I'm FIVE! Welcome 2018

Twenty seventeen. The year where I can't remember anything.

Fifth blogaversary giveaway

I'm celebrating five years of blogging with a giveaway. Thank you to everyone who has followed, commented, engaged me on social media and recommended wonderful new reads.

Enter to win a book of choice. Winner will be chosen at random. For an Australian winner, your book of choice will be chosen from Booktopia. For an international winner, please ensure The Book Depository ships to your country. If you are under thirteen years of age, please ask parental consent before entering.

Click here to enter via Twitter.

The year that was in Australia

In Australia we were Googling how to make Beef Stroganoff, how to make slime and Sophie Monk was the most searched Australian on the internet. We wanted to read about Cyclone Debbie and North Korea, Harvey Weinstein and the Australian Open. We still have no idea what a Bitcoin is. The distracted boyfriend meme took social media by storm, mocking Sponge Bob mocked us and Meryl Streep continued to yell abuse. Parents continue to call their spawn Charlotte and Oliver and we're still watching The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

Women in their thousands shared their experiences of sexual abuse across social media using the #MeToo hashtag, while actors like Matt Damon insisted decent men deserve a parade for not sexually assaulting women. I hope to see #mattdamonisawanker trending shortly. Australia's disgrace continues to be the refugees of Manus Island and the neglect of asylum seekers. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre continue the tireless work towards human rights, join the conversation by using the hashtag #BringThemHere. We also continue to demand the government to change the day in which we celebrate Australia's colonisation by the British, resulting in the genocide of Indigenous Australians. Australian's, demand we #ChangeTheDate.

Politicians were resigning over the Citizenship debacle, Australian Conservative Cory Bernardi is an even bigger wanker than Matt Damon and Malcolm Turnbull thought it was a great idea to have the nation note on Marriage Equality. Australian's voted yes. Go fuck yourself Cory Barnardi. Victoria is the first state to legalise Euthanasia. Magda Szubanski is the darling of Australia for her tireless work throughout the LGBTTQQIAAP community. Currently researching if we can elect a member to parliament without their knowledge.

Australia was listening to Ed Sheeran. Beauty and The Beast was the highest grossing film. Richmond are the AFL premiers, Melbourne Storm won the NRL grand final, Rekindling won the Melbourne Cup. Isaiah Firebrace represented Australia at Eurovision. Yeah, we don't know why we're there either. I also surpassed half a million views. Totally bitching.

And we read!

Favourite #LoveOzYA reads

My Review
My Review
My Review

My Review
My Review
My Review

Favourite Contemporaries

My Review
My Review
My Review

Favourite middle grade reads

My Review
My Review
My Review

Favourite fantasy

My Review
My Review
My Review

Most anticipated



Cover reveals

My twenty eighteen goals

I'll live in the moment and blog whenever I damn well want to.

The Last Days Of Us

The Last Days of Us
Written by Beck Nicholas
Contemporary, Romance, #LoveOzYA
288 Pages
Published December 18th 2017
Thank you to Harlequin Australia and Netgalley
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Six months ago, Zoey’s life went off the rails. After the tragic loss of her brother, she partied her way to oblivion, estranged her best friend, Cass, and pushed away her now ex, Finn. But when her destructive behaviour reaches dangerous heights, Zoey realises she needs to pull herself together and get her old life back, including her ex. There’s just one complication, Finn is now dating Cass.

Now, it’s the last week of summer and Zoey, Cass and Finn are setting out on the road trip of a lifetime to see their favourite musician, Gray, perform live, joined by Finn’s infuriatingly attractive bad boy cousin Luc and his vibrant younger sister Jolie. Zoey thinks this is her chance to put things to rights and convince Finn they should get back together. But she wasn’t counting on her friends’ lingering resentment, Luc’s disarming sincerity, and Jolie’s infectious love for life to turn her plans upside down.
Sixteen year old Zoey is embarking on a journey of reflection and discovery, attending a performance in Melbourne and accompanied by her best friend and former boyfriend. After her brother Daniel passed away, her relationships dissolved as Zoey medicated with a destructive concoction of alcohol and isolation. Although remorseful, Zoe is courageous to concede and apologise for her behaviour, she continued to endure the relationship of friend and former boyfriend Finn. Two important figures in her life seeking solace in one another, rather than support Zoey.

Accompanying them on the journey is Lucien and Jolie, siblings and cousins of Finn. A stoic young man and reluctant passenger, Lucien appears menacing while Jolie is a vivacious and effervescent fifteen year old. Zoey is attracted to Lucien. He's attentive and paternal but with no regards for her best friend, Zoey is determined to rekindle her relationship with Ryan.

I despised Ryan and his girlfriend. Zoey was intoxicated and allegedly discovered with a young man and consequently, this excused her friend and boyfriend from their behaviour. The narrative circumvents the discussion of consent and Zoey is criticised by her friend for her sexuality, implying she's promiscuous. I found the relationship between Zoey, Finn and his girlfriend noxious as Zoey endeavours to reestablish her relationship with Finn. It explores adolescent relationships and deception. Although Zoey is distressed, she attempts to manipulate Finn into a new relationship. Her friend is barely present, a character only existing to aggravate Zoey and create a point of melodrama within the narrative. She spends the entire journey either unsociable or being offensive.

Lucien is a compassionate young man and I enjoyed his gentle and familial relationship with Jolie who is spontaneous and charismatic, her enthusiasm and vitality is infectious. I'm disappointed the narration focalised Zoey when Jolie could have offered a pragmatic perspective. I applaud Zoey's character for reflecting on her behaviour but pursuing Finn was uncomfortable. Zoey's resentment of the relationship between Lucien and Jolie was exhausting as she continuously compared her relationship with Daniel.

The essence of The Last Days of Us is spontaneity, absolution and adversity. Unfortunately it's melodramatic, monotonous and not for me.


Unearthed Book One
Written by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Science Fiction, Aliens, Romance, #LoveOzYA
352 Pages
Published December 2017
Thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia
Recommended retail price $19.99
Add to Goodreads
We are the last of our kind. We will not fade into the dark. We will tell our story to the stars, we will be Undying.

When Earth intercepts a message from a long extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo massive environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, the Undying's former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... As long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first.

Despite their opposing reasons for smuggling themselves onto the alien planet's surface, they're both desperate to uncover the riches hidden in the Undying temples. Beset by rival scavenger gangs, Jules and Amelia form a fragile alliance... But both are keeping secrets that make trust nearly impossible. As they race to decode the ancient messages left by the alien race, Jules and Amelia must navigate the traps and trials within the Undying temple and stay one step ahead of the scavvers on their heels. They came to Gaia certain that they had far more to fear from their fellow humans than the ancient beings whose mysteries they're trying to unravel.

But the more they learn about the Undying, the more Jules and Amelia start to feel like their presence in the temple is part of a grand design, one that could spell the end of the human race..
The Earth is no longer environmentally sustainable, humanity has depleted nonrenewable resources, communities abandoned and surviving through impoverished environments. The Undying are a former ancient archaic civilisation of Gaia, a technologically advanced species in distress. Gaia is now an abandoned and desolate planet, archaeologists believing the survival of Earth depends upon Gaia and the Undying technology. 

Amelia Radcliffe is an illegal scavenger upon the surface of Gaia, an unauthorised visitor exploring the ancient temples of the Undying for artefacts to be illicitly traded by her benefactor. Amelia is an intelligent and perceptive young woman who appears invincible, her vulnerability and compassion compelled by the freedom of her enslaved sister.

The expedition on Gaia is an opportunity for Jules Addison to explore the temples of the Undying, journeying to the sacred ruins. His father once a world renowned xenoarchaeologist now imprisoned and accused of sabotage. Seventeen year old Jules will continue his father's vocation from the temples of Gaia, determined to decipher the concealed message within the distress signal. Jules is overwhelmed by the magnitude of Gaia and proposes an alliance. Amelia will assist Jules in reaching the temple and consequently, Jules will appraise ancient Undying artefacts despite his disdain. Neither anticipated company.

On their delightfully adventurous escapade, Amelia and Jules collaborate to decipher the mysteries of the Undying, each temple chamber challenging the young explorers while avoiding capture. Although Gaia was ambiguous, the Undying temples and hieroglyphic language were elaborately illustrated. Characteristically, the romantic elements are incredibly charming, still allowing both Amelia and Jules to flourish as individuals and I also enjoyed the subtle reference to the Starbound Trilogy and the Gaia hypothesis. 

Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mallee Boys

Mallee Boys
Written by Charlie Archbold
Contemporary, Coming Of Age, #LoveOzYA
205 Pages
Published September 2017
Thank you to Wakefield Press
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Sometimes I feel like I'm neither one thing nor another. I live in the Mallee but I don't like the desert. I live on a farm but I get hay fever and I'm scared of goats. I like school but my best mates don't.

Sandy Douglas knows that life at fifteen is hard, but it's even harder when your mother died a year ago and nothing's gone right since. Sandy's brother Red, on the other hand, is eighteen now and working the farm. He's amped up on rage and always looking for a fight. And then there's their dad Tom. He does his best, but really, he doesn't have a clue.

As Sandy and Red deal with girls, dirt biking, footy and friendship, both boys have to work out who they want to be, without their mum around. The Mallee, where they live, may seem like the middle of nowhere, but it turns out this is going to be one hell of a year.
As the dust blows through the arid Mellee district, fifteen year old Sandy Douglas contemplates life beyond the farm. Eighteen year old Josh labours alongside their father, a widowed man providing for his family through adversity.

Deliberating his education and applying for scholarships to boarding schools in Adelaide, Sandy is an academic, an intelligent and sensitive young man burdened by the loss of his mother, his humility and sensitivity is nurtured by his father. Tom Douglas is a wonderful character and although the narrative centralises Sandy and Josh, their father is a prominent and affirming parent. Their relationship although occasionally turbulent, is tender and compassionate. A wonderful illustration of a father encouraging his children to become emotionally expressive rather than the patriarchal dominance of masculinity.

Since her passing, Josh has become destructive and argumentative, preferring the company of Ryan despite his father's disapproval. Josh is a character of contrasts. Although he appears resilient, he carries the burden of believing his mother's accident is his responsibility, manifesting as destructive behaviour. We also experience the societal expectations placed upon young men, in particular emotional expectations. Josh is argumentative and irate, resenting Sandy's achievements. Underneath his stoic facade, Josh is a young man grieving for his mother alone.

The Australian agricultural community of The Mallee is atmospheric and Charlie Archbold is an exceptional debut author. A dedication to rural communities throughout our sunburnt country. 

In The Dark Spaces

In The Dark Spaces
Written by Cally Black
Science Fiction, Aliens, #LoveOzYA
320 Pages
Published August 1st 2017
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont
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The latest winner of the Ampersand Prize is a genre smashing hostage drama about fourteen year old Tamara, who's faced with an impossible choice when she falls for her kidnappers. Yet this is no ordinary kidnapping.

Tamara has been living on a star freighter in deep space, and her kidnappers are terrifying Crowpeople, the only aliens humanity has ever encountered. No one has ever survived a Crowpeople attack, until now and Tamara must use everything she has just to stay alive. But survival always comes at a price, and there’s no handbook for this hostage crisis.

As Tamara comes to know the Crowpeople's way of life, and the threats they face from humanity's exploration into deep space, she realises she has an impossible choice to make. Should she stay as the only human among the Crows, knowing she'll never see her family again or inevitably betray her new community if she wants to escape?
Tamara Situ converses in hushed whispers, treading lightly across the confined compartment on board the Starweaver Layla. A merchant vessel transporting minerals for the Starweaver Corporation. Although orphaned, Tamara is cared for by Lazella on board the vessel illegally. Tamara is a wonderfully gentle and compassionate young woman, isolated through circumstances and communicates by whispering and facial expressions. Tamara and Tamiki are unauthorised passengers hiding within the shadows as the vessel is commandeered by the Garuwa. The citizen of the Starweaver Layla have been massacred and although Tamiki is concealed and remains on board, Tamara has been captured, presumed incapable and submissive.

The Garuwa are a convoluted species populating interstellar space on conscious vessels requiring minerals to survive, resident to thousands of warrior Garuwa prepared to defend their populace. Humans are a necessary carnage as the Starweaver Corporation vessels are commandeered and pillaged. Tamara is being held captive and begins to assimilate, emulating the intricate language of whistles and forging friendships within the female species.

Living in isolation, Tamara has never experienced a sense of community beyond observing those on board the Starweaver Layla through the ventilation system. Her relationship with Lazella is maternal and tender, providing Tamara with comfort after the loss of her parents. Tamiki is a perceptive young boy, gentle and understanding the importance of quiet whispers. Throughout her narration, Tamara's distress is palpable as Tamiki remains on board the desolate vessel. I admired Tamara's intelligence and determination to survive. Her compassion allows her to recognise that although the Garuwa appear hostile, the species embrace Tamara as a member of their community. A wonderful illustration of inclusion.

In The Dark Spaces obscures the boundaries of morality, humans and Garuwa have created a hostile environment and interspecies conflict. It also explores colonisation and the mining of resources, a reference to the aggressive infringement on Indigenous land. An ingenious, introspective and remarkable young adult debut. 

Ballad For A Mad Girl

Ballad For A Mad Girl
Written by Vikki Wakefield
Contemporary, Mystery, Paranormal, #LoveOzYA
309 Pages
Published May 2017
Published by Text Publishing
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Everyone knows seventeen year old Grace Foley is a bit mad. She’s a prankster and a risk taker, and she’s not afraid of anything, except losing. As part of the long running feud between two local schools in Swanston, Grace accepts a challenge to walk the pipe.

That night she experiences something she can’t explain. The funny girl isn’t laughing anymore. She’s haunted by voices and visions, but nobody believes a girl who cries wolf.

As she’s drawn deeper into a twenty year old mystery surrounding missing girl Hannah Holt, the thin veil between this world and the next begins to slip. She can no longer tell what’s real or imagined, all she knows is the ghosts of Swanston, including that of her own mother, are restless. It seems one of them has granted her an extraordinary gift at a terrible price.

Everything about her is changing, her body, her thoughts, even her actions seem to belong to a stranger. Grace is losing herself, and her friends don’t understand. Is she moving closer to the truth? Or is she heading for madness?
Grace Foley is an adventurer, creating mischief and mayhem in the rural town of Swanston while continuing to endure the loss of her mother, the causality of a pedestrian accident. Swanston is acquainted with despair when Hannah Holt disappeared over twenty years ago, a presumed casualty of local teen William Dean who was then ostracised from the Swanston community, committing suicide and plunging from the quarry. Now Swanston adolescents are descending on the abandoned quarry including seventeen year old Grace. A night of frivolity is interrupted as Grace begins to hallucinate.

At home Grace is barely surviving, her father and brother Cody continue to mourn while Grace is increasingly isolated. Best friend Kenzie has become estranged and tiring of Grace and her antics, preferring the company of boyfriend Mitchell. While her friends have matured, frustratingly Grace believes they have abandoned her, except for her delightfully freeloading friend Gummer. Her terror is palpable as Grace begins to experience an apparition, believing Hannah Holt has materialised seeing Hannah's body has never been found. Authorities believe William Dean's unrequited love for Hannah lead to the young woman's demise, fascinating and incredibly disturbing.

Grace is an unreliable narrator compensating for her anguish with exhilaration. As children, Grace created bilateral friendships with other remnant children, those who were ostracised. On the verge of becoming adults, Grace displays an incredible amount of resentment especially towards best friend Kenzie, her relationship with Mitchell and popular friend Amber. Although Grace often appears conceited and obnoxious, Kenzie had already begun to distance herself from Grace's destructive behaviour. The circumstances of Hannah Holt and William Dean are sobering for Grace as she withstands an incredible character transformation.

Ballad For A Mad Girl may become a point of contention for readers, is Grace psychologically unwell or spiritual, a contemporary novel or paranormal. Determined by the disposition of the reader. Vikki Wakefield is a formidable author, the ambiguous narrative is intriguing and captivating. Absolutely phenomenal.

Stalking Jack The Ripper Series

Stalking Jack The Ripper
Stalking Jack The Ripper Book One
Written by Kerri Maniscalco
Historical Fiction, Mystery, Horror
352 Pages
Published October 2016
Available from Hachette Australia
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Seventeen year old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
A victim is found in East London, a commoner woman and sex worker dissected by the perpetrator. Prohibited by her widowed father and reluctantly encouraged by sibling Jonathan, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has an inquisitive perception for forensic science and investigation, assisting her father's estranged brother Jonathon to analyse and preserve evidence, dissecting cadavers to determine the cause of death.

Audrey Rose is a determined, tenacious young woman redefining societal gender roles during the Victorian London period. Since her mother passed, her widowed father is distant, preoccupied and believes son Jonathon is responsible for Audrey Rose in his absence. As the daughter of Lord Wadsworth, Audrey Rose is a character of contrasts. Inquisitive and courageous in the pursuant of forensic science although remaining feminine and aristocratic. Unconventional in young adult literature and wonderfully distinctive. 

Thomas Cresswell is a student of forensic science and protege of Uncle Jonathon. An intelligent scoundrel investigating the infamous Leather Apron homicides. Thomas is a handsome, charismatic character and although enigmatic, is conscientious and perceptive. Beneath his mischievous disposition, Thomas encourages Audrey Rose and considers the seventeen year old his equal.

Thomas incites discussion and reasoning as the two investigate the slain sex workers, Audrey Rose is confronted by the gratuitous violence against women and compelled in the pursuit of justice. The narrative also explores the relationship between Audrey Rose and her father Lord Wadsworth, widowed and estranged from his brother. Although Audrey Rose strives for his approval, her father forbades her pursuant of forensic science. Victorian East London is exquisite and atmospheric, societal women accustomed to traditional decorum although the modernist feministic philosophy of Audrey Rose is inspirational.

Stalking Jack The Ripper is a remarkable and meticulous narrative, extraordinary and captivating.

Hunting Prince Dracula
Stalking Jack The Ripper Book Two
Written by Kerri Maniscalco
Historical Fiction, Mystery, Horror
320 Pages
Published October 2017
Available from Hachette Australia
Add to Goodreads
Bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer... Or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine... And to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.
The snow falls softly in Bucharest as the carriage journey reaches Institutului Național de Criminalistică și Medicană Legală, the Academy of Forensic Medicine and Science in Romania. The prestigious program is discerning and only permits astute, ingenious scholars from Europe and abroad. The villagers of Brașov are speculating the return of the Prince of Wallachia as mortal remains are discovered, the institute castle once home to The Prince of Darkness and a region immersed in Strigoi mythology.

Audrey Rose continues to endure traumatic distress often hallucinating, the remnants of her East London experience. The Romanian school of Forensic Medicine and Science suggests no reprieve as Audrey Rose and Thomas observe a young man slain before arriving at the prestigious institute. The ritualistic slaughter continues as victims are exsanguinated and brought to the institute for a postmortem examination to determine the cause of death.

Once again Audrey Rose is challenged by the male dominated environment, headmaster Moldoveanu a misogynistic, authoritarian man and warden to a charming young woman who is lodging at the institute during the winter. Anastasia provides Audrey Rose with companionship and along with chambermaid Ileana, begin a tentative and supportive friendship. Throughout the narration, mental wellness is a point of contention for Audrey Rose and Thomas, impacting their friendship as Thomas undermines Audrey Rose and her capacity at the institute. Thomas often contends with self impassiveness, preserving his sensitivity but in Hunting Prince Dracula, Thomas begins to dismantle those barriers.

Inspired by Romanian folklore and The Impaler, Hunting Prince Dracula is wonderfully composed, opulent and theatrical. Kerri Maniscalco is a remarkable author, grandiose and accomplished.

This Mortal Coil

This Mortal Coil
This Mortal Coil Book One
Written by Emily Suvada
Science Fiction, Dystopian
448 Pages
Thank you to Penguin Teen Australia
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When a lone soldier, Cole, arrives with news of Lachlan Agatta's death, all hope seems lost for Catarina. Her father was the world's leading geneticist, and humanity's best hope of beating a devastating virus.

Then, hidden beneath Cole's genehacked enhancements she finds a message of hope.

Lachlan created a vaccine.

Only she can find and decrypt it, if she can unravel the clues he left for her. The closer she gets, the more she finds herself at risk from Cartaxus, a shadowy organization with a stranglehold on the world's genetic tech. But it's too late to turn back.

There are three billion lives at stake, two people who can save them, and one final secret that Cat must unlock. A secret that will change everything.
The earth is a desolate wasteland, a virus decimating humanity, survivors abandoned to starvation. Catarina Agatta is a survivor. Catarina is the seventeen year old daughter of the renowned geneticist Lachlan Agatta, a magnate and former Cartaxus programmer and genetic engineer, now recaptured along with his assistant to manufacture an antidote.

Catarina has survived within the isolated Black Hills, a resourceful young woman evading Cartaxus capture. At birth, humans are implanted with advanced technology to allow gene manipulation, applications are downloaded to enhance humans physically, cognitively and aesthetically. Diagnosed with Hypergenesis, Catarina remains genetically unenhanced, relying upon her intellect and perception to survive. As the pandemic escalates, thousands shelter in underground communities, sacrificing their freedom to Cartaxus.

Although an agent of Cartaxus and a young man with enhanced abilities, disciplined in warfare, Lieutenant Cole Franklin has been assigned to protect Catarina after an explosion at the Cartaxus laboratory claimed her father and the vaccine. Humanity will depend on Catarina.

The essence of This Mortal Coil is genetic manipulation and biotechnology, developed by Lachlan Agatta and administered to infants as nanotechnology. It allows programmers to create applications that download directly into the body, collaborating with our human genetics. Cartaxus monopolises the genetic applications, abandoning and denying survivors essential health enhancements. The airborne virus infects healthy humans, accelerating before causalities detonate, bodies vaporising into a contagious, airborne cloud. Survivors can inoculate themselves by consuming the flesh of those infected, ensuring their immediate survival but Catarina is determined to preserve her humanity. The scientific elements are surprisingly uncomplicated and woven throughout the narration, rather than overhwleming expositions.

Catarina's relationship with her father Lachlan is portrayed as distant and indifferent, a young woman pursuing approval. Catarina begins a tentative relationship with Lachlan's assistant, a conventional young man who also appeared manipulative and egotistical. Their relationship seemed little more than based on convenience and no genuine connection between the two other than her father.

Catarina reluctantly establishes a companionship with Cole and I enjoyed their interactions. The attraction between the two is undeniable but Cole is preoccupied with the former Cartaxus programmer, the mysterious Jun Bei. Catarina is physically malnourished, she refuses to allow Cole to become her saviour and appreciated that although intellectually superior, is never pretentious or conceited.

Oh and those plot twists. Surprised eyebrows for days.

This Mortal Coil is an intelligent, captivating and atmospheric science fiction dystopian. Absolutely phenomenal.

Contemporary Quickies

Written by Sarah Crossan
Verse, Contemporary, Mature Themes
400 Pages
Published September 7th 2017
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Add to Goodreads
They think I hurt someone.
But I didn't. You hear?
Coz people are gonna be telling you
all kinds of lies.
I need you to know the truth.

Joe hasn't seen his brother for ten years, and it's for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row.

But now Ed's execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think...
Edward Moon was coerced to sign a confession of homicide at seventeen years of age, legally binding and convicting the innocent young man. Moonrise is a poignant and provoking narrative of seventeen year old Joseph Moon and his brother who is scheduled to be executed in Kirkland Texas.

As children, Edward, Angela and Joseph were often neglected, their mother a verbally abusive alcoholic. Parental responsibilities are entrusted to Karen, their mother's single, Christian sister. At seventeen years of age, Edward escaped the confines of their regimented home only to be incarcerated for the death of a police officer. Edward's execution has been scheduled and despite Karen's disapproval, Joseph begins his journey to farewell his brother. The narrative is incredibly distressing as the responsibility is placed upon Joseph, temporarily living within the decrepit Kirkland motel, abandoned by Karen and Angela. 

Capital punishment is a contentious discussion, sanctioned throughout the United States although abolished in Australia. Intense and confronting, the nonlinear narrative explores the familial relationship between siblings. Edward has been imprisoned for ten years and estranged from his siblings and with their mother absent, Karen has denied Angela and Joseph access to their brother.  

Sarah Crossan is a monumental storyteller and with so few words is, able to captivate and immerse readers. Tragically, poignantly beautiful.

The Start of Me and You
Written by Emery Lord
Contemporary, Romance, Friendship
416 Pages
Edition Published September 2017
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it's never too late for second chances.

It's been a year since it happened, when Paige Hancock's first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school and she has a plan. First, get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her, the perfect way to convince everyone she's back to normal. Next, join a club simple, it's high school after all. But when Ryan's sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team, her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?
In the small town of Oakhurst Indiana, Paige Hancock is defined by her relationship with Aaron Rosenthal and the memory of the young, vibrant man. Paige is an intelligent young woman and aspiring screen writer, encouraged by her family and friends to create new memories once more. Paige's sorrow was portrayed wonderfully and meticulously with compassion as she bravely begins to immerse herself in new experiences, reprising her infatuation with athlete Ryan Chase and participating in extracurricular activities.

Captain of the interschool quiz challenge and science fiction aficionado, Max Watson is a compassionate and endearing young man, his tentative friendship with Paige, captivating. Although suggesting a whirlwind romance, the essence of The Start of Me and You is friendship. Paige has a remarkable company of friends, creating a wonderful dynamic between characters. I also appreciated the inclusion of the Hancock family, a reoccurring theme in Emery Lord novels while so many young adult authors neglect parental influence.

Emery Lord is a prolific contemporary young adult author, creating charismatic characters with compassion and endearment.

The Wonderling

The Wonderling
The Wonderling Book One
Written by Mira Bartok
Middle Grade, Fantasy
464 Pages
Published October 1st 2017
Thank you to Walker Books Australia
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Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent hearted, one eared, fox like eleven year old with only a number rather than a proper name, a Thirteen etched on a medallion around his neck, it is the only home he has ever known.

But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home's loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts. A real name, Arthur, like the good king in the old stories and a best friend. Using Trinket's ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur's true destiny.
Miss Carbunkles Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures is an austere orphanage, Groundling children restrained within the oppressive, debilitated compound, labouring for their survival. Number Thirteen is a misbegotten, lonely, one eared Foxling, gallant and courageous as he encounters a small, flightless feathered friend. Trinket is an wondrous inventor, sharing stories of fantastical worlds of knights and kingdoms, declaring Thirteen shall now be known as Arthur for his bravery, the little Foxling destined for valiancy.
And in his sleep he began to form a song from their sorrow. But he had far to go before he would sing it.

Eleven year old Arthur is a delicate and compassionate young Foxling, a discarded orphan at the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures. Unbeknownst to Arthur, destiny awaits. Arthur and Trinket are wonderful companions. With a key, an address, a blanket fragment and a bygone lullaby, Arthur and his feathered companion embark on an adventure to fantastical worlds, on a journey of self discovery.

Miss Carbunkle is a tyrannical, callous woman, her blundering assistant Mister Sneezeweed, a snivelling, loathsome man. As Arthur discovers a world brimming with vibrancy, the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures remains silent, melodies as forbidden as imagination is prohibited. Miss Carbunkle has devious intentions. Beyond the orphanage compound is a malevolent world of privilege and poverty, Groundlings are considered insignificant and segregated. 
Arthur's heart ached. But it wasn't that he was terribly sad. It just simply ached, as if it were too full and the contents had nowhere to go.

Along their journey, Arthur and Trinket discover stupendous characters before separating, namely forest dweller Pinecone and his family. As Trinket visits her tinkering Uncle, Arthur traverses the Great White City of Lumentown, a city of contrasts and castes, only to discover Quintus, a pilfering rodent who guides Arthur on his journey. Pevill is magnificent, an astute little mouse, thespian and poet. The essence of The Wonderling is acceptance and belonging, emphasising the need for compassion. A breathtaking and atmospheric middle grade adventure, exquisite and captivating until the final page.

#LoveOzYABloggers 009: Spring Reads

#LoveOzYABloggers is hosted by #LoveOzYA, a community led organisation dedicated to promoting Australian young adult literature. Keep up to date with all new Aussie YA releases with their monthly newsletter, or find out what’s happening with NewsEvents or submit your own!

My Spring Reading List

The next #LoveOzYABloggers prompt is Maps

Girlish: Teen Feminism and Empowerment

Written by Alana Wulff
Feminism, Interactive, Informative
180 Pages
Published October 30th 2017
Thank you to Nero and Black Inc Books
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Being a girl freakin’ rocks! But despite all the opportunities available to girls today, the fight for equality and self esteem continues. Filled with information, inspiration, truth bombs and surprises, Girlish is a fun filled self led discovery course in feminism for teenage girls.

Embracing all the beauty, chaos, hope and frustration of being a girl in the twenty first century, Girlish encourages the reader to celebrate who they are, define their values and have fun along the way.

With a playful design, illustrations by Frances Cannon, and featuring quotes from inspiring women from all walks of life, such as Michelle Obama, Amy Poehler, Roxane Gay and Lorde, Girlish is the perfect gift for any teenage girl.
An interactive celebration of inspirational women, activists, feminists and intersectionality through education and empowerment.
Dedicated to the loud and proud members of an ever growing and on going movement against inequality, sexism and oppression. Girls, you are seen and you are heard. And you are awesome.
During our adolescent years can be disenfranchising and empowering as a female. Young women are acclimatising to their environments and discovering who they are as young women, their sexuality, appearance and demeanour.

Female popular culture icons Beyoncé Knowles Carter and Demi Lovato, inspirational women Emma Watson, Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou and activists Malala Yousafzai reinforce intersectionally and the protection of transgender, queer and females of colour by reiterating the importance of language and communication. Exploring the advancement of feminism from suffrage, libation, white feminism to contemporary gender equality and the inclusion of intersectionality.
Throughout history, women of all ages, races and religions have fiercely battled against inequality and discrimination. They gave their blood, sweat and tears for the rights of women to vote, work, own land, run companies and do what we want with our bodies. For the right to make our own choices about our lives. 

Featuring Australian women of influence, politicians, Indigenous Australian women and female athletes, it encourages young women to create resolutions, to challenge preconceptions and stereotypes thorough interactive activities, also touching upon the male role in supporting women.

Girlish is an empowered and wonderfully composed interactive experience for young women. 

This Is Where It Ends

This Is Where It Ends
Written by Marieke Nijkamp
Contemporary, Violence, Realistic Fiction
304 Pages
International Edition Published May 2017
Thank you to New South Books
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10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
In Opportunity Alabama a rifle echoes throughout the auditorium, the silhouette of Tyler Browne is a solitary figure amidst the anarchy. Firearms legislation is a precarious discussion within the United States, in the aftermath of domestic terrorism and This Is Where It Ends explores similar themes.

Tyler and Autumn Browne lost their mother to road trauma, their grieving father a physically abusive alcoholic. Autumn intends to emulate her mother, an acclaimed dancer. Defying her father, Autumn aspires to attend Juilliard, escaping Opportunity and leaving Tyler behind. Tyler is volatile, despising Autumn's relationship with Sylvia and accusing Sylvia of manipulation, both present within the auditorium.

And I know the auditorium may be big enough to hold a thousand students, but it's too small to hide just one.

The reticulated narratives were captivating, illustrating the experiences of Autumn and Slyvia within the auditorium, Tyler's former girlfriend and athlete Claire and Sylvia's brother Tomás. Claire's younger sibling is inside the auditorium. As a child, Matt was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease which now requires a walking aid. Tomás and Fareed are incredibly courageous. Outside of the auditorium, the young men call emergency services while the onslaught continues behind the barricaded entrances.

Together we could be so strong, but the gun has made us individuals.

Firearms statistics are disquieting in the United States, caucasian domestic terrorists often portrayed as misunderstood or mentally unwell. Tyler Browne felt one dimensional. The narrative theorises possible motives based on Autumn, Sylvia, Claire and Tomás with no singular reasoning behind why Tyler had chosen to seek revenge other than feeling abandoned. Tyler's character is without a perspective, which I partially appreciated as the narrative of This Is Where It Ends centralises the story of survivors and lives lost to firearm violence but disappointed the physiological aspects weren't explored.

Autumn, Sylvia, Tomás and Claire are indistinctive and share similar emotional responses. Anxious although resolute to become the heroic saviour. Fareed is an interesting character who may have offered a differing perspective and the Spanish exclamations a little cliché.

Although monochromatic, This Is Where It Ends is a confronting narrative and a compelling read.

Moxie: Girls Fight Back!

Written by Jennifer Mathieu
Feminism, Contemporary
340 Pages
Published September 26th 2017
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv's mum was a tough as nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the nineties, and now Viv takes a page from her mother's past and creates Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She's just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and spread the Moxie message. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.
In the small maritime southern town, the young women of East Rockport are exasperated by the contrasting principles enforced by the teaching facility. Blatant chauvinism and discrimination, young women withstanding abuse within the misogynistic environment. Sixteen year old Vivian Carter is appalled and inspired by the misspent youth of her mother, creating a feminist zine to empower young women.

Enduring blatant sexism and prejudice, institutionalised and commonplace within the small coastal community. Vivian is an exemplary young woman, compassionate, intelligent and captivated by her mother and her rambunctious youth where feminism redefined as intersectional feminism, the inclusion of multiracial, sexually and gender diverse alliances between women.

And it's not just one type of girl but all kinds. Jocks and loud girls and girls on the yearbook and quiet girls and black girls and white girls and brown girls.

Male athletes are immortalised by the East Rockport community, patriarchal masculinity unchallenged while young men wear sexist, sexually offensive slogans, ridiculing defamation and sexual assault. Unaccountable for their behaviour. Furthermore to feminist ideals and gender equality, the young women of East Rockport are sexually assaulted and considered entertainment, groped, molested and male behaviour absolved. Mitchell Wilson is a misogynistic chauvinist and absolutely infuriating.

Please remember that when you get dressed in the morning, you're coming to a learning environment, and we expect you to be dressed as a student, not a distraction.

Moxie is a clandestinely published feminist zine created to encourage the empowerment and solidarity of young women. Discovering feminism and gender equality is a journey, arising from chauvinism and prejudice. Friend Lucy is a passionate young woman who is outspoken and vehement while Claudia is restrained and hesitant, contrasting Latin American characters. Claudia's initial reluctance encouraged confronting but considerate discussions on what constitutes sexism. Love interest Seth Acosta participates in the promotion of Moxie principals but is a subdued advocate for gender equality. His character felt insignificant but I appreciated his support and encouragement of Vivian. The diversity of characters also includes multiracial and same sex female relationships.

Moxie promotes feminism, advocating for equality in a patriarchal dominated environment by challenging ideals, provoking discussion and igniting passion. Inspiring, vehement and confident.

If you enjoyed Moxie you may also enjoy

Now I Rise

See my review for And I Darken

Now I Rise
The Conqueror's Saga Book Two
Written by Kiersten White
Historical Fiction, Young Adult
480 Pages
Published July 3rd 2017
Thank you to Penguin Random House Australia
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Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had, herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood strewn path. Filled with a white hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople, and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide, what will they sacrifice to fulfil their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won and souls will be lost.
Ladislav Dragwlya has abandoned the Ottoman Empire and destined to conquer Wallachia and the throne the Danesti Prince occupies. Lada Dracul is a ferocious young woman, callous, unrelenting and determined to reign as Prince of Wallachia. 
There is no other title. I will be vaivode, prince of Wallachia. And I will make the land into the country my people deserve.
Mehmed is resolved to acquire Constantinople, Sultan, Emperor and Caesar of Rome. The Christian Constantinople welcomes political refugee Radu Dracul and wife Nazira who are escaping persecution. The tender young man is entrusted to infiltrate Constantinople, to manipulate the Roman Christians and substantiate Radu's allegiance to the Ottoman Empire and Mehmed.

The narrative accompanies siblings Lada and Radu Dracul, once held captive by the Ottoman Empire to ensure the compliance of their late father. Lada is on a journey of discovery as violence will not allow Lada to conquer the Wallachian throne and she's compelled to forge diplomatic relationships.  In an era where women are often demoralised, Lada is a remarkable young woman that refuses to adhere to societal measures and I admire her tenacity and fortitude. Radu is a contrasting character, passionate and devout while Mehmet manipulates Radu's gentle compassion for both political and personal dominance. Mehmed is emotionally distant, conscious of the fabrication and innuendo of his friendship with Radu, he manipulates Radu to infiltrate the Roman Constantinople and ambassador Cyprian. Cyprian is compassionate, virtuous and enticed by Radu.
You love with all your heart, Radu, and deserve someone who can answer that with all of theirs.
The diversity of characters is wonderful, an amalgamation of religion and sexuality. Muslim, Christian, same sex relationships and Radu's exploration of sexuality and faith. Women in positions of domination are inconceivable. Male lineages occupy Europe, women are wives, concubines and adhere to the traditional female roles prevalent throughout the European kingdoms. Janissaries are traditionally retained by the Ottoman Empire and now accompany the menacing young woman across Eastern Europe where sexism and chauvinism are prevalent. I enjoyed Lada's camaraderie with Hunyadi who provided both tactical and emotional encouragement. Nicolae is a staunch defender but childhood companion Bogdan creates an intensity within the group of Janissaries.

The Conqueror's Saga is a breathtaking, historical alternative of the Ottoman Empire during fifteenth century Europe. Mehmed the Conqueror abolished the Eastern Roman Empire and the conquest of Constantinople, while Ladislav Dragwlya decimates South Eastern Europe. Unrelenting and frenetic. Absolutely remarkable.
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