, she decides to track him down. But finding someone based on online conversations alone proves harder than Bailey thought, and with her irritating but charismatic and potentially attractive colleague Porter Roth distracting her at every turn, will she ever get to meet the mysterious Alex?

From the author of Night Owls comes a story of summer, first love and hidden identities.
Bailey Rydell is embarking on a new adventure, moving from Washington to the coastal tourist town of Coronado Cove in California, where her father has lived since separating from his wife, in avoidance of perpetual arguments between her mother and her new husband. Bailey's internet friend Alex also resides in Coronado Cove, a young man who shares her love of classic films.

Seventeen year old Bailey is a wonderfully practical young woman, spirited although has a strong tendency of avoidance. In the online Lumière Film Fanatics Community she's referred to as Mink, ascribed by her love of vintage clothing. Alex has invited Bailey to the annual Coronado Springs Film Festival and unaware she has already moved to the Californian coastal town, Bailey attempts to find Alex before introducing herself, uncertain of her online friend and his authenticity.

Although Bailey and Alex are friends, one aspect I appreciated was how both adolescents were reluctant to explore aspects online in which they could be identified. An important reminder. With her fabulously restored vintage scooter, Bailey is employed at The Cavern Palace, a local tourist attraction along the seashore boardwalk and meets Grace Achebe, a effervescent American Nigerian young lady employed throughout the summer. Not all the employees at the The Cavern Palace are as accommodating.

Porter Roth is a third generation surfer, Polynesian Chinese American, handsome and grandson of the legendary Pennywise Roth, working as The Cavern Palace security and supervisor. The progression of their companionship was wonderful, Bailey is infuriated by Porter but gradually glimpses the boy beneath the confident and disarming exterior, a tender and charismatic young man and I applaud young adult authors that include intimacy and female masturbation as a relationship progresses.

The relationship with Bailey's father was gentle and a wonderfully positive influence, encouraging her ambition and providing Bailey with responsibility. Although once distraught by the infidelity and dissolution of his marriage, it was wonderful to see him exploring a new relationship and Bailey's acceptance. A lovely aspect of their familial relationship. The narrative also discusses trauma that both Bailey and Porter have experienced within their young lives.

Jenn Bennett is phenomenal. Alex, Approximately is a nostalgic and whimsical contemporary romance, enchanting and beautifully written. Captivating until the final page.

Five Stella Middle Grade Ladies

The Stella Prize invites you to join the Stella Sparks campaign and show your support for writing by Australian women! To get involved, share your favourite book by an Australian woman that you read in the past year and use the hashtag #StellaSpark. For more information please visit their website.

Today I'm featuring five remarkable middle reads by female Australian authors.

How To Bee by Bren MacDibble

How To Bee
Written by Bren MacDibble
Published by Allen & Unwin
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Peony lives with her sister and grandfather on a fruit farm outside the city. In a world where real bees are extinct, the quickest, bravest kids climb the fruit trees and pollinate the flowers by hand. All Peony really wants is to be a bee. Life on the farm is a scrabble, but there is enough to eat and a place to sleep, and there is love. Then Peony's mother arrives to take her away from everything she has ever known, and all Peony's grit and quick thinking might not be enough to keep her safe.

How To Bee is a beautiful and fierce novel for younger readers, and the voice of Peony will stay with you long after you read the last page.
How To Bee introduces middle grade readers to the environmental impact human development, pesticides, disease and climate change have affected populations. The narrative may also be perceived as a gentle reminder of Australia's colonisation. Enchanting and atmospheric, achingly beautiful. Captivating until the final page.

The Other Side of Summer by Emily Gale

The Other Side of Summer
Written by Emily Gale
Published by Random House Australia
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Summer is trying to recover from a tragedy, but it seems impossible when her family is falling apart around her. Having an extraordinary best friend like Mal helps a little, but Summer's secret source of happiness is a link to the past, one very special guitar.

Now her dad's plan to save them is turning Summer's life upside down again. The next thing she knows, they've moved to the other side of the world.

In Australia, Summer makes an unlikely friend, who seems to be magically connected to her guitar. Is this for real? Has a mysterious boy been sent to help Summer? Or could it be the other way around?

This sweet and spellbinding story about family, friends and believing in yourself will warm your heart.
Magical realism is quite often explored within middle grade and coming of age stories, but none more so beautiful than The Other Side of Summer. Enchanting and wonderfully written, The Other Side of Summer was simply beautiful. A charming coming of age story that bridges the gap between middle grade and young adult and a poignant and hopeful story for the young and young at heart. I loved it immensely.

The Secrets We Keep by Nova Weetman

The Secrets We Keep
Written by Nova Weetman
Published by UPQ
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I don't know if you've ever seen a house burn, but it's not like anything else...

Clem Timmins has lost everything, her clothes, her possessions, her house and her mum. Now living in a tiny flat with her dad, Clem has to start a new school and make new friends. On her first day, Clem tells Ellie that her mum died in a house fire and immediately regrets it when Ellie latches on and confides that her own mother is dying of cancer.

When Clem receives a letter she doesn't want to read, it becomes clear she can't run from her past forever, especially when the truth appears right in front of her face.
The essence of The Secrets We Keep is rebuilding, understanding and compassion, Clem able to find forgiveness through the kindness that was extended to her. It was absolutely lovely. Nova Weetman has a remarkable style of narration, creating characters that are irrevocably flawed yet will captivate and delight readers.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

The Trials of Morrigan Crow
Written by Jessica Townsend
Published by Hachette Australia
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Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on an unlucky day, she is blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks, and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on Eventide.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It's there that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organisation, the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart. Except for Morrigan, who doesn't seem to have any special talent at all.

To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests. or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.
The Trials of Morrigan Crow is a fantastical, wondrous and whimsical adventure. Eleven year old Morrigan Crow is an unfortunate child and the origin of mayhem who will come to pass on the eve of Eventide. Morrigan is a wonderful young lady, intelligent and whimsical although resignated to accept responsibility for Jackalfax's outrageous predicaments. On the even of Eventide, Jupiter North offers Morrigan salvation, accompany him to Nevermoor to compete in the Wundrous Society tournament

Whimsical and atmospheric, the epitome of fantastical and imaginative fairytales. Delightfully written and a breathtaking debut from author a Jessica Townsend.

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

The Bone Sparrow
Written by Zana Fraillon
Published by Hachette Australia
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Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention centre after his mother fled the violence of a distant homeland, life behind the fences is all he has ever known. But as he grows, his imagination gets bigger too, until it is bursting at the limits of his world. The night sea brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories.

The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie, a scruffy, impatient girl who appears from the other side of the wires, and brings a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it, she relies on Subhi to unravel her own family's love songs and tragedies.

Subhi and Jimmie might both find a way to freedom, as their tales unfold. But not until each of them has been braver than ever before.
Although Subhi is a fictional character, he represents the thousands of children and families denied refuge and placed within detention centres and incarcerated, his narrative instigating important conversations about human rights and the Australian refugee legislation. The conditions within the refugee compound are appalling. Inadequate basic necessities, dehumanised and often brutalised by government employed wardens. Their meagre possessions confiscated upon arrival. Mental and physical health deteriorate as families are segregated. Their voices left unheard.

The Bone Sparrow is a conscientious and impassioned narrative of the abhorrent treatment and conditions asylum seekers face in Australia. Captivating and confronting.

More Information

The Stella Prize is a major literary award celebrating Australian women’s writing, and an organisation that champions cultural change. The Stella Prize is a non for profit organisation run entirely off donations. To donate please visit their website here.

Five Stella Young Adult Ladies of 2017

The Stella Prize invites you to join the Stella Sparks campaign and show your support for writing by Australian women! To get involved, share your favourite book by an Australian woman that you read in the past year and use the hashtag #StellaSpark. For more information please visit their website.

I'm an advocate for Australian female authors, women who bring our stories ​to the world. Women and authors identifying as women who write about small towns, our cities, our relationships, injustices and our beautiful sunburnt country. Today I'm featuring five remarkable young adult reads of twenty seventeen by female Australian authors who lend us their words and welcome us home.

The Build Up Season by Megan Jacobson

The Build Up Season
Written by Megan Jacobson
Published by Penguin Teen Australia
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He’s back.

The monster.

It’s the middle of the night and I’m awake, because even though I’m seventeen I still haven’t outgrown the childhood monster that haunts you in the dark. I haven’t outgrown it, because when I was a child, the monster was real.

He was my father.

But the thing is, the monster was the person I was closest to in the whole world, closer than I’ve been to anyone since.

That will tell you everything you need to know about me.

And still, I wouldn’t hesitate to kill the monster.

That will tell you even more about me.

Seventeen year old Iliad Piper is named after war and angry at the world. Growing up with a violent father and abused mother, she doesn’t know how to do relationships, family or friends. A love hate friendship with Max turns into a prank war, and she nearly destroys her first true friendship with misfit Mia. Iliad takes off her armour for nobody, until she meets Jared, someone who's as complicated as she is.
The essence of The Build Up Season is new beginnings and learning to forgive, reiterating the importance of holding perpetrators of violence accountable. The narrative although confrontational, are incredibly important for adolescents. If you haven't experienced family violence, it's likely you unknowingly know someone who has. The Build Up Season is an important discussion as a community in support of those family violence has touched.

Ballad For A Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield

Ballad For A Mad Girl
Written by Vikki Wakefield
Published by Text Publishing
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Everyone knows seventeen year old Grace Foley is a bit mad. She’s a prankster and a risk taker, and she’s not afraid of anything, except losing. As part of the long running feud between two local schools in Swanston, Grace accepts a challenge to walk the pipe.

That night she experiences something she can’t explain. The funny girl isn’t laughing anymore. She’s haunted by voices and visions, but nobody believes a girl who cries wolf.

As she’s drawn deeper into a twenty year old mystery surrounding missing girl Hannah Holt, the thin veil between this world and the next begins to slip. She can no longer tell what’s real or imagined, all she knows is the ghosts of Swanston, including that of her own mother, are restless. It seems one of them has granted her an extraordinary gift at a terrible price.

Everything about her is changing, her body, her thoughts, even her actions seem to belong to a stranger. Grace is losing herself, and her friends don’t understand. Is she moving closer to the truth? Or is she heading for madness?
Ballad For A Mad Girl may become a point of contention for readers, is Grace psychologically unwell or spiritual, a contemporary novel or paranormal. Determined by the disposition of the reader. Vikki Wakefield is a formidable author, the ambiguous narrative is intriguing and captivating. Absolutely phenomenal.

Because of You by Pip Harry

Because Of You
Written by Pip Harry
Published by UQP
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Meet Tiny and Nola. Two very different girls with two very different stories who are just trying to find a place to belong. A powerful and compelling novel about friendship, love and acceptance.

Tiny is an eighteen year old girl living on the streets in Sydney, running from her small town past. She finds short term accommodation at Hope Lane, a shelter for the homeless where she meets Nola, a high school student on volunteer placement.

Both girls share their love of words through the Hope Lane writing group. Can they share their secrets, too?
Throughout the narrative, Pip Harry illustrates the callous installation of defence architecture, metal spikes used as a deterrent to erase homelessness from public exposure. While our governments allocate funding to frivolous enterprises, councils prohibit homeless communities sleeping within the city centre, denying those seeking safety in public places. Pip Harry is remarkable. Because Of You is the immaculate and captivating narrative of the Hope Lane community, a homeless initiative that encourages our most vulnerable community members to communicate through creativity. Inspirational and influential.

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

This Mortal Coil
Written by Emily Suvada
Published by Penguin Teen Australia
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When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta's death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world's leading geneticist, and humanity's best hope of beating a devastating virus.

Then, hidden beneath Cole's genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope.

Lachlan created a vaccine.
Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world's genetic tech. But it's too late to turn back.

There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.
The essence of This Mortal Coil is genetic manipulation and biotechnology, developed by Lachlan Agatta and administered to infants as nanotechnology. It allows programmers to create applications that download directly into the body, collaborating with our human genetics. This Mortal Coil is an intelligent, captivating and atmospheric science fiction dystopian. Absolutely phenomenal.

Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian

Beautiful Mess
Written by Claire Christian
Published by Text Publishing
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My Review
Since Ava lost Kelly, things haven’t been going so well. Even before she gets thrown out of school for shouting at the principal, there’s the simmering rage and all the weird destructive choices. The only thing going right for Ava is her job at Magic Kebab.

Which is where she meets Gideon. Skinny, shy, anxious Gideon. A mad poet and collector of vinyl records with an aversion to social media. He lives in his head. She lives in her grief. The only people who can help them move on with their lives are each other.
Too often young adult literature promotes the mental well being of adolescents as an illness to be remedied by a love interest and I applauded the discussion of mental illness as a chronic condition that fluctuates upon a wellness spectrum.

A wonderful inclusion of diversity. The late Kelly is bisexual and Maori, Ava is of Greek heritage, Gideon's parents are in a female, same sex relationship and the discussion of depression, suicide and anxiety was magnificent and wonderfully represented. Claire Christian is a captivating, compassionate and remarkable debut author composing a narrative that will linger long after the final page. Exquisite Australian young adult literature.

More Information

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