Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan

Flirty Dancing
Written by Jenny McLachlan
Published July 1st 2014
192 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Bea Hogg is shy but fiery inside. When national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It's just a shame her best friend agreed to enter with school super cow Pearl Harris. Bea will fight back! But when school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea, she will have more than a fight on her hands.

This warm, nuanced, hilarious story about friendship, fortitude... And dancing is impossible not to fall in love with. Jenny’s voice is fresh and convincing, and she handles both darker and lighter elements of the story with equal panache.

Stacking The Shelves #027 The Photo Edition

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online bookshops, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course eBooks. Hosted by Tyngas Reviews.

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Blueback by Tim Winton

Blueback
Written by Tim Winton
Editon Published June 25th 2014
162 Pages
Thank you to Penguin Books Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★★
Abel Jackson has lived by the sea at Longboat Bay ever since he could remember. he helps his mother each day and loves to dive. One day he meets Blueback, the biggest and most beautiful fish he's ever seen.

When Abel's mother is approached by developers she decides she must do something to protect their fragile piece of coastline. But can Abel and his mother save Blueback and Longboat Bay in time?
In the small community of Longboat Bay, ten year old Abel and his mother live off the land and spending their days in the company of one another. While snorkeling for Abalone along the pristine coastline, Abel discovers the most tremendous Blue Groper the bay has ever seen. Affectionately named Blueback, for his magnificent and brightly coloured scales, he's sly, he's playful and incredibly cheeky and Abel has fallen in love with the gentle giant.

As Abel strides into his teenage years, Blueback represents his life on the coast at Robbers Head, until a local developer releases that Longboat Bay is the ideal location for tourists, but the Jackson's won't go down without a fight. It's then, when Abel realises that in order to protect the water that Blueback and the marine wildlife call home, he'll need to learn about the ocean to preserve what men are out to destroy, leaving his mother as a staunch advocate for the preservation cause.

But throughout it all, Blueback is the one constant that the Jackson's are fighting for. To keep his home safe for generations to come.

Kelly's Thoughts

Tim Winton is magical. Blueback is a beautiful and whimsical story of a boy and his friendship with a Blue Groper affectionately named Blueback. For those who have never seen a Blue Groper, they are incredibly majestic and can be found in a variety in coastal waters throughout Australia, including exposed reefs. Tim Winton has used Blueback as a symbol of our marine wildlife and how it's paramount to protect our coastline. Although the storyline follows Abel from the age of ten up until he's in his thirties, it's his mother that is the shining example of an environmental warrior. After Dora Jackson's husband was taken by a Tiger Shark while diving, she has always fought for her beloved Bay through teaching Abel to respect their coast.

Throughout Abel's lifetime, his mother has seen illegal poachers who threaten to destroy the Bay by illegal fishing, developers who want to spoil the magic of the serene coastal property, raising a child alone with no support and living off the land to make ends meet. She's a phenomenal role model that should be celebrated. But it's her determination to protect her coast that will resonate with environmentalists worldwide.

It was simply beautiful. An incredibly poignant story that reminds us to take care of our environment from an author who leads by example. I hadn't heard of Tim Winton prior to reading Blueback, but the popular award winning Australian author is an incredible ambassador for Australian Marine Conservation Society and has been decalred a Living Treasure by the National Trust, and I can certainly see why. But the magic of Blueback isn't only confined to the storyline, but the series of Penguin's Australian Children's Classics are all simply stunning

Head of The River by Pip Harry

Head of The River
Written by Pip Harry
Published June 25th 2014
304 Pages
Thank you to UQP
Add to Goodreads
★★★☆
It's the most elite school sporting event in the country. Nine rowers, 2000 gruelling metres and one chance for glory in the ultimate team sport. Sit forward... ROW.

Tall, gifted and the offspring of Olympians, superstar siblings Leni and Cristian Popescu are set to row Harley Grammar to victory in the Head of the River.
With six months until the big race, the twins can't lose. Or can they?

When Cristian is seduced by the easy route of performance-enhancing drugs, and Leni is suffocated with self-doubt, their bright futures start to fade. Juggling family, high expectations, study, break-ups, new relationships and wild parties, the pressure starts to build.

As the final moments tick down to the big race, who’ll make it to the start line? And who'll plummet from grace?
Twins Leni and Cristian Popescu were born into rowing royalty, the daughter and son of two Olympians and gifted athletes at Harley Grammar private school. Both siblings are on scholarships and depend on not only grades, but each being able to compete on the main stage at the prestigious Head of The River, where only the elite compete.

Leni has always been not only the ultimate athlete, but she's disciplined and manages to train, maintain an impressive study schedule and fine tune her body. Not only is she a role model for the girls on the rowing squads, but she's dating the popular Adam, wealthy and an athlete in his own right on the male squad. Cristian on the other hand is struggling with his weight, his fitness and to maintain a spot at the top of his field, a place that newcomer Sam is fighting his way towards. He struggles to live within his sister's shadow, and as far as Cristian is concerned, Leni is the golden child while he'll never live up to, and the expectation of being the son of two Olympic medalists.

When Cristian loses his place in the squad, he'll do anything to regain his seat again, including cheating. Along with a fellow team mate, the two boys covertly seek out a dealer who will supply them with performance enhancing drugs, steroids that will ensure his spot on the team. But as the months lead up to the Head of The River event, Cristian's dramatic transformation won't go unnoticed. While he begins to edge his way back in, Leni's world is falling apart. Her relationship with Adam is strained and she finds herself attracted to someone else, she can't seem to bond with her team and she doesn't have the drive to win. But in a dramatic turn of events, the siblings see that there is life beyond the river, and anything is achievable if only you believe in yourself.

Kelly's Thoughts

Head of The River should be read by not only those who are interested in rowing, but for all teens who compete and strive to break into a professional level. It follows the dual points of view of siblings and twins, Leni and Cristian, whose parents are both Olympians and respected members of the rowing community, being only natural to both take up the sport themselves. I really enjoyed seeing both points of view, with Leni at the top of her sport, while Cristian struggled to maintain the same level, often feeling as though he was competing against his sister in the eyes of his parents. He sees Leni as having it all, but not realising that she struggles out of the water, socially, and finding herself in a lackluster relationship while she fights her feelings for new boy Sam. Cristian seemed terribly unhappy, his storyline was more engaging and allowed the reader to relate to his daily struggle with weight and his own mental anguish.

The storyline more than ever, is a really popular topic for discussion in Australia at the moment with the alleged drugs scandal at the Essendon AFL club, and the investigation by ASADA, the Australian Sports Anti Doping Authority. But where the media will just report on facts and accusations, we rarely see a personal side of the effects that the scandal had had on players and their families. Although Leni and Cristian are fictional, it allows the reader to see just what sacrifices athletes make for their chosen sport and that they are prone to mistakes, just as you and I are.

I wanted to enjoy it more than I did, whether it was due to being outside the intended demographic or haven't had played competitive sports outside of school, but I found myself wanting to skim over the training sessions just to reach the more personal side of the storyline. Pip Harry was able to put me right into the action from the grassy banks of the river, and loved the Melbourne locations scattered throughout. Overall, it was a fascinating story of the lives of young athletes and the pressure of competitive sports, from an author who has experienced the life firsthand.

Victoria Scott Cover Reveal and Giveaway

A frightened girl.
An empty field.
Four houses.

Which house would you choose?

Four Houses is a dark short story told in an unusual format that leaves readers wondering how they'd react if found in the same situation as seventeen year old Maddy.

Spark by Rachael Craw Review

Spark Spark Book One
Written by Rachael Craw
Science Fiction, Romance
Published July 1st 2014
400 Pages
Thank you to Walker Books Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★
Evie doesn't have a choice. One day she's an ordinary seventeen year old, grieving for her mother. The next, she's a Shield, the result of a decades-old experiment gone wrong, bound by DNA to defend her best friend from an unknown killer. The threat could come at home, at school, anywhere. All Evie knows is that it will be a fight to the death. And then there's Jamie. Irresistible. Off limits.
Having lost her mother, seventeen year old Evie is now living in her Aunt Miriam's spare room in amongst the boxes that she can't bring herself to unpack. She mourns the only parent she's ever known, while night terrors, an awkward growth spurt and and her frantic heart palpitations only adding to her anxiety. But it isn't anxiety that is slowly consuming Evie's life, it's her DNA, and she's about to find out why.

Evie is a Shield, her hereditary disposition dictating that she's built to protect and serve those who need it most, and her instinct to protect best friend Kitty is overwhelming. So when Kitty plans to attend the Governor's Ball, Evie has no option but to tag along. But she never planned on seeing Jamie, the boy that Evie spent years trying to forget.

But when a killer has Kitty in his sights, Evie knows the only way to protect her best friend is to move into the lavish family estate and enroll at the prestigious Gainsborough Collegiate. It isn't long before training is in full force, honing her skills as a Shield requires focus and intensity, something that Evie has in abundance now that Jamie is slowly inching his way back into her life. But will the distraction prove deadly?

Kelly's Thoughts

Spark was a mix of science fiction and contemporary, but felt more like a unique spin on the superhero and savior role. It was intense, and entertaining. Not often does a young adult storyline take me by surprise, but Spark certainly did. I adored Evie's character, not only has her world fallen apart with the loss of her mother, she lives each day with the knowledge that she never knew her father and the only family she has now is her Aunt Miriam, whom she now lives with. The only constant in her life, is spending each summer with her best friend Kitty. Evie has known the Gallagher family for the best part of a decade, including Jamie.

Jamie is Evie's Achilles Heel. Having shared a brief, but embarrassing kiss before he left three years ago. But now Jamie's eighteen and back in Evie's life. But Jamie isn't without his secrets and the relationship between the two is as intense as it is forbidden. The romance reminded me of that of Rose and Dimitri in the popular Vampire Academy series, the student teacher aspect and forbidden romance that follows. I really enjoyed Evie and Jamie's relationship, the two teens shared a history together so the seemingly instant love felt more natural.

My only one real complaint was the overload of information once Evie is told exactly who she is. There were so many descriptions and acronyms, that I knew I'd never be able to remember. But I didn't need to. As the storyline progresses, you'll learn what being a Shield entails alongside Evie, as she navigates her new role. First time author Rachael Craw is a born storyteller, she's taken what are seemingly normal teens who are still finding their feet, and throwing them into a world of killers, protectors are rules of how they must now live their lives. But what made the characters so engaging, was her use of dialogue. It's quick, it's witty and realistic between the characters.

The Final Verdict

If you're looking for a sassy, intriguing and unique read, this one is definitely it. Already eagerly awaiting book two in the series, Stray.

Author on the Grill: Rachael Craw

Spark is a new young adult series with a science fiction twist. An intense forbidden romance and a seemingly average girl with an incredible secret. Set to be released on July the first, click HERE to read the prologue and first chapter of Spark. Thanks to Walker Books Australia, I was able to interview the sassy, sarcastic and superbly awesome Rachael Craw with only days until her first novel is released.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

The Geography of You and Me
Written by Jennifer E. Smith
Published in Australia April 8th 2014
352 Pages
Thank you to Netgalley and Hachette Australia
Owen lives in the basement. Lucy lives on the 24th floor. But when the power goes out in the midst of a New York heatwave, they find themselves together for the first time: stuck in a lift between the 10th and 11th floors. As they await help, they start talking...

The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland they can't shake the memory of the time they shared. Postcards cross the globe when they themselves can't, as Owen and Lucy experience the joy, and pain, of first love. And as they make their separate journeys in search of home, they discover that sometimes it is a person rather than a place that anchors you most in the world.

The Geography of You and Me is a story for anyone who's ever longed to meet someone special, for anyone who's searched for home and found it where they least expected it.

The Word Ghost by Christine Paice

The Word Ghost
Written by Christine Paice
Published June 1st 2014
368 Pages
Thank you to Allen and Unwin
Add to Goodreads
★★★☆
This is England 1973, and fifteen year old Rebecca Budde is in love with Dave. After one glorious summer, Rebecca is forced to move with her family to Brightley, a village with a puddle for a pond, and no excitement at all. If only Dave were there. Very weird things are going on inside their new house, and even stranger things are happening in the village at night. Someone appears to be living in Rebecca's wardrobe. Someone else is on the balcony, trying to get in. Things don't make sense anymore as Algernon Keats steps from the shadows, his sister not far behind him. There's no Dave, two ghosts, a pub, a dog and Alex March, a dark and brooding artist, living in the Manor House down the road, whose interest in Rebecca is both puzzling and thrilling.

What do Alex and Algernon want from Rebecca? What on earth does any of it mean? Is it possible to love a ghost? And what happens if he loves you back? The lights are out. Welcome to Brightley.

Rebecca thinks love is forever, but sometimes it's not. And nor, sometimes, is death. The Word Ghost is a funny, moving story about what it means to find love, lose love and discover who you are when you live in a village with no street lights and a decidedly dark side.
For almost sixteen year old Rebecca Abraham Budde, it's the year of flared jeans, Jane Eyre, the small town by the river and Dave. Dave with this long ginger locks at the bus stop, in which Rebecca rides past everyday. But being the local Vicar's daughter, as her budding relationship with Dave begins to bloom, her world is turned upside down. The family are moving to the sleepy town of Brightley, after her father is accepted as the new Vicar at Buckingshire Parish. Older sister Maggie will soon be of at college, while younger sister Emily couldn't care less where she lives, but Rebecca knows that this may just be the end of her romance with Dave, the boy that's no doubt The One.

The new Vicarage is over a hundred and seventy years old and seemingly comes with a very welcoming neighbour, the elderly Flora Shillingham. At the small cottage, it's the tapping on the balcony window, the dreamlike figure that kneels beside the bed and the eerie fog that rolls in each night that make Brightley different from other small country towns. Rebecca is miserable, even studying her great love of literature does nothing to aide the heartache of missing Dave, but when she returns to Wye to see him, things don't go as well as she had expected.

But she still has Algernon Keats for company, the twenty four year old ghost that passed away and now inhabits her wardrobe. He's the cousin to the famous poet and see's the beauty in the world, including that of Rebecca. Algie recites poetry, he drops pebbles and leaves from his body and smells of fresh soil. He wants for nothing and speaks in riddles, but he's the closest person Rebecca now has to a friend in the strange town. But where Algernon is light, Augusta is dark, the ghost that taps on her balcony doors. If that wasn't enough to keep Rebecca occupied, she now has to fend off the local womaniser, the eccentric and wealthy artist Alex March. Alex is developing an obsession with the girl that is twenty years his junior, and before she knows it, Rebecca is swept up in his passion. This will be the year of finding love, losing love and giving yourself to another. To finding the truth in poetry and seeing the light beyond the shadows. Brightley is more than a town with a rich history, and Rebecca is about to find out why.

Kelly's Thoughts

The Word Ghost was a storyline told in two parts, the first half was beautifully written, incredibly charming and instilled a dream like whimsy in readers. The second half sadly seemed to have lost it's way. Rebecca was a charming and quirky young lady, she's sassy, intelligent and has an incredible internal monologue that not only provides the reader with random observations, but she also converses with Jane Eyre. It was so refreshing just to read about Rebecca's day to day life without unnecessary drama, she's a brilliant character who has more than enough personality to keep your attention. I really enjoyed how at each new phase of her life, she lists what she's accepted and what she's rejecting. From David Bowie to biscuits, it was charming and I fell in love with her character even more so.

But as she moved into the new town, I felt her character begun to lose that magic. The reader is introduced to Algernon Keats, cousin of the famous poet who's father was also a Vicar in the same cottage more than a century ago. Algie, as he's affectionately known, is simply lovely. He recited poetry, and uses Rebecca's journal to create his own. Why he's taken to Rebecca isn't exactly known, but together they create a sweet and endearing friendship that I wish had of been delved into more. Meet Alex March, the thirty seven year old brooding artist that lives down the road. He first shows an interest in older sister Maggie, who is of legal age, but once Maggie moved to London for college, his interest shifts to the underage Rebecca. He was incredibly creepy and had a sinister presence within the storyline. But when Alex's creepy interest turns into something far more than appropriate or legal for that matter, Rebecca's initial magic has all but disappeared. I was disappointed and really not sure what his role was, apart from chasing an underage girl to seduce.

The Final Verdict

Personally, The Word Ghost would have been far more enchanting without the introduction of Augusta, who seemed to be seeking retribution for her life before she passed, and Alex, who's storylines both entwine. I'm not sure there was an underlying message to the storyline though, more so a coming of age story with the paranormal sprinkled throughout. Partly magical, somewhat disturbing and beautifully poetic, but definitely worth giving this one a read.

I'm Disturbed: Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais

Breaking Butterflies
Written by M. Anjelais
Published in Australia June 2014
257 Pages
Thank you to Scholastic Australia and Chicken House
Add to Goodreads
The closest he will ever come to happiness is when he's hurting her. Will she let him? A beautiful and twisted story of first love and innocence lost, written when the author was just eighteen.

Sphinxie and Cadence. Promised to each other in childhood. Drawn together again as teens. Sphinxie is sweet, compassionate, and plain. Cadence is brilliant, charismatic. Damaged. And diseased. When they were kids, he scarred her with a knife. Now, as his illness progresses, he becomes increasingly demanding. She wants to be loyal, but fears for her life. Only the ultimate sacrifice will give this love an ending.

Playlist for a Broken Heart by Cathy Hopkins


Playlist for a Broken Heart
Written by Cathy Hopkins
Published May 2014
288 Pages
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia
When Paige finds an old mix CD in a local charity shop, she can't help but wonder about the boy who made it and the girl he was thinking of when he chose the songs. The tracks tell the story of a boy looking for his perfect girl, a girl to understand him, a story of being alone, being let down, misunderstood and not knowing where to turn.

Following the clues of the music, Paige sets out to find the mysterious boy, going from gig to gig and band to band, hoping to track him down. But will who she finds at the end of the trail, be the boy she's imagined?

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman Review

Prisoner of Night and Fog
Written by Anne Blankman
Published in Australia June 10th 2014
352 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
Gretchen Muller has, as best she can, dealt with the horrors of her family's past. Her father, a senior Nazi officer, died trying to save the life of their leader Adolf Hitler. And now Germany has the chance to be great once more. Swept up in the excitement and passion of life in Munich in 1931, seventeen year old Gretchen has embraced the life laid out for her by that leader, her Uncle Dolf. 

But the secrets of the past cannot be silenced forever. When Gretchen receives a letter from an anonymous sender claiming to have more information about her father's death, she becomes swept up in a desperate and dangerous search for the truth. With the full might of the ever-powerful Nazi party on her tail, it is a race that will risk everything she has and change her life forever...

Stacking The Shelves #026

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online bookshops, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course eBooks. Hosted by Tyngas Reviews.

Publisher Paperbacks


 

The Protected by Claire Zorn. I absolutely loved The Sky So Heavy, so when I seen that Claire was bringing a new book out, let's just say that I was super excited. She's a born storyteller. Thank you to the University of Queensland Press, who publish though provoking young adult books.
Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan. I hadn't heard of this one before, but it sounds like an absolute tearjerker. It actually arrived wrapped in brown paper, with a warning on the label and a pack of pocket tissues. Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia, loved the unique marketing. You always know how to rock my shelves.
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski. I've actually already read, reviewed and loved this book, which you can find here. As I reviewed a digital copy, I purchased the paperback myself, so this one is on it's way to a new home where another blogger can enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you to the fabulous Bloomsbury Australia


Blueback by Tim Winton. This one is part of the Penguin Iconic Classic Children's range. I'm collecting this series, the hardcovers are so whimsical and features a whole range of classic Australian stories. You can find the entire collection by clicking here. Thank you to Penguin Australia.
Playlist for a Broken Heart by Cathy Hopkins. This one I've been eager to read, so was thrilled when a surprise copy turned up this week. It sounds similar to Dash and Lily, and I love quirky adventure type contemporaries. A huge thank you to the incredible Simon and Schuster.
Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier. Sydney in the thirties, a supernatural twist and a gorgeous cover to boot! I'm lucky to be part of the promotional tour and can't wait to crack this one open. Thank you to my little cake addicts at Allen and Unwin.

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Take Me On (Pushing The Limits: Book Four)
Written by Katie McGarry
Published June 1st 2014
464 Pages
Thank you to Harlequin Australia 
Champion kickboxer Haley swore she'd never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can't stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she'd stay away from. Yet he won't last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her, fighting for her, is a shot at redemption. Especially since it's his fault his family is falling apart. He can't change the past, but maybe he can change Haley's future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they'll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

Read along with my buddy Gina: Gone by Michael Grant

Gone Gone Book One
Written by Michael Grant
Special Edition Published in Australia April 1st 2014
559 Pages
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
In the blink of an eye, everyone disappears. Gone. Except for the young.

There are teens, but not one single adult. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what's happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents, unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers, that grow stronger by the day. It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else...
Sam temple was in history class when his teacher suddenly vanished. The same scenario played out in each classroom, and Perdido Beach was now adult free. Anyone aged fifteen and over has simply vanished, classrooms left empty, cars abandoned but still running, no internet or emergency phone services either. Deciding it'll be safer to travel together, Sam, best friend Quinn and Genius Astrid leave the confines of the now dangerous school, into the eerily quiet streets. Kids were wandering, scared or hysterical with no parents to go home to. Infants left inside their homes, the preschool children left without carers and little Pete, Astrid's autistic little brother, lost. But for Sam, the pending sense of annihilation had started weeks earlier, with a simple light inside his closet.

All over Perdido Beach, the streets tell the same story. Frightened children and teens stepping up and taking responsibility without question. From Albert who has taken over the abandoned McDonalds and Mary, who is caring for the infants at the day care center with her brother John. But the underage community now turns to Sam, who is known locally as a hero, making him an obviously leader. Until he kids from Coates Private Academy arrive.

Caine is the self imposed leader of the private academy, and is determined to take over the aptly named Fallout Alley Youth Zone. But with him, Caine brings a group of dangerous teens who aren't afraid to use a heavy hand, keeping the now small community in line with violence. But in Perdido Beach, these aren't any ordinary group of teens, and the power they wield may be their own demise.

Our Thoughts

Kelly

So we've both just finished our first Michael Grant novel together, and besides it being as thick as a doorstop, what did you think?

Gina

I really enjoyed it. It was definitely weird and unexpected, but in a really good way. I only had one major issue with the book, but other than that, it was addictive and definitely worth all the hype that it gets. What about you?

Kelly

I was a little hesitant to start, as all of the characters seemed far younger than what I was expecting. I knew what the book was about, but wondered how characters all under fifteen were going to keep my interest, it really surprised me though. But we both had the same issue with these teens and the roles their characters played. Did you find their ages believable?

Gina

I completely agree with the characters. I would have liked for the Gone age to be, at least 18 or 19. Most of the time, I would forget that they were all under 15, and think that they were older teens. Even though it's fiction, the ages are too unbelievable. I think the only character who suited their age was Quinn, I didn't like him at all, and he succumbed to peer pressure to stay out of trouble, which I would find believable for a kid that age, especially in the circumstances they were in. You didn't like Quinn either did you?

Kelly

I loathed Quinn. I understand that he was the token surfer, but who uses the word Brah? Is that slang for, I'm an idiot who can't talk properly? Maybe it's common with surfers, or morons. One person I did like was Caine, not his character as such, but he brought personality to a group of all too perfect teens and everyone needs a nemesis right? Apart from that, the storyline was pretty good, I admit that I couldn't put it down either. What did you think of Michael Grant's writing prowess?

Gina

Urgh! He was sooooo annoying. I think that might be why the characters are made to be older than 14, because if they were done as 14 year olds in that kind of situation, then they would all be Quinn's.

I really liked it. I loved how there was the short snappy sentences to emphasise points. Like 'She ate it. she ate it all', or however it goes. What about you?

Kelly

I really enjoyed them too. It sort of gave it a comedic feel in places, as it often came off as overly dramatic. Which is true for some teens even in the midst of everyone over fifteen vanishing, some can still create their own drama. What did you think of the public school kids verses the private school bullies?

Continue the conversation over at Behind The Pages.

A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix

A Confusion of Princes
Written by Garth Nix
Reviewed by Professor Birdbrain
Edition Published April 2014
337 Pages
Thank you to Allen and Unwin
Add to Goodreads 
★★★★★
I have died three times, and three times been reborn, though I am not yet twenty in the old earth years by which it is still the fashion to measure time. This is the story of my three deaths, and my life between. My name is Khemri.

Taken from his parents as a child and equipped with biological and technological improvements, Khemri is now an enhanced human being, trained and prepared for the glory of becoming a Prince of the Empire. Not to mention the ultimate glory: should he die, and be deemed worthy, he will be reborn...Which is just as well, because no sooner has Prince Khemri graduated to full Princehood than he learns the terrible truth behind the Empire: there are ten million princes, and all of them want each other dead.
Khemri, a product of the vast empire of mankind, is amongst the realm of Princes of the Empire. The Princes have many lives of luxury, for a prince of the empire, they rarely ever die permanent death. At the time of death, a Prince's actions are weighed by the Imperial Mind. If deemed worthy, he or she will be reborn or re spawned, as I like to think of the process.

In a vast empire comprising of trillions of humans, a terrible price must be paid by all parents, when the priests come planet side to test their children for the genetic markers. Those strong enough to allow the child to survive the massive modification process, required to become super human and become a Prince of the Empire of man.

Professor Birdbrain's Thoughts

The writing style was similar to that of an autobiography, told by the main character Prince Khemri which works well on many levels. It helps alleviate the initial absence of back story, which the author Garth Nix addresses quickly, giving the reader a basic overview of the technology that is key to the empire. You'll learn more as Khemri travels along his journey of his three deaths, and three consequential lives. Parts of the story will connect with the reader and resonate strongly. I personally found a rich connection to the story, and was riveted, on the edge of my seat.

Death is not approached as a glorious event, even though the prince will likely be reborn. The feeling of loss is present, and inspires deep reflection on the events that lead up to the death. These are examined in the story. Some of the technology is incredibly confusing and I had a hard time picturing what the author had intended to convey. The explanations of the three main technologies could have benefited with slightly more explanation. I found myself having to re read some parts of the story to understand the meaning that the author was trying to deliver, but could have due to the abundance of information thrown at the reader, all at once.

I felt lost trying to pronounce and remember the the unusual names given to the majority of the characters. I appreciate the diversity, but the story could have done with a few that were easier to pronounce, a Jane or Timothy wouldn't have gone astray. It's by no means a detraction from the book and readers will still thoroughly enjoy it.

Prince Khemri's story is told in past tense and as the story progresses, so does his development and your understanding of the empire as a whole. By the middle of the book you will see gaps in his decision making, and wants filled with a yearning for something more human. Master of Assassins Haddad, is the most prominent secondary character. His role is to protect Khemri from the other princes, and saves Khemri's life on multiple occasions. He exudes a strong sense of honour and duty to the empire, and Prince Khemri. There's little explanation regarding Haddad's history, but I'm hoping the bonus story included will help clear any confusion. He is a father figure in the story, trying to help a somewhat misguided son.

A Confusion of Princes may have benefited from a more descriptive text on the three main technologies used by the Princes. They were described well, but they were all described a little too closely together and somewhat intermingling in their description. No doubt this will leave some readers in the dark. I would have also liked to have read about more space battles in greater detail, only due to a personal preference.

The storyline is written in past tense, drawing the reader in to the story, making you sit on the edge of your seat as well as being unable to put the book down. Garth Nix created a rich backdrop for the reader to imagine. I personally felt the book playing out like a movie in my head, that I could identify with. The undertones of emotion combined with the richness of the story really do make you feel like Prince Khemri was a real person, and is easy to imagine you being in his place at times.

This book is fantastic! A hardcore science fiction with a surprising love story. Deep, rich, and features plot twists that will surprise readers. Simply, this story will mentally challenge the reader, making you contemplate sacrifice and honour.

Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon

The Back The Skies (Take Back The Skies: Book One)
Written by Lucy Saxon
Published in Australia June 5th 2014
378 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged, she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.

So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all.

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