Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Otherbound
Written by Corinne Duyvis
Fantasy, Magic, Science Fiction
Published July 1st 2014
400 Pages
Thank you to Thames & Hudson Australia
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Amara is never alone. Not when she's protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they're fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she's punished, ordered around, or neglected.

She can't be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he's yanked from his Arizona town into Amara's mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He's spent years as a powerless observer of Amara's life. Amara has no idea... Until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she's furious.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan's breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they'll have to work together to survive, and discover the truth about their connection
.

Cooper Bartholomew is Dead by Rebecca James

Cooper Bartholomew is Dead
Written by Rebecca James
Contemporary, Thriller, New Adult
Published September 24th 2014
336 Pages
Thank you to Allen and Unwin Australia
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★★★★★
Cooper Bartholomew's body is found at the foot of a cliff.

Suicide. That's the official finding, that's what everyone believes. Cooper's girlfriend, Libby, has her doubts. They'd been happy, in love. Why would he take his own life?

As Libby searches for answers, and probes more deeply into what really happened the day Cooper died, she and her friends unravel a web of deception and betrayal. Are those friends, and enemies, what they seem?

Who is hiding a dangerous secret? And will the truth set them all free?
No one will ever forget the call that came that morning, Cooper's body was found at the bottom of a cliff, the authorities branding his death as a suicide. His long time best friend Sebastian called Cooper's former girlfriend Claire, and Libby's mother is the first to break the tragic news to her daughter, a girl who thought Cooper may have just held her forever. But Cooper's gone and leaves behind a grieving a girlfriend, a former girlfriend whose life has spiraled into a mix of addiction and abuse, and a best friend that has lost the only person who understood his complex and damaged life. Cooper was popular, but most importantly, he was happy. So how did his life end in tragedy?


Libby refuses to believe that Cooper was depressed, he spoke of a future together and wanted more than a small town existence. He wanted, but he didn't want to end his life. It's up to Libby to retrace Cooper's final steps. Cooper's last thoughts were if only he could have told Libby the truth.

Kelly's Thoughts

Incredible. Phenomenal. Unprecedented. Exceptional. There isn't one particular word to summarise the brilliance that is Cooper Bartholomew is Dead. It lured me in, kept me enthralled and left me with a bittersweet and emotional ending. This is how you create one of the best young adult novels that readers will inhale.
That's the thing about people like Cooper. They were so noticeable to us. they loomed so large and bright on our social radars. and yet to them we were barely blips. We knew stuff about them, we talked about them and watched them. We dreamed of being invited to their stupid parties. But they knew nothing about us. Not our names, not even our faces. They were indifferent. They made us feel small and boring. They made us feel invisible.
Told from four perspectives, Libby, Sebastian, Claire and from Cooper himself, the story begins with Cooper recalling his own death as he lay crumpled and fighting for life and then alternates between Libby, Sebastian and Claire as they recall their time with Cooper before his death, and the aftermath he has left behind. In a state of profound grief, Libby simply can't accept that Cooper would have taken his own life and begins to retrace what happened the night prior to when his body was found. But Cooper was the link between the three young adults and it seems everyone has a different story to tell.

The tender romance between Cooper and Libby was simply beautiful. Both from different worlds, her character offered a sense of tranquility and an alternative to the fast and furious lifestyle that Sebastian offered. But both Sebastian and Claire resented Libby, believing she was occupying far too much of his time and wanted nothing more than to ruin his relationship. But both cared deeply for Cooper and even when intoxicated or abusing narcotics, neither character could be seen as the reason Cooper is dead. The storyline weaves intrigue traces of secrets and lies, while providing heartwarming and tender moments from Cooper's life leading up to his death. The characters are all ages in their late teens to early twenties, casting Cooper Bartholomew is Dead fall into the category of new adult as it does contain mature content such as drug and alcohol abuse and sexual situations.

Rebecca James is now on my favourite author list, also having recently devoured Sweet Damage. She's an incredible storyteller with a talent for keeping readers on the edge of their seat. This is a must read, you won't be disappointed.

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

Review contains spoilers for book one in the series
Check out my original review for The 5th Wave
The Infinite Sea (The Fifth Wave: Book Two)
Written by Rick Yancey
Post Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Published September 16th 2014
480 Pages
Thank you to Penguin Teen Australia 
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How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others' ultimate goal: The extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

ARC Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

Talon (Talon: Book One)
Written by Julie Kagawa
Fantasy, Dragons
Expected Publication October 28th 2014
400 Pages
Thank you to Harlequin Australia and Netgalley
Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: And nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all too human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: And what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner: Book One)
Written by James Dashner
Dystopian, Science Fiction
Movie Edition published September 2014
371 Pages
Thank you to Scholastic Australia
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every thirty days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up, the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel The Lone City Book One 
Written by Amy Ewing
Fantasy, Dystopian, Romance
Published September 4th 2014
368 Pages
Thank you to Walker Books Australia
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★★★☆
Violet Lasting is no longer a human being. Tomorrow she becomes Lot 197, auctioned to the highest royal bidder in the Jewel of the Lone City. Tomorrow she becomes the Surrogate of the House of the Lake, her sole purpose to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess. Imprisoned in the opulent cage of the palace, Violet learns the brutal ways of the Jewel, where the royal women compete to secure their bloodline and the surrogates are treated as disposable commodities.

Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises, Violet enters a living death of captivity, until she sets eyes on Ash Lockwood, the royal Companion. Compelled towards each other by a reckless, clandestine passion, Violet and Ash dance like puppets in a deadly game of court politics, until they become each other’s jeopardy, and salvation.
As the auction is set to begin, this will be her last day known as Violet, sixteen years old and being sold as a surrogate into the Jewel, the heart of the city where the royalty and wealthy call home. She will simply be known as lot 197 where no one will know her name, or care enough to ask. She's bought at auction, never to see her family or best friend Raven again. Plucked from near poverty in the Marsh, surrogates are promised a life of luxury, an education, an abundance of material possessions and never needing to lift a finger. But what the girls will never have is freedom. They are simply there to carry and birth a child for their owner, then discarded to a holding center to live out their days.

Violet is one of the drawcards of this years auction, not only for her unusual eyes in which she was named after, but her ability to manipulate objects through the use of her Augury, a magical ability, sees her sold for an impressive six million diamantes to the Duchess of The Lake. Falling more on the side of cruelty, the Duchess has plans for her new surrogate and yearns for a daughter of her own. All Violet needs to do is comply and with her own chamber maid, it isn't long until she begins to see her position is of a prisoner in a lavish palace.

With the cruel Duchess and Doctor tending her, the Duchess' drunken son and malicious niece in residence, Violet meets Ash, a companion to the Duchess' niece, and an instant attraction forms. Both she and Ash have both been born into a life of servitude and understand one another. But as a dangerous relationship begins to bloom, Violet realises her life is in danger and her only chance at survival is to escape. The royal families are feuding, surrogates are mysteriously dying and Violet will be damned if she's next.

Kelly's thoughts

The Jewel was a mixture of the lavish lifestyle of The Hunger Games and the forbidden romance of The Selection. It blended a dystopian world of oppression and mixed in a touch of fantasy, where the surrogate girls displayed powers known as Auguries.
Once to see it as it is. Twice to see it in your mind. Thrice to bend it to your will.
The girls are ranked at auction depending on their results during the Augury testing. The Duchess has purchased Violet for a very specific purpose, the first Augury can influence skin, hair and eye colour. The second, physical shape, and the third being growth. She wants a perfect daughter, and quickly. Reminicent of The Selection, Violet's only friend within the Jewel is her lady in waiting, the mute Annabelle and Lucien, who is eerily similar to Cinna in The Hunger Games. Her life is seemingly simply, obey the Duchess and she shall be rewarded, otherwise face the consequences. Although Violet and best friend Raven begin as scared but somewhat defiant young women, being owned wears their rebellion down. While Violet is treated to new dresses, lavish balls and the freedom to explore her new home, Raven is being mistreated by her new owner and Violet is helpless as she watches the light fade from her Raven's eyes.

The appearance of instant love wasn't unexpected, but Violet's choice of love interest was. It seems that the trend in young adult is the main character gravitating towards the rich and handsome potential suitor and was pleased to see that this wasn't the case. The instant love is more of a tentative friendship and physical companionship, and declarations of feelings are made a little too prematurely for my liking. Regardless, the romance wasn't overpowering and felt more like two teens navigating awkwardly around one another for the fear of being discovered.

One aspect that struck me was the men. They all take a back seat to strong, although malicious women. They create the laws, challenge and scheme to destroy one another, while husbands retreat to nurse their drinks and I enjoyed the role reversal. The fantasy element comes in the form of the Auguries, which are powers that only surrogates hold. An explanation of what the Auguries are isn't until almost half way through the book, but with no explanation of how they were obtained and whether or not that's how potential surrogates are selected, which I'm hoping will be rectified in the next book in the series.

Overall, it was incredibly entertaining and almost impossible to put down. It ends in an enormous cliffhanger, where the storyline takes a stunning turn that I didn't see coming. It was beautifully written, the storyline flowing effortlessly, and I devoured The Jewel in a matter of a few short hours. If you enjoyed The Selection, you'll fall in love with The Jewel. I'm excited to see where debut author Amy Ewing takes this series next.

Interview with Amy Ewing

The Jewel is your debut novel, how did you find the experience overall from the storyline taking shape to being published?
It was a very long, very crazy ride. I sold The Jewel in May 2012. It went through about four major revisions, and there were definitely moments of despair, but in the end I am just so proud of the final result. It’s strange to live with something in private for so long and then suddenly, it’s out there in the world for anyone to read. I think this experience has taught me to have patience, or at least, made me understand I need to find some. Publishing is full of long lulls of nothing happening and then intense periods of revising. But I have an amazing editor and agent who helped guide me through this process, both the business side and the creative side. And I have a terrific group of author friends who serve as beta readers and also keep me sane on a daily basis.
With being likened to such well loved novels as The Hunger Games and The selection, what was the inspiration behind the idea of The Jewel, and do you see the comparisons as a positive reinforcement of your work?
Well, I am certainly flattered by those comparisons! I try not to think about comp titles when I’m working because at the end of the day it’s my story, and I have to love it and tell it as best I can. But obviously I would be thrilled if The Jewel appealed to readers of both those titles!

I got the idea for The Jewel while watching the movie Taken, weird, I know. There’s a scene where Liam Neeson’s daughter (the one who gets taken) is paraded onto a stage and bid on by wealthy men. And I thought to myself, "What if it was women buying this girl, instead of men?" And that’s how the Auction came to life.
The surrogates could be seen as glorified slaves, being sold into a life only to birth a child. How did the idea come about?
I think once the Auction was formed in my head, it just flowed naturally. I wanted to use the surrogates to explore the concept of having ownership over your own body and how important that is. These girls are treated as property, as walking wombs. I hope the readers will find this idea as offensive as I do.
Violet begins her story as a meek and scared girl, in her shoes, what do you see as the turning point behind her rebellion?
I think it’s a combination of factors. Lucien, obviously, is the one who puts the idea in her head of escape. Meeting Ash gives Violet the opportunity to make a choice for herself, for pretty much the first time in her life. I think that shapes her outlook considerably. And then she sees Raven, her best friend, losing her mind at the hands of an evil woman. Violet always looked to Raven as the strong one, so I think seeing her weakened makes Violet step up and find courage she never knew she had.
Could you explain to us a little how the unique concept of the Auguries came about, and what each Augury represents?
There are three Auguries, Color, Shape, and Growth. Each one can affect different aspects of the child these girls are meant to carry. The surrogates can also affect the environment around them, changing the color or shape of an object, or making plants grow at will. 

I knew I wanted there to be magic in this world, but I hadn’t nailed down the Auguries until my thesis semester of graduate school. My advisor and I talked a lot about what the magic should be, and eventually we came up with the idea of the Auguries. The word augury means omen, so it felt fitting to use, as these girl can foreshadow a child’s hair color or eye color, etc.
The Jewel is incredibly entertaining, with the storyline peaking just before leaving readers with the ultimate cliffhanger. How have readers received the ending thus far?
Oh, I have made so many people mad at me! Particularly on Twitter. I get a lot of tweets that are essentially saying, "How could you do this to me?" I love the ending, and I love that I was able to keep it as the cliffhanger it is. And hopefully it will keep people wanting more of Violet’s story!
What can readers expect from the next in the series, which is currently untitled?
At this point, all I can say is that readers will get to explore more of the Lone City and meet some fun new characters. The second book actually does have a title, but my lips are sealed on that until further notice!
Both released covers for The Jewel are absolutely stunning. Did you have a hand in the design process?
I love my covers. I feel so lucky because as an author, you have zero say in what goes on the cover of your book. It’s another one of those publishing things that you learn during the process. But I am just over the moon with both designs, and feel they both express the book so well. 
When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love to cook. And I play guitar and write my own songs. But probably my favourite thing to do is watch old episodes of The Vampire Diaries with my best friend over a glass of wine.
And lastly, what can we expect next from Amy Ewing?
I am currently in revisions on the second book, and then I imagine it will be straight into book three! But I’m also working on a collaboration with a fellow author (my first ever attempt at collaborating), so hopefully there will be something brand new on the horizon as well.

Follow the tour

Thursday, September 18th Diva Book Nerd
Friday, September 19th Inside My Worlds
Saturday, September 20th Books for a Delicate Eternity
Sunday, September 21st Thoughts by J
Monday, September 22nd Kids Book Review
Tuesday, September 23rd Striking Keys
Wednesday, September 24th Genie in a Book
Thursday, September 25th Fictional Thoughts
Friday, September 26th Book Much

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

Apple and Rain
Written by Sarah Crossan
Contemporary
Published September 1st 2014
329 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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RATING ★★★★★
When Apple's mother returns after eleven years of absence, Apple feels whole again. She will have an answer to her burning question, why did you go? And she will have someone who understands what it means to be a teenager, unlike Nana. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother's homecoming is bitter sweet, and Apple wonders who is really looking after whom. It's only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is, that she begins to see things as they really are.

Like a brilliant hybrid of Cathy Cassidy and Jacqueline Wilson, Sarah Crossan entices you into her world, then tells a moving, perceptive and beautifully crafted story which has the power to make you laugh and cry.
She left eleven years ago on Christmas Eve. Her mother was arguing with her grandmother on their doorstep, leaving for America to follow her dreams of being a star and leaving her daughter behind. Since, Apple has lived with her Nanna, a strict yet loving woman who has raised her only Granddaughter to be a polite and well adjusted young lady. Apple still pines for the mother she barely knew, believing each Christmas she'll return. But when Apple is called to the office and whisked off to the hospital to supposedly see her ill Nanna, rather it announces the return of her mother, a woman that Apple now can barely recognise.

With a new shiny car and effervescent personality, her mother breezes back into her life promising that her return will bring the mother that Apple so desperately needs and she wants to play a part in Apple's life, asking the now teen to live with her.
People change. Everyone deserves a second chance.
But with no job, money or place to stay, Apple is more than willing to wait until her mother finds her feet again, much to the disappointment of her Nanna and the quirky boy next door Del. But when she arrives with her bags Apple is in for a surprise, in the form of ten year old sister Rain, a sibling that her mother neglected to share. Rain is smart mouthed, quick witted and also carries with her a doll affectionately named Jenny, who she believes is a real baby. Her mother insists she's sought professional help for Rain, but seemingly refuses to deal with the issue, a sign of what will be her mother's lack of duty of care to either child, only caring for herself.

Wild parties, alcohol and leaving for hours at a time, it becomes apparent that Apple's mother still isn't ready to take on the role of responsible adult. Apple is forced not only to miss school for weeks on end, but when her mother leaves the two girls overnight and fails to return, it's left to the thirteen year old to take on her responsibility. But when a fight results in Rain running away, Apple has no choice but to turn to her Grandmother and her former quirky boy next door.

Living with her mother hasn't been what she needed and Apple starts to learn that she should have been more careful what she wished for.

MY THOUGHTS

When a review copy arrives with included tissues, you know you're in for an emotional read and Apple and Rain didn't disappoint. Apple is an intelligent young lady, but she's never been able to overcome her mother leaving. Although she loves her grandmother dearly, she so desperately pines for a relationship with the woman who left and never looked back. It was only then did I realise how incredibly young Apple is emotionally, and that is also reflected in new sister Rain as well. Both girls are seemingly well adjusted, but as the storyline progresses, it's apparent that their mother has neglected each girl resulting in Rain's inability to to function without Jenny, and Apple needing to please her mother for her approval. It was incredibly sad to see Apple, who is still a child herself, taking care of her younger sibling both mentally and physically. Apple had no one to turn to, not wanting her grandmother to know that her mother was unfit to care for both girls. She was forced from school, with the only alternative being leaving Rain at home alone and before long, Apple herself became the mothering figure in Rain's life.

The only brightness in Apple's world had become the journal given to her by her English teacher, and encouraged to continue her love of poetry. Apple's life is falling apart, she had lost her best friend to the token malicious popular girl, her first kiss was at the insistence of her mother's drunken idea and now she's left alone to cope with Rain while her mother avoids coming home. It felt as though the words had seeped through the pages and tore through my heart, I was emotionally invested in the lives of these two girls and wanted nothing more than to rescue them from the situation their neglectful and self absorbed mother had inflicted.

THE VERDICT

Beautifully written. This is my second Sarah Crossan novel, after attempting to read the first installment in her young adult dystopian series, Breathe. But where I couldn't immerse myself in the series, Apple and Rain was phenomenal. So incredibly emotional, where the reader will find themselves invested in Apple and Rain's plight. Tragically beautiful.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Belzhar
Written by Meg Wolitzer
Contemporary, Magic
Expected Publication October 2014
272 Pages
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia
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If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

Sage by Christina Channelle Review and Giveaway

Sage (Blood Crave: Book Three)
Written by Christina Channelle
Paranormal, Supernatural
Expected publication September 13th 2014
Thank you to Christina Channelle
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"I know that, what we are. But why do you hate me?"

Escape. It was the only word pounding through fallen angel Sage Cross' mind when her world came crashing in. Fallon was nothing but a painful memory, something she wanted, no needed, to forget.

Now she has a chance to let that part of her past go and be in a place where she can finally heal. A place where Lamia and Lapsus don't exist and she can just be... Sage. But of course, it doesn't last. Nothing ever lasts.

Her happily mediocre life with her cat familiar, Sunny, and best friends, Janie and Perkins, is nothing but a mirage. Especially when a brooding vampire, first name Adam, last name irrelevant, takes roots in her life. Someone who hates her for simply existing, yet she is unable to get him out of her mind. Or her heart. With her brother and friends in danger, Sage is the key to either ending it all or causing the destruction of not one, but two supernatural beings.

Cover Reveal: Brew by David Estes

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Salem’s Revenge strikes without warning or mercy, ravaging the powerless human race under the forces of united gangs of witches, wizards, and warlocks. During the slaughter, Rhett Carter's foster parents and sister are killed, and his best friend and girlfriend are abducted by a gang of witches calling themselves the Necromancers, who deal in the dark magic of raising the dead. Rhett’s sword-wielding neighbor with a mysterious past saves Rhett from becoming another casualty of the massacre and teaches him the skills he needs to survive in this new world.

Rhett is broken, his normal high school life of book blogging and football playing shoved in a witch-apocalyptic blender. The only thing he has left is his burning desire for revenge. Armed with his new witch hunting skills and a loyal, magic powered dog named Hex, he sets out into the unknown with one mission: hunt and destroy those who took away everyone he ever loved.

But Rhett isn’t just a witch hunter; he has secrets of his own that he has yet to discover, secrets that his enemies will stop at nothing to keep him from.

And discovering the truth about himself is the human race’s only hope.

Connect with David


Goodreads    David's Blog  ●  Twitter    Facebook  ●  Tumblr  and his  Goodreads Fan Group      

David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. David grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife. They now live together in their dream location, Hawaii. A reader all his life, he began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and started writing full time in June 2012. Now he travels the world writing with his wife, Adele. David's a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After 
(Anna and the French Kiss: Book Three)
Written by Stephanie Perkins
Contemporary, Romance
Published August 14th 2014
352 Pages
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily ever afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and √Čtienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
Written by Melissa Keil
Contemporary, Coming of Age
Published September 2014
320 Pages
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont
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★★★★★
Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery, and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.

The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details: Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared. And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails.And even her latest comic book creation is misbehaving.

Also, the world might be ending, which is proving to be awkward.

As Doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.
Nothing ever changes in Eden Valley where it's always been childhood friends, Alba and best friend Grady against the world. Then chaos descends. An online clip featuring a self proclaimed doomsday prophet, has given the country coordinates to the sleepy town and it isn't long before the flocks of media and believers arrive en masse, destroying what could be the group of teens final summer together.

Along with her single mother, Alba lives behind the family bakery, immersing herself in cinnamon rolls and her graphic illustrations while the town is plunged into an end of the world party. Alba has always wanted to study art ever since her father introduced her to Wonder Woman comics, but the thought of leaving town t forge her own path, has her hiding out in her bedroom. Her only solace comes in the form of Grady, her best friend who lives next door. In what may be their last summer together, Grady is leaving for the bright lights of the city to study law, while Alba can't find the motivation to bring her latest character to life, Cinnamon Girl, the bakery mascot.

In with the hordes of doomdayers, comes long lost childhood friend Daniel. Daniel was once part of a trio, along with Grady and Alba, leaving town only days before her father passed away. Still children, Daniel never looked back on Eden Valley until now. One of the stars of a cheesy soap opera, Daniel breezes back into town on a publicised visit and assumed that his only childhood friends had also moved on. His reappearance brings a wave of nostalgia and seemingly Grady's sudden sullen mood. As Grady pulls away, Alba can't help but feel his already distancing himself to ease into what will be a painful goodbye. Time is running out, either the world will end or Alba will need to make a decision on her future, stay and she may never make it out of Eden Valley, or take a chance on a life she's too scared to live.

Kelly's Thoughts

I really enjoyed Melissa Keil's debut novel Life in Outer Space, but I absolutely adored The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl. Alba, a nickname derived from her surname, isn't your typical small town girl. She dreams of taking her comic book characters to the world, but as her circle of friends and best friend Grady graduate from school, she realises that she may only have a few months before she is forced to say goodbye. She struggles to leave the only life she's known behind and venture out into the world, which is something I too experienced when I finished school all those years ago.

Her sidekick is best friend Grady, the two of them growing up together both being raised by single mothers. He's the typical boy next door with a twist. He's not perfect, but he complements Alba's personality, it's a pity his drive and ambition has yet to encourage her to see the world outside of Eden Valley. Life is seemingly perfect, until Daniel breezes back into town. Daniel isn't the same overweight child that left the valley, and now returns as a low grade soap star. The secondary characters were incredibly vivid and well developed, and although don't play a pivotal role in the storyline, they provide sassy banter and each bring a unique and charming element each in their own way.

Alba is brilliant. She's sassy, strong and has an offbeat and unique sense of style, a rockabilly pinup girl who lives for her characters. She's not flirtatious, she doesn't expect compliments, she knows she's an attractive girl with curves that draw attention. But besides from doubting her own future, I loved that she was confident with a healthy and realistic body image. Something we don't generally see in young adult today. She doesn't need a boyfriend and doesn't seek the approval of others for validation. She's what teen girls should be portrayed as. Young adult authors take note, this is how you create a quirky and off beat young adult contemporary that no doubt readers will fall in love with.

Black Ice Book Trailer Release

Black Ice
Written by Becca Fitzpatrick
Expected publication October 7th 2014
Published by Simon and Schuster Australia
Britt Pfeiffer has never been that adventurous, but that's about to change. Wanting to impress her exboyfriend, Britt convinces best friend, Korbie, to take a trekking trip with her. But when a freak storm leaves the girls stranded they seek shelter in a cabin, where they find two knights in shining armour. Or so they think.

Britt quickly realises that the girls need to get off the mountain, fast. In exchange for her life, she is forced to guide the boys down, and as they set out on a harrowing journey through the cold and snow, Britt realises the only way to escape with her life is to pretend she is on their side. But is gorgeous, sexy Mason an enemy or an ally? Tension mounts, and it's only a matter of time before things turn deadly. 
To say I'm excited to read Black Ice is an understatement. Going by the synopsis, it sounds as though not only has Becca Fitzpatrick's writing matured, but she's created a survival thriller set in the middle of nowhere that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. A far cry from the brooding fallen angel in Hush Hush, I'm looking forward to devouring Black Ice next week. So while you wait to see what I think of it or score a copy for yourself, check out the book trailer below.

Starring Jules: Third Grade Debut by Beth Ain

Starring Jules: Third Grade Debut
(Starring Jules: Book Four)
Written by Beth Ain. Illustrated by Anne Keenan Higgins
Middle Grade
Published in Australia September 2014
176 Pages
Thank you to Allen and Unwin
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How I Know I'm Not In Second Grade Anymore by Jules Bloom

1. My new teacher wears Hawaiian shirts and runs a tight ship (which has a lot do with a certain behaviour chart).

2. There is a very third grade sounding project called the Wax Museum, which has nothing to do with wax and everything do with turning into an important famous person.

3. I also have to turn into someone else at sitcom rehearsal, and let's just say I'm glad there is no behaviour chart there!

Jules is a third grader at last! But so far, the reviews aren't so good. Her new teacher makes her feel totally tongue tied. Charlotte shows up on the first day wearing the one thing Jules really wants but will never get. And she already has homework, researching a famous person to become for the class wax museum project. But how will she decide who to be when she barely knows who she is in the first place?

Even worse, her after school sitcom rehearsals are harder than ever, and the TV show is about to air for all the world to see. Jules needs to find her inner superstar if third grade is ever going to be a smash hit.
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