Front Lines... Now Recruiting Soldier Girls

Front Lines Soldier Girl Book One
Written by Michael Grant
Historical Fiction, WWII, Alternate History
Published in Australia March 2016
460 Pages
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont
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A tense, exciting and moving new drama from the bestselling author of the Gone series.

1942. The fate of the world rests on a knife’s edge. And the soldiers who can tip the balance... Are girls.

Set in an alternate World War II where young women are called up to fight alongside men, this is the story of Rio Richlin and her friends as they go into battle against Hitler’s forces.

But not everyone believes that they should be on the front lines. Now Rio and her friends must fight not only to survive, but to prove their courage and ingenuity. Because the fate of the world is in the hands of the soldier girls.

The first of three books, this is Michael Grant at his epic best.
War is raging in Europe, Asia and Africa with millions of causalities and more to follow Cities have been reduced to ashes and the United States Army is now allowing females to enlist, volunteering for the front lines and heading into battle besides their male counterparts.

Rio isn't quite eighteen, but after the death of her sister during the conflict, she and best friend Jenou have now enlisted while Rio leaves her heartbroken parents behind. Small but fierce, Rio is a stark contrast to Jenou who is a boy crazy glamazon. Rio is leaving behind her new teen sweetheart, a boy she can't remember a time when she didn't like and who's also being shipped off to help with the war effort.

While in new York City, Rainy is preparing to enter the armed forces with the lure of being able to work within the Intelligence branch and bringing down Hitler, on her own if need be. Her Jewish background makes her a target for snide and racist remarks, never mind being a female to wants to fight for her country, a position that seems will never be accepted by her male peers and counterparts.

Frangie dreams of being a doctor, but enlists to help her struggling family while her father is out of work. In the forties, the colour of Frangie's skin means she is treated as a second class citizen, despite devoting herself to her country.

Rio, Rainy and Frangie all lead separate and contrasting lives, until each girl leaves for war.

Kelly's Thoughts

Front Lines was nothing short of breathtaking.

I was initially attracted by the promise of young women fighting alongside their male counterparts and thriving within the intense and deadly landscape. But what I found was so, so much more than a sense of feminism and righteousness. Front Lines is like nothing you've ever seen before.

Imagine being a young woman with a sense of duty to your country, your family and make something of your life despite the prejudice against your background or the colour of your skin. Volunteering for what has always been viewed as a male dominated battle of physicality and brute force. Being female, your superiors and fellow soldiers despise your bravery and determination, you'll never be treated as anything close to being an equal. This is exactly what Rio, Rainy and Frangie face. Labelled as incompetent based only on their gender, with Rainy being spat upon for her Jewish heritage and downed soldiers refusing treatment from Frangie due to the colour of her skin. It was empowering to see each girl rise above the blatant sexism and prejudice, showing their strength of character when their male counterparts could not.

She cannot, will not, spend the war in a swivel chair.

As the storyline progresses it's told in two parts, enlistment and then being sent to war. The storyline is told as a third person perspective as a memoir, the girls telling their stories through an unknown storyteller who often speaks directly to the reader. I usually find storylines where the narrator is aware of a reader often as strange and confronting, but it was truly incredible.

Once the girls complete their training, they are set to task to take advantage of their abilities, Rio sent to the front lines of combat, Rainy working a mundane desk position and Frangie training as a medic in the field. I haven't read many fiction young adult novels based on what are every real events, but from the witness account and the girls telling their story through a third party, the emotion of war was devastating. Taking the life of a person under any circumstances is nothing to be taken lightly and Michael Grant constructed the storyline with such care and an incredible amount of honesty and confidence.

Rio's character by far has the greatest impact and growth. She begins as an angry young woman, wanting to take a life to avenge her late sister, but throughout her journey from the recruitment office to the battlefield, her character gains the respect of not only her peers but superiors as well. Her internal struggle between following orders and taking an opposing soldiers life even in self defense brought a humility to her character.

The final verdict

It is a lengthy read and feels much longer than It's 460 pages, especially given the subject matter and the brutality of war. It was breathtaking, incredibly vivid and places the reader alongside Rio, Rainy and Frangie as they embark on becoming the first female soldiers of the United States army. Book two cannot come soon enough. It's phenomenal.

Akarnae.. Aussie YA Fantasy

Akarnae The Medoran Chronicles Book One
Written by Lynette Noni
Fantasy, Magic
Published February 1st 2015
436 Pages
Thank you to Pantera Press
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With just one step, sixteen year old Alexandra Jennings's world changes, literally.

Dreading her first day at a new school, Alex is stunned when she walks through a doorway and finds herself stranded in Medora, a fantasy world full of impossibilities. Desperate to return home, she learns that only a man named Professor Marselle can help her... But he's missing.

While waiting for him to reappear, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora's boarding school for teenagers with extraordinary gifts. She soon starts to enjoy her bizarre new world and the friends who embrace her as one of their own, but strange things are happening at Akarnae, and Alex can't ignore her fear that something unexpected... Something sinister... Is looming.

An unwilling pawn in a deadly game, Alex's shoulders bear the crushing weight of an entire race's survival. Only she can save the Medorans, but what if doing so prevents her from ever returning home?

Will Alex risk her entire world, and maybe even her life, to save Medora?
Being the daughter of two successful archaeologists has left almost sixteen year old Alex with a sense of wonder, but also a longing for the comforts of home. So as her parents set off on their latest adventure, Alex is enrolled into the International Exchange Academy, a boarding school where she will reside for the entire school year... But the International Exchange Academy isn't what it seems.

Behind the facade lies a school beyond the human realm. Akarnae is a long standing tradition, a school for the magically gifted where teens' abilities are nurtured. Unable to return home, Alex will need to make the most of her opportunities, enrolling with the assistance of Jordan and Bear, two volunteer students who plan to take Alex under their wing.

But Akarnae has other plans for Alex. She's the chosen one, granted access to the inner sanctum of the school library, an ancient relic of the magical world. Alex must not only navigate a new school, a life she never knew existed and the secret that she is not of their world. Being chosen will mean fighting a darkness that Alex and Akarnae aren't prepared for.

It's going to be a long year.

Kelly's Thoughts

Akarnae was wonderfully written and delightfully surprising, not to mention an incredibly enchanting fantasy. Alex's story begins with her parents abandonment in favour of their own adventure, leaving her at a new school without helping her settle in. Where most teens would be an emotional disaster, Alex takes it all in her stride but before she's had a chance to enroll, she's thrown into a world that is not her own.

Alex has no choice but to remain at Akarnae, with the only person who has the ability to return her to her world, now missing. Based on an age old method of sorting teens by their potential, Alex now finds herself within a multitude of advanced skill classes, including combat. With her two new friends in Jordan and Bear, Alex hides the secret of who she truly is from her peers. I loved The dynamic between Alex, Jordan and Bear. Their friendship wasn't complicated by a romance but it's undeniable that both Alex and Jordan share a connection. The two worlds of Medora which is where Akarnae is based and Freya, which is our own world where Alex was born and based were both very similar, apart from Medora being the magical plane on Earth. It made the storyline incredibly easy to follow even for non fantasy readers and kept the world building simple, making Akarnae perfect for fans who also enjoy middle grade reads.

Akarnae features shades of Harry Potter, a boarding school for magically inclined teens. With strong, friendship based relationships and a chosen one based storyline where Alex's world has been turned upside down. Each student enrolled at Akarnae is there on the basis of their unique magical abilities, except Alex who has yet to discover what her ability is. My only gripe was Alex's parents and how unprepared she was for this next stage in her life, even based on her attending the supposed International Exchange Academy alone.

It was well written and incredibly enchanting, but felt as though it may be more suited for a middle grade audience, where young teens can grow with each installment. The world building although lovely, fell a little flat at times and I wasn't able to grasp a sense of what Alex was experiencing around her. The renowned school library was magnificent. I loved the Wonderland type feel of the enchanted rooms and the history behind the building.

The final Verdict

Akarnae was a wonderfully written, a mild fantasy that is not only entertaining but engaging. Reminiscent of Harry Potter, fans of light fantasy will enjoy this series, especially the younger teen audience. Looking forward to book two and seeing where debut author Lynette Noni takes the series. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Siren... Ballgowns. Ballgowns everywhere

The Siren
Written by Kiera Cass
Fantasy, Romance, Mermaids
Published January 25th 2016
400 Pages
Thanks to Harper Collins Australia
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Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude... Until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of.

Falling in love with a human breaks the Ocean’s rules. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.
Release the gowns.

The name Kiera Cass is synonymous with young adult, instant love, cliche storylines and of course ballgowns. Her Selection series covers are absolutely stunning and considering the predicament her protagonist America finds herself in, are well suited to the storyline and a great representation. Her novels are perfect for early teen readers who love a fairytale romance. The Siren on the other hand managed to weave underwater ballgowns into the storyline and although I enjoyed it sporadically despite my rating, it really wasn't for me.

The storyline follows our protagonist Kahlen, pronounced Kaylynn according to Kiera Cass' Tumblr page. Kahlen was once a wealthy society girl, traveling the open seas with her parents when tragedy strikes. While those around her have perished, Kahlen is offered a lifeline. To join the sisterhood of singing Sirens or join her parents on the ocean floor. She wants to live and tentatively accepts the deal.

Fast forward eighty years and Kahlen is now a Siren, immortal and only twenty years from completing her role until another takes her place. Along with her sisters in Elizabeth, Miaka and the soon to be departed Aisling, Kahlen serves the Ocean in an emotional contract which sees her sing to to feed her thirst for human life. The Ocean is portrayed as an energy who owns the life of each Siren until her time of servitude is over. She's possessive and continues to brainwash her possessions that they are her property. Although ruling with with a firm and controlling hand, She is passive aggressive and uses the motion of Her waves to caress her Sirens to soothe them in their time of need.

The Ocean has now become a third party in the strangest love triangle I've come across.

Akinli is a quiet and intelligent college student, meeting Kahlen in the student library in which he works. Apart from a name that sounds more like a cocktail, he's actually the only likable character The Siren has to offer. Like her sisters, Kahlen is mute. She communicates using sign language for the fear of her musical voice luring others to  their death. Of course Akinli finds this endearing and cake baking ensues.

Good times kids. Good times.

Alas, their relationship can never be and Kahlen leaves behind a heartbroken Akinli to devote herself to the Ocean once more. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder and it isn't long until Kahlen wants to return, confiding in her sisters about the absence of love of her life that is slowly destroying her spirit. If she returns to Miami, the Ocean will surely destroy the sea fairing Akinli as punishment, ensuring She has Kahlen's devotion.

That's quite the dilemma Kahlen.

What did surprise me is that The Siren isn't a new release, but a polished version of an earlier release. It had potential, but I feel the finer details of the storyline is what let The Siren down. The mythology behind the Sirens felt flimsy. Mythical beings that were said to have lured men to their deaths, their willpower stripped away and leaving girls who lacked both personality and distinguishing traits. The romance soon became the focal point of the storyline and rather than world building or introducing much needed mythology while the young loves were separated, what I found was little more than teen angst and pining away for a boy she has only just met.

The final Verdict

The overall storyline had a wonderful premise, a mythical and immortal being, a forbidden romance and obstacles to overcome. But the lack of world building, little to no character development felt as though it could have been mistaken for satire. For all it's faults and there were many many faults, I still couldn't put it down.

Kelly likes ballgowns and she cannot lie. Actually, that's not entirely true. I'm a bit skeptical of underwater ballgowns made of ocean trash. That's some Oscar the Grouch shit right there.


Author on the grill... Broken Sky by L.A. Weatherly

Broken Sky Broken Book One
Written by L. A. Weatherly
Available 22nd February 2016
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Welcome to a 'perfect' world.

Where war is illegal, where harmony rules.

And where your date of birth marks your destiny.

But nothing is perfect.

And in a world this broken, who can Amity trust?

From the bestselling author of the Angel trilogy comes Broken Sky, an exhilarating epic set in a daring and distorted echo of 1940s America and first in a new trilogy.

Amity is a teen pilot, battling in one on one combat to maintain peace in a world where war has been replaced by dogfights. But when Amity discovers the organisation she works for is corrupt, she begins to question everything. In this society of double agents, suspicion and betrayal, nobody is quite what they seem...
Regular followers of Diva Booknerd will know I can't resist a strong and determined female heroine. Throw in a revolution and I'm itching to get my hands on a copy of Broken Sky. Without further ado, please welcome author Lee Weatherly

Broken Sky is said to be set within a distorted echo of America in the forties. What was the inspiration behind the setting and what research if any, did you compile to create your world building?

It’s funny, sometimes everything starts with a single detail. With Broken Sky, I knew that the planes my characters flew – the fictional Firedoves – were really Spitfires in disguise. Using such an iconic WWII plane immediately gave me a whole feel, an era: fedora hats and seamed stockings and big band music. Awesome!

For the flying research, I read memoirs by Spitfire pilots, spoke to Spitfire experts, and even got to fly in a Spit (amazing but scary – and yes, we did barrel rolls, etc!). For the 1940s era itself, in a way I’d already been researching that for years. I’m a huge fan of old movies, and love film noir in particular. In the movie version that takes place in my head, Broken Sky is very film noir!

Your main character Amity is a pilot, a female thriving in what is generally seen as a male dominated position. Why do we need characters like Amity in young adult fiction who defy the trend and are strong, young women? And what was the inspiration behind her character?

Well, not to sound flippant, but I think the answer lies in the question. We need characters in YA fiction who are strong young women because nobody ever questions why we need characters who are strong young men. The fact that our society still considers strong female characters as worthy of comment shows that there’s a need for them.

Though who knows; my next heroine might be Amity’s complete opposite, and I think there’s a need for that, too: we should see characters who reflect the whole big, messy, chaotic wealth of human experience, without extrapolating from them that all young women or men are therefore being portrayed as this or that. The problem, of course, comes when you only have weak young women or strong young men in YA fiction, and in that sense I’m pleased if I’m helping to redress the balance.

Phew, sorry, got a bit long-winded there! The inspiration for Amity came from the story I wanted to tell. By definition, a good Spitfire pilot has to be brave and skilled and kind of an adrenalin junkie, so those aspects of her personality were in place from the start. And in terms of how she relates to others, I saddled her with some of my own social awkwardness (poor girl!). No one ever gets my jokes, either.

Your previous and wildly popular Angel series also defied previous paranormal books in the genre, how did you find the transition between paranormal and dieselpunk and the futuristic feel within a historical world, as with Broken Sky?

Oh, I loved it! I greatly enjoyed writing the Angel series, but maintaining story tension was sometimes a challenge with a psychic, half-angel main character who became more powerful with each book. Honestly, I spent half of book 3 thinking of ways to handicap Willow, so that she wouldn’t just overcome every problem instantly! So it was a lot of fun to create a world where the main character doesn’t have any special powers: she’s just a skilled young woman trying to do the best she can.

Broken Sky is very similar to dieselpunk – but actually, rather than having a futuristic feel in a historical setting, it’s the opposite: a futuristic world with a historical feel. The premise is that after a devastating war has destroyed everything in our own time, the 1940s eventually come around again in the far future…though slightly different in certain weird ways. A distorted 1940s set against the ruins of our own world still seems pretty cool to me – though it took ages to figure out the backstory and get the world to work. (You can also just think of it as an alternate 1940s – that works too!)

I've read that you've written over fifty books for children and teens. Which has been your favourite release so far and why?

It’s always the book I’ve just written. I’ve been lucky enough in my career to only write what I love (and seriously, how lucky is that?!) – and so each time something comes out, it’s what I’m passionately smitten with at the time. Broken Sky does feel very special to me, though. I love it a lot.

I absolutely love your Pinterest board depicting scenes from Broken Sky. Do the image collections play a part in your writing process to help you portray the descriptive for your readers?

Aw, thank you! I loved creating it. And yes, definitely. The board was private while I was writing Broken Sky, and I updated it often. I also currently have private boards for books 2 and 3. Having all the visuals to hand really helps me to see the book and the characters, and to mentally create a certain mood for the story.

What can we find L. A. Weatherly doing when you're not writing?

I’m probably over on Etsy, looking for amazing pieces of vintage jewellery that I totally don’t need but MUST have. Shiny, pretty!

Thanks, Diva Book Nerd! Great interview – I really enjoyed your questions

About L. A. Weatherly

L. A. Weatherly is the author of the bestselling Angel series, as well as almost 50 other books for children and teenagers. She’s originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, and lives in Hampshire, England with her husband. Her books have been translated into over 10 different languages.

Thank you to Lee Weatherly and Harper Collins Australia

The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

Contains spoilers for book one and two of the Seven Realms series.

The Gray Wolf Throne
Seven Realms: Book Three
Written by Cinda Williams Chima
Published August 20th 2011 by Disney Hyperion
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Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family as good as killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.
Han Alister has been a wizard for nearly a year, and has been attending school at Mystwerk. That is until he is called back home to serve the clans in a fight that he must win or die trying to win. On his way back home to Fellsmarch, Han finds himself in hot water when he must face a group of men trying to kill a girl. That girl being Rebecca (Raisa) Morley, the girl he was sweet on back at Mystwerk. When he arrives she is already near death. Fortunately he is able to save her, but it comes at a dire cost. Shortly afterwards, he discovers that Rebecca is really Raisa, princess heir to the Gray Wolf throne.

With this bombshell news, Han's life is shattered once again. Raisa, on the other hand is tossed back and forth into the clutches of danger. The wizards do not want to see Raisa rise to power, and will kill her to prevent that from happening. In a rush to stay alive and return to Fellsmarch to claim her rightful place, Raisa must rely on Han and Amon to keep her alive until her nameday.

Kynndra's Thoughts

Okay, honestly I didn't know it would be so hard to review a series. I feel like with each book I'm being repetitive and boring as hell so bare with me. At this point I doubt many have read The Seven Realms series, why I do not know but PLEASE FOR THE SAKE OF ALL, GO READ IT! I'm so sad that this series doesn't have a fandom because lemme tell you all, it deserves one. Whether you read for the plot, the characters or the writing - I assure you that The Seven Realms has it all - especially when it come to the characters: Han and Raisa. I'm so incredibly happy I picked these books up, guys.

Book one was essentially mostly world building and intro to the characters. Book two was character growth. Book three expands greatly upon both plot and character growth. Raisa has shed her childlike behavior and evolved into a young woman that is well suited for the title of queen. She is spunky, kick-ass and all around a beautiful character. To be honest, if I fancied girls, I would fancy someone much like Raisa. I've stated before that book one Raisa wasn't my favorite, but gahh! She is so a favorite now.

“The answer is no, I would rather marry the Demon King himself than marry you. I suggest you look elsewhere for a bride. And heaven help the one you choose.”

Oooh! Diversity I always forget to bring it up: There is so much diversity in The Seven Realms series. The clans take on what I picture as a Native American culture; I could very well be wrong in my imagining of this, but it's how I see it. Chima takes a lot of pride in expanding on the clans and the Demonai warriors which I absolutely ADORE. The culturistic ideas and morals are so different than that of the bluebloods and the wizards. There's also a pretty neat group called the Waterwalkers; so wicked, I hope there's more on these guys. There's also a presence of LGBTQ couples!

Anywho, back to the characters. Han Alister has to be my ultimate favorite. Why? Because I'm a sucker for broken boys. Plus he's a charming devil, that he is. The Gray Wolf Throne offered a huge, huge character growth for Han. He is no longer a poor streetlord rat, but now a wizard on the royal council. I've got to admit, I kind of missed my rough, ragtag Han but quickly grew to love his new persona.

“I have lost everything, Han thought. Then he corrected himself. Every time I think I’ve lost everything, I find there’s still something else to lose.”

OH MY GOSH. I Almost forgot my fangirling of the wolves! The bloody wolves are so fucking cool. Basically whenever a queen of the Gray Wolf line dies she essentially becomes a guardian angel wolf and *sigh* I don't know I just really loved this tidbit (it's been there since book one, but it was huge in book three). I just love when the wolves appear to Raisa.

Plotting is really prevalent here. Boy, did I enjoy it. SO many political and whimsical routes that twists and turns the story. While I must add that the story is a bit predictable at some points, I still can't figure out where the hell this will go in the long run. Fortunately, I am currently reading the fourth and final novel of the series: The Crimson Crown. While I don't want it to end, I also want to see where Raisa and Han end up.

In Conclusion

Book three gave me so much satisfaction. There are no "middle book blues" here, for me at least. There's so much that takes place and it's all amounting to what is a mind blowing finale. Cinda Williams Chima will never cease to amaze me how she has kept such long books so intriguing and brilliant. Honestly, when I finished The Crimson Crown, I had issues picking anything up. But at least I'll have Flamecaster to look forward to in April which actually takes place in the same world, just a different time! If you haven't already, you should truly pick up The Demon King (book one).

Kynndra is a wacky little Canadian moose who needs to get a job and money so she can buy the physical copies of The Seven Realms series because they are really pretty and made with some quality paper.


REEEEEEEEEEEEEAD IT! Otherwise known as Summer Skin

Summer Skin
Written by Kirsty Eagar
Contemporary, Awesomeness
Published February 2016
352 Pages
Thank you to Allen & Unwin
Jess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand picked college girl gang are going to get even.

The lesson: don't mess with Unity girls.

The target. Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold... And smart enough to keep up with Jess.

A neoriot girl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby playing pig, sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they're at their most vulnerable?

It's all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy's stuff. Just your typical love story.
Oh Kirsty Eagar, how I love thee.

As a reader, don't you tire of the same protagonists? The sleek, blonde and usually perfect young women who seem to have it all on a platter? Yeah, me too kids. Me too. You clearly haven't met Jess. Jess Gordon is a strong, no nonsense girl that could be the voice of the young feminism movement. Jess attends a not so prestigious collage with campus boarding, where females band together against the onslaught against the Knights, an all male boarding house who teach sexism as an extra curricular activity. Jess's story begins with her mission into the Knights lair, looking for a prize in their new annual ritual to repay their previous deeds only a year prior. Blondie doesn't look like a typical Knight but he sure shares their arrogance and catches Jess in her tangled lie of guernsey thievery and playing a doting yet imaginary girlfriend.

Now suddenly Mitch is everywhere and that makes him easy prey.

Mitch is very much the alpha male type character. He's undeniably sexy but does nothing to dispel the sexist label that is placed upon what he represents, even if Mitch isn't part of the typical Knight culture and Jess is the last girl he should be playing games with. The sexual tension between the two was delicious, the banter and sarcasm was hilarious. But under the surface, both Jess and Mitch have their issues. As lovely as Jess is, she's also incredibly cynical about others intentions, especially a Knight and they aren't exactly boyfriend material. She's also just escaped from a toxic relationship, in which she was not only oppressed but the relationship portrayed as being emotionally abusive. Mitch on the other hand is haunted by a ghost from his past. Physically, he's well aware of how attractive he is but emotionally he won't allow anyone to break past the barrier he uses to ensure women don't become attached. Jess included. Jess isn't the shy and subdued lamb you typically find in new adult novels, she's feisty and not afraid to call others out on their bullshit. Including Mitch.

'You're probably also threatened by the fact that the guys here can cope with women in contexts other than porn. Not like a bunch of little lords who hate women because they secretly prefer getting hot and sweaty with each other under the guise of chasing a leather ball around a field.'

She's awesomely fierce and refuses to sugar coat her words.

Jess and Mitch's chemistry sizzles. She's feministic, he's sexist and although they tend to clash, there's an incredibly tentative and gentle romance forming between the two. Slowly, Mitch's attitude towards not only his own demons, but also women, begins to change. Jess doesn't want to make him a better version of himself but through compassion and being such a pivotal person in his life, he wants to change. For her but more importantly, for himself.

The sex is wonderful, Kristy Eagar you saucy minx. It's so well written, sexy without being the focal point of the storyline which is what seems to occur with similar books within the genre. It's mature, sensual and incredibly sex positive. Jess isn't ashamed to give into her urges, nor should she be and I loved that characters were able to talk openly about sex without being shamed. It was incredibly empowering and a refreshing change.

"I want you to revise your attitude. Women, amazingly enough, are allowed to like it. If that's news to you, then you're not doing it right."

Other aspects that Summer Skin also explores is the need for young women to feel validated, quite often by social media. Allie is a beautiful and kind hearted girl who only feels validated by photos she posts of herself on Instagram which creates such fluctuations in her emotional state, often effecting her friendships.

One of the funniest scenes is between Jess and her strong female group of friends at a local building site. Where women are often on the end of cat calls and crass comments, it was brilliant seeing the girls taking control of the situation and be the ones objectifying male workers for once. It was written in such a positive light, with both parties engaging in heavy innuendo banter.

'I've got a big hard thing!' yelled a guy who'd been marking out a sizable plank of wood. 'See from here,' Jess shouted, 'it looks just like you're holding a stubby little pencil!'

It's all about the innuendo.

Summer Skin is a book to empower young women. The snark, the strong female characters, the compassion and tenderness. The message of being your own person and fighting against the stereotypes of both sexes, all wrapped up in a realistic, relatable and hilarious storyline.

  Kelly's final verdict

Buy it. Idolise it. Refer to it as the thinking young womans bible. You need this book in your life. Kirsty Eagar, you complete me.

I don't know why you're still reading, you should be opening a new tab and buying the shit out of this book.


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows
Six of Crows: Book One
Written by Leigh Bardugo
Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic
Published September 29th 2015 by Henry Holt and Company
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Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.
Located in the slums of Ketterdam is a crew notorious for crime. At the forefront of said crew is Kaz Brekker, dubbed Dirtyhands for his willingness to do just about anything for the right price. Behind him is Inje, otherwise know as the Wraith for her skill of being stealthy and efficient with her knives. Nina, the magical Grisha who can both kill and heal. Waylan, the son of a rich merch who knows how to make things go boom. Jesper, the sharpshooter and gamble addict. Lastly, Matthias - a Grisha hunter and the muscle. This band of criminals must join forces to pull off an impossible heist.

A deadly drug has been created that enhances Gisha's powers. Were it to fall into the wrong hands, the world would surely be thrown into chaos and ruin. In order to stop that from happening they must go to the source. A scientist is being held within the Ice Court, and is the only man who knows the chemistry behind the drug. Kaz is offered thirty million to break this scientist out and return him to Ketterdam. In order to do so, he must form a crew that will be able to do the impossible. Their journey takes them across the sea down a perilous road which is riddled with treachery, greed and betrayal.

Kynndra's Thoughts

I'll be 100% honest. I had a love hate relationship with this book. It took me forever - and I mean forever to get into it. I was so ready to DNF it because I was so frustrated with the pace. It took me up until 83% of the book to understand why so many people have raved about this book - even then I don't entirely understand the hype surrounding it. Nonetheless, I'm happy I kept with it because the second half of the story got really crazy and exciting and I loved seeing the plot take off.

Bad bits first. This book felt long as fuck. I don't know if it was the writing, or if I just wasn't feeling the characters at first but damn it was like swimming in mud. Probably because I hated the first 37% of this book (yes I kept checking my progress because I felt like I was crawling). I understand this may just be me - it very well may be. I wouldn't doubt it, I'm not all that into really slow builds. Good thing is that I adjusted, I sucked it up and plowed on forth.

The plotting was extraordinary. Wow, it was so good. I was swung left and right. I love nothing more than when little puzzle plot pieces start falling into place. I got a lot of that throughout the stretch of the book. This was definitely the highpoint of the book for me. I'm convinced that Leigh is one of the best plotters I've come across in the YA genre, even though this is the only book I've read of hers.

Six of Crows is very telly and little showy. You are constantly getting info dumps and mini-flashbacks to the characters past. There are six characters, five of which get POV's (I forget, does Waylan get one? I don't remember) and if you know me, I'm not huge on anymore than three POV's. I have a small and tired brain and hate the flip flopping. But thankfully the more interesting characters got more chapters than the lesser characters. I think that was this books saving grace for me.

When it comes down to the characters I was only really into Kaz and Inje. Kaz is such a complex, mysterious and heart wrenching character. I rooted for him every step of the way and cheered when he won and booed when he failed. I was really invested in seeing how his persona would evolve from the first page to the last. I really look forward to seeing how Leigh molds him in book two. As for Inje - she was quiet and all around intriguing, not to mention she kicks some serious ass. I loved the depth behind both these characters and didn't mind their background stories. I also ship the hell out of them.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the other four. I liked seeing the interactions betwixt Nina and Matthias - their banter actually brought a lot of life to the story. And I appreciated their interesting history with one another but I wasn't attached at all. Jesper and Waylan were just necessary tools for the mission - I didn't really care for either of these two. I know, I'm probably terrible but they can't all be winners. I do have faith that these guys will get a bigger spotlight in book two, so maybe I'll love them then!

In Conclusion

I loved the world, the plot and the magic that Leigh Bardugo so passionately invested a lot of time into creating. While I wasn't a huge fan of all the profiling of the characters, she put a lot of thought into who she needed them to be for the story. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a black sheep when it comes to this book (its average on GR is 4.41). I wasn't gaga about it - I loved some parts, hated others but in the end I'm happy I gave in and read Six of Crows. I honestly can't wait for the sequel. The cliffhanger will probably have already killed me come fall.

Kynndra is currently browsing tumblr and getting ready for bed.


First and Then... Perfection

First and Then
Written by Emma Mills
Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Published in Australia January 15th 2016
272 Pages
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
Add to Goodreads
Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them, first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.
Rarely is a novel ever so utterly perfect that I've fallen in love from the very first page. First and Then was nothing short of immaculate and one of the loveliest contemporaries I've ever had the pleasure of reading.


It follows the story of Devon, the girl, not the luncheon meat. She's an only child with doting parents and no real direction throughout her senior year of school. Then fourteen year old Foster comes to stay. Oh Foster, he was such a breath of fresh air. Adorably naive and so incredibly lovely, he's been abandoned by his mother and taken in by his aunt and uncle to restore a sense of normalcy and family. Since his father died, life with his neglectful mother has left him unemotional and mentally absent. It takes a significant part of First and Then for Devon to finally accept Foster as a part of her newly formed family unit but their relationship although tentative, was beautiful to watch them both grow as individuals and as new siblings.

Hello Ezra Lynley. Ezra is the golden boy of football and a new recruit, seemingly untouchable yet takes an interest in Foster in the shared physical education class along with Devon. Although Foster is oblivious, the tension between Devon and Ezra is delicious and he begins helping Foster learn the basics of touch football and the two form a close bond. I know nothing about American football but First and Then didn't delve too deeply into the technical side of the sport thankfully, but more so the team comradery and etiquette of the game. 

The bond between Ezra and Foster began as a worship type relationship and although beyond the college scouts and attention, Ezra is never comfortable with the admiration. He isn't the typical high school senior and is determined not to let his status define him. He's quiet, reserved and gives off a tortured impression. It's Devon who is yet to fall under his spell, she's in love with her best friend in Cass, who as the storyline moved forward really surprised me and I felt I never truly had a sense of who he was beyond how Devon had seen him.

The Final Verdict

The underlying storyline of acceptance and learning to trust was beautiful and lovingly written. I laughed, I cried and was utterly smitten with First and Then and in particular, Foster. Not often does a book come along that makes you feel how special it is to delve into the fictional worlds of authors, First and Them made me feel giddy as I turned the final page and gave me one hell of a book hangover.

Kelly is still swooning over the loveliness of First and Then. But Kelly is sick of talking about herself in the third person.


Giveaway! Win the entire Mortal Instruments series!

To celebrate the release of the new Shadowhunters series by Cassandra Clare which premiered in Australia on January 14th on Netflix, Walker Books Australia are giving away an entire set of the newly rebranded The Mortal Instruments series to one lucky Australian winner. That's six books!

The Mortal Instruments









What can you expect from The Mortal Instruments series?


Intense hair flicking

Magnus Magic

Mike Chang with killer hair

Magnus on a Segway

Balls of light

killer seraph blades wielded by the apprentice

And the Old Spice guy. Wait... What?

Check out the netflix exclusive trailer


One lucky Aussie will win the entire set of newly branded books in The Mortal Instruments series. To enter, you must be an Australian resident, no sneaky internationals please. Follow the prompts and cross your fingers. If you're under the age of thirteen, please ask your parents permission first. Giveaway is sponsored by the lovely folk at Walker Books Australia and the newly branded series will be available in all good bookstores during February.

Don't forget to check out the Shadowhunters series on Netflix

Prince's Gambit by C.S. Pacat

Contains spoilers for Captive Prince. See my book one review here.

Prince's Gambit
Captive Prince: Book Two
Written by C.S. Pacat
Fantasy, Adult, LGBT
Published July 1st 2015 by Viking: Penguin (org 2012)
Add to Goodreads
With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master Prince Laurent must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgeling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow...

Damen is Prince Laurent's slave. He has fallen into the duty, waiting for the perfect time to escape and retake his throne that was taken from him by his traitorous brother, Kastor. Meanwhile, Damen must hide who he truly is - Damiano, Prince Killer - the very same man who struck down Laurent's brother six years prior. In order to keep his identity hidden, Damen must bow to the golden prince of Vere.

In order to prove himself ready to take the throne, Laurent must set off to the battlefields. Behind the scenes there is a bigger plot at play. Laurent's uncle, the Regent, has concocted a plan to kill his nephew before he can become King of Vere. Damen and Laurent must come together if either are to survive the battle that is coming their way. Their journey to the Akielon border is writhe with traps and betrayal which undoubtedly pushes the two closer.

Kynndra's Thoughts

OH. MY. GOD. That was incredible. I could not have asked for a better sequel than what Prince's Gambit offered. I could not picture anything better than this. You'll have to forgive me for the disgusting amount of gushing that is about to take place - because believe me when I say this: I have never experienced the emotions that this book has put me through. Never in my entire life have I loved a book as much as I did this. It's hard to say that, as I've read some impeccable stories in my life but nothing such as this. These are books that will remain with me forever.

The characters are what make this story even half as great as it was. I've never felt myself so enamoured by two characters before. The depth both individuals have is astounding, compelling and all around desirable. Damen has evolved from a resisting slave to a person that Laurent can confide and trust in. Laurent has evolved from a vile snake to something entirely different - a man with his own demons. But this all takes time, none of it comes easy. Pacat was able to master the art of character growth, making the story betwixt our characters fascinating and heart wrenching.

“Laurent wasn't loved. Laurent wasn't liked. Even among his own men, who would follow him off a cliff, there was the unequivocal consensus that Laurent was, as Orlant had once described him, a cast iron bitch, that it was a very bad idea to get on his bad side, and that as for his good side, he didn't have one.”

I loved every moment of Damen and Laurent's interactions. Ack, I wish I could explain just how much, but it is one of those things that the reader must experience on their own. Others, I think perceive every situation within these books differently. Every moment, every glace between Laurent and Damen means something. It was honestly just such a pleasure to see and experience so many different emotions throughout these 380 pages. I felt everything from sadness, girly glee, anxiety to anger - which is what I need from a book. I need to feel something, or the book means almost nothing to me.

The plot was much more prevalent in the Prince's Gambit than in Captive Prince. It's still a character driven story, but the plot has definitely surfaced full force. Damen and Laurent are no longer in the palace; therefore, so much more can happen to them while the men ride out towards battle. Together, they must beat the Regent at his own wicked game. It was so stressful reading some of the parts due to the sheer amount of backstabbing that goes down. I shall say no more on this matter, but mark me damned and fooled. I was blindsided every step of the way.

'He needs me' said Damen. 'I don't care if you tell the world.'

One thing I noticed that Pacat does exceedingly well (other than the obvious) is that she can write politics in a way that actually has me holding on to every sentence. The Vere kingdom is completely off kilter - it goes by its own rules which was made clear in book one. Seeing the political side of this well drawn out world quickly became a treat. It feels weird saying it, but the political side of the story is one I anticipate seeing where it goes in book three.

Finally, as this is a M/M novel - there is obviously some romance to be mentioned. Albeit, I don't quite know if I can call it a romance (not yet). When I say this book has a slow burning romance going on, I mean slow. This is not in any way shape or form a quick process. But I wouldn't have it any other way. This book made me realise I totally have a thing for the hate turning into love trope. I swooned. I cried. Damen and Laurent are the definition of an OTP (One True Pair).

In Conclusion


Kynndra is dying from the end of this book and would trade all her books to get ahold of Kings Rising (book three).


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