One by Sarah Crossan

Written by Sarah Crossan
Contemporary, Verse
Published September 1st 2015
448 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Grace and Tippi are twins, conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world, a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined...
Sixteen year old Grace and Tippi have always shared a life. Two minds, two souls who are merged and the hips and share one lower part of their bodies. Conjoined twins who have always been home schooled, sheltered from a cruel and unforgiving world. But with their father turning to alcoholism, becoming retrenched and public donations from well wishes being exhausted, Grace and Tippi have been offered a place at at a prestigious private school, where they prepare themselves to be ridiculed by their peers.

But instead, they meet Yasmeen, who knows all too well what it's like to be labelled and feared. She and her sidekick in Jon don't see Grace and Tippi as one, but as two unique individuals who need to experience all that life has to offer, including falling in love. Until one of their lives is in jeopardy. The only way Grace and Tippi have a chance at surviving and to lead separate lives is to undergo surgery, both in the hope that the other will survive. Two heads, two arms and two hearts who have never known a life without sharing with the other.  

ponderings of a booknerd

One left me an emotional mess and by far Sarah Crossan's best storyline to date. Told in verse, the storyline follows Grace, one half of conjoined twins along with sister Tippi. Where Grace is quiet and prefers not to rock the boat, Tippi likes to charge into any situation and likely to confront those who stare at the girls both in horror and wonder. With their mother losing her job and her father already out of work, the public donations for the twins have dried up and to finish their education, they're facing the prospect of attending school among the whispers of their peers. While both are terrified what lies within the hallowed walls, Grace is more open to the prospect of finding friends, even finding love.

Their story isn't unique to young adult, but their situation is. I haven't come across any other books that have explored the theme of conjoined twins and as Grace's character mentions, even the twins themselves were not expected to live into their teens. The twins have always been the sole focus of the family, whether it be due to their health or finances and younger sister Dragon is a product of unintentional neglect and faces her own upheaval. It felt incredibly realistic, as their parents were torn between providing for their family with what little means at their disposal and wanting to protect Grace and Tippi from the cruel injustices of the world. At school among the stares, the girls find solace with new friends Yasmeen and Jon. Yasmeen is fiercely protective of her new friends, while Jon and Grace share moments of something more than friendship between the two. Grace's situation doesn't allow for privacy and despite Tippi's warnings of not becoming attached, Grace finds herself falling in love. I found the romance a bit too bizarre and felt flippant where Tippi was concerned, seeing as the twins has always shared a closeness beyond their physical attachment. But I do understand Grace and her need for normalcy, especially as she feels like the weaker twin and refers to herself as a parasite upon Tippi's life.

the final verdict

The verse aspect was lovely, so few words creating an incredible impact on the reader. It's poignant, emotional and uplifting, a story of hope which will ultimately leave readers anguished and needing more. Sarah Crossan is one of the young adult contemporary authors who creates passionate and sentimental storylines with sensitivity and a realism rarely seen within our characters. Although beautifully heartbreaking, One was a joy to read.

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

May contain spoilers for book one The Bone Season

The Mime Order The Bone Season Book Two
Written by Samantha Shannon
Fantasy, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Paperback published September 1st 2015
528 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Add to Goodreads
Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...

As Scion turns its all seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime lords and mime queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.
Welcome back to Scion London, where Paige finds herself an enemy of the state having escaped Sheol and leading a small group of imprisoned Voyants to freedom, with the hope that many more will now follow in her wake. As the sinister and heinous leader of the Rephaim, Nashira will refuse to simply allow Paige to go free, coveting her gift of being The Pale Dreamer while the Rephaim begin to infuse their race into the world. With no where to turn, Paige realises she must return to Jaxon and the Seven Seals, taking her place as his mollisher once more to secure her safety against the Scion employed Vigiles, oppressive guards who have been sent to find the Sheol fugitives.

The Mime syndicate is in ruin, when a rival Mine Lord is murdered along with his band of vigilantes. Paige becomes the main suspect, which Jaxon believes is the prime opportunity to secure his most prized possession. With the introduction of a new prototype that will peruse those with unnatural abilities, the Voyants of Scion will need to unite to fight against Scion. But animosity towards the new alliance will come from those who Paige has underestimated, her claims of the Rephaim will be challenged, alliances will be tested and if Paige wants to change the world, she'll need to take control of her own fate first. No matter the consequences.

ponderings of a booknerd

Hope is the lifeblood of revolution.
Without it, we are nothing but ash, waiting for the wind to take us.
After having escaped the confines of Sheol, Paige has reclaimed her freedom and is back in Scion, determined to protect the Voyants of London from the oppressive rule. The Bone Season briefly introduced readers into the world of Scion London, the hierarchy between the levels of clairvoyants and the relationships between the sectors. The storyline begins soon after The Bone Season, where Paige has escaped Sheol leading a small group of Voyants to freedom, leaving Warden behind. She's determine to expose Scion for what it is, a cruel and oppressive reign that has sold the Voyants into a life of slavery and death. Paige is fierce. She's still on edge from her time at Scion and debating whether to return to Jaxon and the Seven Seals, but as her face is plastered throughout the city her decision is made and Jaxon may be her only chance at survival. As a rival Mime Lord and his group are brutally murdered, Jaxon sees the opportunity to take the city for himself and expects Paige to be by his side, now that she is in his debt.

But Exposing Scion and the Repahim is Paige's main priority and despite Jaxon's intent to silence her, Paige forges on and plays the Mime Lord at his own game. It was glorious. Yet again the most endearing quality of the series is the vivid world around them. I loved exploring London from it's opulent lifestyle to it's seedy and dangerous slums, in which most of the Voyants dwell. Readers gain the insight into rival Voyant gangs and learn to appreciate Jaxon's lure and protection, siding with Paige's decision not to go it alone. As the storyline builds, tensions arise between Paige and Jaxon with the latter attempting to keep her on a tight leash which only makes Paige more determined to expose their world.

The Mime Order flowed effortlessly. Samantha Shannon is a natural storyteller, immersing readers into her vividly imagined world from the very first page. Despite conflicting reviews, I found the storyline easy to follow with both installments but it certainly keeps readers on their toes. It's intelligent young adult bordering on new adult due the age of the characters and Paige being nineteen. Likened to Sarah J. Maas but without the dramatic shift between character relationships, I absolutely adore this series and simply can't recommend it highly enough. It's not a typical fantasy, but an epic fusion of fantasy, dystopian and science fiction with a touch of romance to keep the storyline fresh and adding intensity. The final few chapters are nothing short of breathtaking, they left me lost for words and with a mixture of pride and self high fives all round. But expect a twist that may or may not shock or delight.

the final verdict

This is by far one of the best series I've discovered thus far. Vivid, beautifully imagined and unique in a flooded expanse of fantasy books that all seem to engulf non fantasy readers. It's nothing short of phenomenal and book three just can't come soon enough. Buy it. Loan it. Beg for a copy. You won't be disappointed.
Read an excerpt from The Mime Order here and enter to win a copy.

The Foretelling of Georgie Spider by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Check out my reviews for books one and two in the series

The Foretelling of Georgie Spider The Tribe Book Three
Written by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Science Fiction, Dystopian, Cultural
Published August 1st 2015
448 Pages
A storm was stretching out across futures to swallow everything in nothing, and it was growing larger, which meant it was getting nearer... Georgie Spider has foretold the end of the world, and the only one who can stop it is Ashala Wolf.

But Georgie has also foreseen Ashala's death. As the world shifts around the Tribe, Ashala fights to protect those she loves from old enemies and new threats. And Georgie fights to save Ashala. Georgie Spider can see the future. But can she change it?
Prime Talbot has been removed from the office of Gull City and Prime Belle Willis has been instated. With the change of power, comes the prospect of having the Citizenship Accords banished, something Ashala and The Tribe at Firstwood have been fighting for. Ashala has been summoned to the city to speak with neighbouring Primes, as the symbol of illegals everywhere. Taking Connor with her, Ashala has left Daniel and Georgie in charge of The Tribe in her absence, especially since the group of illegals are on edge.

Georgie continues to weave her maps, intricate threads connecting The Tribe with the land. But when she discovers that Ashala's life is in danger, The Tribe will rally around their leader to keep her safe. Ashala is the key to saving not only Firstwood, but the world as they know it. Terrance is determined to enslave the illegals, and The Tribe in in danger of becoming little more than a small pocket of resistance, who fought for a better world.

Ponderings of a Booknerd

The Tribe series has been an incredibly journey. Engaging, enthralling and so incredibly unique. It follows the story of three girls, Ashala, Ember and now Georgie. All three girls hold the unique ability to see into the past, the present and future, using their insight to guide not only The Tribe but for humanity. Woven throughout the series is the beautiful and mesmerising history of the Aboriginal Dreaming, passing on important knowledge, cultural values and belief systems to later generations. It made my heart soar. Not often in Australian young adult do we see the inclusion of indigenous beliefs, making the series a phenomenal experience.

But woven throughout is the story of three girls who will ultimately change the world, the world is on the verge of dying. The Firstwood where The Tribe call home is thriving, members feeding the soul of the forest and the forest giving them life in return. In The Foretelling of Georgie Spider, we finally learn about Georgie and her gift to weave maps, foreseeing into the future. She dwells in the caves of the Firstwood, weaving the futures of The Tribe, along with Daniel and her masses of helper spiders. She committed and frenzied in her work, staying behind while others fight against the oppression of the ruling Primes, and the illegal ruling to outcast and detain those with special abilities. But when one of their own is in trouble, The Tribe rally around their leader and vow to keep her safe.

The final verdict

The Tribe series is phenomenal. It blends the magical Dreaming with relatable characters and an underlying message of to take care of our environment and each other. Ambelin Kwaymullina is a beautiful and haunting voice in Australian young adult fiction, and I can't wait to discover what she's working on next.


We do not live in a monochrome or one dimensional world. We live in a diverse one, and as an Indigenous author, I am part of that diversity. But the world in which the human species exists is not reflected in YA literature. There are consequences of this for those of us who are part of the excluded; an ever increasing sense of isolation and disconnection. This is a topic that has been addressed by many diverse Australian YA writers. Sarah Ayoub has written that "Across Australia teens of diverse backgrounds are hungry for the comfort these stories offer, showing them they’re not alone in whatever identity struggle they might be facing." Erin Gough has said that the biggest imperative behind her writing is "to give readers who may not have seen themselves represented in YA before that thrill of recognition, and the message that they mean something, that they matter." And I have asked people to imagine a world where no mirror ever shows you your own reflection, or worse still, only a distorted one - if that was the only face you ever saw, if that was the image continually reflected back at you, might you not come to believe that it was all you could ever be?

Books by diverse authors are windows into other realities. They are also inherently respectful places where the author has made choices about what they wish to share of their realities, and how they wish to share it. So when I want to learn of things outside of my experience I go looking for a storyteller to tell me of their world – and in so doing, I expand and enrich my own.


Monday, 21st September The Loony Literate.
Tuesday, 22nd September Cassie the Weird
Wednesday, 23rd September Diva Book Nerd
Thursday, 24th September Inside My Worlds
Friday, 25th September Genie in a Book

Thank you to Ambelin and Walker Books Australia

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Fuzzy Mud
Written by Louis Sachar
Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Published August 1st 2015
256 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
If you go down to the woods today... Well, every child knows not to. Don't they?

Tamaya is on a scholarship to the prestigious Woodridge Academy and every day she and seventh grader Marshall walk to school together. They never go through the woods. And when they arrive at school they stop talking to each other, because Marshall can't be seen to be friends with a little kid like Tamaya. Especially not with Chad around. Chad the bully, who makes Marshall's life utterly miserable. But today, hoping to avoid Chad, Marshall and Tamaya decide to go through the woods... And what is waiting there for them is strange, sinister and entirely unexpected.

The next day, Chad doesn't turn up at school, no one knows where he is, not even his family. And Tamaya's arm is covered in a horribly, burning, itchy wound. As two unlikely heroes set out to rescue their bully, the town is about to be turned upside down by the mysterious Fuzzy Mud.
Tamaya is a quiet achiever, intelligent and takes pride in being a model student. Each day she and neighbour Marshall walk to school together, often not speaking much to her annoyance. Once a former and stately home, Woodridge academy is now a prestigious school for the wealthy and intelligent. Surrounded by forest, students are warned not to enter the woods, the myth of it being inhabited by a hermit who eats children keeping most of the children from straying beyond the boundary.

Each day the two walk the same route to and from school, until resident bully Chad challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid trouble, Marshall takes a short cut through the woods home with Tamaya followed closely behind.

Beyond the woods lies an environmental disaster, a revolutionary new fuel is set to ensure the world's supplies never deplete. But within the new biotechnology, miniscule spores are spreading throughout the woodland, multiplying and eroding anything they touch. So when Chad finally catches up to Tamaya and Marshall, Chad will be the least of their troubles.

Ponderings of a booknerd

Having not read the authors previous work in Holes, I still expected an incredible middle grade read, but it felt disorganised and fell flat sadly. It follows the storyline of Tamaya and Marshall, neighbours who walk to school together each day but wouldn't consider one another a friend. Both are great kids, buck lack any real character depth beyond a brief background. To avoid a bully, the two companions decide to take a short cut home, despite numerous warnings to avoid the woods at all cost. It's there where a silent threat lies in wait. Microorganisms who are spreading throughout the environment, called Fuzzy Mud for their appearance. The storyline switches back and forth between Tamaya and Marshall, and the senate inquiry into the disastrous accident after the event.

Despite the eccentric creator, the inquiry was an over detailed and often difficult to understand scientific discovery. A new fuel was being forged using microorganisms that have somehow escaped into our environment and mutated. The concept just seems far too complex for the middle grade intended audience. The creator in Jonathan Fitzman spends the majority of the book denying that the mutation of the cells is possible, flailing his arms about as he speaks to a senate inquiry. He was completely out of place within the storyline and as a tool used to inject humour into a flat storyline, sadly it didn't succeed.

I love middle grade as a whole and even with it's somewhat muddled environmental message, Fuzzy Mud is a quick read that will no doubt be adored by it's target audience. I needed to be able to connect and sadly there was nothing that I could hold onto to form that attachment.

The verdict

Clearly I've missed the bigger picture with Fuzzy Mud and the hype surrounding Louis Sachar. I felt as though I was being told half a story. It had potential but lacked any real depth, just confusion.

This Broken Wondrous World by Jon Skovron

This Broken Wondrous World Man Made Boy Book Two
Written by Jon Skovron
See my review for Man Made Boy
Fantasy, Science Fiction, Retelling
Published September 2015
376 Pages
Thank you to Allen & Unwin
Add to Goodreads
"My fellow monsters," said Moreau. "No longer will we hide in the shadows, cringing, cowardly, hiding our true potential. You see, the humans do not view us as people. We must force them to expand their view of personhood to include us. By any means necessary."

A year ago, Boy, the son of Frankenstein's monster, had never even met a human. Now he's living with his human 'family', the descendants of Dr Frankenstein, in Switzerland. That is, until the maniacal genius Dr Moreau, long ago banished to a remote island for his crimes against humanity, asks for his aid.

Moreau wants Boy to join his army of animal/human hybrid creatures and help him overthrow human society. Boy must choose: side with the twisted doctor and save his fellow monsters, or try to defend the humans who run the planet?

Boy will do anything to save this broken, wondrous world from the war that threatens to split it in two. But how much will he have to give up? And is the world worth saving?
The son of Frankenstein's monster is off on his first adventure into the world, Boy having spent most of his life hidden within the shadows of the New York theater company which hides the worlds monsters. But now he finds himself in Switzerland, his host family none other than the descendants of his fathers maker and wants nothing more than to assimilate and study, leaving behind the only life he's ever known.

Boy wants nothing more than to merge the community of underground monsters with our world, but the diabolical Dr Moreau believes the only way two worlds will transition into one is to forge a war against the humans, creating a legion of monsters to fight against a world he sees as cruel and unjust. But Dr Moreau isn't working alone. An old enemy will resurface as Boy returns to find his beloved New York home in ruins. With a war being forged, how will the little patchwork monster fight for the humans who are unaware his community exists?

Ponderings of a booknerd

Man Made Boy was one the loveliest storylines I had the privilege of enjoying almost two years ago, hoping for a sequel that was rumoured but never came to fruition... Until now. I adore the little patchwork monster simply known as Boy. He's intelligent and although made of a series of body parts from the dead, his crude stitching and gentle nature completely enchant me. And This Broken Wondrous World is no different. At the end of Man Made Boy, Boy is contemplating seeing the world and traveling to Switzerland to stay with the Frankenstein family, descendants of the man who had created his father. Loving and accepting, is isn't long until Boy is treated as family and is befriended by his cousin Henri. The only rule is that he not tell the Frankenstein's about the New York community, the humans still unaware of the network of monsters who live among them. But when an old foe lures them into what seems to be a trap, Boy has no option to involve Henri and deal with the consequences later.

When Boy needs them most, old friends come to his aide. Claire Hyde and Sophie Jekyll, the granddaughters of the Jekyll and Hyde are back, Boy needing his girlfriends by his side as he faces the prospect of war. The Trowe will return as does a gruff shapeshifting wolf, as monsters will be forced to choose to support Boy in his plight or to fight for Dr Moreau and his band of newly formed monster army. Although superbly entertaining, This Broken Wondrous World lacked the emotion of Man Made Boy, with Boy having lost his naivety which I found incredibly endearing.

The verdict

Despite not feeling an emotional connection, I thoroughly enjoyed This Broken Wondrous World. Wonderfully written, it's ultimately the story of acceptance and making the most of the hand that life has dealt. I'm completely smitten with the little patchwork monster.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon... Mind Blowing!

The Bone Season The Bone Season Book One
Written by Samantha Shannon
Fantasy, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Published August 2013
480 Pages
Purchased. Published by Bloomsbury Australia
The year is 2059. Nineteen year old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job, to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford, a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.
Paige Mahoney lives in a world where the unique are feared and eradicated, where on her nineteenth birthday, her life would be irrevocably changed forever. Paige is a Dreamwalker, she can sense the intricate landscape of an opponents mind, pushing the boundaries with the ability to end a life with a single thought. Even among the small pockets of clairvoyant community, her gift is considered rare and for who are classed as unnatural, there are only two ways to survive against Scion. To scrounge the streets to survive in the shadows of London or affiliate yourself with a Mime Lord, the latter being Paige's only means for survival.

She's known as The Pale Dreamer, the most prized possession in Jaxon's band of Seven Seals. Until Paige is captured and imprisoned in Sheol, a city where Voyants are sold by the capital into slavery to a race known as the Rephaim, while fighting off an enemy that that feeds on human flesh. Paige is claimed by a Rephaim she must only refer to as Warden, a man who has never shown an interest in humans. But ruler Nashira has plans for The Pale Dreamer, with those taken into slavery must train and show they are worthy of the opportunity, while succumbing to hunger and the fight to survive. If living on the streets of Scion has taught Paige anything, is to fight back for not only herself, but the teens enslaved by their cruel and unforgiving captors.

But the Warden isn't the brutal and callus imprisoner that Paige had believed and the two form a somewhat tentative bond, despite Nashira having laid claim upon him. With her rare and valuable status and her bond with Warden having not gone unnoticed, her only chance to survive is to escape and free as many Voyants from the Rephaim imprisonmen.

Kelly's Thoughts

Oh good lord. Why did I wait so long to immerse myself in Samantha Shannon's world of The Bone Season? It was absolutely incredible, so intricate and vividly imagined. I adored it. I must admit that I was hesitant to start the series especially seeing I'm not an avid fantasy reader, but within the first few chapters I was completely captivated. It follows the storyline of Paige or The Pale Dreamer as she's known within her sector. Paige is a Dreamwalker, able to access the mind and dreamscape of those around her, making her Jaxon's most prized possession. Jaxon is a flamboyant wolf in the guise of a lamb but seeing her only alternative is to live on the streets and beg, Paige sees her work for the The Binder as the lessor of two evils and works alongside Jaxon as his heir. Scion London is segregated into two groups, Amaurotics who are natural and solely human and the Voyant community, those with Clairvoyant abilities who are deemed as illegal by a ruthless and oppressive government. The Voyants pay with their lives or in a new revelation, sent into slavery with a race of dangerous and cruel captors

It was so refreshing to see a fantasy series not based on kingdoms but rather feature a syndicate or organised crime rivalry throughout the districts of London. There are varying levels of clairvoyance among the Voyant community, from tarot readers to those who can bind spirits of the dead to use as weapons and none more revered than Paige. The hierarchy between the characters is delicious. I really enjoyed seeing the personalities beyond their abilities, with each character not only distinctive but wonderfully crafted.

Paige isn't your average heroine. She doesn't harbour feelings of grandeur or self importance, nor does she live in luxury with material possessions and given her rare gift, she certainly could be living the high life. She's insecure, in love with man who doesn't reciprocate her feelings and works for a man she is beginning to despise. The barely there romance was slow burning, yet incredibly intense similar to A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Warden is an unusual love interest. Distant and gruff, Paige may be able to forgive his past deeds but the streetwise girl is reluctant to trust the Rephaim that keeps her captive. Although Warden shows signs of redemption, I can't help but wonder if Paige's interest is little more than a form of Stockholm Syndrome.

The final verdict

The characters, the world building and the vividly imagined London were breathtaking. Not since Throne of Glass has a series captured, enthralled and enchanted me so. I simply adored it. Samantha Shannon is a phenomenal author who's has crafted one of the best fantasy fusion series I've read to date.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway... Gentle and Lovely

Emmy & Oliver
Written by Robin Benway
Contemporary, Romance
Published July 2015
320 Pages
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia
Add to Goodreads
Oliver's absence split us wide open, dividing our neighborhood along a fault line strong enough to cause an earthquake. An earthquake would have been better. At least during an earthquake, you understand why you're shaking.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. But now Oliver is back, and he's not the skinny boy next door that used to be Emmy's best friend. Now he's the boy who got kidnapped. A stranger, a totally hot stranger, with a whole history that Emmy knows nothing about.

But is their story still meant to be? Or are they like the pieces of two different puzzles, impossible to fit together?
Emmy and Oliver were inseparable, best friends and neighbours who share a birthday. They had been friends since the day they were both brought home as infants, up until the day that Oliver was picked up outside of school by his father and never returned. In a bitter separation, Oliver was stolen away by his father, leaving his distraught mother broken and irrevocably damaged. The police search began to scale back, the media coverage slowly dwindled, but the neighbourhood closed ranks around the children left behind, devastated that their friend was taken from them.

But ten years after Oliver was taken, he's been found alive and thriving in New York City. He's now on his way home to his mother, now having remarried with twins girls of her own. With Oliver back home, Emmy and best friends Caroline and Drew finally feel their group is complete. But Oliver isn't the same seven year old who was stolen from them ten years earlier. He's grown, he's matured and is missing his now fugitive father while he struggles to reconnect with his mother and her new family.

While Oliver was gone, Emmy dealt with the aftermath of two over protective parents who refused to let her live life, clipping her wings for the fear of how Oliver was taken. Together Emmy and Oliver form a tentative relationship, but with ten years of separation, will the memories of their childhood be enough to keep Oliver this time?

ponderings of a booknerd

Emmy & Oliver was an absolute delight. I braced myself for the dramatic flare that is usually reserved for young adult contemporaries, but instead found a lovely, yet intensely subtle storyline that proves distance really does make the heart grow fonder. Oliver has lived for the past ten years, believing his mother no longer wanted he or his father and living mostly in New York, home schooled apart from a few course subjects his father allowed him to take. It's on a school excursion when Oliver's identity is discovered, the seventeen year old wanting to return to his mother. But his father is never far from his thoughts. Torn between both his biological parents, Oliver is finding it difficult to adjusting to life with his new family, a life he barely remembers, including Emmy. His had vague memories of girl who lived next door, his best friend and partner in crime. But a ten year absence sees the two teens building a new and tentative friendship, Emmy a shoulder to lean on while she hides her own secret life from her overprotective parents.

I loved the realism of Oliver's turmoil. His father is hiding from authorities, yet Oliver understands why he took such desperate measures, his parents messy separation and his mother intent to obtain sole custody of the then seven year old. But as enamored as I was with Oliver's story, Emmy on the other hand was mildly irritating.

Since Oliver was taken, Emmy's parents have imposed a strict curfew, growing up being protected from new experiences in the hope to keep their only child safe. Emmy has been surfing for the past two years, has applied to college and all against her parents wishes. While Oliver struggles to assimilate, at times Emmy seemed more concerned with her own issues which pale in comparison. Caroline, Drew and Emmy were all friends with seven year old Oliver, but she seemed to shut both friends out in favour of keeping Oliver to herself. As much as I enjoyed and even adored Oliver, Emmy continued to test my patience.

the verdict

Emmy & Oliver is a wonderful, yet heart wrenching story about finding home. Although Emmy was mildly irritating, Oliver was an incredible young man who's life had been stolen by his father, taking away his choices while trying to navigate his way through a life he barely remembers. It was a lovely and gentle read, proving that sometimes absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Welcome back to Scion... The Mime Order

To celebrate the new paperback release of the incredible The Mime Order, book two in The Bone Season series, today I'll be sharing an excerpt from The Mime Order from the sensational Samantha Shannon. For those of you who are yet to discover The Bone Season, it's an incredible and unique fusion of fantasy, dystopian, science fiction and with an intense and slow burning romance that will surprise and enthrall readers. Stay tuned for my review of book one coming soon.

The Mime Order The Bone Season Book Two
Written by Samantha Shannon
Add The Mime Order to Goodreads
Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun, many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...

As Scion turns its all seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.


"It’s rare that a story begins at the beginning. In the grand scheme of things, I really turned up at the beginning of the end of this one. After all, the story of the Rephaim and
Scion started almost two hundred years before I was born – and human lives, to Rephaim, are as fleeting as a single heartbeat.
Some revolutions change the world in a day. Others take decades or centuries or more, and others still never come to fruition. Mine began with a moment and a choice. Mine began with the blooming of a flower in a secret city on the border between worlds.
You’ll have to wait and see how it ends. Welcome back to Scion."


She appeared at 6 A.M. She always did.
My hand snatched a revolver from the table. The theme for ScionEye was playing. A sweeping, theatrical composition, based around the twelve chimes of Big Ben.
I waited.
There she was. Scarlett Burnish, Grand Raconteur of London, white lace frothing from the top of her black dress. She always looked the same, of course – like some hellish automaton – but on occasion, when some poor denizen had been ‘killed’ or ‘assaulted’ by an unnatural, she could exude manufactured distress. Today, however, she was smiling.
‘Good morning, and welcome to another day in Scion London. Good news as the Guild of Vigilance announces an expansion of its Sunlight division, with at least fifty more officers due to be sworn in this Monday. The Chief of Vigilance has stated that the New Year will bring new challenges to the citadel, and that in these perilous times, it remains critical for the denizens of London to pull together and—’
I switched it off.

There was no breaking news. Nothing, I thought, over and over. No faces. No hangings.
The gun clattered back on to the table. I’d been lying on a couch all night, flinching upright at the softest sound. My muscles were stiff and painful; it took some time to manoeuvre into a standing position. Every time the ache began to ebb, a fresh wave would come, surging from a jolted bruise or strain. I should be heading for bed, as was my custom at dawn, but I had to get up, just for a minute. A glint of natural light would do me good.
Once I’d stretched my legs, I switched on the music player in the corner. Billie Holiday’s ‘Guilty’ drifted out. Nick had dropped off a few forbidden records from the den on his way to work, along with the small amount of money he could spare and a pile of books I hadn’t touched. I’d found myself missing Warden’s gramophone. You could get used to being lullabied by the lovelorn crooners of the free world.
It had been three days since the escape. My new home was a dingy doss-house in I-4, tucked away in a warren of Soho back- streets. Most voyant establishments were ramshackle dumps, hardly fit to live in, but the landlord – a cleidomancer, whom I suspected had opened a doss-house just so he could finger keys for a living – had kept this one free of rodents, if not the creeping damp. He didn’t know who I was, only that I had to be kept out of sight, as I’d been beaten badly by a Vigile and he might still be out looking for me.
Until we sorted things with Jaxon, I’d have to keep moving between rented rooms, one every week or so. It was already cost- ing a fortune – I was managing, so far, with money Nick had given me – but it was the only way to know for sure that Scion couldn’t track me.
With the blinds down, not a single ray of light entered the room.
I opened them, just a little. Golden sunshine struck my raw eyes. A pair of amaurotics hurried past on the narrow street below. On the corner, a soothsayer was on the lookout for voyant clients who might fancy a quick reading. If he was desperate, he might risk approaching an amaurotic. Sometimes they got curious; sometimes they were spies. Scion had long since had agents provocateurs on its streets, tempting voyants to give themselves away.
I closed the blinds again. The room turned black. For six months I’d been nocturnal, my sleeping pattern matched to my Rephaite keeper’s; that wouldn’t change in a hurry. I sank on to the couch, reached for the glass of water on the table and gulped it down with two blue Nightcaps.
My dreamscape was still fragile. During our confrontation on the stage – when she’d tried to kill me in front of an audience of Scion emissaries – Nashira’s fallen angels had left hairline fissures there, allowing memory to drip into my sleep. The chapel, where Seb had met his end. The chamber in Magdalen. The filthy, twisting slum of the Rookery and Duckett’s psychomanteum, where my face grew monstrous and misshapen and my jaw snapped off, brittle as old ceramic.
Then Liss, her lips sewn shut with golden thread. Dragged outside to be fed to the Emim, the monsters that had haunted the woods around the colony. Seven bloody cards spun in her wake. I reached for them, straining to see the final card – my future, my conclusion
– but as soon as I touched it, it screamed in a tongue of fire. I jerked awake at dusk, drenched from scalp to toe in sweat. My cheeks were damp and burning hot, and my lips tasted of salt.
Those cards would haunt me for a long time. Liss had predicted my future in six stages: Five of Cups, King of Wands inverted, the Devil, the Lovers, Death inverted, Eight of Swords. But she’d never reached the end of the reading.
I groped my way to the bathroom and washed down another
couple of the painkillers Nick had left for me. I suspected the large grey one was some kind of sedative. Something to ease the tremors, the churning stomach, the need to grip my gun and not let go.
There was a light knock at the door. Slowly, I picked up my gun, checked it for ammo and held it behind my back. With my free hand, I cracked the door open.
The landlord stood in the corridor, fully dressed, with an antique iron key on a chain around his neck. He never took it off.
‘Morning, miss,’ he said.
I managed a smile. ‘Don’t you ever sleep, Lem?’
‘Not often. The guests are up at all hours. There’s a séance upstairs,’ he added, looking weary. ‘Making a right racket with the table. You’re looking much better today, if I may say so.’
‘Thank you. Did my friend call?’
‘He’ll be here at nine tonight. Do give me a bell if you need anything.’
‘Thanks. Have a good day.’
‘And you, miss.’
For a doss-house landlord, he was oddly helpful. I closed the door and locked it.
At once, the gun slipped from my hand. I sank to the floor and buried my face against my knees.
After a few minutes I went back into the tiny, airless bathroom, peeled off my nightshirt and inspected my injuries in the mirror. Most visible were the deep gash above my eye, closed with stitches, and the shallow wound that curved across my cheek. Everything was worn thin, whittled down. My fingernails were flimsy, my skin was sallow and my ribs and hipbones bulged. The landlord had given me a wary look when he’d brought my first tray of food, eyeing my lacerated hands and black eye. He hadn’t recognised me as the Pale Dreamer, mollisher of his section, protégée of the White Binder.
As I stepped into the cubicle and turned the dial, darkness crept into my vision. Hot water poured over my shoulders, softening my muscles.
A door slammed.
My hand swiped a hidden blade from the soap dish. My body pitched itself from the cubicle, straight against the opposite wall. I concealed myself behind the door, buzzing with adrenalin, holding the blade to my heart.
It took a few minutes for my heart to slow down. I peeled myself from the wet tiles, slick with sweat and water. Nothing, it’s nothing. Just the séance table upstairs.
Shaking, I leant on the sink. My hair hung in damp coils around my face, brittle and dull.
I looked my reflection in the eye. My body had been treated as property in the colony, dragged and grabbed and beaten by Rephaim, and red-jackets. I turned my back to the mirror and ran my fingers over the little threads of scar tissue on my shoulder. XX-59-40. That brand would be there for as long as I lived.
But I’d survived. I pulled my shirt over the brand again. I had survived, and the Sargas would know it.


Samantha Shannon was born and raised in West London. From 2010 to 2013 she studied English Language and Literature at St Anne's College, Oxford, where she specialised in Emily Dickinson and Principles of Film Criticism. In 2012 she signed a book deal with Bloomsbury Publishing to publish the first three books in a seven book series, beginning with The Bone Season. Film rights to the novel were optioned by Andy Serkis's London based production company The Imaginarium Studios in 2012, and acquired by Twentieth Century Fox and Chernin Studios in October 2013. The Bone Season has been translated into twenty nine languages.

The Mime Order is out now in paperback through Bloomsbury for $19.95 online, or in all good bookstores


International Giveaway for Greedy Followers

It's been a while, so thought I'd celebrate a few Diva Booknerd milestones with an international giveaway. I've reached well over two hundred thousand booknerds clicking on the blog, a thousand Twitter followers, another thousand plus on Bloglovin' and still constantly amazed by how incredible our community of book lovers and reviewers is. So to say thank you to everyone who's read one of my reviews, who's left a comment or chosen me in one of those book tags that you know I'll never get around to doing anyway, thank you and this giveaway is for you.

One winner will be chosen at random to win their choice of book from The Book Depository if you're an international winner or from Booktopia or Bookworld if you're Australian up to the value of $15.00 Australian Dollars. Alternatively, you can select an Amazon giftcard to the same amount.

Prize is not redeemable for cash. Open internationally. Australian winners will be asked to choose a book from an online Australian bookstore where possible, to support our industry. Please do not cheat. Winning entry will be verified. If you are under the age of sixteen, please ensure you have your parents permission to enter.  

Fiercely Epic! Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Contains spoilers for books one to three in the Throne of Glass series

Queen of Shadows Throne of Glass Book Four
Written by Sarah J. Maas
Fantasy, Romance
Published September 1st 2015
656 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Add to Goodreads
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire, for vengeance, to rescue her once glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
All Celaena has ever wanted was her freedom. Now she wants freedom for herself, her court, her country and justice for the lives lost and sacrificed. Back in Rifthold, she has unfinished business against the king in which she formerly served as his champion, before Celaena discovered who she truly is, the fire breathing Queen bitch her enemies have affectionately dubbed her. But the city is on the verge of ruin. Citizens are terrified and the kings guard have never been more inhuman, executing free thinkers and rebel sympathizers in their dozens.

Chaol hasn't seen Prince Dorian since his world came crashing down, fleeing the castle while leaving his best friend and greatest companion behind. While Celaena has been honing her skills, the king has been building a demon army, an arrangement in which Manon's Thirteen are made to serve at will. Enemies, estranged lovers and former companions, they all share a common goal. To fight for freedom, for themselves and for the fallen. It's time for Celaena to create her own legacy.

ponderings of a booknerd

EPIC. Absolutely epic.

Celaena was fierce in Throne of Glass, she enamored readers in Crown of Midnight, she took us on a journey of self discovery in Heir of Fire now in Queen of Shadows, left me feeling incredibly liberated. She's powerful, she's intelligent and the supreme symbol of a strong heroine that allows nothing to stand in her way. I adore her. Passionately. She's now Aelin, the Queen of Shadows and Rifthold will set the scene for her revenge for those who have crossed her, used and abused her. But now Aelin returns not only for vengeance, but to seek freedom from the King of Adarlan's oppression. For her Kingdom, for Rifthold and for those now enslaved by Valg demons.
She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.
Slipping back into her role as Assassin, for Aelin to gain a foothold within the Kingdom she has no choice but to retrieve her stolen Wyrdkey and attempt to break the stronghold on magic. But Rifthold is so deeply entrenched in corruption and heinous crime, that she'll risk her life to obtain freedom for others.

Queen of Shadows picks up shortly after Heir of Fire and unfortunately provided few reminders of the previous storyline. I did struggle in the beginning, but as the story progresses, we see snippets of where our characters were left. Dorian at the palace with his vengeful father and dealing with the consequences of a forbidden love, Chaol fleeing the Kingdom and joining a new alliance, the centuries old Rowan left behind reluctantly, while Aedion is facing a battle against a kingdom, powerless. It was absolutely glorious. I loved seeing Manon and her Thirteen of Ironwitches struggling with a new found emotion, against the injustice of being expected to serve without question. Her character development was incredible and only demonstrates how the series is brimming with strong females who use their cunning and intelligence to defeat and defend.

I absolutely loved the multiple viewpoint scenarios, seeing the story unfold from each character's perspective only added to an intense and often smouldering storyline. As the battle evolves, so do the character relationships, those previously at odds will come together to form a tentative and dubious alliance.

Told in two parts, with part one setting the scene for a battle of epic proportions. New alliances are formed and former ties have been severed. The romance on several fronts was delicious and so well crafted that it left me more often than not on tenterhooks. There are a few hints at a surprising new romance that I could definitely find myself on board with and with passionate fans aplenty, may cause a rift between readers. But I absolutely adored it. I applaud Sarah J. Maas and her ability to make the hard decisions, and not pander to satiate fans.

the verdict

It took a few chapters for me to immerse myself back into the storyline and may have benefited from skimming Heir of Fire again beforehand, but it didn't take long for Sarah J. Mass to enchant and entice me back into her world. Beautifully written, even more so than previous books in the series. I was enamored by the incredible crescendo of battle, the gentle moments between characters, the new alliances and character development were all immaculately crafted and precise. I adored it. Sarah J. Maas is no doubt the leading author in young adult fantasy and Queen of Shadows is by one her best releases to date.

Stray by Rachael Craw... KAPOW!

Check out my review for book one Spark
Stray Spark Book Two
Contains spoilers for book one
Written by Rachael Craw
Science Fiction, Romance
Published September 1st 2015
425 Pages
Thank you to Walker Books Australia
Add to Goodreads
It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA.

Evie is a Shield, designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who may live and who must die, not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option. Risk losing everything and everyone, including Jamie, and run.
Evie knows they're coming. The Affinity Project who monitor those with genetically engineered DNA are set to descend upon Evie, harvesting her memories to find her brother Aiden. After bleeding life back into her twin, Evie needs to prove he is no longer a threat to best friend Kitty but being detained in a secure facility means breaking her twin out. But freeing Aiden comes at a price, deceiving both Miriam and Jamie while Kitty is used as bait. 

The Affinity Project are the silent hunter and Evie now faces a life on the run. While her decision means Aiden's freedom, it also means that Evie's loved ones will face Affinity, tortured and held accountable for her actions. Evie will face the ultimate decision, to betray those who have kept her safe or abandon the brother she barely knows.

Kelly's Thoughts

Stray was explosive! Superhero teens with strength, speed and skill beyond the realm of human DNA. They walk among us, belonging to a ruthless organisation simply known as The Infinity Project, abiding by their rules in order to survive. Evie is a Spark, an engineered protector who only recently learnt that her life has been a lie. Her mother isn't who she thought she was and now Evie has a twin brother, locked away after his attempt on Kitty's life, Evie's best friend who she was created to protect. But as Evie's blood helped breathe life back into Aidan, Evie also believes it has deactivated his urge to harm Kitty and knows the only way to keep him safe is to prove he is no longer a threat. Not an easy task while he is currently behind bars. 

True to her nature, Evie is selfless and to free Aidan, she must challenge everything she's been taught and betray both Miriam and Jamie, Kitty's brother and the boy who is destined to be with another. In Stray, Evie faces even greater challenges. She is now being tracked by The Affinity Project, so her controversial relationship with Jamie is on the verge of potentially destroying them both. Readers also learn more about Affinity, the secret organisation that treats those with the unique DNA sequence as mere objects, to manipulate, to control and to do their bidding. Evie is now faster, illegally trained and in order to help Aidan escape and his survival, is forced to take Affinity on... And win. 

The Final Verdict

Stray is by far more emotional than it's predecessor. I fell in love, then fell apart as the storyline completely unravelled before me. It was glorious and beautifully written. This series gathers strength with each installment, setting the scene for Evie and the spic showdown against those who believe they can control her. They're sorely mistaken. It's epic and demands to be read.
© Diva Booknerd. Design by Fearne.