Bone Gap

Bone Gap
Written by Laura Ruby
Contemporary, Mystery, Magical Realism
Published March 2017
400 Pages
Thank you to Allen & Unwin
RRP $19.99
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★★★★★
Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps, gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life.

That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
In the small country town of Bone Gap, seventeen year old Finn O'Sullivan insists that Roza was abducted by by a nondescript male who emerged from the cornfields surrounding their small rural property. As time lapses, the residents of Bone Gap believe that Roza abandoned Finn and Sean in similar circumstances to their mother while Sean places the responsibility on Finn for allowing her to leave.

My Thoughts

Finn O'Sullivan is a quiet and reserved young man, reliant on his brother Sean who assumed the position of guardian after their mother abandoned her son's. The reader is introduced to Finn and Sean's relationship in the present, fractured and distant while Sean continues to grieve the loss of his relationship with the effervescent Roza. While Finn continued his education, Sean abandoned aspirations of becoming a doctor to care for Finn, now a paramedic and remaining in the lazy town of Bone Gap.


Roza is found sheltering, bloodied and beaten in the O'Sullivan barn and although hesitant, will reside in the small and self contained apartment on the property. Roza didn't abandon Sean and Finn O'Sullivan. Finn attests he has witnessed Rosa's abduction, a man who has emerged from the silent cornfields, nondescript and unsubstantiated. Finn cannot recall his face and labelled as a simpleton while Sean holds Finn responsible for allowing Roza to leave.

Rosa's journey from Europe to North America is harrowing, violent and confronting, exploring her abduction. Her nonlinear narration blended suspected delusions with magical realism, the unreliability created intrigue, vulnerability and a suspension of disbelief. 

Finn and Sean's relationship and interactions with the Bone Gap community were fascinating. While Sean is respected, revered within the community, Finn is tormented and perceived as simple and oblivious, branded by the small, ignorant town. Although I enjoyed Sean's character, he was consumed by grief. Finn is an isolated young man who is dependent on Sean and I was disappointed that Sean disregarded Finn's emotional and mental health.

The gentle friendship between Finn and the beekeepers daughter Petey was lovely. Both teens share an understanding of the harm placed upon labels and being ostracised by their peers, labelled as promiscuous. Petey is a formidable character who refuses to conform to the ideals of the Bone Gap community, intelligent, perceptive and wonderfully abrasive.

Bone Gap is fantastical and enigmatic. A fusion of contemporary, magical realism and a beautifully written, lyrical narrative that will enchant readers until the final page. Simply breathtaking.

Draekora

Check out my reviews for Akarnae and Raelia

Draekora
The Medoran Chronicles Book Three
Written by Lynette Noni
Fantasy, Magic, #LoveOzYA
448 Pages
Published April 2017
Thank you to Pantera Press and Netgalley
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★★★★★
With Aven Dalmarta now hiding in the shadows of Meya, Alex is desperate to save Jordan and keep the Rebel Prince from taking more lives.

Training day and night to master the enhanced immortal blood in her veins, Alex undertakes a dangerous Meyarin warrior trial that separates her from those she loves and leaves her stranded in a place where nothing is as it should be.

As friends become enemies and enemies become friends, Alex must decide who to trust as powerful new allies, and adversaries, push her towards a future of either light… Or darkness. One way or another, the world will change…
Mortal Alexandra Jennings has embraced her education at Akarnae and continues her indoctrination in order to protect the Medoran society against Aven Dalmarta, the fallen prince of the City of Meya when a fallen Draekon is discovered, captured and awaiting death. Journeying to a world of infinite discovery, Alexandra has regressed to the former glory of the City of Meya where the Draekon saturate the skies. With juvenile Draekon Xiraxus as her guide, Alexandra cannot yet return to the Akarnae Academy and is placed with the Dalmarta princes under the guise of being a lost child of the empire.

My Thoughts

Draekora is the third fantastical installment of The Medoran Chronicles. Alexandra Jennings is an adventurous, enchanting character and her journey a compelling narration. As Alexandra continues to prepare for the impending confrontation her main concern is for Jordan, captured under Aven's influence. Alexander is wonderfully human, immersed within a world of immortal beings and transported to a bygone illustrious City of Meya, concealed as a lost Meyarin daughter.

Roka and Aven Dalmarta are assigned to assist Alexandra, her humanity unbeknownst to both Dalmarta Princes.

Roka is disciplined and gentle leader and accepting of the Meyarin trade with the human population who reside beyond the boundaries of Meya, whilst Aven opposes. Aven's distaste for mortals evolves as he and Alexandra begin to develop a tentative friendship. Aven is a warm and compassionate young man, albeit ignorant and consumed with abolishing transactions with human merchants and incites a revolution evoked within the darkened streets of Meya. Aven is a delectable character, nefarious but not without redemption and I'm entirely infatuated.

Xiraxus is a wonderful addition to the The Medoran Chronicles. The Draekon heir shares a familial alliance with Alexandra, assisting her in navigating the City of Meya. 


The Meyarin chronicles were captivating and I appreciated Kyia and Zain's inception. Aven's trusted warrior Niyx was delightfully surprising and an ingenious inclusion. Alexandra's parents are still noticeably absent, assumingly discovering the artifacts of the Akarnae Academy as are friends Bear, Jordan, D.C and Kaiden, Alexandra's potential love interest although a constant within her thoughts.

Author Lynette Noni had crafted a breathtaking ambiance that introduces wonderous worlds in an exceptional and enchanting infusion of fantasy and adventure.


Guest Review: Twist

Guest review by Blessie from Mischievous Reads

Twist
Dive Bar Series Book Two
Written by Kylie Scott
Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Published April 11th 2017
Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia
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★★★★☆
When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he's been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they're emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets... Apart from the one that really matters.

When it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.
The Stage Dive boys will forever have a special place in my heart, but it’s definitely time for them to step aside because Kylie Scott has moved from sexy and jaw dropping rockstars to hot and gritty bartenders of the Dive Bar in Coeur D'Alene.

Upon arriving in Coeur D'Alene unannounced, Seattle girl Alex Parks is in for the surprise of her life once she finds out her long time online pen pal isn’t the person who she expected him to be. He isn’t Eric Collins, the guy with the charming smile from the dating website, but rather, his older brother, Joe Collins, bartender for the Dive Bar and the total opposite of his little brother. Once Alex finds out, she’s furious with her attraction towards 'Eric' flushed down the drain. But while Joe tries to convince Alex that he meant no harm and only wanted a friend, things start to get really complicated after new feelings begin to ignite between the duo.

Twist, by far, is my favourite of the Dive Bar series. Joe and Alex have nearly managed to knock out Jimmy and Lena (Lead) from the top spot by a slight margin (these two will always have a special space in my heart). Alex’s character is refreshing. She’s sarcastic and snarky but does showcase a vulnerable side when she's often anxious about taking a step forward to a different direction in life. On the other hand, Joe is such a complicated character, but it wasn't hard to relate to him. He's the kind of guy who feels responsible for everything around him. While he's got the makings of an alpha male, he's a total giver and would drop everything in a heartbeat for family and friends. I can't stress how much I adored Joe's character. He's a sweetheart and a gentleman - the total package!

The romance between Joe and Alex was unique on my part, with Alex being a commitment-phobe when it comes to relationships. I love that it doesn't go with the 'romance norm' where it's usually the guys that sport that kind of attitude when it comes to relationships. I enjoyed how Alex and Joe's relationship developed through the course of the novel. Friends to lovers romances are my guilty pleasure.

Can we also applaud Kylie Scott for adding a trans character? YES! Alex's best friend, Valerie, formerly Vincent, would have to be my most favourite character in Twist. She's a total hoot and also plays a major role in Alex's life! Also, the novel wouldn't be complete without KS' dropping short side stories of other characters in the Dive Bar gang. Spoiler, the Stage Dive boys do make an appearance!

Kylie Scott’s writing has grown tremendously over the years, with every book she’s ever released and I’ve made it a point never to miss a single one. She never disappoints. All in All, Twist is an incredibly addicting read, with the perfect balance of humour, romance, and raw angst that will keep you captivated with every turn of a page. If you haven't tried anything by this author and you're into romance reads, I'd hate to say this but you're definitely missing out--and we all know that's not a good thing.

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Night Swimming

Night Swimming
Written by Steph Bowe
Contemporary, Diverse, #LoveOzYA
311 Pages
Published April 3rd 2017
Thank you to Text Publishing
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★★★★★
Imagine being the only two seventeen year olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow, named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history and her best friend Clancy Lee, would be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried, her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s milk soap making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…
Seventeen year old Kirby Arrow is one of two adolescents in the small country town of Alberton and has no inclination of departing. In their small ramshackle house, Kirby cares for her grandfather while her mother runs a small business from home. Kirby is a kind and compassionate young woman and devoted to caring for her grandfather who has been diagnosed with dementia, portrayed wonderfully with tenderness. Her mother is a stern woman who is insistent that Kirby experience the world beyond Alberton and her novice carpentry apprenticeship.

I cherished Kirby's relationship with the absurdly fabulous Clancy. Clancy is Chinese Australian in a predominately Caucasian town and an only child to parents who own a local family restaurant. Clancy is flamboyant with Broadway aspirations, waiting until he finishes his schooling to travel the well worn path to Sydney. Leaving Kirby behind. Although both Kirby and Clancy were raised in Alberton, Clancy yearns to connect with other adolescents who share a similar heritage. I appreciated Clancy initiating the conversation of inclusiveness, as it allowed Kirby to understand his perspective.

The new restaurateurs daughter is an exquisite and free spirited young woman, relocating to Alberton from New Zealand. Clancy is enamoured by Iris and devises an elaborate scheme to earn her affections. An amateur youth theatre group. I loved the tentative romance between Kirby and Iris, although Kirby attempts to resist the attraction and places her in quite the predicament. An impeccable example of fluid sexuality as orientation is never discussed. 

The diversity of characters were wonderfully portrayed. Clancy is Chinese Australian and Iris is a biracial. Indian decent and formerly living in New Zealand. The narrative touches on socioeconomic, sexuality, mental illness and a neurological impairment as Kirby's grandfather is diagnosed with Dementia.

Night Swimming is absolutely glorious! A charismatic, delightful and amusing narrative of a small country town, falling in love and immense dreams. Categorically enchanting and captivating until the final page.

Geekerella

Geekerella
Written by Ashley Poston
Contemporary, Retelling, Romance
320 Pages
Published April 4th 2017
Thank you to Quirk Books
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★★★★☆
Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic science fiction series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the Excelsi Con Cosplay Ball, and a meet and greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck and her dad’s old costume, Elle’s determined to win… Unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons, before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet and greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As Excelsi Con draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake, until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.
Danielle Wittimer fondly remembers her father as the man who encouraged her to aim for the stars. To ignite. Since her father's passing and her late mother a distant memory, Danielle lives with Catherine. A woman who has squandered away her inheritance on frivolous material possessions, ensuring her entitled offspring are indulged and placated.

Darien Freeman is a Starfield enthusiast and on the threshold of critical recognition as the immortalised Federation Prince Carmindor, an intergalactic television series rehabilitated for the silver screen. Darien's professional career is governed by his overbearing managerial father so when he is forced to attend a convention to promote Starfield, he decidedly contacts the organisers to cancel his appearance, discovering fellow Starfield enthusiast Danielle.

My Thoughts

Danielle is a spirited character and only restricted by her circumstances, the mean spirited woman her father married preceding the passing of her mother and her daughters, equally as malevolent. Her only solace is Starfield, a science fiction series shared with her father and allowing her to honour his memory. Danielle is denied compassion and appreciation, forced into a life of servitude after her father passed. Danielle is gentle, demure, with a kindness neither her new mother or siblings deserve. Catherine, Chloe and Calliope are villainous and authentic to the original fairytale. Thankfully part associate part accomplice Sage is a wonderful support for Danielle. Elle finds comfort in Starfield until vapid actor Darien Freeman is assigned the heroic portrayal of Prince Carmindor and Elle writes a scathing article scrutinising Darien and becomes an internet sensation.

Although Darien is a lonely young man, gentle and in need of positive guidance, his circumstances were extensively due to his aggressive and opportunistic father. In the original television series, Prince Carmindor is a character of colour and a significant inspiration to Darien. The loneliness and betrayal Darien carries is palpable and I was appreciative of the quiet intensity of both Elle and Darien's narratives.

The romance was magnificent. I'm delighted by narratives that reinvigorate conventional romantic tropes, using media such as text messaging as a form of communication. Adolescents and adults spend their lives online and it was captivating experiencing Elle and Darien falling in love. The tentative friendship and intellectual attraction was delicious. I loved being introduced to the Fandom world through both Danielle's and Darien's narration. The passion and enthusiasm was infectious and vividly portrayed. 
Look to the stars. Aim. Ignite.
Geekerella is a diverse and modernistic fairytail, charming, delightful and unequivocally captivating.

The Song Rising

Check out my review for The Bone Season and The Mime Order

The Song Rising
The Bone Season Book Three
Written by Samantha Shannon
Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance
384 Pages
Published Match 7th 2017
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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★★★★☆
Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London's criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…
It begun as a revolution on the streets of Ireland now Paige Mahoney is determined to conquer Scion London. Recovering from her injuries sustained in the endeavor to become Underqueen, martial law has now been imposed while authorities begin the search for the former Seven Seal. Scion military technology Senshield is threatening the existing of The Mime Order, separated into factions after The Pale Dreamer challenged her Mime Lord Jaxon as Mollisher for the prestigious title.

The clairvoyant community is hostile and to achieve accord, Paige will need to prove worthy of the Underqueen reign, destroying Senshield and ensuring the freedom for her Mime Order.

My Thoughts

The Song Rising begins shortly after the Rose Ring completion, Paige the Mollisher who challenged her Mime Lord Jaxon after learning of his involvement within Scion London. Paige may be victorious but cannot command her Mime Order, lacking the respect and confidence of the Clairvoyant community. Paige is a determined young woman who continues her plight to expose the cruelty of Scion, selling Clairvoyants into slavery under the reign of the Rephaim. With her newly appointed Mollishers Nick and Eliza, Paige will secure freedom for the Mime Order by destroying Senshield, Scion technology that is being used in domestic warfare against those deemed Unnatural and Paige understands the tragedy of warfare.

Although Paige is Underqueen, she cannot independently rule without the assistance of Terebell, Rephaite sovereign elect of the Ranthen, leader of the covert revolutionaries and Warden, her loyal mercenary. The attraction between Paige and Warden had begun as Paige was held captive in Sheol, their friendship and tentative relationship is quiet and does not overwhelm the narration. Paige continues to place the importance on her community rather than her own personal journey.

Warden is frustrating and although he is gentle with Paige and often seeks consent before the softest of touches, he continues to serve Terebell and places his loyalty with the Rephaim leader. Considering he also served as a leader during the Bone Season at Sheol where Paige and her Clairvoyant peers were imprisoned and trained as fighters against their will. When it comes to Terebell's leadership, his backbone seems to have deserted him. I'm assuming Warden may be detrimental to the narration in the remaining series installments but the formality and lack of emotion are beginning to aggravate me.

The atmospheric world of Scion London is so incredibly vivid and The Song Rising also explores a derelict Ireland still grasping onto independence. Although Paige has spent the past thirteen years in London, she maintained her Irish heritage and is often referred to as Brogue. Irish characters typically only exist in young adult novels as being a mythical stereotype.

Samantha Shannon is extraordinary and The Bone Season series is a phenomenal fusion of fantasy, and science fiction occupying a dystopian United Kingdom. Atmospheric, breathtaking and exceptional. 

Nowhere Near You

See my review for Because You'll Never Meet Me

Nowhere Near You
Because You'll Never Meet Me Book Two
Written by Leah Thomas
Contemporary, Science Fiction, Diverse
400 Pages
Published March 1st 2017
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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★★★★
Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods, no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity, and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone.

Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible. A boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton, an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity, a track star whose abnormal heart propels her to victory. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz dare to enjoy life, they can't escape their past, which threatens to destroy any progress they've made. Can these boys ever find their place in a world that might never understand them?
Blunderkids live among our communities, freed from laboratories as children with extraordinary abilities and disabilities. Oliver Paulot is sensitive to electricity, experiencing electromagnetic radiation as colours, his emotions manipulating electrical currents. Isolated from society, Oliver and Physician Auburn Stache are travelling across the country to meet other children with varying conditions, Oliver is determined to share their stories, leaving a legacy of their extraordinary lives behind.

Oliver's only friend, Moritz Farber lives in Germany, their friendship blossoming through a hand written correspondence. Moritz is Anophthalmic and although he cannot see, he isn't blind to his surroundings. Moritz experiences heightened senses and can navigate his environment, including Myriad, after being granted enrollment at the prestigious arts college.

Oliver and Moritz depend on one another for support and understanding while they continue to share their lives with one another. Oceans apart. Ich bin hier.

My Thoughts

Because You'll Never Meet Me was extraordinary and Nowhere Near You is no exception. The narrative begins with Oliver exploring his new environment beyond the woodland cabin, impatient and enthusiastic to be introduced to his peers. Oliver is exuberant and his positivity is infectious. He's determined to engage with other teens that were part of the scientific program and capture their own personal experiences. Arthur with fragile bones and elongated limbs, can regenerate the healing process and Bridget, a young woman who's childhood was depleted by the foster care system. These special adolescents are remarkable, leaving their imprints on Oliver by sharing their own personal journeys.

Moritz is on the verge of his maiden year at Myriad, a performing arts college for gifted children and continuing to appreciate Oliver's unconditional support. Moritz's character has developed into a confident and assertive young gay man. He no longer conceals his sexuality and is exploring same sex relationships. Moritz is indecently assaulted at Myriad and manipulated by a notorious student which seemed to be normalised by other students, rather than addressing the incident and speaking about consent. The reader is reintroduced to Molly, who also attends the performing arts college and Owen, who a gentle and passionate boy wanting to pursue a relationship with Moritz. 

Leah Thomas is a wonderful storyteller. Although Nowhere Near You doesn't conjure feelings of intensity as it's predecessor, it's quiet, captivating and enchanting. 

Blog Tour: The Secret Science of Magic

The Secret Science of Magic
Written by Melissa Keil
Contemporary, Diverse, Romance
Published April 1st 2017
328 Pages
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
The unsolvable problem. If Sophia is a genius, why can’t she crack the puzzle of what to do with her life?

Fact. Sophia is smart. As in, certified child prodigy, breezing through uni subjects even though she's only in year twelve, smart. This terrifies her, because geniuses have a tendency to end up as recluses and weirdos,  and with her current social ineptness, she’s halfway there already.

Truth. Joshua is good at magic tricks, ignoring most things about year twelve, and not thinking at all about life after high school.

Fact. Sophia can’t even talk to her best friend Elsie about her anxieties, because Elsie is firmly focused on her own future, and on plans that will mean leaving Sophia behind.

Truth. Joshua has had a secret crush on Sophia since forever, but he doesn’t have forever to act on it.

Fact. There are some things no amount of genius can prepare you for... And the messiness of the real world is one of them.

Truth. Timing is everything.
Sophia is a quiet achiever. Intelligent and a highly decorated student, seventeen year old Sophie is facing an existential crisis, feeling fatigued, adrift and socially anxious. Joshua is an illusionist, deceptively disguised as an enigma and enamoured with shy and reserved Sophie. Living their lives parallel to one another, Joshua believes in the impossible while Sophie the probability of statistics. Until a Melbourne University open day brings Joshua and Sophie together, unexpectedly.

Magic happens.

My Thoughts

Australian with Sri Lankan heritage, Sophia is an intelligent young woman, a prodigy mathematician enduring debilitating social anxiety and becoming increasingly infatuated with Grigori Perelman, a recluse Russian mathematician. Sophia is a wonderful character, ingenious and accomplished which often leads to a lack of perception. Unlike Elsie who is leaving for the United States, Sophia isn't optimistic about university and consistently devalues her own intuition. The depiction of Sophia's social anxiety was wonderfully portrayed. As her narrative progressed, she begun to recognise how her anxiety manifested but also sought professional guidance. The tension between Sophia and her brother Toby furthered Sophia's anxiety, especially spending time with Elise and the effortless relationship with her siblings.

Joshua is enchanting. As an illusionist he believes in the impossible. Joshua doesn't place importance on his education and is ostracised by his peers. He's a modest young man who has been captivated by Sophia since the tender age of thirteen but as an introvert, feels intimidated by Sophia's presence. I loved the relationship Joshua shared with thirteen year old sibling Gillian, who has perfected teenage angst. Often a formidable presence, Joshua continues to persist to rebuild his relationship with Gillian despite her defiance.

The romance was captivating and a wonderful progression from a gentle, tentative friendship. Discounting the student body, Joshua has a wonderful company of friends who are accepting, supportive and encouraging. I appreciated how Joshua allowed Sophia to set the boundaries of their friendship, understanding that it was important for Sophia to remain in control of her societal environment due to her anxiety.

The Secret Science of Magic is magnificent. A charming coming of age narrative of existing within the moment. Phenomenally sublime. Magical.

Letters To The Lost

Letters To The Lost
Written by Brigid Kemmerer
Contemporary, Death, Romance
Publishing April 6th 2017
400 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia Digital
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★★★
Juliet Young has always written letters to her mother, a world traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate.

But neither of them knows that they're not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.
Juliet enjoys the tranquility of the cemetery as she sits beside her mother's final resting place, writing her thoughts on paper to her mother. Four months have passed since her life was taken, survived by her disconnected husband and seventeen year old Juliet, drowning in grief.

Declan is a young man with a reputation that proceeds him, a violent alcoholic with a criminal record. Underneath the facade Declan too is consumed by grief, the destruction leading to recklessness in which the eighteen year old now is sentenced to community service.

When Declan intrudes on a personal moment by anonymous Juliet, the two teens begin to communicate anonymously with one another. Forming a tentative friendship of support and shared understanding, two strangers seeking solace and comfort in words.

My Thoughts

Juliet was judgmental, abrasive and incredibly entitled. Characters experiencing emotional turmoil aren't often held to account in young adult and as a reader, it's often appreciated when a character is shown tolerance. Juliet's narrative begins with comparing herself to a photograph of a child in the Middle East conflict zone. I wasn't impressed.

Throughout her narrative, Juliet speaks of her mother fondly, a political photographer who has explored significant world events through her camera lens. Her mother was wonderfully accomplished but absent throughout her daughter's life, leaving Juliet's father to raise her. Once her mother passed, her father becomes distant and emotionally absent and Juliet refuses to engage with him. Juliet's emotional support was wonderful although she was passive aggressively describing Rowan's mother as a young mother and negated why Rowan hasn't rebelled. An amateur photographer herself, Juliet hasn't engaged since her mother's passing but negatively critiques the work of her fellow peers. Her interactions with Declan were judgmental and often incredibly cruel.

Declan is completing community service at the cemetery as a result of driving under the influence and endangering lives while behind the wheel. Declan is bravado, his facade ensures he is emotionally abandoned, allowed to be consumed by his loss. With his father imprisoned, Declan's mother has since remarried and he despises his stepfather. Declan's narrative is confrontational and touches on issues of alcoholism, domestic violence, child and juvenile abuse. Declan also engages in antisocial behaviour, he deliberately attempts to intimidate Juliet in an aggressive manner.

The interactions between Juliet and Declan anonymously were wonderful, sharing their lives through the art of the written word. As communication becomes frequent, Juliet begun to spend less hours sitting beside her mother's final resting place. The two teens begin to gravitate towards one another. Although they're attracted to one another, the romance is incredibly subtle.

It was wonderfully written and captivating but Juliet was incredibly entitled and self indulgent. Letters to the Lost was poignant exploration of the many facets of the grieving process. Unfortunately not without it's issues.

Stargazing For Beginners

Stargazing For Beginners
Written by Jenny McLachlan
Contemporary, Romance
Publishing June 1st 2017
352 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★
Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her.

And Mum's disappearance has come at the worst time. Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She'll need a miracle of cosmic proportions.
Just as the forty nine accomplished women have boldly gone, sixteen year old Meg Clark dreams of becoming an astronaut. A quiet achiever, Meg is attempting to revise her lecture for the upcoming competition that will see one student be awarded with an all expenses paid holiday to the NASA Space Center in Houston, an opportunity that Meg's mother couldn't otherwise afford.

Until her mother purchases a plane ticket to Myanmar on a whim and leaves Meg and one year old Elsa behind. Alone.

My Thoughts

Fifteen year old Megara is an aspiring astronaut and in the midst of preparing for her presentation, an opportunity for an all expenses paid vacation to NASA headquarters, when her free spirited mother leaves for Myanmar, a Southeast Asian country where she will aid underprivileged communities. Her mother also leaves behind Elsa, an infant who cannot comprehend where her mother is and expects her elderly father to shoulder the burden of two children.

Rather than place Elsa in the dangerous environment of her grandfathers home, Meg decides to become Elsa's primary caregiver while balancing school and preparation for her presentation. Meg's mother was infuriating and left me feeling irate. Free spirited is for those without obligations, her mother has two young children and an elderly father who excuses his daughter's behaviour. Although her grandfather is reluctantly accommodating, his home resembles an unhygienic menagerie and refuses to inconvenience himself for his young granddaughters. Her grandfather is lovely, but why would any responsible adult allow a fifteen year old girl to accept responsibility for an infant sibling. 


Being a preoccupied adolescent consumed by science, Meg and step sister Elsa are relatively strangers, sharing the same irresponsible mother and little else of significance. Through circumstances, the two sisters begin to care for one another. It was wonderful to see Meg being supported by new and unlikely friends in her mentoring program, especially sarcastic and resolute Annie who is a student with Autism. A friendly rivalry and gentle friendship were the foundation of an enchanting romance.

Although it was lovely and incredibly entertaining, the adult characters within Stargazing For Beginners were irresponsible. From their mother and grandfather, to the caregiver at Elsa's daycare center who suspected their mother may have been absent. How did the school facility not realise the change in her behaviour? The responsible and astute student now unpolished and exasperated has gone unnoticed.

Jenny McLachlan is a magnificent author, a wonderful storyteller and an absolute delight. Amusing, entertaining and incredibly charismatic. 

Hearting Steven Herrick

Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair
Written by Steven Herrick
Contemporary, Verse
128 Pages
Special Edition Published January 3rd 2017
Thank you to UQP
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★★★
Jack is an everyday sixteen year old boy. He’s obsessed with Annabel, sport and nose hair. He’s also obsessed with a ghost...

There’s a ghost in our house
in a red evening dress,
black stockings
and Mum’s slingback shoes.
Her hair whispers
over white shoulders
as she dances through the rooms.
Sixteen year old Jack muses about his life, the compulsion to become an author, living with his father who works long hours as a print journalist and his nineteen year old sister Desiree and her hint of lip hair. Since their mother passed away from breast cancer, Desiree self examines her breasts each night, while Jack watches his father in the back garden, playing cricket at midnight. All fundamentally flawed and impacted by death of their wife and mother.



A Place Like This
Written by Steven Herrick
Contemporary, Road Trip, Verse
144 Pages
Special Edition Published January 3rd 2017
Thank you to UQP
★★★★
Jack and Annabel have been dating for two years. With high school over they’re about to start university, until Jack decides to chuck it all in.

I think you and Annabel should get out of here
as fast as possible. Have a year doing anything
you want. My going away present is enough money
to buy a car. A cheap old one, okay? You’ll have to
work somewhere to buy the petrol, and to keep going.

But go.

No destination in mind, Jack and Annabel leave town and discover themselves in a place they never knew existed.
The freedom of the open road beckons Jack and Annabel, leaving behind their families and art degrees in favour for adventure wherever the wind will blow, their bank manager brown seventies vehicle having reached the unexpected destination of an apple orchard. With meager wages and a barnyard bed of hay, working the orchard during daylight and making love all night. Pregnant after a sexual assault she cannot remember, sixteen year old Emma is waiting for her unborn child, wanting to leave the orchard and her father behind. George, mourning the loss of his wife while providing for his children. Intersecting and inspiring, life blossoms through a series of journeys, rather than the destination.

My Thoughts

Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair and A Place Like This are a lovely exploration of family, free spirit and the love that unites us. Jack is a quiet and thoughtful young man, still grieving the loss of his mother while struggling to find his place in the world. Throughout the poetic narrative, the reader experiences aspects of the lives of others as glimpses of Australia through our communities. While I felt disconnected to Jack initially, I adored A Place Like This and the varying aspects and stages of our lives. The freedom of being young with no obligations, to a teenage mother struggling with the identity of her unborn child's father.

I found George and Emma's narratives honest and enchanting. Emma is only sixteen years old with the weight of motherhood baring down on her slight shoulders, the pregnancy a result of an assault at a party she has no recollection of. Surprisingly, her father George wants to support his young daughter while providing for her siblings, his wife and the mother of his children walking out of their lives years prior.

Steven Herrick is a masterful storyteller, sharing snippets of our Australian communities through verse.

We Come Apart

We Come Apart
Written by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
Contemporary, Romance
Published February 9th 2017
336 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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★★★☆
Jess would never have looked twice at Nicu if her friends hadn't left her in the lurch. Nicu is all big eyes and ill fitting clothes, eager as a puppy, even when they're picking up litter in the park for community service. He's so not her type. Appearances matter to Jess. She's got a lot to hide.

Nicu thinks Jess is beautiful. His dad brought Nicu and his mum here for a better life, but now all they talk about is going back home to find Nicu a wife. The last thing Nicu wants is to get married. He wants to get educated, do better, stay here in England. But his dad's fists are the most powerful force in Nicu's life, and in the end, he'll have to do what his dad wants.

As Nicu and Jess get closer, their secrets come to the surface like bruises. The only safe place they have is with each other. But they can't be together, forever, and stay safe, can they?
Jessica is a tormented teen. Living with her mother and step father in a violent home environment, Jessica has been sentenced to participate in a Reparation Scheme, her third offense landing her in police custody after a shoplifting incident. Jessica's behaviour is a reflection on her fragile mother, beaten and abused by a man who is dominant and malicious.

Nicu is living in England temporarily, his father having migrated from Romania to England in order to earn money as a dowry to obtain Nicu a wife. Fifteen year old Nicu labors for his father but when he's caught thieving and sentenced to the Reparation Scheme, he's forced to enroll in school.

Through the Reparation Scheme, Jessica and Nicu begin a tentative friendship. A language barrier. An unlikely connection and two teens finding solace in one another.

My Thoughts

Jessica is a character who has endured torment and abuse, her stepfather a domineering and violent man. Although I've also experienced domestic violence as a child, I couldn't relate to Jessica and her often merciless attitude. Having committed her third offense and Nicu caught thieving, the two teens are both sentenced to the Reparation Program, an initiative to rehabilitate adolescents rather than facing prison.

Nicu's narrative was captivating. Having migrated with his parents to the United Kingdom, Nicu and his father are self employed in order to earn an adequate dowry to obtain a wife home in Romania. Although his parents are insistent, Nicu refuses to marry and wants to begin his life in the United Kingdom rather than return home. Nicu is absolutely endearing. His character explored the social injustice of racism and race profiling. It was interesting to see the comparison between both parents, Jessica had been arrested due to her third offense and they were treated with respect. Although it was insinuated that her behavior was a result of defective parenting. 

I appreciate narratives told in verse, with so few words authors are able to captivate readers and Sarah Crossan is a wonderful storyteller who breathes life into her characters. We Come Apart touches on social issues such as domestic violence, racial profiling and racism. Nicu wants to be accepted and I felt Jessica had taken advantage of his affection, often choosing the cruelty of her unreliable friends and choosing not to asset herself and defend Nicu against their racist remarks.

I'm fascinated by stories of immigration and seeking asylum, which is the foundation for many Australians in particular. We Come Apart touches on those same foundations and as Nicu explores thoughts of his new surroundings and learning a new language, I'm dubious as to the validity of the representation.

We Come Apart is a touching exploration of friendship and transcending barriers of language and stereotypes. Although I became increasingly frustrated with Jessica's character, the narrative was captivating, immersive and representative of our broken societies. 

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give
Written by Angie Thomas
Contemporary, Diverse, Social Issues
Published March 1st 2017
448 Pages
Thank you to Walker Books Australia
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★★★★
Sixteen year old Starr Carter moves between two worlds, the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr's neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is, what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
Keep your hands visible. No sudden moves. Only speak when spoken to.

Sixteen year old Starr Carter lives in Garden Heights, a neighbourhood with a strong black community, thriving among the Kings and Queens of the streets. Starr now kneels beside Khail's lifeless body, blood staining her hands from the police offer that fired three bullets into her childhood friend, racially profiled for being a black teen confronted by a white police officer, his weapon now aimed at the young teen as she grieves for her friend.

Garden Heights erupts, the injustice of another young black man slain on the street at the hands of a white police officer and the frustration of community voices being ignored. While the media portrays the police officer as a family man protecting the community, Khalil is depicted as a criminal. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil was innocent. His death cannot be justified.

While the community calls for justice, the police begin enforced Marshall Law, placing a curfew on the black community as gunshots sound across the night and protesters ensure their voices heard. The cries of justice, of equality and to ensure black citizens are being protected by a country often separated by race.

My Thoughts

Starr is a beautiful young woman, passionate, intelligent with a wonderful sense of community. Born into the public housing system and at ten years of age, Starr witnessed a child's life stolen while playing in the street, her parents insisting Starr attend a predominately Caucasian school along with step brother Seven in order to ensure their daughters safety. Starr's parents are wonderful. her father a local business owner after spending time in prison, a former King of Garden Heights in the gang community. Starr's mother is a local nurse, wonderfully maternal and both parents pillars of the community and a rarity in young adult. 

The Hate U Give is a compelling narrative that explores firearm legislation, racism, police brutality, racial profiling, homicide, organised protesting and rioting. I found the narrative confronting, not as a Caucasian reader but as an Australian. A mother who grieves her only child who's life was stolen by gun violence isn't a Hollywood narrative, The Hate U Give will provide readers with perspective and the harm of perpetuating stereotypes.
I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.

Now I am that person, and I'm too afraid to speak.
An interesting aspect is the concept that African Americans are pressured by white society to conform both directly and indirectly. As Starr attends a school where the majority of the student body is Caucasian and as only one of two students within her peers who is African American, feels the need to conceal her cultural identity, perhaps a result of the white lens viewing African Americans as being inferior. In that regard, I felt as though the narrative was also inclusive of white readers, to connect to a fictional character in order to place the onus on white society for being exclusive.

Hailey was a character who used casual racism against her peers and in particular, friends Starr and Maya, who is of Chinese heritage. Her comments are deeply offensive and it touches on one particular scene in which Starr is speculating as to why her friend Hailey unfollowed her on social media after posting graphic images of a young black man who was slain. It is later revealed by mutual friend Maya as to why, but it highlights the nature of uncomfortable white communities when confronted by African American injustice. In particular, white America. 
The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone
The narrative also acknowledges African American societal references, such as musical influences, activists Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and the Black Panthers, a revolutionary black nationalist and socialist organisation who fought for black rights against society and the United States government.

The Hate U Give is a powerful and compelling narrative about the racism that divides communities and racial profiling that results in black lives being lost to police officers who have vowed to protect the community. Around the world, awareness spread. Not of the black teens and adults being murdered by white police officers but the white lens coverage focused on the riots that proceeded this horrific injustice. Television media being relayed from the streets were quick to condemn the angry and justified protests, but it was through various social media avenues is where the genuine and unbiased, unprejudiced reports were being shared. By those protesting. The Hate U Give allows readers an opportunity to delve into the lives behind the headlines and why the #blacklivesmatter movement demands attention.

Compelling. Confronting. Influential.

To my brilliant ladies TikaBrittni, Ari and Blessie who guide me, never tire of my white girl questions and place me in the box of shame.

Strange The Dreamer

Strange The Dreamer
Strange The Dreamer Book One
Written by Laini Taylor
Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Publishing March 28th 2017
544 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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★★★★★
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around, and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries, including the blue skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Lazlo is a lover of words and the dreamer of dreams. Abandoned as an infant, Lazlo spends his days as a junior librarian by immersing himself in the history of Weep, a mystical Unseen City that has borne legends and heroes. It's been fifteen years since the God's we're banished and now the Godslayer has arrived in Zosma, seeking alchemists, scholars and the great minds of the Pavilion of Thought. Lazlo has breathed Weep for seven long, illuminating years and is about to embark on a arduous journey across the country to solve the mysteries of The Unseen City.

Sarai is a survivor, only an infant when her world was decimated and left suspended within the Unseen City. Unlike her fellow surviving Godspawn, Sarai's gift allows her to explore the city and interact while Weep falls under the slumber of night. When the Muse of Nightmares eases into the unconscious mind of Lazlo Strange, what she encounters will leave her breathless.

My Thoughts

Abandoned Lazlo Strange was utterly delightful, a charmingly innocent and kind hearted young man who is consumed with the mystery of The Unseen City. Spending his days as a junior librarian, Lazlo breathes history, foregoing his adolescence for the inked pages of a land lost to time. Demure and intelligent, Lazlo is determined to accompany the scholars and alchemists to uncover the secrets of Weep, a half yearly journey and coming of age for the charismatic librarian. Surrounded by warrior escorts, Lazlo shares his journey with Thyon Nero, an entitled young man praised for his fraudulent alchemy. Lazlo and Thyon are rivals, while Lazlo has a warm and gentle disposition, Thyon is guarded and sees Lazlo as a nemesis, questioning the librarian's motives. As a secondary character, Thyon was wonderfully developed which allows readers to engage with his character beyond his bravado.

Sarai is a young woman trapped within the mausoleum anchored to the sky above Weep. Also orphaned as a child, the massacre that slain her family resulted in a world suspended in time. Sarai's character is enchanting. Each evening retiring to her room to explore the city, a silent scream releasing her vaporescent moths into the night to perch on the brows of sleeping residents. Sarai's slain mother is the Goddess of Despair, both young men and women of the Unseen City were taken and brought to the citadel, kept as companions against their will and creating a new generation of Godspawn. Sparrow who tends to nature, Feral who can control the weather, Ruby and the malevolent Minya, who captures the souls of the dead and uses them for her amusement. Minya was an interesting character. Although suspended in the body of a child, Minya is a militant leader who commands respect. Although she wants to protect the citadel, Minya is a warmonger and prepares her ghostly souls to slay the humans who threaten their existence. Including Lazlo. The connection between Sarai and Lazlo was lovely. The Muse of Nightmares and The Dreamer, Sarai has never experienced vivid visions of her city as seen through Lazlo's imagination and is enamoured. Their connection was gentle, tender yet incredibly passionate.

Strange The Dreamer is lyrical, consuming and atmospheric. Laini Taylor has transcended young adult fantasy. Beautifully. Immaculately. Ethereally. 

History Is All You Left Me

History Is All You Left Me
Written by Adam Silvera
Contemporary, LGBT, Diverse
Published February 2017
304 Pages
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia
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★★★★☆
You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world where this morning you’re having an open casket funeral. I know you’re out there, listening. And you should know I’m really pissed because you swore you would never die and yet here we are. It hurts even more because this isn’t the first promise you’ve broken.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder afflicted seventeen year old, Griffin, has just lost his first love, his best friend, ex boyfriend and the boy he believed to be his ultimate life partner, in a drowning accident. In a desperate attempt to hold onto every last piece of the past, a broken Griffin forges a friendship with Theo’s new college boyfriend, Jackson. And Griffin will stop at nothing to learn every detail of Theo’s new college life, and ultimate death. But as the grieving pair grows closer, readers will question Griffin's own version of the truth, both in terms of what he’s willing to hide, and what true love ultimately means...
Griffin and Theo shared their lives with one another. Childhood friends, they've been one another's confidant, neither realising they were both falling in love. No matter in which direction their lives would follow, Griffin and Theo would navigate back towards one another. Until Theo died, leaving behind broken promises and heartache.

My Thoughts

Griffin was a wonderful young man, gentle, intelligent and consumed by Theo. While Theo is animated, sensual and navigating his relationship parameters with Griffin. The nonlinear narrative begins with Griffin attending the funeral, being confronted with Jackson, Theo's college boyfriend and the history his dear Theo left behind.
If I'm going to have any chance of getting through today, tomorrow, and all of the days that follow, I think I need to go back to the start, where we were two boys bonding over jigsaw puzzles and falling in love.
Theo is incredibly intelligent but ultimately flawed despite the insistence of Griffin. Shortly after Theo and Griffin begin their relationship, Theo is offered early acceptance into a Californian college and with reluctance, leaving Griffin and their relationship behind. At college, Theo has lived an existence that is only shared through phone calls that have become less frequent as Theo and Jackson explore a new relationship. Throughout the nonlinear storyline, Griffin sees Theo's new relationship as insignificant, with little wonder as Theo seemed to manipulate Griffin's emotions, sharing the turbulence of his new relationship knowing Griffin was hopeful the two would reunite.

Griffin never received closure, so when Theo passed due to the tragic drowning accident, he reluctantly agrees to spent time with a grieving Jackson to understand aspects of Theo's life he no longer shared. Theo and Griffin's mutual friend Wade mourned alone and attempted to reach out to Griffin, consumed by grief to notice. Wade lived within Theo's shadow but after their separation, became a necessary voice of reason in Griffin's life.

Griffin lives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, anxious over uneven numbers and favouring one side over the other. Theo, Jackson and Wade all interacted with Griffin on a varied scale. While Theo seemingly helped ease Griffin's anxiety, he believed these were simply quirks that added to Griffin's appeal. Jackson was incredibly intuitive both through his observations and relationship with Theo, his kind and gentle nature put Griffin at ease. While Wade had adopted the same approach as Jackson, but continued to challenge Griffin.

While the main focus is on the same sex relationships of Griffin and Theo, Theo and Jackson, the tentative friendship between Griffin and Jackson was therapeutic for both characters. His friendship with Wade and the wonderful relationship between Griffin's parents was a lovely touch. Diverse without using character diversity as the main narrative. Same sex relationships, bisexuality, anxiety disorders, a parent who is in a wheelchair and incredibly sex positive. It was beautiful.

Adam Silvera is exceptional. History Is All You Left Me is a heartbreaking narrative about the relationships that ignite passion and influence our lives. Tender, exquisite and breathtaking.

The Edge Of Everything

The Edge of Everything
Untitled Series Book One
Written by Jeff Giles
Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Published February 2nd 2017
368 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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★★★
It’s been a shattering year for seventeen year old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods, only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future.
Zoe continues to mourn the loss of her father, losing his life after a tragic caving accident where his body has never been recovered. Her widowed mother providing for her children, having left the two siblings safe in their mountain cabin while gathering supplies in town for the approaching blizzard.

As the blanket of white swept over the mountain, he appeared as a beacon of light, prepared to purge the world of our sins. As he prepared to capture a soul, the young, nameless man never expected to find Zoe and brother Jonah fearing for their lives. He isn't worthy of a name where he is summoned by the depths of the Lowlands, collecting souls from those who were never brought to justice. Until he bequests Stan's freedom.

The Lords of the Lowlands do not look kindly upon clemency and as Zoe and the Bounty Hunter begin to explore their attraction to one another, this unknown variable will be forced to decide. His life of brutality and servitude or Zoe's existence.

My Thoughts

Seventeen year old Zoe is still grieving for her father, who died as a result of a tragic caving accident. I wasn't particularly a fan of Zoe's character. Although seemingly pleasant, I found her to be overly egocentric, perhaps mistaking her moxie for bluntness. Her relationship with younger brother Jonah was gentle but her use of language to describe Jonah was appalling. Spastic, which she explains how her mother won't allow her to use that particular term and an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder maniac, using dumb or psychotic to address other characters, which is partly why I found her character unappealing. I was appalled by the blatant animal abuse. I feel it was unnecessary and the inhumanity of this particular character could have been demonstrated without the use of cruelty to animals. Being an advanced reading copy, these terms may have be erased before release.

Simply known as X, X was a wonderful character. Genuinely lovely but deliciously dark. X is a prisoner of the Lowlands, beaten and tortured until he can prove his worth by collecting the souls of heinous criminals who've escaped justice. Having never experienced kindness or affection, he's enamored by Zoe and after mere days, the young strangers have fallen in love. It's nauseating but thankfully both are separated swiftly. I enjoyed the hero and survivor connection between X and Zoe but the romantic aspects of their relationship felt incredibly forced.

The concept was captivating but the animal cruelty scene was excessive and unnecessary. The Edge of Everything was a blend of paranormal romance, wildly imaginative and conceptually brilliant but ultimately left me hesitant whether to continue the series. 

Take The Key and Lock Her Up

Contains spoilers. See my review for All Fall Down and See How They Run

Take the Key and Lock Her Up
Embassy Row Book Three
Written by Ally Carter
Mystery, Contemporary
Published February 2017
336 Pages
Thank you to Scholastic Australia
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★★☆
The princess is dead. Long live the princess.

Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed… Or so everyone thought. Now Grace Blakely knows the truth. There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution, which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne. And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.
The royal bloodline ended the night the castle was besieged, a family slain and an interim King reigning over the citizens of Adria. Grace's mother believed in children's fairytales, the night the royal family had perished, a samaritan protecting baby princess Amelia from the brutal revolution, the royal bloodline surviving.

My Thoughts

Take The Key and Lock Her Up begins mere moments after the revelations of See How They Run, Jamie is injured, Alexei a fugitive and Grace is determined to carry her mother's legacy, finding evidence of the lost princess.

Grace Blakely is a descendant of baby Amelia, a centuries old mystery that the government and Society of Ardia are determined to protect. Since moving into the embassy to live with her grandfather, Grace has been embroiled in controversy. Grace is relentless in her search to uncover her mother's findings, needing evidence as leverage against Adria and the royal family who occupy the throne. I admire Grace's tenacity as a character and enjoyed her relationship with her brother and love interest Alexei, who are now fleeing Adria with the assistance of Dominic. 

While in previous installments, the murder mystery aspect added drama and intrigue, the focus is now placed upon on Grace, while the narration of friends and embassy residents were left unresolved. Grace is a character who has struggled with her mental health, placed within a health facility leaving her distressed. Her anguish and post traumatic stress disorder is now absent, apart from the occasional inner monologue reminiscing the death of her mother. Unfortunately, the storyline felt entirely repetitive. One aspect I found fascinating about the series were the ancient and secretive society of women, political puppeteers that seemed a convenient device of justification for the lawless Embassy Row, where adults in authoritarian positions maim and murder. Unfortunately it wasn't fully explored.

Suspension of disbelief was virtually impossible. Although entertaining, I wasn't immersed or as engaged as I've been with the previous installments but was surprised by the ending and a little disheartened by the vigilante justice imposed. The Embassy Row series has been wonderfully entertaining, secrecy and intrigue creating a narrative that will enthrall and delight readers but unfortunately the finale left me feeling disappointed.

Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence

Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence
Written by Doris Pilkington Nugi Garimara
Biographical, Historical, Australia
136 Pages
Thank you to UQP
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★★★★
The remarkable true story of three young girls who cross the harsh Australian desert on foot to return to their home.

Following an Australian government edict in 1931, black aboriginal children and children of mixed marriages were gathered up by whites and taken to settlements to be assimilated. In Rabbit Proof Fence, award winning author Doris Pilkington traces the captivating story of her mother, Molly, one of three young girls uprooted from her community in Southwestern Australia and taken to the Moore River Native Settlement.

At the settlement, Molly and her relatives Gracie and Daisy were forbidden to speak their native language, forced to abandon their aboriginal heritage, and taught to be culturally white. After regular stays in solitary confinement, the three girls scared and homesick planned and executed a daring escape from the grim camp, with its harsh life of padlocks, barred windows, and hard cold beds.

The girls headed for the nearby rabbit proof fence that stretched over 1,000 miles through the desert toward their home. Their journey lasted over a month, and they survived on everything from emus to feral cats, while narrowly avoiding the police, professional trackers, and hostile white settlers. Their story is a truly moving tale of defiance and resilience.
In the nineteen thirties, three young girls were taken from their Indigenous families in Jigalong, removed by the descendants of white European settlers on behalf of the Australian Government. Fifteen year old Molly is a muda muda, a child born from her Indigenous mother and white English father, a man who tends to the maintenance of the rabbit proof fence that stretches across the land. Often tormented by Indigenous children, the Australian government believe that children born of white fathers can be assimilated into white communities, toiling the land and provided an education.

Molly, eleven year old Gracie and nine year old Daisy, all born to white father's are removed from their community only to begin the long, arduous and liberating nine week journey from the oppressive Moore River Native Settlement back to the Jigalong community. Where they belong.

My Thoughts

Australia has a turbulent and atrocious history of the treatment of our traditional land owners, the Indigenous communities that have endured  at the mercy of white European settlement. The late Doris Pilkington has created a narration of her mother's story, born to an Indigenous mother and white English father, deprived of her community when removed from her land to be placed into government custody along with her younger sister and cousin. Throughout the introduction, the author discusses the history of white settlement, communities slaughtered and indigenous women taken and used as sexual servants. Isolated from their communities, the government introduced a policy allowing land to be claimed by white, European farming families. Land that belonged to Indigenous Australians.

The Moore River Native Settlement is a regimented encampment, housing Indigenous children born to white fathers, taken from their communities under the belief that partially white children are superior and can therefore become disciplined servants for white families. Molly is a free spirited young lady and along with Gracie and Daisy, is determined to return to her elders and Jigalong community, the distance spanning over a thousand miles by following the Rabbit Proof fence. The Rabbit Proof Fence was constructed in the early nineteen hundreds to subdue the migration of rabbits into Western Australia from the eastern states and now becomes a beacon of hope and home.

Throughout the narrative, transcripts and newspaper articles are included about the girls disappearance, only further verifying that the young Indigenous girls are little more than a commodity. Although the journey is harrowing and confronting, the terrain is breathtaking as the girls navigate the parched spiritual land. One of the loveliest aspects about Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence is the sense of family throughout our Indigenous communities and the respect for elders that is instilled in their children.

Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence is an integral aspect of Australian history, placing the importance upon the continuing treatment of our Indigenous communities and the destruction brought by white European settlement. A horrific historical narrative that is beautifully written and illustrates the strength and determination of three remarkable young girls. 
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