Adorably Fluffy: Love Bomb by Jenny McLachlan

Love Bomb
The Ladybirds Book Two
Written by Jenny McLachlan
Check out my review of Flirty Dancing
Contemporary, Romance, Comedy
Published March 12th 2015
304 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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Betty Plum has never been in love. She's never even kissed a boy. But when H.O.T. Toby starts school it's like Betty has been hit with a thousand of Cupid's arrows. It's like a bomb has exploded, a love bomb!

More than ever Betty wishes her mum hadn't died when Betty was a baby. She really needs her mum here to ask her advice. And that's when she finds hidden letters for just these moments. Letters about what your first kiss should feel like and what real love is all about...

Is Betty ready to fall in love? Will she finally have her first kiss?

Diva By Design #1: Blogger Design... Free Design Programs

Blogging isn't easy. It's time consuming, not to mention keeping your blog design updated, hosting and paying for your domain name can all add up not leaving a great deal of funds for books themselves. But designing your blog doesn't need to be expensive. In a series of posts, I'll share with you what I know and how to jazz up your blog on a budget. I'll also offer a freebie for those who need a little help along the way. I'm by no means an expert or experienced even, but I love to create and the sense of achievement when you've accomplished something yourself.

Don't forget to scroll down for your freebie to download.

The Martian, Reviewed by my Space Nut Husband

The Martian
Written by Andy Weir
Science Fiction, Survival
Published February 11th 2011
384 Pages
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive, and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old 'human error' are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills, and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit, he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Before The Fire by Sarah Butler

Before The Fire
Written by Sarah Butler
Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Published March 1st 2015
256 Pages
It's June 2011. Stick and Mac are a couple of months shy of eighteen, summer's approaching and they're about to leave their north Manchester estate for the beaches of southern Spain. But the night before they're planning leave, Mac ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, the victim of a random knife attack, and suddenly Stick's going nowhere. His mum doesn't want him to leave the house; his dad's desperate to be his best friend, and his nan's boyfriend keeps telling him Mac's doing just fine in the spirit world. Then he meets J and she might just be everything he needs. Except she's a firebrand with a grudge against the police, and the August riots are just around the corner...

Mini Review: The Bridge by Jane Higgins

The Bridge Southside Novels Book One
Written by Jane Higgins
Dystopian, War
Published August 1st 2011
344 Pages
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The City is divided. The bridges gated. In Southside, the hostiles live in squalor and desperation, waiting for a chance to overrun the residents of Cityside.

Nik is still in high school but is destined for a great career with the Internal Security and Intelligence Services, the brains behind the war. But when ISIS comes recruiting, everyone is shocked when he isn't chosen. There must be an explanation, but no one will talk about it. Then the school is bombed and the hostiles take the bridges. Buildings are burning, kids are dead, and the hostiles have kidnapped Sol. Now ISIS is hunting for Nik.

But Nik is on the run, with Sol's sister Fyffe and ISIS hot on their trail. They cross the bridge in search of Sol, and Nik finds answers to questions he had never dared to ask.
Nikolai Stais lives in a world of civil unrest but has been sheltered from the conflict, until the Breken target his school on the Cityside of the bridge. Orphaned at a young age, Nik is expected to be recruited by the Internal Security and Intelligence Services come Victory Day. But when Nik is bypassed by the organisation all students work towards joining, eight year old Sol is taken by the Breken and Sol's sister Fyffe and Nik embark on a journey over the bridge to Southside to bring him home.

They've always been taught that the Breken are a barbaric and brutal society, hell bent on destroying their way of life. Posing as a Breken soldier, Nik discovers that there is more to the Breken that what they've been lead to believe. A broken society that fights for peace, for the right to an education for their children and to abolish segregation between the wealthy and those who struggle to survive.

Nik is on the verge of finding Sol and heading home when his real identity is discovered, leaving even the Breken themselves reeling. He is more than the orphan he assumed he was, and in a world where loyalties will be tested and new alliances formed, Nik just may be the deciding factor in bringing peace to both sides of the city.

Kelly's Thoughts

It's no secret that I absolutely adore the dystopian genre as a whole, the oppression, the revolutions and characters that rise against adversity to save the world. Every so often a book comes along that breaks the typical mould that readers expect, The Bridge is that book. More political than pure dystopian, Nik's world is divided by two classes at war, his own in which children are trained to become elite soldiers with ISIS and the war hungry and barbaric Breken who live over the bridges, or so he is lead to believe.

I loved it. It was beautifully written and incredibly engaging. Although I couldn't connect to any of the characters on a personal level, the world building was brilliant. The unrest between both societies is intense, but the political conflict brewing between the Breken adds another layer to the hostile world Nik is left to navigate. If you're looking for a new name in dystopian that isn't weighed down by an awkward romance or teen angst, The Bridge is pure entertainment.

The Last Place by Michael Adams

The Last Place The Last Trilogy Book Three
Written by Michael Adams
Apocalyptic, Australian
Expected publication April 1st 2015
400 Pages
Thank you to Allen & Unwin
Add to Goodreads
By the glow of the instrument panel, I see my face reflected in the darkened window. 'My God,' she says. 'Who are you?' It's what I've been asked before. I don't know the answer.

Danby is desperately fighting to save the last of humanity.

But with Jack’s sinister influence more powerful than ever, Danby’s one hope for freeing his minions and her little brother, seems lost. The only option now for the few survivors not under Jack’s control is escape.

Danby will also have to confront a danger much closer to home as she finds that she may have risked her own sanity in her ferocious battle to live. Embracing a brutal warrior code might save Danby's life, but the price is high.

In the explosive final act of the Last Girl trilogy, Danby must save who she can, even if it means abandoning hope for her last remaining family. With soldiers, marauders and toxic bushfires closing in, she has no choice but to fight before she can take flight.
Danby is on the brink of fighting for her country, the small pockets of survivors of the Snap and for humanity itself against an enemy that moves as one. The army under Jack's control are gaining strength, even after the last battle in which Danby vowed to end Jack's reign. With Nathan by her side, Danby is stronger, colder and more ruthless than ever before. She's learnt to fight, and with the fate of little brother Evan now in her hands, she may just die trying.

Kelly's Thoughts

It started with the Snap, the unexplained phenomenon allowing the population to hear the thoughts of those within a large radius. Then the world was silenced. Humans around Sydney were stopped in their tracks, becoming catatonic and only revived through medicinal injection. Two strangers in Danby and Nathan each who have lost loved ones, start a revolution of survival where each person woken is asked to revive another. Those seemingly unaffected have been labelled as Specials, able to read the thoughts of those around them. Then there's Jack, not only is he unaffected, but can raise those held in their catatonic state, but not without consequence. 

Danby's character development between The Last Girl and the finale is astounding. From shy, meek girl that was reliant on technology and despised her father's new wife, to the kick ass, brutal heroine that was determined to save the world from Jack. She's not perfect, but Danby makes you want invest in her plight and champion her cause. She pushes the boundaries between heroine and villain by walking the thin line between merciful and monster. It's no longer about saving Owen or the world, it's now become one girl's fight against humanity, despite the odds.

It was simply brilliant. Reminiscent of the classic Tomorrow series by John Marsden, Michael Adams is an imaginative and engaging author who is currently one of the premier young adult authors in Australia. This highly anticipated finale far exceeded my expectations, and I can't wait to see what he's working on next.

The Age Of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles
Written by Karen Thompson Walker
Coming of Age, Apocalyptic
Published January 2015
384 Pages
'Maybe everything that had happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It's possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.'

One Saturday morning the world wakes to discover that the rotation of the earth has begun to slow. As birds fall from the sky and days grow longer, people start to flee, but there is nowhere on earth to escape to.

Julia is already coping with the disasters of everyday life. And then there's Seth. Tall and quiet and always on his own, the skateboarding boy who knows all about disaster. As the world faces a catastrophe, Julia and Seth are facing their very own unknown.

Every Move by Ellie Marney

Contains spoilers. Check out my reviews for Every Breath and Every Word

Every Move
Every Series Book Three
Written by Ellie Marney
Contemporary, Thriller
Published March 1st 2015
340 Pages
Thank you to Allen & Unwin
Add to Goodreads
Rachel Watts is suffering from recurring nightmares about her near death experience in London. She just wants to forget the whole ordeal, but her boyfriend, James Mycroft, is obsessed with piecing the puzzle together and anticipating the next move of the mysterious Mr Wild, his own personal Moriarty.

So when Rachel's brother, Mike, suggests a trip back to their old home in Five Mile, Rachel can't wait to get away. Unfortunately it's not the quiet weekend she was hoping for with the unexpected company of Mike's old school buddy, the wildly unreliable Harris Derwent.

Things get worse for Rachel when Harris returns to Melbourne with them, but could Harris be the only person who can help her move forward? Then a series of murders suggests that Mr Wild is still hot on their tails and that Mycroft has something Wild wants, something Wild is prepared to kill for.

Can Watts and Mycroft stay one step ahead of the smartest of all criminal masterminds? The stage is set for a showdown of legendary proportions...
Rachel and Mycroft have both returned to Melbourne, after the harrowing and traumatic experience in London. The police may have their abductor in custody, but it's the mysterious and dangerous Wild that has the two teens on edge, they have something he wants and he isn't afraid to make his intentions known. But Mycroft's insistence at keeping in touch with Wild is only fueling Rachel's fears. Her nightmares have drove her to escape the city with big brother Mike, back to Five Mile to clear her head and evaluate her relationship with Mycroft. But Mycroft has a lead, and is determined to see this case through, taking off to Bali to find one of his father's most trusted colleagues.

When Rachel returns to the city, it's clear that Wild is closing in when a young man's body is found, resembling Mycroft and his injuries he sustained at the hands of Wild's henchman in London. But while Mycroft is chasing his lead, Rachel begins to fight back with the help of Harris, Mike's flirtatious and attractive best friend. As Rachel reclaims her power, Mycroft returns, Wild is on their doorstep and it seems that even escaping to Five Mile isn't safe.

Kelly's Thoughts

Every Move is everything you want in a series finale, suspense, intensity and brilliance. Ellie Marney has crafted yet another heart stopping storyline that follows our favorite crime solving couple, Mycroff and Watts and this time, it's personal. Every Move picks up in the middle of the London aftermath, Mycroft is still in contact with Wild unbeknownst to the police, and Rachel has now distanced herself from their relationship. After being captured and tortured in London, it's not only the nightmares that traumatise her each night, but the fear of being held or physically restrained, something Mycroft doesn't seem to understand. He's blinded by his search for the truth, and allows his relationship to suffer.

We're introduced to a new character in Harris, Mike's best friend from Five Mile and local ladies man. It soon becomes clear that behind the flirtation, Harris is interested in Rachel and her well being. But Harris knows all too well what it's like to feel defenseless, and is determined to help her take control of her life once more. When Mycroft returns from chasing down a lead in Bali, the tension and banter between he and Harris is nothing short of delicious. I adored Harris, he was competent, tenacious and left me torn between wanting Rachel to pursue a relationship with Harris, and the ever increasingly abrasive Mycroft. It only added to the tension. Well played Ms Marney. Well played.

Simply the most engaging, character driven and thrilling contemporary series I've read thus far. It's utterly brilliant. Ellie Marney knows how to create a tense and suspenseful storyline that will make you ache for justice. The flawed characters only add to how endearing not only Mycroft and Rachel are, but Rachel's family and friends as well. What sets the series apart is that it's not complicated, there's no excess teen drama angst, no love triangle and no instant love. The emphasis is on family and the family unit for support. If you've yet to pick this series up, you definitely won't be disappointed. I've absolutely loved it, and the only downside being that the series is now over and I'm not ready to say goodbye.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver
The Giver Quartet Book One
Written by Lois Lowry
Classics, Dystopian
Published April 1993
240 Pages
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Life in the community where Jonas lives is idyllic. Designated birthmothers produce newchildren, who are assigned to appropriate family units, one male, one female, to each. Citizens are assigned their partners and their jobs. No one thinks to ask questions. Everyone obeys. The community is a world without conflict, inequality, divorce, unemployment injustice... Or choice.

Everyone is the same. Except Jonas.

At the Ceremony of Twelve, the community's twelve year olds eagerly accept their predetermined Life Assignments. But Jonas is chosen for something special. He begins instruction in his life's work with a mysterious old man known only as The Giver. Gradually Jonas learns that power lies in feelings. But when his own power is put to the test, when he must try to save someone he loves, he may not be ready. Is it too soon? Or too late?

Every Word by Ellie Marney

May contain spoilers for Every Breath

Every Word Every Series Book Two
Written by Ellie Marney
Contemporary, Mystery. Thriller
Published June 1st 2014
340 Pages
James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents seven years ago... Without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his 'partner in crime'.

Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behaviour, not that Mycroft's ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. So Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him...and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.

The theft of a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator, and the deaths of Mycroft's parents... Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events, or will she lose him forever?

Sparks fly when Watts and Mycroft reunite in this second sophisticated thriller about the teen sleuthing duo.
It's been only eight weeks since Homeless Dave was killed and Mycroft is now working with Professor Walsh. Eight long weeks since Watts and Mycroft became more than friends, and since Rachel was placed on house arrest. But in true Mycroft style, he's now working on a new case, a theft of a priceless book from a Shakespearean library in London. The curator of the museum is now dead, a carjacking much in the same vain as Mycroft's parents and he begins to fall apart at the seams piecing together the similarities. Being a forensics expert, Walsh is invited to London to work on the investigation and with Mycroft's increasingly abrasive mood, he leaves without a word.

Rachel knows that Mycroft is determined to find a connection between the two cases, and vowing to support him, takes off within hours to London. But Mycroft isn't happy to see her.

As Rachel reluctantly joins the investigation, it isn't long before she realises the two teens are in over their head this time, as Mycroft may be onto something. Rachel may have gone halfway across the globe to save him, but as her life hangs in the balance, they may just need to save each other or Mycroft risks losing yet another person in his life in London.

Kelly's Thoughts

Ellie Marney is nothing short of brilliant. She's crafted yet another contemporary mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. Where she differs from other genre authors, her characters are realistic yet completely flawed. Rachel Watts and James Mycroft are simply two of the most likable and down to earth characters in young adult, intense, passionate and authentic. Rachel is a country girl who's family struggle to make ends meet, the bank foreclosing on their family farm and forced to move to the city. Mycroft is eccentric, a deep thinker and emotionally inapt with good reason. His parents were killed in an organised carjacking, something Mycroft is desperate to prove with his latest case.

Rachel and Mycroft's relationship is strained at best, her parents still untrusting and have forbade her to enter his house without supervision. They're barely surviving through stolen kisses over window panes and heated rendezvous on the odd occasion when Rachel finds herself home alone. Mycroft is emotionally broken, and starts pulling away from their relationship, the final straw when he leaves for London without saying a word. But Rachel won't give up without a fight and takes off for London within hours of Mycroft's departure.

Where Mycroft was abrasive, Rachel was equally as reckless and together the tension was delicious. Mycroft's anger and self loathing was verging on palpable. From the suburban Coburg to the streets of London, it was engaging, enthralling and intense. I loved it. If you're looking for a contemporary romance, this isn't it but the few scenes where Rachel and Mycroft find themselves overcome were passionate and fierce. This is one of the best young adult contemporary series out there, and you won't find a more praise worthy author than Ellie Marney. This country chick really knows her stuff.

Gayle Forman Aussie Blog Hop #IWasHere

In conjunction with Simon & Schuster Australia, the Aussie YA Bloggers & Readers group were not only given the opportunity to read Gayle Forman's brilliant I Was Here, but to ask Gayle questions we were dying to know. See my review for I Was Here.

Follow the Aussie I Was Here blog hop below, and check out the Aussie YA Bloggers Blog from the 8th to see the interview in full.

Monday 2nd: Eugenia at Genie in a Book
Tuesday 3rd:  Kelly @ Diva Booknerd
Wednesday 4th: Nara @ Looking for the Panacea 
Myra @ Pieces of Whimsy
Thursday 5th: Jeann @ Happy Indulgence
Friday 6th: Joy at Thoughts By J
Saturday 7th: Kiah @ Forever Kiah

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

The Honest Truth
Written by Dan Gemeinhart
Middle Grade, Contemporary
Expected Publication March 5th 2015
240 Pages
Thank you to Scholastic Australia
Add to Goodreads
In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He's got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.

But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier, even if it's the last thing he ever does.

The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.
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