Guest Posting with Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything
Written by Morgan Matson
Contemporary, Romance
Expected Publication May 1st 2016
496 Pages
Add to Goodreads
Visit Simon & Schuster Australia
Purchase from Booktopia
From Morgan Matson, the bestselling author of Since You’ve Been Gone comes a feel good story of friendship, finding yourself, and all the joys in life that happen while you’re busy making other plans.

Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top tier medical school.

Dad? Avoid him as much as possible, which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around.

Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby, pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?

Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer premed internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all, working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?
To celebrate the May first release of Morgan Matson's The Unexpected Everything in Australia, Please welcome Morgan to Diva Booknerd with her first guest post on tips for budding authors.

So... You want to be a writer - Tips from Morgan Matson

First of all, yay! Congratulations. You have chosen a job that you can do in your pajamas, which I think many more jobs should offer you the option of doing. Who doesn’t work better when they’re comfy?

My own path to being a writer was winding and circuitous and not something that I would necessarily recommend that people follow. But along the way I have learned some things, and I’m happy to share them with you now. Here are my top five writing tips.

It doesn’t have to be perfect.

This is one of the biggest ones. I meet lots of readers on tour who want to write, but they’re discouraged because they don’t think their writing stacks up to the books they read. But the thing is – the books you get from the bookstore are not first drafts. Far, far from it. My editor and I typically do four drafts on every book. My first drafts are messy and scattered with way too many characters and subplots. Some of my friends’ first drafts are really short and spare and then they fill them in later. But they’re not the finished product. And then after you finish revising, there are copyeditors and proofreaders…whole teams of people whose whole job it is to make your book better. So don’t compare your own writing to the books you read. We have a lot of help.

Read a lot.

This is my biggest tip of all! Reading is how you learn how writing works. I wouldn’t have been able to be a writer if I hadn’t been a huge reader.

Practice makes perfect.

Writing isn’t a magical ability some people have, where everything they write down is flawless (well maybe some people, but none I’ve met). It’s a skill! And like any skill – like drawing or riding a bike or cooking – you get better at it the more you do it. If you read your favorite author’s first book and then their fifth, chances are you’ll see a big difference. It’s something that you get better at with time, over time.

Pay attention to what you pay attention to

What do you love? What do you have to read the day it comes out? What makes you giddy and excited and go into full on fan mode? That’s most probably what you’re going to want to be writing. I spent a lot of time in college trying to write super-serious "literary" short stories... When I was going home at night and devouring Harry Potter and the Traveling Pants books. Don’t feel like you should write a certain genre or kind of book. Write what makes you happy.

Have fun with it

Don’t worry about how to get published, get an agent, anything like that. Just have fun with it. Write the best stories you can – all the rest of it will come later. Good luck and happy writing!

About Morgan

Morgan Matson received her MFA in Writing for Children from the New School. She was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start author for her first book, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, which was also recognized as an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. Her second book, Second Chance Summer, won the California State Book Award. She lives in Los Angeles.

Thank you to Morgan and Simon & Schuster Australia


The War That Saved My Life

The War That Saved My Life
Written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Expected Publication May 16th 2016
336 Pages
Thank you to Text Publishing
Add to Goodreads
Nine year old Ada has never left her one room flat. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute, she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Miss Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take in the two children. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan, and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?
In the bustling streets of London, life goes on for nine year old Ada as she stares out of her apartment window, watching her Mam and five year old brother James. Ada sits behind her glass fortress, unable to leave for the fear of ridicule, her mother forbidding the young girl to be seen. Ada's mother is ashamed of her only daughter, stuck with a crippled child suffering from club foot. While James roams the neighbourhood, Ada is subjected to regular beatings, deliberately keep without food and in a cramped cupboard space to ensure her compliance. But beyond the British borders, a war is raging on their doorsteps. German soldiers are infiltrating European countries with the promise to leave England in ruins.

Schools have closed in anticipation and the call for children to be sent to the United Kingdom countryside has begun. James refuses to leave without Ada, their mother refusing to allow Ada the luxury of escaping the conflict which is expected to kill millions across Britain. Armed with her mother's shoes and a rationed snack, Ada and James escape for the train to Leeds, with the hope of sanctuary for all children.

With their matted hair and threadbare clothes, the children are forced upon local spinster Susan Smith. Susan doesn't want to care for the children and Ada in turn won't allow herself to trust Susan, who is only a temporary home until their mother sends for their return... If she sends for their return.

Kelly's Thoughts

Absolutely breathtaking.

The War That Saved My Life was phenomenal. An incredibly emotional and poignant read about one girl and the life she believes she deserves. Her mothers emotional and physical abuse due to her malformation from birth, nine year old Ada survives on dinner scraps and caring for younger brother James. She crawls around her one room apartment, not daring to attempt to stand for the fear of another beating at the hands of her mother, keeping the young girl compliant by threatening to harm James. Through her mothers constant verbal abuse, Ada would never dare to hope for more. A life where she can feel the sun on her face beyond the glass window where she sits, and watches the bustling life in London pass her by.

My heart ached for Ada. A girl so young, yet has never truly known what it is to have been loved or felt cared for. Her mother was not only neglectful but horrifically abusive, often sending Ada to spend hours tucked away inside a small cupboard for simply existing. So when the opportunity arises for children to escape the city in the hope that they will never see the conflict of a Nazi Germany invasion, Ada begins to covertly teach herself to stand then walk, the two siblings running towards freedom.
At last I understood what I was fighting, and why. And Man had no idea how strong a fighter I'd become.
Susan lives alone, until two malnourished children and forced into her care in the small Leeds coastal town. Susan hasn't any idea how to raise two children, especially since her best friend had passed away leaving Susan barely taking car of herself. Although she never leaves the children wanting for anything, it's Ada who sees Susan as just another person who doesn't want her. But as the weeks pass and both Ada and James return to health, the siblings thrive under Susan's care and Ada begins to hope for more. 

A remarkable young lady who's story left me breathless and stole my heart.

The Final Verdict

It was nothing short of exquisite. Ada's story although poignant, was filled with such a strength and determination, driven by the need to prove to her mother than she wasn't a disappointment and deserved to be loved. Just as Susan grew to love her. My goodness how I loved this book fiercely. This is a middle grade read that will appeal to a much wider audience and those who appreciate beautifully written fiction that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.

This book is truly remarkable.

Wink Poppy Midnight - More Rant than Review

Wink Poppy Midnight
Contemporary Standalone
Written by April Genevieve Tucholke
Magical Realism, Mystery, Young Adult
Published March 22nd 2016 by Dial Books
Add to Goodreads
Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain. Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened? Someone knows. Someone is lying.
WARNING: HARSH OPINION TIME (#donewiththisbook)

Kynndra's BITTER Thoughts

Normally this is where I would write my own little summary of what went down in the book. But if I'm 100% honest.. nothing - just about nothing that equates to an actual story does happen in Wink Poppy Midnight. I was going to be generous and give this book two stars, but then I recall giving other books (which had more of a story) far less than two stars and that just didn't seem fair. I really should be giving this book no stars as I didn't seen any substance worth rating, but hell one star it is.

I feel nothing but frustration towards this book. You'll have to understand that I was aching to read this novel. What with the eyegasmic cover to the alluring synopsis - how could you not? But I fell straight on my ass and into shitville with this one. I detested this book because I hate feeling like I've wasted hours of my life on something useless, hours that I'll never get back. That's the gamble with every book, I suppose. Boy did I lose out on this one. Yes, this book is fairly short but still. I've never felt so empty finishing a book than I did when I finished WPM.

Why did I give it one star then, you ask? Well because the writing is fucking beautiful. If writing could leave colors I'd be purple from head to toe. April is one hell of a wordsmith. She makes every line poetic and stunning. There's no doubt about that. I love nice writing as much as the next guy, but if there's no story to back it up then I don't care if the words are written in gold. I read for the story and if there's no story, I find no enjoyment in what I'm reading. I'm going to share my brutal opinion right now - not even her writing could make this a good book

Quite literally, I think it was page 210/247 on my ereader that there was actually a plot taking place. Other than that it was Wink telling fairy tales, Midnight fawning over Wink or thinking about his mom and brother for the fiftieth time, followed by Poppy being a vindictive bitch and essentially manipulating any male with her hauntingly good looks. I did not like any of the characters. The biggest kudo I have to give to this book is that it's easy to make aesthetic edits for it because the author writes so beautifully you can't help but imagine the mystic and southern gothic-like setting.

Literally the plot of the book: FAIRY TALES AND SHIT. POPPY BEING A STAGE 5 STALKER. Red hair and the smell of jasmine, -210 pages of pointless bullshit- *gasp* Where did Poppy go? *looks for Poppy for 5 pages* OH NO! IS SHE DEAD? *cue dramatic music + weird fake possession* Wink knew where Poppy was the whole time *gasp x3* (she was camping by a river living that #hillbilly life). One of the many boys Poppy stalks suddenly wants her. Wink and Midnight makeout. Yes it's as stupid as it sounds. The end.

In Conclusion

I'm not saying don't read this book, but I'm definitely not recommending it. We all perceive books differently. I think Wink Poppy Midnight was supposed to provide me with a message of "we're all the villain and hero sometimes" but wow. What a waste of my time. Sorry for being a bit of an asshole, I just couldn't sugar coat my salty feels about this one, folks. I got 96% pretty words, 2% useless characters and 2% plot which equated to a 100% terrible read.

Gunna waddle my bitter ass off the internet for awhile.


Lady Midnight Discussion

Lady Midnight
The Dark Artifices: Book One
Written by Cassandra Clare
Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Published March 8th 2016
720 pages
Thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia
Add to Goodreads
It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark, who was captured by the faeries five years ago, has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind, and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?
Together I and Kelly tackled the beast of a book that is Lady Midnight (no seriously, the paperback could probably be used as a doorstop) so I figured why not do a buddy review? Needless to say, I was never the hugest fan of Cassandra Clare. I read The Mortal Instruments way back in grade seven (like six years ago, give or take). It was when The Mortal Instruments was supposed to end with City of Glass. I'd forgotten about it until 2011 and to my shock I saw a fourth book on the shelves. I never ventured down that road. I read The Clockwork Angel and didn't go beyond book one.

So when I heard about Lady Midnight, I had my doubts I would EVER read this. I think it was initially boredom that coaxed me to get it and peek into the depths of a new Shadowhunter series.

Kelly, I know you had your own doubts. What initially made you want to read Lady Midnight?


I think it was mostly curiosity. I'd read five of The Mortal Instruments releases and couldn't finish book six due to so much filler. I'd read book one of The Infernal Devices and also tried reading The Magnus Bane Chronicles and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, but after the first three books in The Mortal Instruments, I lost interest and each book seemed to blur into the next. The same characters or versions thereof, it was the same storyline over and over and to be honest, when Lady Midnight was announced I groaned and thought, here we go again.

But I'm eating my words now. It was fucking incredible! Yes, it's still set in the world of Shadowhunters, but it had a completely different feel. Even not having fully finished any of her previous series, I had no problems fully immersing myself back into the Shadowhunting world.

Having not completed her previous series, did you have issues picking up the storyline?


Ha! You're not the only one. I too was one of those people who scoffed when I saw another Shadowhunter series coming out. I didn't think it showed promise, and quite honestly I thought it was going to be shit. I was so so wrong though. Despite claims that you MUST read all the Shadowhunter books before picking up Lady Midnight, I don't find that to be true. I've only read four books out all of the books Cassie's written, and I understood and followed along just fine.

To be fair I'm sure it would have been fun to get all the little nods towards the other series but no, I would say you'd only need a basic understanding of the past books in order to read Lady Midnight. If you don't want to read TMI, TID or SA beforehand just look up the basics so you understand the occasional appearance of characters from other series. 

Kelly, what do you think was so different about Lady Midnight as compared to its sister series?


It honestly felt as though as it was written by an entirely different author. I feel Cassie Clare's books are aimed at a specific audience, young teens or readers who don't mind the usual young adult tropes. Either I was enjoying it too much to notice, but I found none of those aspects that Clare is usually known for. I was surprised by the warm, likable but most importantly, flawed characters. They weren't the usual ridiculously good looking beings that everyone wants to bed. In fact, I didn't feel the character aesthetics played any major role in their description either. 

How did you feel about the Blackthorn clan, Emma and Christina?


Oh man, I loved them all. The characters were what made the story for me. Specifically the Blackthorn clan. I adored Emma and Christina though, they had this amazing chemistry and a much needed girl power bond going on. At first I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters we were dealing with as I do not do well with a huge cast. But I quickly found that Cassie had this way of making each person distinct so that they stood out. Without a doubt I'd have to say that Mark and Ty were my favorite out of the Blackthorn batch. Mark was the most hilarious character I have probably ever read, the scenes with him and his faerie folk speech made me ridiculously happy. I'm also so excited to see what goes on with Ty, I think he's going to a have a huge prevalence in the upcoming books. 

Who out of all the characters was you favorite?


I loved Mark and couldn't agree more. His character had a lovable and naive charm, as though he'd lost all semblance of what era he was in. But for all the lighthearted moments he provided, I thought he was a well thought out and multilayered character who also introduced diversity into the storyline too, which pleasantly surprised me. Julian was absolutely lovely. Having taken on the role as a father figure to his younger siblings after his brother and sister were taken and banished. He carries around so much and it's made clear early on that he has feelings for Emma.

What did you think of the romances?


Honestly, at first I felt really uncomfortable with Julian. I didn't know what to think of him at first because of how he was acting. At first I thought he was a bit... Odd. But then we delved further into the book and I discovered that Julian and Emma have such an amazing chemistry. They've been friends for quite awhile - not to mention parabatai so I was intrigued to see how their relationship would go from that to lovers. Plus the fact that it's a forbidden romance really added a nice flare to it.
I think my favorite bit about the romance is that it's not all cut and dry. I can't begin to predict how this will turn out by the end of this series (I love having that unpredictableness. I am a complete Blackstairs shipper - is that the ship name?) Idk. I love them, I love their scenes and I cannot wait to experience the angst in the upcoming books. 

Do you see Julian and Emma being endgame, or do you think that their relationship was doomed from the start?


I don't know actually. Knowing Cassandra Clare, she'll have the young couple fight to change the accords so they can be together but seeing that this feels so different from all her previous Shadowhunter books, I'm excited to find out whether she'll take the plunge and shake it up. I can hear fangirls shrieking as we speak.

What did you think of the writing?


I found the writing to be far different than my previous Cassandra Clare experiences. It almost didn't feel like her. I'm not a huge fan of Cassandra Clare or her previous books as I've mentioned and that was in part due to her writing. But Lady Midnight was above and beyond what I expected. I couldn't stop reading. Whatever Cassandra did this time around, she needs to keep doing it because the writing was engaging, kick ass and made me want more.

I know there's a lot of skeptics out there, so Kelly - why do you think people should take a chance on Lady Midnight?


Without causing offense, mainly because it's so different from all her previous Shadowhunter novels. The writing is crisp and the humour brings such a sense of fun throughout the storyline. The characters are all likable and well developed, which I must admit I was surprised. But most of all, it's because all her previous tropes seem to have been omitted. There is no gruff male love interest, no female damsel in distress and no instant romance between characters. 

What do you think is the biggest difference is between Lady Midnight and her previous works?


It definitely has to be the characters for me. I was never a huge fan of Jace / Clary or even Tessa / Will / Jem. I'll be the black sheep and say that I found them to be sober and boring. I adored the way the characters in Lady Midnight were a breath of fresh air. There was humor, and just something entirely new this time around that snuffed out my previous dislike towards the Shadowhunter world. I think it's safe to say that Lady Midnight is probably Cassandra Clare's best work to date. For any of you who are unsure if you should read it, I highly encourage you to do so. It's unlike anything Cassie's done over and over in her past series.

Raelia and why I love this series

May contain spoilers for book one Akarnae, See my review here

Raelia The Medoran Chronicles Book Two
Written by Lynette Noni
Fantasy, Magic
Published March 23rd 2016
Thank you to Pantera Press
Add to Goodreads
Returning for a second year at Akarnae Academy with her gifted friends, Alexandra Jennings steps back through a doorway into Medora, the fantasy world that is full of impossibilities.

Despite the magical wonder of Medora, Alex’s life remains threatened by Aven Dalmarta, the banished prince from the Lost City of Meya who is out for her blood.

To protect the Medorans from Aven’s quest to reclaim his birthright, Alex and her friends seek out the Meyarin city and what remains of its ancient race.

Not sure who, or perhaps what, she is anymore, all Alex knows is that if she fails to keep Aven from reaching Meya, the lives of countless Medorans will be in danger. Can she protect them, or will all be lost?
Alex is now entering her second year as a student at Akarnae, a boarding school for gifted teens to nurtured and to fight against the darkness of their world. With her parents having returned from their expedition, they both agree that Akarnae is the best environment for Alex to continue learning about her new world and have agreed to join her to explore Medora, the magical plane here on Earth.

With the banished Mayarin prince Aven being able to access the hallowed grounds, Alex's training has intensified and is now facing her toughest challenge, taking the fight to Aven with the Mayarin's overseeing her progress. But nothing can prepare her for what's to come. A life will hang in the balance as one of her own will unknowingly betray her trust. Aven is desperate to gain access to the portal home that only Alex can open, Alex will need to fight against the banished prince with the weight of both worlds now resting on her shoulders.

Kelly's Thoughts

Raelia is a wonderful edition to The Medoran Chronicles, engaging and delightfully surprising. The storyline resumes shortly after Akarnae, after coming close to losing her freedom at the hands of Aven. Now Alex is back with a vengeance, her training has increased in order to protect the institute and the portal that Aven is so desperate to find.

After the revelations of the first book in the series, Alex's character growth was immense. She's always been resilient, but has taken her place at the Akarnae in her stride and is relishing in her new found role as a protector of the library and the institution itself. Old characters and friends return, while readers are introduced to new characters in the mystical kingdom of Meya. I enjoyed seeing characters such as the dashing Kaiden and roommate in D.C become part of the core character group, with much stronger storylines and interactions with Alex, Bear and Jordan. 

One of the most appealing aspects of The Medoran Chronicles is the adventure. Comparable to the Harry Potter series, it appeals to young adult and mature middle grade readers as the storyline is morally uncomplicated and doesn't rely on a romance to develop characters or further the storyline. It's a breath of fresh air. I loved the attraction blooming between Kaiden and Alex and hoping the third book in the series explores a potential romance between the two. 

Once again Lynette Noni's writing is a mixture of sass and humour. The series is perfect for non fantasy reader such as myself as it offers a lighter take on the genre, making it easy for young teens to engage with and relate to well written and it's depth of characters. 

I love a well written villain and I need more Aven. Aven is mysterious, sinister and delicious. He's single minded in his determination to find the doorway back to Meya, where he is now the exiled prince. I needed him to ignite and his cunning surprised and delighted me, even as villainous as he's portrayed. Be warned, Raelia ends with a heart wrenching revelation. The fate of one character rests upon Alex and her strength to fight.

The Final Verdict

Raelia is an wonderful installment in The Medoran Chronicles. First time author Lynette Noni is a magnificent storyteller, crafting a beautifully written, engaging and enchanting new young adult series with a touch of Australian charm and warmth.

My only gripe is that all the characters seem to mumble. Speak clearly children.

See How They Run

May contain spoilers. See my review for All Fall Down

See How They Run Embassy Row Book Two
Written by Ally Carter
Contemporary, Mystery
Published in Australia February 2016
320 Pages
Thank you to Scholastic Australia
Add to Goodreads
Inside every secret, there's a world of trouble. Get ready for the second book in this new series of global proportions, from master of intrigue, New York Times bestselling author Ally Carter.

Grace's past has come back to hunt her... And if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

The twists get twistier and the turns get even more shocking in the second thrilling installment of Embassy Row.
It's been seven days since Grace was embroiled in an international scandal on Embassy Row, where she is now trying to come to terms with the revelation over her mother's death and the scarred man that has plagued her nightmares since as long as she can remember. Brother Jamie has now returned home from West Point and has brought a friend, fellow student and recruit Spence who is more than happy to watch over Gracie, especially now that Alexei has returned. 

After a show of male dominance, Spence's body turns up washed up on Embassy Row and Alexei becomes the main suspect. The volatile Russian Embassy want to turn Alexei over to the authorities in order to maintain peace, but through a series of whispered conversations, Alexei is guilty until proven innocent and justice for the young Russian will be at the hands of his demise.

But what Grace uncovers while proving Alexei's innocence will bring her world crashing down. Spence's death isn't an accident and what he may have stumbled upon will put all their lives at risk. A long standing myth and centuries of secrets will reveal the foundations Embassy Row is built upon.

Kelly's Thoughts

Ally Carter is amazing. Not only has she yet again crafted an incredible installment in the Embassy Row series, but has upped the ante with more action, more suspense and a shitload more intrigue and danger that will ensure readers are kept on the edge of their seats. Once again we're transported back to Embassy Row, where nations live in unity but tensions remain at an all time high. It follows Gracie, the granddaughter of the United States delegate who is still coming to terms with her mothers death and the hand she played in what she sees as destroying her family. It's no wonder older brother Jamie has returned home. I found it strange that in the midst of what is a setback to Grace's mental health, her brother would bring a friend to tag along. Spence was suspiciously protective of Grace, especially as Alexei returned to the Embassy and even came to blows with the Russian. He added nothing to the storyline, and felt as though he was trying to take advantage of Grace's emotional state, even if he wasn't entirely sure why she was so fragile.

I didn't like Spence. As a character or attempting to become a love interest and I'm not surprised at Jamie's rage. In See How They Run, Grace now has more secrets to unravel with the introduction of the history and mythology behind Embassy Row, which surprised me. Sadly it didn't elaborate on the mystery beyond a treasure in which a secret society of woman on Embassy Row vow to protect. I'm hoping the third installment will expand on the mythology rather than the focus being almost solely on Grace's well being.

Grace and Alexei have a strange relationship. Initially Jamie's best friend who was asked to keep an eye on Grace in her brothers absence, Alexei and Grace are both attracted to one another but neither willing to admit how they feel. The romance between the two is a little too slow burning. I can understand why given Grace's situation but it's still frustrating for readers of the series nonetheless. It's far too drawn out.

The Final Verdict

I love this series. It's so wonderfully written and Grace is such a likable and intriguing character who always manages to find herself embroiled in the politics of living on Embassy Row. It's an engaging, quick read that is impossible to put down. But be warned, Ally Carter is known for her cliffhangers and this one's a doozy.

Water's Wrath + Be a Character in Book Five!

May contain spoilers for books 1-3 of Air Awakens.

Water's Wrath
Air Awakens: Book Four 
Written by Elise Kova
Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Expected publication: April 26th 2016 by Silver Wing Press
350 pages
Thanks to Elise Kova for the ARC
Add to Goodreads
The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.

Vhalla has left the confines of the Solaris army and has now set off on her own. She finds herself on the crossroads; quite literally and metaphorically. For once in her life, Vhalla is free to make her own choices. Having separated from Prince Aldrik, she no longer finds herself under the reigns of the Emperor. However, she carries a sacred weapon alongside her. Achel, one of the last known crystal weapons known to man has come into her possession. It is her job to make sure the axe lands in the safe hands of Victor who runs the sorcerer's tower in the capital.

However, her past awaits her in the capital. To return home is to return to Aldrik, the very man who broke her heart. Her journey back will not be easy. Multiple foes will do everything in their power to make sure Vhalla never reaches the tower, even if it means killing the last Windwalker. Unbeknownst to Vhalla, her mission will be fraught with dangers from all sides. The people she trusts the most, may very well be the ones who mean her the most harm.

Kynndra's Thoughts

Having left the third book in the Air Awakens series feeling disappointed I was nervous coming into Water's Wrath. I had no idea where the story would be taken, or how the characters will have changed. That being said, I still quickly requested an ARC as I needed to know that the story I came to love still had some of that same magic that made me fall in love with it in the first place. I am so relieved and happy to report that Water's Wrath was in fact a improvement from its predecessor, Earth's End.

I still don't think it beat out books one and two, but it was still a great installment. I was strangely so happy to have Vhalla away from Aldrik for a huge chunk of the book. Don't get me wrong, I love these two. I ship them to Saturn and back. But in the third book I found them to be a bit much if you will, which in all honestly hurt my appreciation for the book. This way, we got to see Vhalla without her prince, therefore we got to experience her growth without it being overshadowed by frolicking and sweet promises. Sometime romance gets in the way of things, you know?

Vhalla did grow. She no longer feels like a girl to me, but a woman. No longer does she allow herself to be chained to the will of the Solaris Empire - nor be a pawn in anyone else's vendettas. It was so refreshing to see the Windwalker become something truly magnificent on her own. I think that was one of my favorite bits about this story is the molding that goes into not just the main characters, but also the secondary characters (which were largely relevant in this book). Fritz is one of my favorite characters, he's a Water sorcerer and idk their powers are kickass and just remind me of Avatar.

That being said, when Vhalla and Aldrik did meet up again, I was ecstatic to see the slow burn return. I really think book three was all gushy love. It really was. But Elise carved something touching this time around. The romance was frantic, alluring and dangerous. I found myself fangirling the hell out whenever Aldrik and Vhalla were near one another because it was forbidden. The chemistry was perfect and their dialogue actually fit. I loved it. I loved them so so much!

The plot was really alive and unpredictable. I could see a few things coming, but in a general sense I was blindsided by a few things. There's a few scenes in there that totally wrecked me. I got really choked up as Elise writes such fantastic interactions between her characters that it's impossible not to get attached. The only thing I have to say that poorly reflects upon Water's Wrath was that I think it was rushed. Especially the ending. I didn't like how it was all very convenient (shocking nonetheless) but I would have enjoyed a slower paced buildup to what happens in the end.

In Conclusion

I was pleasantly surprised and grateful that Water's Wrath returned to what I found so great about it. This is the fourth book in the series with only one more to go. There characters, the world and the plot are rich and done so well. If you're a fan of YA Fantasy with a sometimes heavy dash of romance then I can't recommend this series enough. I love how I can't imagine how this story will end. I cannot wait to see how Elise Kova closes off this magical channel of a world she has created in only a years' time.

Kynndra is not over Daredevil. She honestly just needs season 3 to see if her children (Frank and Karen) get together.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Frankie... Oh how I love thee

Written by Shivaun Plozza
Contemporary, Mystery
Published March 23rd 2016
320 Pages
Thank you to Penguin Teen Australia
Add to Goodreads
Frankie Vega is angry. Just ask the guy whose nose she broke. Or the cop investigating the burglary she witnessed, or her cheating ex boyfriend or her aunt who's tired of giving second chances...

When a kid shows up claiming to be Frankie's half brother, it opens the door to a past she doesn't want to remember. And when that kid goes missing, the only person willing to help is a boy with stupidly blue eyes... And secrets of his own.

Frankie's search for the truth could change her life, or cost her everything.
Textbook weapon wielding, sassy and smart mouthed. Meet the princess of Collingwood, seventeen year old Frankie Vega who finds herself on yet another suspension.

It's always been Frankie and her Aunt Vinnie against the world, having taken in then four year old Frankie after her mother had abandoned her. Now Frankie spends her days working in Vinnie's kebab shop, suspended over yet another violent outburst when she receives a call that will change her life.

Artistic, sarcastic and criminally minded fourteen year old Xavier is Frankie's half brother, sharing the same self absorbed mother tha abandoned her all those years ago. He now lives with his father in a small, run down suburban home while being beaten, neglected and forced into crime in order to make ends meet. Frankie knows all too well what it's like to be abandoned and despite her inability to trust others, she feels a familial connection to Xavier and the two half siblings form a tentative relationship. Then Xavier disappears.

While the search continues, Frankie's about to be expelled, her best friend refuses to speak to her and Vinnie no longer trusts her, yet again disappointing her aunt who has raised her as her own. With his father more concerned with his missing credit card funds and a gruff detective refusing investigate his disappearance, the last person to have seen Xavier is the blue eyed, petty criminal Nate. Reluctantly, Nate decides to help Frankie but as the two delve deeper into Xavier's disappearance, Frankie's will need to pick up the pieces of her fractured life or risk losing it all.

Kelly's Thoughts

Frankie is without a doubt, the most compelling debut in young adult since Stolen by Lucy Christopher. It's an utterly enchanting blend of attitude, sass and an engaging storyline as told through the eyes of one of the most likable protagonists in young adult today. Although she's always lived with the hurt of abandonment, Frankie is incredibly fierce and doesn't allow the failures of her mother to define her. She and aunt Vinnie live above Vinnie's kebab shop in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood, with an eclectic mix of diversity and crime. It's here that Frankie now finds herself working, having been suspended from school after another violent outburst, when she is contacted by Xavier claiming to be her half brother.

Xavier too has his own issues, the fourteen year old just having moved to Melbourne from Queensland with his abusive, gruff father. The very same man that Frankie's mother had abandoned her for all those years ago. Perhaps Xavier is the only person who may understand how Frankie is feeling but then Xavier vanishes. The local detectives see Xavier as just another runaway, the Vega name not worthy of their time so Frankie takes the investigation into her own hands and enlists the help of local neighbourhood burglar Nate. Possibly the only person to know of Xavier's whereabouts... Or who cares.

My heart ached for Frankie as she felt she had nowhere to turn for help. Vinnie, although such pillar of strength and support in Frankie's life, was tired of her antics. Suspended for a violent incident at school, to return Frankie is forced to plead her case. In between her therapy sessions with the infuriatingly passive Daniel, the only calming presence in Frankie's life is her best friend in Cara but lately their friendship is also at breaking point. Frankie's sole focus is that of finding her brother which means breaking curfew, disregarding Vinnie, school and visiting the seedy underbelly of the northern suburbs of Melbourne to find him. What struck me most was how genuine Frankie's character felt and realistically flawed.

The romance was barely there, but the attraction between Frankie and Nate was intense and dangerously sexy. Nate's character smoulders, but underneath his couldn't care less bravado lies a boy does what he can to survive, rather than just another petty thief. Although both were dealing with their own issues, they slowly begun to rely on one another for support and companionship.

The Final Verdict

Frankie is Melbourne. From the language, diversity to the uniqueness of the northern suburbs. During my teen years, these were my people. From the streets of Reservoir to Victoria Park, the Preston Market to the factory outlets along Smith Street Collingwood, it was so incredibly vivid and beautifully written with such an honesty of how fundamentally flawed life in general is.

Shivaun Plozza, you are a force to be reckoned with. Shivaun is an author who brings stories to life through her characters, her intensity and honesty. A remarkable debut from an author who captured me from the very first page.


Flawed Flawed Book One
Written by Cecelia Ahern
Dystopian, Young Adult
Published March 24th 2016
400 Pages
Thank you to Harper Collins Australia
Add to Goodreads
Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found Flawed.

In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.
Seventeen year old Celestine North is a vision of perfection. She's smart, beautiful, dating the handsome son of Judge Bosco, the head of the Guild and is the golden child of two parents who themselves promote an image of the perfect family. Since the Guild was introduced into a corrupt and morally unethical society, citizens who are less than perfect are branded as Flawed. The Flawed live among the community, but ostracised and abide by the rules of simple living in a life sentence they will never escape. Celestine has always followed the rules, until she's posed with her own moral dilemma and decides to aide an elderly Flawed citizen, a crime which may see her punished and branded.

Thrown into isolation, the media have caught wind of Celestine's case, the latest in a long line of questionable decisions of the Guild. Judge Bosco needs Celestine to defend her case, to insist she was merely protecting citizens against the Flawed by providing a misguided public service. But doing so will sentence an elderly, innocent man to his death, something Celestine must decide if she can live with on her conscious. Her decision made more difficult by her boyfriend Art who refuses to see her, and the strange young man being held in the next cell also awaiting his fate. Living her seventeen years of life as an exemplary member of society means very little if Celestine is branded and found to be Flawed.

Kelly's Thoughts

Following the storyline of Celestine, readers are introduced into a society that breeds perfection. Those deemed less than are branded as Flawed and made an example of. It reminded me of The Giver with that aspect, an introduction to dystopian without delving into intricate details. Celestine lives the perfect existence. She's intelligent, with a bright future and is dating her long time friend and son of Judge Bosco, the head of the Guild. Her only misdemeanor is her nightly rendezvous with Art, where the two teens sit atop the mountain and watch the world go by. It's her sister Juniper who has always had the rebellious streak, so when an elderly Flawed passenger on the bus needs assistance, it's Celestine who breaks the law and rushes to his side.

Reminiscent of the warfare between Katniss and President Snow, It's Judge Bosco who is facing an inquiry between his fellow members of the Guild who want to make an example of the seventeen year old. In order to ensure her freedom, Celestine will need to plead her innocence and sentence an already Flawed man to what may be an early death. The system of the Guild law is itself Flawed. Open to not only interpretation to suit each case but also to be abused by those in power and Celestine is about to discover what a dangerous game she's playing. Telling the truth means risking it all. Her relationship, her family, her status as a model citizen and faces the wrath of Bosco.

The barely there romance made little impact to the storyline, as Art lacked any real personality or character development. It was Carrick who was being held in the next cell who captured my attention. With little interaction, his character was far more interesting than Art and has already asserted himself as a possible love interest for Celestine. But it was the morality behind Flawed that captivated me. A panel of self appointed and wealthy citizens that decide the fate of those posed with moral dilemmas from crime, cheating on a partner to something as small as aiding a Flawed citizen to a chair as in Celestine's case and the corruption behind the kangaroo court method of justice.

The Final Verdict

Flawed was a great introduction to dystopian or for those who are hungry for a new and entertaining read that will sate your need for the genre. Apart from a few snippets of information exchanged between characters, the history of the Guild wasn't fully explored but hoping book two features greater world building than it's predecessor,

With a few minor issues, Cecelia Ahern has created a successful transition into the young adult genre. With more emphasis needed on world building and character depth, the Flawed series is a new and exciting series from a much loved adult author.


Thanks to Harper Collins,  Cecelia is sharing with readers her official playlist that inspired her while writing Flawed, book one in the Flawed series.

Look out for our upcoming Flawed prize pack giveaway with thanks to Harper Collins

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea
Written by Ruta Sepetys
Contemporary Standalone
Young Adult, Historical Fiction, War
Published February 2nd 2016 by Philomel Books
Add to Goodreads
Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.
War wages in the frozen front of Germany. Hitler has plagued the world with his radicalized ideals making the calmest countryside into something of nightmares. Thousands of refugees flee their homes and countries in hopes of boarding the Wilhelm Gustloff. A once vacationing ship has been turned into a makeshift hospital that is set to make a 48 hour journey to give wounded German soldiers a chance at survival, and to assist German women and children to safety.

Amongst those making the trek to the ship are Emilia, a young girl who has survived much. Florian, a German boy with a dangerous past. Joanna, a Lithuanian nurse who fled from her family and home. The shoe poet, an orphan boy, Ingrid - a blind girl and a grouchy giant of a women whom regards her belongings with the utmost care. This unlikely band of travelers will have to face much in order to reach the ship in time. They will have to rely on one another in order to make it through the darkest part of their lives. Even then, nothing is safe.

Kynndra's Thoughts

This book came heavily recommended by Nick and Nere over at Nick and Nereydas Infinite Booklist. I was nervous at first that I wouldn't enjoy it, I always have this irrational fear of hating books other people pledge their heart and soul on. Thankfully, Nick and Nere did not lead me astray. They led me to a book that was so much more than a story. It was real. This was something that happened. Sure, the characters may very well be fictional but the struggles they went through was everyday life for millions in Europe. I loved every page, and every second of this beautifully tragic book.

Ruta Sepetys was so very precise about how she wrote this book, and it shows. She paid homage to the truth, and did her homework before daring to write about such a huge, but vastly unknown event in our history. I'm not a veteran when it comes to Historical Fiction, it's actually a genre I've only dabbled in two to three times. All my experiences have been good. But Ruta has shown me with her brilliant writing that Historical Fiction is to be done right or not done at all. It's always lovely when you can tell when an author is passionate about what they're writing.

“The Wilhelm Gustloff was pregnant with lost souls conceived of war. They would crowd into her belly and she would give birth to their freedom.”

The form in which this book was written made a 390 page book feel more like 150. The chapters alternate between all four of our characters. Each of which is 2-3 pages max. I wasn't sure if I would like this at first, but it turns out I loved it. It certainly added a special flow to the pace and thrill of the events that took place. The plot, in this case unravelled and evolved with every page. It was a unique, and remarkable read that left me flipping pages faster than I care to admit. I found myself at 67% at one point, the next I was finished and a disgusting sobbing mess.

There was such care in developing our four main characters - and even moreso in our secondary characters. I felt invested in all of their stories, each had such a colorful way of coming to life. It didn't matter if they were good or bad. I felt all the emotions - especially with Emilia, and my personal favorites - the Shoe Poet and the boy with the one eared rabbit. Hah! I feel like such a dork having fallen in love with secondary characters. But believe me, if you ever have the pleasure of reading Salt to the Sea, this old man who's so keen about shoes will grab your heart strings and tug. I will probably always be inspecting peoples shoes from here on out.

In Conclusion

Salt to the Sea was such an unexpected treasure. It's going to remembered and renowned one day, I have no doubt about that. Ruta Sepetys wrote something meaningful. It taught me about the Wilhelm Gustloff, which prior to reading this book, I had no knowledge about. Not only that, but she created a story that captured humanity perfectly. She did not hide from reality which is what I think made this book so powerful. I'm a huge fan now, and genuinely recommend this to you all.

How do you even continue reading when you read something as good as this book?


Horrible Toxic Girls

Review may contain very mild spoilers

Beautiful Broken Things
Written by Sara Barnard
Contemporary, Abuse, Mature Themes
Published February 25th 2016
322 Pages
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
Add to Goodreads
I was brave. She was reckless. We were trouble.

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie, confident, funny and interesting.

Then Suzanne comes into their lives, beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne's past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.
Caddy sees her almost sixteen years of life as a bland existence, comparing herself to those around her. Her sister Tarin is vivacious, outgoing and full if life but it hasn't always been that way. Tarin has been diagnosed with bipolar. while Caddy's best friend Rosie's father walked out on his family and her mother had lost a child. Two significant life events that Caddy believes has shaped their lives, making both Tarin and Rosie more interesting. And then Suzanne arrives in town. 

Suzanne and Rosie soon become friends, while smart, dependable Caddy feels as though she's been left behind. It isn't long before jealously has Caddy asking questions, why did Suzanne move and why does she live with her aunt? Suzanne represents a life Caddy wants, to find a boyfriend, lose her virginity and experience a significant life event. But as she asserts herself into Suzanne's life and leaves best friend Rosie behind, nothing could prepare Caddy for all the ways her life is about to spiral out of control.

Kelly's Thoughts... Err Rant

I'm a strong advocate for female friendships being represented in young adult novels, but this isn't what I had in mind. Beautiful Broken Things irritated me and I feel this is one book focused on the female teen friendships that readers could have done without.

The storyline is told through the eyes of Caddy, a wealthy private school student who's only complaint is that her life isn't interesting and her school uniform is hideous. She has two parents who care for her, she wants for nothing but yet compares herself to her older sister Tarin who is bipolar and best friend Rosie, having lost her infant sister and her father walking out on his family shortly thereafter.
'They're just horrible things that happened Cads. They don't make me more interesting than you.' But the thing was, they did.
For a girl who's supposedly intelligent, I'm not buying her excuse for a storyline. She was vapid, but she made no effort whatsoever to change her circumstances up until then. She envied her best friend Rosie with a jealously that set the tone for Beautiful Broken Things, and the storyline went downhill from there.

Her goals were to find a boyfriend, lose her virginity and experience a significant life event. Apparently being validated by male attention makes life more interesting. Who knew. So when new girl Suzanne arrives at the local public school where Rosie attends, the claws come out as Caddy is now feeling as though she's the third wheel. I can understand why she felt as though she was on the outer, she and Rosie have been best friends for over ten years and the new girl has impacted on their friendship. But Suzanne was lovely, she made the effort to invite Caddy along with her and Rosie, even when Rosie seemingly seemed to drift away from Caddy in favour of the new and exciting Suzanne.

There's a reason why Suzanne moved away from her parental home and now lives with her aunt. She's the victim of family abuse and neglect and Caddy takes it upon herself to investigate Suzanne online. She uses information she found through a Facebook update as a trigger, perhaps to embarrass the teen or as an act of revenge towards the girl who she felt had replaced her. It was so incredibly cruel and was used as a turning point for Caddy and Suzanne to become friends.

The crux of the stoyyline was the toxic and enabled friendship between the three girls, but especially that between Caddy and Suzanne. I liked Suzanne's character. She was multilayered and complex but needed a positive peer influence in her life. Unfortunately Caddy was not that influence.

Rosie begun to distance herself from Suzanne's erratic behavior, just when she needed a support network more than ever. She wasn't above slut shaming Suzanne for what seemed to be a casual sexual relationship while Caddy seized the opportunity to enable Suzanne, seeing her as little more than a fast track to making her life more interesting. It's made clear that Suzanne is using her bravado to cover up that she's unwell. She's been through an incredible amount of abusive trauma at the hands of her parents and needed professional intervention. But Caddy was toxic, both in her manipulation and enabling of Suzanne to push her further. I can't remember having loathed a character as much as Caddy before.

It was well written, which is in no way a criticism of the author herself, it was the storyline which I found troublesome and painted teen girls as such a fickle, toxic and dangerous beings.

The Final Verdict

Beautiful Broken Things just annoyed me. I just didn't feel anything for the characters seeing the storyline through the eyes of Caddy. She felt like a self entitled girl who latched onto Suzanne because she had a preconceived notion of what Suzanne was, a girl who chases fun and freedom when in fact, she was a broken soul who'd suffered at the hands of abuse. It painted teen girls as fickle, toxic beings who are basically dysfunctional codependents. Caddy wasn't just an enabler, she became incredible self indulgent and used Suzanne because she was new, exciting and was a fast track to her own significant life event.

While I could relate to Suzanne's upbringing in so many ways, the storyline would have been far more engaging from her point of view. Caddy wasn't boring, but her character just felt incredibly judgemental and cruel. Even being outside of the demographic of the intended audience, it just left me feeling frustrated and lacked a learning curve I was hoping the characters would achieve.
© Diva Booknerd. Design by Fearne.