Broken Strings by Maria Farrer

 
Broken Strings
Written by Maria Farrer
Contemporary, Musical
Published July 2014
352 Pages
Thank you to Scholastic and Scholastic Australia 
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It is the story of a brilliant young violinist, her determination and struggle to achieve her dreams and the discovery that she is at the center of an extraordinary secret that has pulled apart her family for two generations. Jess, a talented seventeen year old violinist, suffers from stage fright as she auditions for a place at a prestigious music school. Her family do not have enough money for her to continue to study so when she fails, she vows not to play again. Until her wealthy grandmother, estranged from her family since Jess's mother fell pregnant - shows up at their doorstep and promises six months of tuition in exchange for Jess moving to live with her. Once ensconced in her grandmother's rich, but empty, life she starts to uncover the mystery of why her grandmother never spoke to her mother again, and the secret which tore her family apart.  

Author on the Grill: Roses are Blue Blog Tour

'I have not got used to my new mum, even though I love her (I absolutely love her) but I miss my happy, painting, dancing, gardening, smiling mum.'

Roses are Blue is a illustrated children's book that even adults will fall in love with, including myself. Not only is Sally an accomplished author, but her previous children's books have won impressive awards such as the Children's Independent Book of the Year, Premier Awards and also Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year awards. She's a writer, she's a hard working mum of six, so who is Sally Murphy and what inspired Roses are Blue? With thanks to Walker Books Australia, I was fortunate to nab an interview with the woman herself. Roses are Blue is out now in all great bookshops.

The Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim

The Astrologer's Daughter
Written by Rebecca Lim
Contemporary, Mythical
Published July 23rd 2014
364 Pages
Thank you to Text Publishing
Add to Goodreads
★★★☆
My mother always called it the eventuality. Not the maybe, or the probably. It’s going to happen, she would tell me calmly. I even know when. It’s a twist in my stars. It’s written there, and we have to accept it. My mother, Joanne Nielsen Crowe. She has a name, she’s not a was.

Avicenna Crowe’s mother, Joanne, is an astrologer with uncanny predictive powers and a history of being stalked. Now she is missing.

The police are called, but they're not asking the right questions. Like why Joanne lied about her past, and what she saw in her stars that made her so afraid. But Avicenna has inherited her mother’s gift. Finding an unlikely ally in the brooding Simon Thorn, she begins to piece together the mystery. And when she uncovers a link between Joanne’s disappearance and a cold-case murder, Avicenna is led deep into the city’s dark and seedy underbelly, unaware how far she is placing her own life in danger.

Pulse-racing and terrifyingly real, The Astrologer’s Daughter is a stunning, original novel. It will test your belief in destiny and the endurance of love.
It's always been Avicenna and her mother, since her father passed away, but now Joanne Nielsen Crowe is missing. The eccentric Astrologer has always been in demand, possessing a gift passed down each generation, resting now with Avicenna. Avicenna has only been known as The Astrologer's Daughter by her mother's clients, her mother using their small apartment to read a client through their stars, being paid in ornaments and trinkets which now clutter their home. With nowhere to turn, Avicenna contacts the police who confiscate journals containing her last known clients, while Avicenna is expected to go about her everyday life, including school. At school where she was once teased due to her disfigurement, now the halls part for the girl who's mother is presumed to have met with foul play. Her mother had always instilled in Avicenna to left no stone unturned, so when previous clients come knocking, Avicenna begins the task of finishing what her mother began.

Avicenna also holds the gift of reading past, present and futures, from the man who insists on knowing when he'll come to pass and how, the elderly mother who needs to find her daughters killer, to the young, cocky and irresistibly handsome Hugh, who was promised a reading. Where Avicenna won't deny her mother's clients closure, somewhere, her mother is still out there. With her unfinished game of Words With Friends, alone and possibly now resting with Avicenna's father. With a major assessment due, Avicenna has little time for study, even at the insistence of overachiever Simon, who surprisingly isn't the wealthy and put together boy Avicenna had thought he was. It soon becomes apparent that Simon is as invested in her mother's case as Avicenna is, and begins to rely on the boy who once called her Frankencrowe due to her scarring.

But as the stars begin to align in her mother's unfinished cases, Avicenna begins to see a pattern between two cases she is completing and perhaps why her mother disappeared. But will she be too late?

Kelly's Thoughts

The Astrologer's Daughter was a unique contemporary, with a mythical element, depending how you perceive the gift of Astrology. It follows the story of Avicenna, who is in the midst of discovering that her mother is now missing and now fears she has lost two parents in devastating circumstances. Her mother has always instilled in her the importance of tying up loose ends, so when previous clients come knocking, Avicenna takes it upon herself to start their readings and finish what her mother seemingly couldn't. The police are skeptical of her mother's gift and believes it may be the reason she's disappeared under mysterious circumstances, but with little to go upon, the search for the truth isn't easy and Avicenna takes it upon herself to discover what her mother was working on.

Avicenna is a sassy and smart young woman, who's grief is simmering just beneath the surface. But true to her word, she picks herself up and begins to discover that being exposed to her mother's gift has left her with the knowledge and know how to carry on her work. What was so striking, was Avicenna's ability to pull herself together, when she should have been close to being inconsolable. I enjoyed the brief explanations of how she used a name, birthdate and time to determine a personality or history, but the longer passages were borderline tedious and too difficult to immerse myself in. Perhaps a short preface as an introduction would have allowed me to connect to the storyline more so, as Astrology is not all that familiar to me.

There are two love interests in Avicenna's life, handsome and wealthy client Hugh and the over achieving Simon who holds a secret of his own, but luckily it doesn't translate into a love triangle, as neither boy seems to be overly interested. The obvious choice of Avicenna's misguided feelings should have been towards Simon, who once her academic nemesis, sleeps on her couch. But even in the midst of the investigation, she described Hugh as her Dream Man, which seemed to be more a case of confusing interest with being romantically inclined towards her. It felt awkward and I was more interested in finding what happened to her mother, than Avicenna's love life.

The Final Verdict

Overall, it was a interesting read and while Rebecca Lim spun an intriguing and unique storyline, I couldn't find a connection to the characters or Avicenna's missing mother. The situation should have been heartbreaking, but the emotion and grief over not knowing what happened to her mother felt as though Avicenna had accepted her mother was gone and possibly felt more for her mother's clients. I adored the mythology behind the gift they had shared, but it wasn't enough to keep me enthralled. The ending felt very much incomplete and almost whimsical. Although the I enjoyed aspects of The Astrologer's Daughter, I just couldn't find a connection sadly.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars
Written by E. Lockhart 
Contemporary, Mystery
Expected publication August 1st 2014
240 Pages
Thank you to Allen and Unwin
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RATING ★★★
A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl. A passionate, political boy. A group of four friends, the Liars, whose friendship turns destructive.

A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense that will leave you reeling. Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
The Sinclairs are a wealthy family, they spend their summers frolicking on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts with their grandfather. Harris Sinclair purchased the island after making his fortune as a young man, inheriting houses and land, ensuring his three daughters have never wanted for anything. But with money, comes a sense of social responsibility, which the eldest grandchild Cadence had never thought about, until now.

The Sinclairs are the white, all American family, Democrats, manipulative and entitled. Her grandparents have been bringing their three daughters to the island every summer since Cady could remember. Through births, divorces and lies. Now it's Cady and her two cousins Johnny and Mirren, along with Gat, the Nephew of her Aunt Carrie's partner. The teens, along with their mothers, will carry on the legacy of returning to Beechwood each year. They leave their lives behind, because the Island is an escape. Cady begun to see Gat as something more. They understood one another, the wealthy Sinclair girl and the outsider, equals and falling in love... Until the accident.

Now Cady is seventeen and returns to the Island in the hope of remembering...

MY THOUGHTS

I simply can't review We Were Liars coherently, it was phenomenal. From the very first page, it grabbed my attention and unraveled a storyline that left me in tears, shaking and on the verge of a literature breakdown. We Were Liars is the perfect example why I read young adult, how a novel with so few pages can have an incredible impact on the reader. I wondered if this would be just another heavily recommended book that would fall flat, but he writing was impeccable, short sharp sentences intended to draw you into the world of the Sinclairs. Personally I absolutely adored it. It gave me a sense of arrogance that came with the Sinclair name and not so much as telling a story, but stating facts.

I knew very little about the actual storyline and tried to remain as oblivious as possible, which only added to the intensity and left me on the verge of a manic hysteria. I read long into the night and with only a small few pages to go, I was pacing the house.

Forgive me, it's been two weeks since I had the privilege of unraveling We Were Liars, and my state of mind can still only be described as...

Gap by Rebecca Jessen

Gap
Written by Rebecca Jessen
Fiction, Verse
Published July 23rd 2014
232 Pages
Thank you to UQP
Add to Goodreads
★★★★
Winner of the 2013 Queensland Literary Award, Best Emerging Author.

When you’re at the end of the line with nowhere to turn, how far would you go to protect the one you love?

A man is found dead in an inner-city suburb, a police officer walks the blurry line between duty and loyalty, and a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks is on the run. Ana soon becomes a suspect in the murder investigation, and as sole carer for her younger sister is desperately trying to stay ahead of the law. In a surprising twist, the detective in charge of the case is no stranger and Ana is forced to face her past and the things she has left behind. Unsure of who she can trust and isolated by her crime, Ana is drawn into a passionate affair that breaks all the rules.

From the winner of the 2013 Queensland Literary Awards, Best Emerging Author category, Gap combines a gripping crime thriller with a style evocative of Dorothy Porter’s cult classic, The Monkey’s Mask.
Ana's life has never been carefree, she's never truly lived, only merely survived. Now as the sole carer for her sister Indie, she works to allow Indie to live the life that was never offered to Ana after her father walked out of their lives, while their neglectful mother consistently chose her string of boyfriends at the expense of her daughters. But now it seems Ana will be forced to pay for her past.

After an altercation, the police come looking for Ana, but she never expected her former partner and high school sweetheart Sawyer to come knocking on her door again. With Indie to look out for, Ana begins to worry what will happen to her underage sister and the urge to flee town seems to be Ana's only option. Until her mother hears of her alleged crime.

Never having cared for Indie's welfare, her mother now demands that the teen return home, providing the police with further ammunition to suspect Ana. The fierce need to protect her sister, the unresolved feelings between her and Sawyer and on the verge of facing incarceration, who can Ana turn to?

Kelly's Thoughts

Told in verse, Gap follows the sorrowful storyline of Ana, who had just reached the lowest point in her life thus far. After being kicked out of her mother's home at only sixteen, Ana has struggled to survive, but after taking in her underage sister Indie, it's given Ana a reason to pick herself and provide a life that their mother couldn't and Ana will do anything to keep Indie safe.

What I found so striking about Ana was her realism. Her emotions, willingness to admit her past mistakes and give everything she has to protect and provide for Indie. Her emotions, her genuine fear and her unconditional love for the girl who also rescued her in turn is honest, raw and readers will not only find themselves drawn to Ana, but can relate to her downfall. But being a prime suspect in a murder case will unravel the girl who is just barely keeping her life together.

Although she's made many questionable life decisions, Ana isn't a hardened criminal, she's merely a girl who finds herself in a situation now where she'll need to fight for her innocence, regardless of the legitimacy. As the storyline reveals itself, we see Ana's internal struggle against her only option, to admit defeat or fight to the bitter end. But hope comes in the form of her former partner, who Ana admits she can no longer trust. I loved Gap, the short, punchy style of verse not only had an enormous impact, but was incredibly engaging and left my heart aching for Ana and her situation.

My only complaint is that it felt unresolved, but rather it's left to the reader to interpret how Ana's story will end. But an incredibly worthy winner of the 2013 Queensland Literary Award for the Best Emerging Author.

The Protected by Claire Zorn

The Protected
Written by Claire Zorn
Contemporary, Coming of Age, Death
Published July 23rd 2014
264 Pages
Thank you to UQP
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty one days old.

Hannah's world is in pieces and she doesn't need the school counselor to tell her she has deep seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn't have problems?

Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn't afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?

In a family torn apart by grief and guilt, one girl's struggle to come to terms with years of torment shows just how long old wounds can take to heal.
It's been twelve long, lonely months since Katie passed away and Hannah still morns her sister each and every day. Her father is physically broken, and her mother is mentally absent, morning for her eldest daughter and no longer functioning. Katie was the elder of the two sisters, the party girl who her peers respected, followed and very much loved. Hannah has always been seen as a social pariah. As Hannah navigated the world of high school and cliques, she'd believed that her childhood best friend would be by her side. But as the popular girls begun to take an interest in recruiting, Hannah found herself alone once more. Invited to parties as nothing more than a cruel joke, taunted, all while older sister Katie looked the other way. Hannah lost Katie long before she died.

After Katie had passed, the taunting has stopped but replaced by a forlorn pit. Her parents refuse to communicate beyond the required parental concern, and her only friend is that of her newest in a long line of mental health experts, school counselor Anna. Anna sees that Hannah is struggling with panic attacks and a lack of social interaction, but with the court case and her testimony fast approaching, Hannah begins to retreat within herself once more. Her father claims he can't remember and all Hannah knows is that regardless of what her mother believes, the accident was through no fault of his own.

But hope arrives in the guise of Josh, new student, popular and sees that there is more to Hannah than a broken girl in mourning. Despite her best efforts to push Josh away, He won't be swayed, and is determined to get to know the girl that no one else will.

Kelly's Thoughts

Claire Zorn, you are incredible. I absolutely loved Claire's dystopian, The Sky so Heavy and The Protected is absolutely brilliant. The characters are beautifully intricate, well developed with a raw and realistic quality. Claire allows each narrative to deliver their thoughts with a sassy and sarcastic wit, which is not only clever, but allows the reader to relate and invest in her characters through humour. The Protected follows the same premise, but explores the heartbreak of losing a family member, the breakdown of the family unit who are grieving and learning to live again.

While my heart ached for Hannah, I absolutely adored Josh. Even though he was aware of Hannah's grief, he never felt the need to console or tread lightly around the discussion of Katie's passing. He was a symbol of hope that Hannah was able to use as her anchor, as well as school counselor Anna. Anna was brilliant. A no nonsense woman who Hannah also felt connection to while her world was caving in. While both parents seemingly struggled to live for the daughter that lived, both were too consumed by grief and guilt to worry how Hannah was fairing.

It was an amazing story told in shades of grey, proving that grief is a personal journey to which we all endure individually. Claire Zorn is one of Australia's young adult authors that all authors should take note of. She can captivate an audience, paint us into her world with characters that stay with us long after the final page is read.

Sweet Damage by Rebecca James

Sweet Damage
Written by Rebecca James
Thriller, Romance, Mystery
Published April 1st 2013
336 Pages
Add to Goodreads 
★★★★
'I still dream about Anna London's house. In my dreams it's as if the house itself has sinister intentions. But in real life it wasn't the house that was responsible for what happened. It was the people who did the damage...'

When Tim Ellison finds a cheap room to rent in the perfect location in Sydney it looks like a huge stroke of luck. In fact the room comes with a condition, and the owner of the house, the mysterious Anna London, is unfriendly and withdrawn. When strange and terrifying things start happening in the house at night, Tim wonders if taking the room is a mistake. But then his feelings for Anna start to change, and when her past comes back with a vengeance, Tim is caught right in the middle of it.

A thrilling rollercoaster of a story, read it with the lights on!
Tim can't continue sleeping on friend, and former flame Lilla's couch, so when Lilla pushes him into finding somewhere else to live, he can't believe his luck when a room for board is available at Fairview, cheap and with so few conditions. His new housemate is twenty year old Anna, quaint, quiet and suffers from the debilitating condition of Agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder in which renders her scared of stepping beyond the doors of her own home. In exchange for a measly weekly rental fee, Tim agrees to run simple errands for Anna and simply keep her company in the monstrous nineteenth century home. Anna has lived alone since the death of her parents in a horrific accident three years prior, and while she and her mother didn't get along, she adored her father despite his blatant flirting and womanising, not to mention the unfaithfulness that her mother has always accused him of.

It isn't long before Tim realises that living at Fairview isn't as ideal as first thought. Anna isn't one for conversation, no matter how incredibly lonely she's been. She cries herself to sleep each night, often calling out to what Tim believes is a lost love. The only friends that Anna has come to rely on, are sibling that may in fact be even stranger than she. But for all her quirks, Anna is still not the strangest attraction of Fairview. The presence through the house, being watched while he's asleep, Tim needs answers... And Anna has a story to tell.

Kelly's Thoughts

Sweet Damage was a surprising, heart stopping thrill ride that I simply couldn't put down. The storyline follows Tim, who works in the family restaurant and spends his free time surfing and sleeping on his former girlfriends couch. Moving out, he moves into Fairview, an incredible heritage home, with cheap rent in exchange for running errands for the strange recluse Anna. Anna is an incredible character and I found myself endeared almost immediately. The living arrangements are incredibly awkward, but rather than distance himself, Tim simply wants to know who Anna is and mistakenly shares his concerns with Lilla. Lilla is over confident and lacks a social filter, often appearing to be uncaring, rude and painfully blunt and although in a relationship, Tim still pines for her. Although I have no idea why. Lilla was little more than a loudmouthed attention seeker and considering she accused Tim of struggling through his own life, she's irritating and barely tolerable in small doses.

The mixture of manic terror, mystery and suspense is enthralling and I loved every delicious moment. Rebecca James created an incredible thriller that left me guessing until the very end.

The Special by David Stavanger

The Special
Written by David Stavanger
Poetry
Published July 23rd 2014
96 Pages
Thank you to UQP 
Both fun and playful, Stavanger’s poems display wit and beguiling originality. They shift from the oddball to the vulnerable and from the zany to the deeply meditative.

Stavanger’s collection embodies a spirit of the post post modern in both intellect and spark, while playing off cool disjunctions against electrifying erudition. There is a strong trace of the performative and dramatic in these poems, Stavanger’s flair for performance poetry gives this award winning collection a distinct and likeable flavour.

Roses Are Blue by Sally Murphy and Illustrated by Gabriel Evans


Roses Are Blue
Written by Sally Murphy, Illustrated by Gabriel Evans
Children's, Poetry, Diversity
Published July 1st 2014
112 Pages
With thanks to Walker Books Australia
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Look out for my interview with Sally on July 26th
"I have not got used to my new mum, even though I love her (I absolutely love her) but I miss my happy, painting, dancing, gardening, smiling mum."
Amber Rose and her family are dealing with tragedy and change. But sometimes hope suddenly blooms...

From the award-winning author of Pearl Verses the World and Toppling comes a story about resilience and the importance of family
.

The Diva Weekender #002

I'm back again this week to show you my own weekly round up of news, the best of book blogs, what I'm digging and showing off what arrived on my doorstep this week.

News


●  The Aussie YA Bloggers group is starting our Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins group read this Monday. Members, if you'd like to join in, please pop onto the discussion thread.
●  Four still wants you to take him home, so enter to win a copy and Veronica Roth signed bookplate.
●  I'm also giving away a copy of Disruption. An incredible Aussie dystopian.
●  Subscribe to our Australian YA Bloggers newsletter in time for our August edition.
●  Harper Collins Australia have a new blog site, Between The Covers.

Disruption by Jessica Shirvington

Disruption Disruption Book One
Written by Jessica Shirvington
Science Fiction, Dystopian, Romance
Published April 1st 2014
400 Pages
Purchased
Published by Harper Collins Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★★
What if a microchip could identify your perfect match?

What if it could be used against you and the ones you love?

Eight years ago, Mercer Corporation's M Bands became mandatory. An evolution of the smartphone, the bracelets promised an easier life. Instead, they have come to control it. Two years ago, Maggie Stevens watched helplessly as one of the people she loves most was taken from her, shattering her world as she knew it. Now, Maggie is ready. And Quentin Merce, heir to the M Corp empire. has become key to Maggie’s plan. But as the pieces of her dangerous design fall into place, could Quentin’s involvement destroy everything she's fought for?

In a world full of broken promises, the ones Maggie must keep could be the most heartbreaking.
It's been two years for eighteen year old Maggie Stevens since her father was taken from her and imprisoned, and she'll do anything to find him. Nine years ago, it was decided that citizens would be required to wear an M Band, a simple device fitted to your wrist that ensures the government has access to your health rating, who a potential partner may be and if you register as a Negative, lesser citizens who are seen to be on the verge of being nothing more than a disturbance. So how did a kind and gentle man such as Maggie's father, a model citizen, register a series of Negatives?

Maggie is deeply entrenched into the seedy underworld of illegal bands, and accessing the tunnels that run under the cities. While the M Corporation educates the community on the rehabilitation of the Negative citizens, supposedly being treated in sprawling self sufficient farms, Maggie knows the truth. The unwanted population are taken prisoner and held in underground societies known as Pods, where hundreds, if not thousands, live in poverty and never to see the light of day again. Maggie suspects her father is one of the prisoners, but she'll need the heir to the M Corporation empire, fellow student Quentin Mercer's help.

With hacker and M Corporation employee Gus in her debt, Maggie sees to it that Quentin knows first hand what it feels like to be a Negative, ensuring that the wealthy and handsome eighteen year old's status will get her what she needs to find her father before Cleaning Day, when she may lose him forever. In exchange for her silence and aiding to mask Quentin's rating, Maggie wants access to his father's files, meanwhile keeping up the ruse that the two are now somewhat of a couple. But Maggie begins to realise that there is far more to Quentin than the Mercer family name, and his horror of the control and oppression hidden from his society.

Kelly's Thoughts

Disruption was brilliant. Following the story of Maggie, who'll stop at nothing to free her father from injustice by bribing and blackmailing those around her, a mission she's been working towards since her father was taken two years prior. Quentin plays a pivotal role in gaining access to the Mercer run pods, where Maggie believes her father is being kept. The only way she can recruit Quentin, is to offer to manipulate the eighteen year old into believing he too is a Negative, which would all but destroy his life, his family and find himself being detained. Throughout the storyline, we see Maggie begin to struggle with her deception as she begins to see that there is more to the heir of the M Corporation.

Maggie is incredibly sassy, tough and street smart. I loved her interactions with Gus, a technical expert which she is also blackmailing. He loathes her and longs for her demise, but as non compliant as he claims to be, he's somewhat of a trusted friend. If only Maggie could see how important Gus is. Quentin is an incredibly likable character, down to earth, passionate and although he doesn't realise hes being manipulated, he's incredibly trusting considering he feels he has nothing left to fight for. As the two teens explore the world that Quentin's father has created, the horrors and unjust treatment of those who Quentin believe were once in his position, brings the two closer together, learning to lean on one another. That ending? When it seems all is lost, a glimmer of hope left me wanting, no needing, more.

Not only is Disruption superbly written, but the storyline is explosive, the characters engaging, underhanded but still incredibly charming. This is my first Jessica Shirvington read, and it was phenomenal. I love my dystopian young adult and Disruption is one of the best I've read.

Push by Eve Silver

Contains spoilers for Rush

Push (The Game: Book Two)
Written by Eve Silver
Science Fiction, Aliens
Published June 10th 2014
352 Pages
Thank you to Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss
Add to Goodreads
It’s either break the rules or die.

Miki Jones lives her life by her own strict set of rules, to keep control, to keep the gray fog of grief at bay. Then she’s pulled into the Game, where she, and her team, will die unless she follows a new set of rules: those set by the mysterious Committee.

But rules don’t mean answers, and without answers, it’s hard to trust. People are dying. The rules are unraveling. And Miki knows she’s being watched, uncertain if it’s the Drau or someone, something, else. Forced to make impossible choices and battling to save those she loves, Miki begins to see the Committee in a glaring new light.

And then the Game crosses a new boundary, pushes harder into Miki’s and her friends’ lives, and there’s nothing in the rules that can save them now.

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer


Storm (Elemental: Book One)
Written by Brigid Kemmerer
Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Edition published April 17th 2014
320 Pages
Thank you to Netgalley and Much In Little books
Add to Goodreads
Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys, all the ones she doesn't want. When she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot, everything is about to change. Chris is different from the guys at school... Really different. He can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. The brothers are powerful and dangerous. And now that Becca knows the truth, so is she.

When the mysterious new kid, Hunter, turns up, Becca thinks she can trust him. But when he goes head to head with Chris, Becca's left wondering who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The Diva Weekender #001

I'm taking the plunge and creating my own feature each Saturday, The Diva Weekender. I'll be showcasing the books I've bought, received or swapped during the week, pimping blogs, sharing posts and book news from Australia and abroad.


Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth and Giveaway

 
Four: A Divergent Story Collection 
Written by Veronica Roth
Novellas, Dystopian 
Published July 8th 2014
160 Pages
Thank you to Harper Collins Australia
Add to Goodreads
Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen year old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. His transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. He will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened as Four, he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future, and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis

 
The Dark Inside
Written by Rupert Wallis
Contemporary and Paranormal
Published July 2014
384 Pages
Thank you to Simon and Schuster
The House on the Hill has been abandoned for as long as James can remember. So when he discovers Webster, a drifter, hiding there, he's instantly curious about the story behind the homeless man. What is he running from?
Afflicted by a dark curse, Webster is no longer who he used to be. But there is said to be a cure and it might just be that by helping Webster, James will find some solace of his own. Together they embark on a journey, not knowing that what they discover will impact them both in ways they never imagined...

A gripping and haunting story about loss and hope, perfect for fans of Patrick Ness and David Almond.

Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier

Razorhurst
Written by Justine Larbalestier
Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Published June 25th 2014
365 Pages
Thanks to Allen and Unwin
Add to Goodreads
★★★☆
The setting: Razorhurst, 1932. The fragile peace between two competing mob bosses, Gloriana Nelson and Mr Davidson, is crumbling. Loyalties are shifting. Betrayals threaten.

Kelpie knows the dangers of the Sydney streets. Ghosts have kept her alive, steering her to food and safety, but they are also her torment. Dymphna is Gloriana Nelson’s 'best girl', experienced in surviving the criminal world, but she doesn’t know what this day has in store for her.

When Dymphna meets Kelpie over the corpse of Jimmy Palmer, Dymphna’s latest boyfriend, she pronounces herself Kelpie’s new protector. But Dymphna’s life is in danger too, and she needs an ally. And while Jimmy’s ghost wants to help, the dead cannot protect the living...
Kelpie lives on the mean streets of Surry Hills in Sydney, where the seedy underworld struggle to maintain a truce, where men slash each other with razors instead of guns, and how a young girl on the streets leaves her fate in the hands of the ghosts who guide her. She's hungry and can't remember the last time she ate, now that Snowie is in prison, the man she grew up with before her guardian died and her main source of finding her next meal. On the advice of a spirit, Kelpie finds an derelict house which promises apples in abundance. But what Kelpie finds is Dymphna, dressed immaculately and standing over a dead body.

Dymphna is Glory's best girl, with only the toughest Razormen spending an evening in her company. Known on the streets as the Angel of Death, Dymphna is never long without a man for protection, until her latest boyfriend and conspirator Jimmy is killed violently, with only a note from Mr. Davidson as a warning. Glory and Mr. Davidson run Razorhurst, a truce called after the brutal killings a few years prior, but Davidson wants Dymphna and seems will stop at nothing to make her his. Both girls are in a panic as they sirens near, and both girls decide to run. Kelpie can see and hear Jimmy's spirit, pining away for Dymphna even in death. She knows her time may be coming to an end, as she's fears her plans with Jimmy to take over Razorhurst may have been what lead to his demise. But Dymphna holds a secret, not only can she see ghosts, but can hear Jimmy's warnings.

When the girls hide in the home of aspiring writer Neal Darcy, much to the annoyance of Jimmy's ghost. If Dymphna tries to flee, Glory's men will find her, her only option is to confront her before Davidson finds her first. Both their lives are about to become a dangerous game of cat and mouse through the streets of what is now known as Sorrow Hills. Will either make it out alive?

Kelly's Thoughts

Razorhurst was sassy, sultry and a brilliant take on gangland warfare with a paranormal twist. Keplie, named after the likeness to being a wild pup, is a phenomenal young lady, her life has been little more than tragedy and destitution but yet she's tough, feisty and isn't afraid to go down swinging. She and Snowie were raised by a woman known as Old Ma, who would tell Kelpie the story of how her parents died before being able to name her. It wasn't long before Old Ma had passed as well, and Kelpie relied on her ghosts to keep her safe, leading her to food and away from trouble. But for the past few years Kelpie has been on her own. Her clothing is threadbare and disintegrating, her hair wild and knotted and not only can't she remember the last time she ate, she has no idea how old she is. Kelpie broke my heart, her short life thus far was incredibly sad and finding Jimmy's dead body only added to more trouble the young girl doesn't need.

Dymphna is a prostitute. Not only does she know that Kelpie can see and speak to the dead, but she holds the same gift. She knows to survive the streets of Surry Hills, she needs the protection of her man, but a succession of murdered boyfriends has now left Glory's 'best girl' alone and vulnerable. The two girls were essentially from two very different worlds, but brought together through circumstance and now share a bond.

I loved the glimpse of Sydney during the Razor Gangs era, where it's said that the surge in organised crime was caused by the prohibition of sale of cocaine by chemists, street prostitution and the local watering holes closing at 6:00pm each night. It paved the way for the Davidson and Glory's of the era to run racketeering and underground crime syndicates. The paranormal aspects of Razorhurst only seemed to serve the purpose of Dymphna and Kelpie meeting, and sharing Kelpie's memories of how she survived the streets. I would have enjoyed it more so without it, it took what could have been a very realistic scenario of that era and added a element that felt incredibly out of place.

Regardless of the gift both girls shared that let the storyline down, I really enjoyed it. It was slow to start, but the sorrowful story of Kelpie drew me in, and the seedy underworld of the Razor Gangs kept me enthralled. If you're a fan of mobsters, hired goons or the tough street life and hard living of the twenties and thirties, you'll love this one.

On The Fence by Kasie West

On The Fence
Written by Kasie West
Published July 1st 2014
320 Pages
Thank you to Harper Collins Australia for the ARC
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She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chic boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets, she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.
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