Sunkissed by Jenny McLachlan

Sunkissed The Ladybirds Book Three
Written by Jenny McLachlan
Contemporary, Coming of Age
Expected Publication August 13th 2015
302 Pages
Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia via Netgalley
RATING ★★★★★
Following on from Flirty Dancing and Love Bomb, Jenny McLachlan's next book is perfect summer holiday reading for fans of Geek Girl and Louise Rennison.

Kat can’t believe her family are sending her to Sweden for the summer. But without her friends, or even a phone signal, can Kat make it on her own?

In a land of saunas, nudity and summer sun, Kat soon realises she has nowhere to hide. It’s time to embrace who she really is, underneath what she’s been thinking people want her to be. Especially if she’s going to win the heart of mega fit Swede Leo! Can Kat find her inner strength and prove she’s got what it takes?

Kat soon finds that when you're surrounded by phosphorescence and wonder it’s easy to sparkle. Or maybe that’s what happens when you fall in love... Or maybe you only shine when you’re true to yourself.
Fifteen year old Kat is in trouble, again. A long story of a wardrobe and her sister's former boyfriend later, and she finds herself en route to spending the summer with her Aunt Frida in Stockholm while her parents are on their fifth honeymoon, leaving older sister Britta home alone. But little does Kat know that she isn't on her way to Stockholm...

Welcome to the island of Strala, where nothing ever happens. Leaving behind her impressive shoe collection, not to mention electricity, Kat has a choice of canoeing, snorkeling or dancing every Friday night away to the sounds of grumpy resident Otto and his one man dance party. Her only friend on the island is thirteen year old twin Nanna, an explosion of loud shirts and compliments that could be mistaken for insults... Until Leo turns up.

Leo is a regular on the island each year, staying over the summer break to compete in the island's annual triathlon tradition Tuff Troll. Over five magical days, their tentative friendship turns into something more. Until Leo breaks Kat's heart. 

Wanting to prove that she's more than a summer tourist, Kat begins to train for the triathlon to prove to her family, Leo and most importantly herself, that there is more to Kat than shoes. But to enter, you need a partner and with everyone on the island already in pairs, it's time to call in the big guns for help. The ladybirds.


Like previous books in the Ladybirds series, Sunkissed follows the story of Kat, one part of the group of once best friends and now fumbling through adolescence with each other for support. Kat is fashion conscious and can't live without best friends Bea and Betty, even resident mean girl Pearl. So when she's caught hidden in her wardrobe with her sister's former boyfriend, she knows she's pushed her parents too far. She's on her way to Sweden, spending the next few weeks of summer with her eccentric aunt Frida, but little does Kat realise that her aunt has other plans. Kat is staying in a ramshackle hut on the island of Strala, with no phone coverage, no electricity and no cute boy prospects. Then Leo arrives.

As a character, Leo wasn't the summer romance I had assumed he would be. He was lovely enough, but lacked a backbone as readers will discover. New friend Nanna more than made up for Leo's lack of likability, with her loud obnoxious shirts which are at odds with her personality. She's such a breath of fresh air.

Unlike previous series installments, Sunkissed isn't as comical, but more about the power of believing in yourself. There are still moments of laughter thanks to Nanna, but I felt Kat was much more serious than both Bea and Betty and it took me longer to warm to her personality. Regardless, it was wonderfully entertaining and I absolutely adore this series for it's fun and lighthearted take on four teens who are rekindling their childhood friendships.


A brilliant series for fans of fluffy, coming of age romances. Jenny McLachlan is the ultimate crafter of quirky characters, entertaining and feel good storylines that stay with you long after the final page is turned.

Demon Road by Derek Landy... On the Highway to HELL

Demon Road Demon Road Book One
Written by Derek Landy
Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Published August 28th 2015
512 Pages
Thank you to Harper Collins Australia
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Full of Landy’s trademark wit, action and razor sharp dialogue, Demon Road kicks off with a shocking opener and never lets up the pace in an epic road trip across the supernatural landscape of America. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers. They’re all here. And the demons? Well, that’s where Amber comes in... Sixteen years old, smart and spirited, she’s just a normal American teenager until the lies are torn away and the demons reveal themselves.

Forced to go on the run, she hurtles from one threat to another, revealing a tapestry of terror woven into the very fabric of her life. Her only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be…
Sixteen year old Amber doesn't have many friends, just her low paying and zero respect waitress position at the local diner and parents who couldn't care less about her well being. She's an average teen, trying to find her own identity and feel comfortable in her own skin. So when she's chased down by two disgruntled diner customers, Amber fights back.

Amber is the offspring of two demons, morphing into a red skinned, horned beauty who's parents have promised as a sacrifice. On the run, Amber is forced into the company of Milo, a gruff protector who for the right price will keep her safe. But Milo isn't without his own issues, namely his muscle car he shares an unnatural attachment to. And then there's Glen, Irish, spirited and a curse placed upon his life with only days to live. The three reluctant and irritable companions are travelling the Demon Road, where the seedy underbelly of America joins with the underworld.

In a deal with the devil, literally, Amber must hunt down a serial killer, a ghost of a man who children still tell fables about and bring him to justice. With Glen on the verge of dying, and loudly at that, her parents trying to kill her and realising the car you're travelling in could in fact, eat you at any moment... Amber's in for one hell of a ride.

Kelly's Thoughts

Demon Road is without a doubt, one of the most entertaining releases in young adult this year. Following the storyline of sixteen year old, average teen Amber, her life previously lacking friends and relied on her online presence to socialise with her peers. Her parents barely acknowledge her existence, but rather are too consumed by their group of hipster friends who are not above mocking Amber purely for their own amusement. But their cruel intentions run much deeper than hurt feelings and along with Amber's parents, feel an entitlement to Amber's life. Sending Amber on the run to survive.

When your parents feel the need to sacrifice you to a demon, chances are that you may need to align yourself with allies who can aid your survival, and the gruff Milo is being paid handsomely for his services. Milo isn't a father figure, in fact he barely communicates without precise intentions, making for a very tedious road trip. He ensures that Amber will not only survive, but thrive as she hunts down the only opportunity she has to escape her parents and their sacrificial contract on her life. But what would an incredible storyline be without at least one bumbling and kindhearted idiot... Enter Glen.

Irish, persistently annoying and desperate to be part of Amber's journey. I adored him. We need the slapstick characters in young adult to break up a storyline and add an element of unpredictability throughout. Glen added a lighthearted, comedic tone which only enamored me more to Amber's plight. But fear not lovers of paranormal and urban fantasy, Glen isn't a love interest, I'm not sure he'd know what to do with the opposite sex when faced with the opportunity. He's likely to fall into a barrel of topless women and still emerge sucking his own thumb.

The Final Verdict

Fantastically written, snarky and utterly charming despite the psychotic demons. Who knew that Derek Landy was not only a brilliant author, but hilariously entertaining! I simply loved it and can't wait to see where he takes this fresh and phenomenal new series.

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

Damage Done
Written by Amanda Panitch
Contemporary, Thriller
Published August 3rd 2015
304 Pages
Thank you to Random House Australia
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22 minutes separate Julia Vann's before and after.

Before. Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After. She has a new identity, a new hometown, and a memory of those twenty two minutes that refuses to come into focus. At least, that's what she tells the police.

Now that she's Lucy Black, her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school. And someone much more dangerous. She thought her brother's crimes were behind her. But now she's being forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind. How far will Julia go to keep her slate clean?

One thing is clear. The damage done can never be erased. It's only just beginning...
Lucy Black isn't who she says she is, she's not an only child nor is she the well adjusted teen she portrays. Lucy's name is Julia Vann, she's the twin sister of the boy who shot eleven students in the music room at her former school, having come home to her parents packing her belongings and moving to escape the scrutiny of the brutal and senseless killing spree. Ryan was always a troubled child with both he and Julia having an extraordinarily close relationship, bordering on unnatural and invoking the whispers of their peers. Ryan hurts animals, he wants nothing more to keep Julia safe and away from others who may occupy her time. Enlisting the professional services of Doctor Spence, a man who believed he could help Ryan and worked with the teen up until the day he decided to take multiple lives, sparing Julia's in the process as she watched those around her bleed out.

Now in her new life as Lucy Black, Julia is being followed by Ryan's former doctor and it seems he might hold the key to what lead Ryan to open fire on his fellow students that day. Does Julia remember more than she claims in the twenty two minutes in the time it took for Ryan to enter the classroom that day, and for Julia to be the only person to walk away from the massacre?


Damage Done is chilling. Twins Julia and Ryan share a bond and even as children, becoming each others shoulder to lean on and source of strength as they age. Their relationship seemingly goes beyond the realm of twin or sibling even, with even their peers questioning how healthy their bond truly is. So Julia begins pulling away, dating and sharing her life usually reserved for Ryan and Ryan only. But Ryan's issues begun long before their teens, as a child he was vengeful and violent, taking his frustration out on animals, eventually leading to putting other children in harms way. But not Julia. Never Julia. 
My brother was not kind to the people who'd wronged me.
Ryan maybe have been officially diagnosed with Conduct Disorder, but Julia's character was horrid. She was abrasive and likened popular boy and love interest Micheal to reminding her of her brother, leaving no doubt as to the closeness of their sibling relationship. Her past experience with the shootings led her to be incredibly paranoid and an unreliable narrator, with a storyline that are told in the present, while providing memories scattered throughout. It was deliciously intense in it's pacing and I enjoyed seeing the story handed to me in snippets to piece together.

The only major flaw I found was how predictable it seemed. The romance would have been more plausible had love interest Michael been acting on lust, rather than love. He seemed to form a connection with her based on appearance, and when he did question her, he allowed himself to be silenced with kisses. Julia is a liar and it's clear she uses her own brand of manipulation to lure others into her web. I'm fairly certain readers will predict the big reveal long before the final few chapters, but in no way does it detract from how sinister this storyline truly is.


Damage Done will appeal to lovers of psychological young adult thrillers, who enjoy the unreliable narration of a disturbed and toxic character. Am incredible debut that lures you into the storyline and despite it's predictability, will seize your attention until the final page.

Armada by Ernest Cline... Game Over

Written by Ernest Cline
Science Fiction, Fantasy
Published July 16th 2015
384 Pages
Thank you to Cornerstone Digital and Netgalley
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Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science fiction books, movies, and video games he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe. And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the video game he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada, in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders. No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills, as well as those of millions of gamers across the world, are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little… Familiar?
Zack Lightman can tell you just how addictive online multiplayer gaming is, after all, he spends each day trying to save the world. His game of choice is Armada, a massively multiplayer online game in which gamers pilot defense drones to battle alien invaders set to destroy our cities. Armada has over nine million players worldwide, Zack's obsession and persistence earning him a place at sixth on the rankings, not surprising given his late father's love of gaming and working part time at Starbase Ace. But the latest game update has Zack rattled, rather than defend the planet, gamers are in attack mode and with good reason, Zack's world is about to come crashing down.

Armada is part of the Earth Defense Alliance, a real organisation set to task with saving mankind from invasion. Recruiting the top players to fly drones and fight against the Europeans, the alien race declared war on our planet decades earlier, which Zack's late father knew all too well about. Suddenly the box in the attic his father left behind makes sense, the mixed tape, the old videos, books and theories about aliens and invasion. His father was preparing him for this invasion.

Kelly's Thoughts

I begun reading Armada with the excitement and anticipation that I felt with Ready Player One. I'll admit that it really didn't bode well for the rest of my read.

Armada follows the story of Zack, who's only interest seems to be as a gamer and trudging his way through school. Along with friends Diehl and Cruz, each night their crusade is to save the world against an alien invasion sees Zack raising higher in the global ranks, sitting at a respectable sixth place from millions of players worldwide. But this isn't a game, it's Earth Defense Alliance training, an organisation who have been tracking the alien invaders for decades. The son of a gamer, Zack's late father was embroiled in the conspiracy that was the gaming industry just before his death, leaving behind notebooks of theories and pop culture references all pointing to the invasion. More than a decade before Armada was even released.

Similar to Ender's Game, but rather gamers of any age are recruited to fight against the enemy based on their skill level. Only the Armada back story and in game descriptions were too heavy and told in large blocks making it difficult for non gamers to immerse themselves within the storyline. It was clinical and the humour readers enjoyed throughout Ready Player One was missing, with one dimensional characters in it's place. I can imagine that Zack is unrelatable to anyone other than gamers, and his overall plight felt more like a scenario dreamed up by a male teen gamer, save the world, get the girl. It's as though Ernest Cline took every popular science fiction reference and scattered them all throughout the storyline, Carl Sagan, A Space Odyssey and from Space Invaders to Ender's Game. Where in Reader Player One is was infused as a journey for kids of the eighties, in Armada it felt forced and a little like blatant name dropping sadly.

I was mildly entertained, when I had really been expected to be dazzled by the Ernest Cline intellect and ability to immerse readers into his world. 

The Final Verdict

I was still able to enjoy Armada on some level, but really quite disappointed by the release that probably should have been titled Ready Player Ender. For fans of gaming and those who need to play the hero, but sadly not for me.

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Night Owls
Written by Jenn Bennett
Contemporary, Romance
Published August 13th 2015
272 Pages
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia
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Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum sponsored scholarship contest, drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is, and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?
Wanting to become the next big name in cadaver illustration, Beatrix is a girl on a mission. But having no such luck at the local hospital in which her mother works, she's forced to take the Night Owl home, a bus that travels around San Francisco taking wary travellers home each night. It's there that she meets the enigmatic Jack. Cheeky and flirtatious, Jack is a mystery wrapped in an attractive package, a vegetarian Buddhist dressed as a jewel thief and the two teens strike up a conversation. 
This was the night bus, not a Journey song. Two strangers were not on a midnight train going nowhere. I was going home, and he was probably going to knock over a liquor store.
But Jack isn't the loving and free spirited teen he seems. Behind the facade lies a troubled young man, visiting the hospital several times per week with his family always weighing heavily on his mind.

Jack paints the town gold, literally. He's one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists, defacing public property while the city sleeps. Armed with only her illustration blog to communicate, Jack seems to find Beatrix wherever she goes, leaving golden messages of support and celebration. Driven together by chance and bonded by art, the two teens find themselves navigating towards one another in times of need.

Kelly's Thoughts

Night Owls was absolutely phenomenal, adventurous, heartwarming and incredibly lovely. Previously called The Anatomical Shape of a Heart for the overseas market, it follows the story of Beatrix, determined, creative and incredibly quick witted. An artist fascinated with the human body, she wants to illustrate cadavers and it's there on her way home from an interview at the hospital where she meets Jack, exuding confidence and mystery. I can't remember the last time I had read a romance so utterly lovely, where two characters were more ideal for one another. I adored both Beatrix and Jack as individuals, and even more so together. Both artists, their natural chemistry shone through the pages as the two formed an attraction, leading eventually to gentle and tentative relationship.

Reminiscent of the Australian classic Graffiti Moon, Jack is a graffiti artist. His choice of art is created by a gold spray can at landmarks around San Francisco. But Jack isn't a hooligan, his art represents a side of his life that no one understands, a secret that threatens to tear his family apart. His reasoning was beautiful, it made my heart ache that a young man would go to those kind of lengths and hence, the swooning began.

It made my heart soar.

The storyline is utterly captivating. From the first few pages, I was completely immersed and emotionally attached to both Beatrix and Jack. This is a couple you can't help but cheer on as they flirt their way through the chemistry that sizzles among the pages. There is no excess drama, but both teens have their own issues that are slowly unraveled throughout the storyline. Wonderfully paced, I read long into the early hours of the morning and simply couldn't put it down. One of the best heartwarming, contemporary romances I've read in young adult to date.

The Final Verdict

Beautifully written, Night Owls is an engaging adventure romance beginning in the most unlikely of places. Jenn Bennett has crafted an immaculate storyline to warm your heart and steal your breath away. I adored it. Madly.

Burn by Paula Weston and the most awesome Interview ever!

Contains spoilers for previous books in The Rephaim series
Burn The Rephaim Book Four
Written by Paula Weston
Check out my review for Book One
Check out my reviews for Book Two and Three
Angels, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Published June 24th 2015
432 Pages
Thank you to Text Publishing
Add to Goodreads
Suddenly, Gaby remembers everything.

For a year she believe she was a backpacker chilling out in Pandanus Beach. Working at the library. Getting over the accident that killed her twin brother.

Then Rafa came to find her and Gaby discovered her true identity as Gabe, one of the Rephaim. Over a hundred years old. Half angel, half human, all demon smiting badass and hopelessly attracted to the infuriating Rafa. Now she knows who faked her memories, and how, and why it’s all hurtling towards a massive showdown between the forces of heaven and hell.

More importantly, she remembers why she’s spent the last ten years wanting to seriously damage Rafa.
Gaby has spent the last week trying to remember the life she knew before arriving in the small seaside community of Pandanus Beach, a life where she was part of the Rephaim, half angels who are now preparing to go to war with demons who plan on destroying the town she now calls home. Gaby and twin brother Jude now remember their lives before the rift that drove the two apart ten years earlier, why Jude walked away and why Gaby feels an inexplicable attraction to Rafa.

But before Gaby can come to terms with her past, she and the Rephaim must prepare for a war against Zarael and his hellion army. Secrets will be revealed, alliances will be tested and Pandanus Beach will become a warzone. A fight for not only the Rephaim's survival, but for humanity.

Kelly's Thoughts

The Rephaim series has been phenomenal. From it's characters to it's vivid locations, Paula Weston has created a stellar series that infuses angel lore with charismatic and relatable characters who are brilliantly flawed. But above all else, it's incredibly entertaining, the story gathering pace with each book and Burn definitely did not disappoint. Once again we're transported back to Pandanus Beach, the fictional Australian seaside town where the two segregated groups of Rephaim have joined forces to fight Zarael. But now both Gaby and Jude remember their lives as part of the Rephaim, what lead to the decade long separation and what ultimately brought them back together. I loved how the storyline sprinkled their new revelations throughout, keeping readers on their toes.

The Final Verdict

It's sassy, fierce and such a worthy finale to a series that is wonderfully written and one of the most engaging urban fantasy series' in young adult. Paula Weston has created a world that readers can immerse themselves in, characters to engage with and a series to celebrate the best that Australian young adult has to offer.

Interview with Paula Weston

The Rephaim series is a brilliantly imaginative take on angel lore, the Book of Enoch and the Nephilim. Is angelic mythology something you've always been interested in and how much research was involved in the process?
Thank you. To answer your questions, I studied a couple of units in world religion at uni quite a few years back (for ‘fun’), so I’ve always had an interest in theology generally, but not specifically angels. With the Rephaim series, the characters of Rafa and Gaby came first*, and then I started researching the best world in which to set their story. To be honest, I wasn’t looking specifically to use an angel-based mythology until I read the story of Semyaza in the Book of Enoch, a 2,000 year-old apocryphal text. It gave me a light bulb moment about where I could take that set-up, which led to the world of the Rephaim as you now know it.

I did a reasonable amount of research to see what other aspects of angel lore could work for my world building, including traditional Judeo-Christian and Islamic concepts, medieval writings and the diverse New Age approaches that have nothing to do with traditional religion. I found it quite fascinating that a lot of our contemporary imaginings about angels and demons come from sources other than the bible. The beauty of writing fiction is that I could take bits and pieces of whatever I thought would work best for my characters and their story.

The original idea for the series involved a girl and guy in a bar who have a complicated history that only he remembers, and he knows that if he takes advantage of the situation and she remembers their history, he’ll be in huge strife. I knew there were paranormal elements in how she lost her memories and that she and he had ended up on different sides of a conflict. I worked outwards from there to figure out their story and their world.
As a very character driven series, Gaby is one of the strongest, multi layered, yet self assured heroines in young adult. What was the inspiration behind her character and why do we need more feisty and confident characters like Gaby in young adult?
I’m pleased you see her that way. I can’t pinpoint the exact inspiration for Gaby: she pretty much jumped onto the page fully formed as soon as I started writing. I suspect it’s because this series is the first time I’ve written in first person, present tense and, intentionally or not, I ended up channeling my 19-year-old self. At that age I was probably better described as quick-tempered (read: angry), impulsive and easily frustrated. I’d like to think I’ve grown a lot over the intervening decades, so it was fun to dip back into that head space – but I should point out Gaby is NOT me, she just shares some of my traits at that age, good and bad.

I think it’s important in YA to show there are different ways to be a girl/young woman, and being feisty and confident is one of those ways. But it’s been important for me that Gaby also has a fair degree of self-doubt to deal with. I wanted her to be fallible and flawed, and to make wrong decisions with very real consequences. And then to take responsibility for her mistakes. It’s those moments that help us grow and that give us confidence in ourselves. I know my flaws and mistakes have always taught me much more about myself and life than my successes.
Gaby and Rafa's relationship is intense and the chemistry between the two in undeniable. Between the Rephaim characters, the romance is very sex positive. Were you mindful to portray sex as a positive experience for the intended teen audience?
In truth, I didn’t consciously write the series for a particular audience and have always written it by ‘feel’ rather than ‘forethought’ as far as tone is concerned. I shaped those particular scenes involving Gaby and Rafa based on what I wanted for them at that point in the story. Each scene offers a different dynamic between Gaby and Rafa and serves to show who they are at that moment, and what they want/need from each other.

It’s important for YA to cover the full gamut of sexual experiences, so I wouldn’t have had an issue with writing something less positive if I thought the story warranted it. You might remember in Haze that Gaby learns that Mya had a distressing experience with sex when she was much younger. And although I don’t explore that in depth, it’s hopefully clear that it’s left Mya with a less than healthy approach to sex and intimacy.

The whole sexual awareness / experience is slightly skewed in the Rephaim series because even though Gaby believes she’s a teenager, she’s really not and (in Shadows especially) I wanted her to deal with the confusion between how she feels emotionally and how her body reacts in those more heated moments.
One of many aspects that had me enchanted by the series, was the likability of it's characters and how relatable they are. As an adult writing young adult fiction, do you draw on your own experiences as a teen to create your characters and the issues they face?
Thank you. Another interesting question! I’d love to say that I’m so much more mature than I was as a teenager and it takes effort to reach back and find that head space, but the truth is that I can go there in a heartbeat. I suspect it’s like that for most people – we never really feel any older in our heads, just hopefully slightly wiser. I vividly remember my teenage years, the good and the bad, especially how it felt in those big moments.

Obviously some of the issues Gaby faces in the Rephaim series aren’t ones most teenagers have to worry about (having to fight demons, setting off a chain of events that could lead to a war between heaven and hell…). But there are plenty of moments where Gaby faces issues around friendships, family, parents, love and loyalty, and she has to deal with consequences of the choices she makes. Those are challenges that are often heightened when you’re a teenager, which is possibly why they are so easy to recall and tap into as an adult writer.
With the Rephaim being your first series and Shadows being your debut, how did you find the publishing experience and what key piece of advice would you give to young, budding authors?
I’ve had a totally positive experience thanks to Text Publishing. I’ve learned an enormous amount through the editing process and the team has been very inclusive on things like cover art, ‘puffs’ (quotes from other writers or reviewers on the front jacket), blurbs and catalogue copy etc.

I also need to give a shout-out to my agent Lyn Tranter, who scored the deal with Text in 2011. Lyn signed me back in 2008 on the basis of a fantasy series I was writing at the time. It took three years – and for me to start writing what would become Shadows after a particularly frustrating rejection – before the deal with Text was struck. Lyn’s advice and guidance has also made the journey easier.

My advice to young, budding authors: Keep reading, keep writing and when it comes time to submit to publishers and agents (if that’s the path you follow), always be polite, even in the face of rejection. The publishing industry is small – everyone knows each other, especially here in Australia – and your pride is not worth burning bridges over. You never know when the next opportunity is coming along and you want to be remembered for your professionalism and humility on the way up. I speak from experience: I was writing and trying to find a publisher for a long time before the Rephaim series changed my life. I have a big fat rejection folder of my own!
This year especially, there's a huge campaign for Australian young adult novels and bringing our phenomenal authors to the world. Besides your own, do you have any Australian young adult authors you would recommend?
Why yes, I do. Lists can make me a little nervous because it can feel crappy to be left out so I’ll say up front this is not an exhaustive list of Australia YA authors I love and recommend, just some of my faves, in no particular order.

Melina Marchetta Vikki Wakefield Kirsty Eagar
Markus Zusak Pip Harry Simmone Howell
Fiona Wood Cath Crowley Christine Bongers
Ellie Marney Randa Abdel-Fattah Marianne de Pierres
Jaclyn MoriartyMargo Lanagan Jessica Shirvington
Amie Kaufman Jay Kristoff Rebecca Lim
Ambelin Kwaymullina Leanne Hall

And a couple of exciting new voices on the scene:

Trinity DoyleJustin Woolley

There are plenty of other great Aussie YA writers I should’ve read by now – and will soon!
And finally, now that the Rephaim series is complete, are you working on anything new that you're able to share with us?
I’ve started on a totally new stand-alone book. I’ve had a kernel of an idea for a few years now, so it’s exciting to finally have the time (and head space) to explore the characters. It’s a thriller, and already has the same sort of pacing as the Rephaim series. Like the Rephaim series, the idea started with a guy and girl in a strange situation and I’ve been figuring out their story every since. There are no angels, but there is a speculative fiction twist, which I’m still working out how to best describe. I’m hoping to be able to talk about it in more detail later this year when I’ve got more of it written.
Thank you so much for joining me Paula. I've absolutely adored the series and looking forward to seeing what you're working on next.
Thanks so much for having me!

About Paula

For my day job, I’m a self-employed writer-journalist-professional communicator, where my writing involves a lot less profanity. I also love to read, blog, cook, eat, drink and travel and tend to get passionate about human rights, ethical food production… Actually, I can get passionate about pretty much anything.

I’m also a huge fan of Australian literature, fantasy / paranormal writing across books, TV and film, I love comedy. I’m a closet comic reader and TV addict and I’m borderline obsessed with the Foo Fighters.

Thank you to Paula and the always fabulous Stephanie at Text Publishing.
The Rephaim series is out now in Australia at all good bookstores.

Double Shot of Paula Weston - Haze and Shimmer

May contain spoilers. Check out my review for Shadows
May contain spoilers for Shadows
Haze The Rephaim Book Two
Written by Paula WestonAngels, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Published May 22nd 2013
384 Pages
Purchased / Text Publishing
Add to Goodreads
Gaby Winters' nightmares have stopped but she still can't remember her old life. Still can't quite believe she is one of the Rephaim, the wingless half angels who can shift from place to place, country to country, in the blink of an eye. That she was once the Rephaim's best fighter. That demons exist. That Rafa has stayed. But most of all, she can't quite believe that her twin brother, Jude, might be alive.

And Gaby can't explain the hesitancy that sidetracks the search for him, infuriates Rafa, and sends them, again, into the darkest danger.
Gaby still can't remember her life prior to reuniting with brother Jude. Having spent the last few days coming to terms with being part of the Rephaim. But now along with Rafa, the two believe that Jude may be still alive, a long shot that both plan on exploring. Gaby now realises that someone had given her memories of her time before the accident, her life being based on lies of her time together with Jude. But Gaby's hesitation to search for her brother doesn't go unnoticed, and Rafa can't help but believe something is holding her back. That something is a someone, twelve year old Dani who has the insight to see into the Rephaim, predicting that it may not only be Zarael and his hellions that are seeking to spill angel blood. A cult of southern women who see the wingless race as nothing more than abominations, have found a way to imprison them within a iron room.

As Gaby is navigating her feelings for Rafa while working with the Outcasts, Rafa's life is in danger when he and Taya are captured, injured and barely clinging to life. But will help be too late to arrive?

Kelly's Thoughts

Haze picks up within moments of where Shadows ended, with Gaby clinging to the idea of Jude being alive. Her relationship with Rafa is complicated, the two dancing around unresolved feelings while Rafa shelters her from the secrets of her former life. The memories of Jude she had clung to are all a ruse, someone having implanted a life that was neither true or her own. She's torn between wanting to find her brother and hesitant that he isn't the same Jude her memories paint him as, even if he is alive. But that's the least of her worries when they discover an iron room that is able to trap the Rephaim, losing any advantage against Zarael's army they may have had. Where Shadows introduces the reader to the world of the Rephaim, Haze is explosive. The intensity between Gaby and Rafa, the anticipation of finding Jude, hoping to discover who implanted their memories and allowed both to grieve for the other, the simmering tensions between the Outcasts and Sanctuary and the mystery that surrounds Mya and what she is keeping from her fellow Outcasts.

The Rephaim series is not only engaging, but beautifully written with a touch of Australian thrown in. From the scent of the eucalyptus to the surf coast of Pandanus Beach, there is something mesmerising about an urban fantasy set in your own backyard. Even being supernatural beings, Paula Weston has created the Rephaim as relatable rather than images of perfection we tend to see in most angel themed young adult. Characters are scarred, both physically and emotionally and the lines between good and evil are blurred within their own society. It's also sex positive, which is seemingly rare within young adult. An agitated character has no qualms about swearing when angry, and Paula Weston should be applauded for infusing much needed realism into what is generally a very demure genre.

The Final Verdict

The Rephaim series is brilliant, swoon worthy, incredibly captivating and goes from strength to strength with each installment. Paula Weston has crafted the perfect urban fantasy slash paranormal romance series, and I'm completely and utterly smitten.

May contain spoilers for both Shadows and Haze
Shimmer The Rephaim Series Book Three
Written by Paula Weston
Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Published July 3rd 2014
393 Pages
Thank you to Text Publishing
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Gaby thought her life couldn’t get more complicated.

She’s almost used to the idea that she's not the teenage backpacker she thought she was. She can just about cope with being one of the Rephaim, a 139 year old half angel, whose memories have been stolen. She’s even coming to grips with the fact that Jude, the brother she’s mourned for a year, didn’t die at all.

But now Rafa, sexy, infuriating Rafa, is being held, and hurt, by Gatekeeper demons. And Gaby has to get the bitterly divided Rephaim to work together, or Rafa has no chance at all.

It’s a race against time, and history. And it may already be too late.
It's been eleven days since Gaby's world was blown apart. She may have twin brother Jude back, but Rafa and Taya have been captured and are at the mercy of Zarael within the iron room, used as bait to capture the twins. Her only chance to save him is to enlist the aid of The Sanctuary and Nathanial, the fallen angel waiting for a sign in order for him to send his Rephaim into battle. Time is ticking away and every moment of indecision, is putting both Rafa and Taya's lives at the mercy of Zarael. Their only connection to the pair comes in the form of twelve year old seer Dani, her insight integral to infiltrating the farm. But with the Outcast and Sanctuary Rephaim all under the one roof once more, tensions are high while the combined forces wait for the Council to come to a decision. A wait that has Gaby highly strung and ready to fight.

But just as the war against Zarael is starting to gather momentum, the two Rephaim sides will come together to fight a common enemy and this time it's personal. The fight is being brought into the human world and Pandanus Beach is set to become a warzone.

Kelly's Thoughts

Shimmer continues only moments where Haze ended, with Rafa and Taya being imprisoned and Gaby desperate to save them both. Where previous book in the series were fast paced and energetic, Shimmer seems to delve more into it's characters of both the Sanctuary, Outcasts and the hierarchy of Angelic lore. It's the first time the Outcasts have returned to the Sanctuary since the group walked out over ten years ago, leaving their fellow Rephaim and Gaby behind. We finally learn why Jude walked away from his sister and Gaby's history with Rafa, which will no doubt provide readers with much needed answers of why the two always seem to navigate towards one another.

But for all their ideals, the Sanctuary isn't the safe haven it claims to be with forces working against the group to drive a wedge between the factions. The twist is deliciously surprising and allows for the loose ends from previous installments to come together before what is forming to be battle between Heaven and Hell on Earth. I love how Shimmer explored character relationships and the difference between Gaby now and her former ego in Gabe, the abrasive and often reckless fighter. Gaby is barely holding it together, only now coming to terms with how she feels about Rafa while she may be on the verge of losing him. Her fragility was so lovely and really endeared me to her character even more so, especially when it's revealed why she chose not to follow Jude when he walked away.

Nathanial was painted as the villain, not wanting to commit to the fight to retrieve Rafa and Taya. His indecisiveness brought together the Sanctuary and Outcasts, all now fighting for a common goal. But the secrets within the walls of the Sanctuary were not only surprising, but added further intensity to a storyline already on the verge of detonating.

The Final Verdict

The Rephaim is by far the most engaging, enthralling and intense urban fantasy series in young adult today. Paula Weston is phenomenal and one of the authors setting the new standard in not only Australian young adult fiction, but young adult worldwide.

Shadows by Paula Weston

Shadows The Rephaim Book One
Written by Paula Weston
Paranormal, Romance
Edition Published June 4th 2015
388 Pages
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It’s almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell spawn.

And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams, he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense. Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth, and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares.

Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly, who can she trust?
Twelve months after the accident that changed her life, Gaby is still morning the loss of her twin brother Jude. Gaby calls the small town of Pandanus Beach home, sharing a small bungalow with the effervescent Maggie and working as a part time librarian. But it's her nightmares that plague Gaby's thoughts, monsters and demons that are determined to destroy her, while she watches the mysterious green eyed stranger wielding a sword to protect her life. Hoping to win a short story competition to help make ends meet, Gaby submits a story created from her vivid nightmares... Until the green eyed stranger strolls into town.

Rafa brings stories of the Rephaim, the offspring of the fallen angels who wander the Earth in hiding. Rafa knew Gaby and twin brother Jude before their supposed accident, that her memories have been planted and Gaby isn't the mere mortal she claims to be. But Rafa represents one side of an internal feud between the Rephaim, a rogue group that doesn't believe in the teachings of the angel Nathaniel and have chosen to go their separate ways, the remaining half angels living and training at The Sanctuary.

But is isn't only Rafa who has arrived in Pandanus Beach to find her, those at The Sanctuary are desperate to find out why Gaby's memories have been altered and why she and brother Jude were on the run after a decade apart. None more so than Daniel, a Rephaite who once shared his life with Gaby and has now taken a vested interest in her bond with Rafa.

Why does everyone believe that Gaby should be dead? It seems whoever altered her memories, is trying to hide a secret that threatens to blow their world apart. With a band of demons wanting to capture her, it's not only Gaby's life that's in danger, but a war that will spill into the human world.

Kelly's Thoughts

Wow. Just wow.

Shadows was nothing short of incredible. Mixing the age old angels verses demon mythology, strong and sassy characters and an intense, slow burning romance. Deliciously so. It follows the story of Gaby, mourning the loss of her brother almost a year prior and attempting to find normalcy in the coastal Australian town. Gaby is a brilliant character, relatable, likable and adds sass to the storyline. She and best friend Maggie are a formidable pair and have a wonderful friendship of strength and solidarity. And then Rafa arrives.

I was officially swooning.

Rafa is everything you want in a love interest. The slow burn, the intensity. He smoulders, he'll seduce you and you'll love every moment. Rafa is the reason why we need flame retardant paperbacks. But beyond the intense love slash hate relationship he and Gaby share, they also share a history. One that Gaby can't remember. Not only are her fellow Rephaim accusing her of a crime she can't recall, but a past love in Daniel is leading the charge. Daniel isn't a villain, but a pretentious follower of Nathanial, a fallen angel who is using the Rephaim to cleanse his own sins. He claims to adhere to a higher power that no one has seen, but all follow blindly. It's no wonder Jude had escaped the The Sanctuary ten years prior, scoffing at their beliefs and going rogue along with a small group of Rephaim. Including Rafa.

I loved the inclusion of Angel lore, the Fallen and the angelic hierarchy that Paula Weston infused so beautifully. The history of the Rephaim was scattered throughout, often allowing the reader to learn the story behind the mythology as Gaby herself is taught. My only wish was that Gaby stop describing everything she smelt. Boys rarely smell nice, even angels I suspect. It would have been more convincing has she described Rafa as smelling like feet and farts. Stop sniffing people Gaby, it's creepy and the quickest path to becoming a social pariah.

The Final Verdict

I loved it and considering that paranormal romance isn't my genre of choice, I was thrown into a world that excited, engaged and enthralled me. From page one. Now with all four titles in the series out now, it's the perfect time to binge read. I've flown through the series, having already read the first three in only four days. And for a reader who tends not to finish many series', that's a testament to how incredible Paula Weston's vision is. READ. IT.

Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson

Green Valentine
Written by Lili Wilkinson
Contemporary, Romance
Published August 1st 2015
288 Pages
Thanks to Allen & Unwin
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When Astrid and Hiro meet they give each other superhero names. She's Lobster Girl and he's Shopping Trolley Boy. Not an auspicious beginning. But it gets better. Then it gets worse. Much worse.

Astrid Katy Smythe is beautiful, smart and popular. She's a straight A student and a committed environmental activist. She's basically perfect.

Hiro is the opposite of perfect. He's slouchy, rude and resentful. Despite his brains, he doesn't see the point of school.

But when Astrid meets Hiro at the shopping centre where he's wrangling shopping trolleys, he doesn't recognise her because she's in disguise,as a lobster. And she doesn't set him straight.

Astrid wants to change the world, Hiro wants to survive it. But ultimately both believe that the world needs to be saved from itself. Can they find enough in common to right all the wrongs between them?
Astrid is a home grown environmental warrior and attempting to gather support for her latest cause, the plight of the Margaret River Hairy Marron as a representation of biodiversity, luring shoppers in her lobster costume to sign her petition. Only it's not going very well. It's there that she meets Hiro, at work pushing trolleys and the two teens strike up a conversation. Labelled as a trouble making drug dealer amongst other things, Hiro doesn't recognise Astrid as one of the Missolinis, comparable to a fascist dictator for her popularity and sway within their high school. He sees her as Lobster Girl, a strange environmental advocate superhero in her face paint and costume. Being able to connect with Hiro of all people, Astrid knows she needs to tell him who she is, but is enjoying the close friendship the two are forming and she's finally able to be herself.

Until the two are forced to work together in Astrid's School Kitchen Garden, where Hiro has no idea that Astrid is Lobster Girl. Astrid realises that her nights of secret texting, conversations about superheros and saving the world over coffee are numbered, when she finally comes clean. Valentine is a suburb of concrete and Astrid plans to make it beautiful once more, with or without Hiro's help.

Kelly's Thoughts

Green Valentine is positively lovely. A wonderful coming of age with a strong environmental conscious, that proves that friendship and falling in love really knows no bounds. Astrid is a perfect student, her peers see her as part of the popular group, thanks to best friends Dev and Paige, with teachers hanging on her every word. But behind the popular facade of the environmental activist lies a girl who's life is falling apart. Her parents have separated after her father's affair, and her mother is too busy to notice her daughter's late night guerrilla gardening rendezvous. Hiro is the opposite, his family are close knit, too close. He feels pressured to make more of his life, but takes little interest in school. He's labelled as a bad boy, drug dependent and hopeless, when nothing could be further from the truth.

I love world's collide type romances, where the storyline feeds the differences in characters and joins them through a common goal. In this case, the beautification of their suburb in Valentine. Hiro is a reluctant participant, but can't deny that even knowing Astrid and Lobster Girl are one in the same, he still feels the same attraction towards her and her fiery defiance to make the world a better place.

Throughout the storyline, the readers are treated to environmental footnotes every few pages, relating to the storyline in which Astrid shares her knowledge of carbon emission, polluting our earth and our environmental footprints. It allows readers to enjoy the storyline, while providing explanations without her character becoming too tedious. The romantic aspect really is lovely, with Hiro teaching Astrid about the plants and seeds that was passed down from his Nonna.

The Final Verdict

Green Valentine was absolutely lovely. There was something so gentle about Hiro and Astrid's story, their connection and working long into the night to make Valentine beautiful. Wonderfully written with a fresh twist to contemporary young adult. I adored it.

Woo Feminism... Remix by Non Pratt

Written by Non Pratt
Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Published in Australia August 1st 2015
304 Pages
From the author of Trouble comes a new novel about boys, bands and best mates.

Kaz is still reeling from being dumped by the love of her life... Ruby is bored of hearing about it. Time to change the record.

Three days. Two best mates. One music festival. Zero chance of everything working out.
Best friends Karizma and Ruby are embarking on an epic adventure of boys, bands and learning the value of female friendship. Both Kaz and Ruby are newly single, with Kaz and former boyfriend Tom having called it quits only a month prior. He declared that their relationship was little more than a friendship, while Kaz was left utterly heartbroken and still pining for the lad they call Rugby Tom, the kind of boy you take home to meet your parents. Ruby is the wild girl who caught her boyfriend in the embrace of another and didn't hesitate to walk away. She refuses to think about Stu and declares the Remix Festival weekend a chance to both start again. Best friends, boys and rocking bands to cure a heartache is in order.

One sleazy rock star, two former boyfriends, one moment of regrettable sex and a new girlfriend you're expected to babysit later, Kaz and Ruby will have lived a weekend to remember. Old flames rekindled, new loves discovered, finding yourself and realising that life isn't defined by your past mistakes.


Remix was an entertaining read that not only shows the turmoil of friendship, but how we are all irrevocably flawed. But rather than take issue with how we make mistakes, often over and over, it celebrates our differences and how we grow from our misdemeanors. Kaz and Ruby may be best friends, but the two girls couldn't be more different. While Kaz is quiet and pines for former boyfriend Tom, Ruby is a wild child who isn't afraid to put herself back on the market. Or is she? The musical festival plays a very small part of the storyline, but focuses on the lives of a small group of friends, the girls, Ruby's brother and his boyfriend and the relationships they form. One of the biggest flaws I find in young adult, is the unrealistic portrayal of teen relationships, and while not all teens are sexually active, many are and Remix showcases teens who are perhaps not ready to deal with the maturity that comes along with adult relationships.

It also touches on issues such as cheating and the moral dilemma between suspecting someone isn't single, and having it confirmed he or she is attached. Kaz is single, and refuses to believe that former boyfriend Tom has already moved on, so she doesn't ask and it makes for an incredibly uncomfortable situation. Although morally Kaz should feel ashamed, she isn't the one who should be feeling guilty. It's a fine line that will divide readers and raise discussion about loyalty. Although Remix is sex positive with Kaz's mother promoting sexual health, I think the sexual situations the girls both found themselves in was anything but positive. The experience of regretful sex in both cases adds to their journey of growth, showing yet again how flawed we all are.

Thank goodness Kaz meets Sebastian. He's absolutely lovely and just what the storyline needed. A positive beginning of what could possibly be a new relationship.


The emotion of it's characters, their flaws and how we learn from our mistakes is what makes Remix so emotionally raw and realistic. It's the passion and lives beyond the music that makes Remix compelling, the lines that are crossed, the chances taken. It's teen life at it's worse... And best.

Feminism is having a moment. Or at least, it feels like that since I read Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman and realised that I was a feminist. It’s a lot like Neo in The Matrix choosing the red pill over the blue. Once you’re in, you don’t just see feminism everywhere, you see the need for it: the disparity in pay, in treatment, in success; the lack of female roles in films, female names on prize lists, female politicians in parliament.

Men and women are treated differently when they should be treated as equals. It’s a simple principle, but as is often the case with the simplest concepts, people have a hard time agreeing on how to action it. At times it feels as if feminism spends more time looking to itself than looking to the society it wants to change.

YA, written by women (and men) who often place teen girls at the heart of the story, is already a fertile ground for feminist sensibilities. As one of these authors, I’m throwing my own voice into the chorus and I don’t mind if we’re not all singing from exactly the same hymn sheet. (I’m not here to tell other people how to be feminist. It’s enough that you are one.) But, for the record, here’s the one I sing from:

My female characters can save themselves / other girls / boys.
My female characters can be saved by boys… but they probably won’t be.)
If I have girls tearing each other down, I will also have them building each other up.
If my female characters consent to sex it is because they think they will enjoy it. (Although that doesn’t always mean they do…)
If a character is going to cast aspersions on girls for having casual sex, another character will cast aspersions on boys who do the same.
If I write what seems like a gender stereotype, it will be a decision, not a default. Fathers can be competent around the house and mothers in the workplace. Some school girls can be good at maths, some school boys at art. No activity is off limits because of gender alone.
I will think of every character as a person before I think of them as anything else.
I’m an optimist, a big believer in writing the world as a hybrid of the way it is and the way you want it to be. Eventually, one will become the other.
Non Pratt grew up in Teesside and now lives in London. After graduating from Trinity College Cambridge, Non decided to work in children's publishing. Since then she has worked at Usborne as a non fiction editor and fiction publisher at Catnip. She now writes full time

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Monday August 3rd Loony Literate
Tuesday August 4th Diva Booknerd
Wednesday August 5th Fictional Thoughts
Thursday August 6th Imaginary Misadventure
Friday August 7th Book Much
Saturday August 8th Genie in a Book 

Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Where The Stars Still Shine
Written by Trish Doller
Contemporary, Romance
Published August 1st 2015
368 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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Stolen as a child from a large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has no idea what normal life might be like. She's never had a home or gone to school, and she gets most of her meals from vending machines.

Then Callie's mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie's real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life in small town Florida. Now she must find a way to leave the past behind and learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love, even with someone who seems an improbable choice, is more than just a possibility.

This searing story of love and betrayal will resonate with readers who want stories that are gritty and utterly true.
Callie's life has been a series of ramshackle houses, a few belongings thrown into an old suitcase and life on the run with her mother. She barely remembers leaving her life in Florida more than ten years ago, her mother claiming her father never loved her as a child and only wanted her in his life to spite her mother. But Callie is about to realise the life she's been living for the last ten years is a lie. As her mother faces a prison sentence, now seventeen year old Callie is returned to the small Florida seaside town, to a big family who have mourned her absence. 

The years on the run have left Callie untrusting and she isn't ready to become someone elses daughter, no matter how much she's been missed. But her father isn't the unloving parent Callie's mother painted him as and all he wants is his daughter to feel safe a loved, a concept foreign to life with her mother in which she was left unprotected. Callie now has a place to call home and a chance at a normal life. With friends, family and finds herself falling for the local diver and tour guide in Alex.

But when her mother is paroled, Callie will be left with the ultimate decision, whether to return to life on the run or stay with the family that was so cruelly ripped from her.


The one thing I've noticed about Trish Doller's writing style, is that she can capture your attention within a few pages and holds you captive until you turn that final page. Callie has lived her life out of a suitcase, often taking off in the middle of the night at the insistence of her mother. Over ten years ago, Callie was stolen from her father, a man her mother claims only ever wanted her daughter to spite her. With no regard for Callie's safety, she brings home a multitude of men to entertain, one now being the cause of Callie's night terrors. Feeding herself from vending machines, having never been to high school, Callie has taught herself from old textbooks often while fleeing from town to town. It isn't until her mother is pulled over for a routine traffic check, that Callie is plucked from the side of the road and moved back to the lazy seaside town in Florida with her legal guardian, her father. Her father has since remarried, has had two boys of his own and is but one of a large Greek family, all who have been missing her terribly since she was taken.

Reminding me a little of My Big Fat Greek Wedding in parts, I loved Callie's big, loud, extended family. They accepted her into the fold, flaws and all. Her cousin and newly appointed best friend Kat has big pans for Callie, including setting her up with a nice guy to double date. But it's local womanising diver Alex that has caught Callie's eye. Alex is lovely, not at all what the rumours from cousin Kat has painted him by and is as attracted to Callie as she is to him. But Alex is a troubled young man and before Callie realises, she'll be mixed up in his troubles with his family. Driving a wedge between them.


Trish Doller is a remarkable author, creating engaging and entertaining storylines that readers can resonate with. Like The Devil You Know, you'll find yourself reading long into the night. Her characters are incredibly vivid, flawed, yet likable and most importantly relatable. Trish is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors and looking forward to seeing what she is working on next.

Crystal Kingdom by Amanda Hocking Interview Review

Contains spoilers for Frostfire and Ice Kissed
Crystal Kingdom Kanin Chronicles Book Three
Written by Amanda Hocking
See my review for Frostfire
See my review for Ice Kissed
Fantasy, Romance
Published August 1st 2015
300 Pages
Cast out by her kingdom and far from home, she's the Kanin people's only hope.

Bryn Aven, unjustly charged with murder and treason, is on the run. The one person who can help is her greatest enemy, the enigmatic Konstantin Black. Konstantin is her only ally against those who have taken over her kingdom and threaten to destroy everything she holds dear. But can she trust him?

As Bryn fights to clear her name, the Kanin rulers’ darkest secrets are coming to light… And now the entire troll world is on the brink of war. Will it tear Bryn from Ridley Dresden, the only guy she’s ever loved? And can she join forces with Finn Holmes and the Trylle kingdom? One thing is certain, an epic battle is underway, and when it’s complete, nothing will ever be the same…
The Kanin empire is on the verge of destruction as an oppression settles over the wintery landscape. Bryn has been accused of murder, now on the run and leaving her friends and family behind, including Ridley who is now being tortured in her absence. Disgraced and with no where to turn, her only support will come in the form of Konstantin, a former Kanin guard who has been exiled and working with Viktor Dalig, a rogue enemy of the empire. Hoping to gather support from neighbouring tribes is proving fruitless, until the Kanin Queen declares war against the Skojare kingdom, claiming Viktor Dalig was framed by both Bryn and Konstantin. Queen Mina is bloodthirsty and ruthless, her reign of oppression and greed will only come to an end with her execution. But first Bryn must make it to the palace alive.

Bryn must rally her allies, including Konstantin who she's reluctant to trust, especially after his attempt on her father's life. War is being brought to their doorstep with friends enlisted to fight an enemy under false pretenses. This war isn't about clearing her name, but fighting for the Kanin freedom against a woman who plans to take it all.


Crystal Kingdom was a worthy and brilliant series end. Amanda Hocking transports us back to the wintery kingdom of the Kanin trolls and the tyrannical rule of Queen Mina, this time Bryn is on the run and accused of murder, a crime that fellow fugitive Konstantin knows all too well. Even though she is missing Ridley, her parents and friends, Bryn remains a tower of strength. She has nowhere to go and to avoid capture, she realises that it will take drastic measures to clear her name, but knows she'll never be able to return home. Konstantin is now an ally, the dark knight now turning on the rogue Viktor Dalig to seek revenge, revealing his sordid past with Queen Mina herself. I assumed their newly formed and tentative friendship could have been mistaken for a romantic storyline, thankfully Bryn is a character who doesn't easily fall for potential love interests and her thoughts remain almost entirely with Ridley. I loved Konstantin's character. Where in Frostfire and Ice Kissed, he was evasive and played the sinister role of the villain, in Crystal Kingdom this isn't the case. We learn more about who Konstantin is beyond his crimes, and the softer, vulnerable side which will no doubt endear readers to his cause.

Once again, the character driven world building is lovely. From the icy conditions of the Kanin, to the watery kingdom of the Skojare. It's described so vividly, so lovingly that it immerses the reader into Kanin realm, allowing you to fully engage with the storyline. This series has been lovely, but I hadn't realised how emotionally invested I was until the final few pages when a few tears escaped.


Amanda Hocking's vivid and immersive storytelling are incredible, creating a rich, vibrant and wildly popular series. She sets realistic and relatable characters into fantasy worlds that has crafted an incredibly intense and emotionally charged finale that will surprise, enthrall and delight until the final page.


Your current series, Kanin Chronicles is set to release the third and final installment Crystal Kingdom. For those who have yet to pick up the series, what is the biggest misconception about the trolls you've come across in regards to both the Kanin Chronicles and Trylle series?
That trolls are short, ugly, and hide under bridges. That’s actually a very recent concept. For a long time, folklore painted trolls much differently. In many places in Europe, trolls are regarded much differently. Many are giants, and some have magical abilities.
Your publishing story is remarkable. From successful self published author having sold over a million Kindle books, and with no formal training as a writer. I've read that you were a self made millionaire even before signing your first publishing contract. Do you remember the moment you decided to become an author... And can I borrow ten dollars?
I don’t actually ever remember not wanting to be an author. Ever since I was really little, like two or three, I loved telling stories, and as soon as I learned how to write, I was writing stories. It was just something that I always I wanted to do.
With what you know now as adult Amanda, what important piece of advice would you give to sixteen year old Amanda?
Not to worry so much about what other people think. Most of the time, people aren’t actually thinking about you even, so do what want, have fun, and stop taking everything so seriously.
I love sassy and strong heroines and especially within the Kanin Chronicles and Trylle series, you've created them in abundance. What message would you want to instill in your female teen readers through those strong female characters?
That you shouldn’t let anybody convince you that you’re not strong or capable, just because you’re a girl. Don’t let anybody deter you from being who you really want to be.
As a former self published author, in the early days you were embraced by the book blogging community. Now that you're traditionally published, do you miss that more personable interaction with bloggers and readers?
I do still interact with bloggers and readers, but I did have to take a step back because I was getting overwhelmed. I have a lot of anxiety issues, including pretty bad social anxiety, and while online socializing is easier for me, it can still get very taxing, even though I really do enjoy interacting with readers. I start getting paranoid and exhausted, and I have to remind myself to spread it out and take a break from online when I need to.
When you're not writing, what can we find Amanda doing in her spare time?
I spend most of my free time reading, watching bad movies, playing video games, and hanging out with my friends, family, and my pets. I have three cats and a Golden Retriever, and they keep me pretty busy.
With the Kanin Chronicles coming to an end, what can we expect next from Amanda Hocking and are you currently working on anything you can share with us?
My next novel is a standalone paranormal romance novel set in the 1980s that follows a travelling sideshow called Freeks. I pitched it as Pretty in Pink meets The Lost Boys (minus the vampires). It should be out sometime in 2016 with my publisher.
And lastly and most importantly, if you could only save one... Konstantin or Ridley?
That’s an impossible choice. I always want to save all my characters, even when the story doesn’t allow it...
Amanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with Batman and Jim Henson. In between watching cooking shows, taking care of her menagerie of pets, and drinking too much Red Bull Zero, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Her New York Times best selling series the Trylle Trilogy has been optioned for films. She has published fifteen novels, including the Hollows and the Watersong series. Frostfire and Ice Kissed, the first two books in her newest trilogy, The Kanin Chronicles are out now, and the final book Crystal Kingdom will be out August 4th 2015.

Follow the tour by heading to the next tour stop for a review of Crystal Kingdom and Giveaway
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