Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey contains sensitivities such as sexual assault

Milk and Honey
Written by Rupi Kaur
Poetry
196 Pages
Published December 2015
Thank you to Hardie Grant Books
Add to Goodreads
★★★★★
Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.

The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache.

Milk and Honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.
A compilation of prose, Milk and Honey is impassioned and inspiring.

From her first kiss and subsequent sexual abuse, The Hurting explores the objectification of the female physique and the the capacity in which our personal spaces are permeated by men. The parental relationship nurturing and an alcoholic parent devoid of maternal capacity.
when my mother opens her mouth
to have a conversation at dinner
my father shoves the word hush
between her lips and tells her to
never speak with her mouth full
this is how the women in my family
learned to live with their mouths closed

The Loving examines the facets of affection. Both parental and the all encompassing intensity of an intoxicating relationship.
he says
i am sorry i am not an easy person to want
i look at him surprised
who said i wanted easy
i don't crave easy
i crave goddamn difficult
you might not have been my first love
but you were the love that made
all the other loves
irrelevant

The despair of a relationship dissolving explored throughout The Breaking. Anguish, exasperation, resentment and nostalgia.
this is where you must
understand the difference
between want and need
you may want that boy
but you certainly
don't need him
the thing
worth holding on to
would not have let go

The Healing is an empowering discussion of courage and fortitude. To be content within yourself and solitude. To break free of the constraints we place upon ourselves and learn to appreciate femininity and the female perspective. 
i like the way the stretch marks
on my thighs look human and
that we're so soft yet
rough and jungle wild
when we need to be
i love that about us
how capable we are of feeling
how unafraid we are of breaking
and tend to our wounds with grace
just being a woman
calling myself
a woman
makes me utterly whole
and complete
losing you
was the becoming
of myself

The narration is segregated by four moments throughout Rupi Kaur's journey. Passionate and confronting. From the depths of despair, a physical exploitation stripping young women of their tenacity, courage germinates. Life flourishing in the most desolate of lands. Milk and Honey is an extraordinary compilation of anguish and empowerment, the fragility and fortitude of women. Remarkable.

ACOWAR: A Most Excellent Bogan Book Review

A Court of Wings and Ruin
A Court of Thorns and Roses Book Three
Written by Sarah J Maas
Fantasy, Romance, New Adult
720 Pages
Published 2nd May 2017
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★
Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit  and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords and hunt for allies in unexpected places.
Our sheila Feyre is back and a bad arsed. She's finally gone and got herself a spine and has returned to Tamlin's shithole Spring Court, ballsy and ready to pull the wool over their eyes by leaving them up shit creek without a paddle. Mate, they've got Buckley's. Tamlin is still a wanker and beating his chest like it'll impress the sheila's and Feyre isn't having a bar of that. So once Feyre knows what that shifty prick is up to she's all hooroo dickheads, I'm going back to my hot man. Until Lucien pulls a swifty and says, I've got the hots for your sister, she's my mate and the two set off on a ripper of an adventure.

Shit's about to hit the fan. Rhysand is growling up a storm mate and the King is chucking a tanty. You see, this bloke is a bit ambitious and the greedy bastard wants to take over everything. Because the Night Court is a ripper, they're having none of that and plan on taking him on. Fistycuffs and all.

That Maas chick is shit hot right now, the sheila knows how to spin a tale and it's pretty fucking epic. Knocked my socks right off. Feyre is as cunning as a shithouse rat now, a sly sheila that's thinking bugger this shit and takes the bull by the horns. Of course it'll take a chick to get shit done. Fark oath mate.

Which brings me to why I'm speaking in bogan. For most Aussies, everyone is mate. See Dano over there? He's me mate. Robbo? Mate. Pulling at the pub on a Friday? That's not a mate, that's just pulling. I get it. Feyre and Rhysand are hot for each other and having a shag in the back paddock but fair go, when you're in the middle of epic fisticuffs with a deranged whacker, keep it in your pants son. There's a time and place to go hammer and tongs.

Translation

I really enjoyed it. Sarah J Maas is a wonderfully accomplished storyteller. Emotional and captivating.

A Shadow's Breath and Giveaway

A Shadow's Breath
Written by Nicole Hayes
Contemporary, Romance, Survival, #LoveOzYA
263 Pages
Published January 30th 2017
Add to Goodreads
★★★★
Then, things were looking up for Tessa. Her mum was finally getting her life back on track. Tessa had started seeing Nick. She was making new friends. She'd even begun to paint again.

Now, Tessa and Nick are trapped in the car after a corner taken too fast. Injured, stranded in the wilderness, at the mercy of the elements, the question becomes one of survival.

But Tessa isn't sure she wants to be found. Not after what she saw. Not after what she remembered.
Sixteen year old Tessa is conscious, her arm dislocated, bloodied and bruised as the car left the highway that promised a new direction. Nick rests behind the wheel and on a lonely, isolated road in country Victoria, the fragmented debris a contrast to the Australian landscape. 

After her father's passing, the darkness emerged. Her mother unable to care for her only child and used alcohol to paralyse her grief while her daughter felt isolated and alone. Alcoholism is an illness that in many cases also accompanies domestic violence, incidences which continue to haunt Tessa. During the depths of despair, the handsome and intelligent Nick reaches out to Tessa and offers her solace from the alcoholic fueled violence of home.

The narrative is profoundly resonating. Alcoholism and domestic violence are issues rarely encountered in young adult novels although predominant within our communities. Ellen is an alcoholic. Throughout the nonlinear narrative Ellen is determined to maintain her sobriety after the breakdown of her former relationship, her partner abusive and creating a toxic environment. The remnants of abuse and neglect weigh heavily upon the parental and daughter relationship and understandably, Tessa is reluctant to place her confidence in Ellen.
Family violence. No one had been brave enough to use that term, given there were no charges, no evidence.

Atmospheric and vibrant, the portrayal of our arid land was immaculate as the two adolescents attempt to survive. The arduous Australian climate scorching the barren Victorian landscape while on the horizon, fire approaches. It was captivating.

A Shadow's Breath is a compelling nonlinear narrative, breathtaking and atmospheric. Resonating and personal, a reminder of human fragility.
When Nicole Hayes isn't yelling at the Hawks on TV or sharing hosting duties on the all female AFL podcast The Outer Sanctum, she teaches writing and writes fiction, essays and scripts. Her debut novel, The Whole of My World was published in 2013 and was shortlisted for a Young Australians Best Book Award and longlisted for the Gold Inky Award. One True Thing, Nicole's second novel, won the Children's Peace Literature Award, is a CBCA Notable Book and was shortlisted for the WA Premier's Book Awards.

#ashadowsbreathcontest 

To celebrate our love for A Shadow's Breath, Nicole Hayes is giving away a choice of two of her titles and a $20.00AU gift voucher. To win, simply head over to Eugenia's Instagram page for more details.

Giveaway


The Names They Gave Us

The Names The Gave Us
Written by Emery Lord
Contemporary, Spirituality, Romance
400 Pages
Published June 1st 2017
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★
Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom's cancer reappears, Lucy falters, in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend pauses their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp, one for troubled kids, Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle.

Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?
Lucy Hansson finds glory in the inspiration of Our Father, a passionate parishioner honouring thy father and thy mother. A wonderful community of support for the sixteen year old high achiever. Lucy's character is delightful. She's a wonderfully positive young woman with a tremendous sense of community for her fellow parishioners. Her strong Christian beliefs extend to her relationship with fellow Christian Lukas until Lucy challenges the boundaries of their physical relationship.

Daybreak is a summer program for children and teens enduring grief, displacement and despite Lucy's reluctance, she accepts the position of counselor to satisfy her mother. The Names They Gave Us explores adolescence grief and acceptance. Lucy's mother is breast cancer survivor although in the summer of Lucy's senior year, her mother is rediagnosed and scheduled for surgery.

Lucy begins to challenge her Christian ideology, an aspect of the narrative I found fascinating. Lucy is a compassionate humanitarian but her ideology often leads to the judgement of others, including a pregnant young lady seeking guidance. Lucy's character encounters a diverse and wonderful company of counselors who have all experienced trauma or loss throughout their young lives. In particular gentle Anna and the magnificent Henry. The delicate romance between Lucy and Henry was captivating. Daybreak is a positive and maternal environment and the counselors all share a wonderfully affirming perspective.

Although Christianity and illness are components of Lucy's narrative, The essence of The Names They Gave Us is compassion. Through her interactions with fellow councilors, Lucy experiences a sense of belonging and immeasurable admiration, now accepting of new experiences guided by the group of diverse, young individuals. African American adolescents, transgender, exploring sexuality, displacement, socioeconomics, race, religion, anxiety, grief, adoption and illness. Both children and councilors were wonderfully representative of our diverse communities.

Unfortunately it ended rather abruptly and I needed closure.

Emery Lord is a prolific contemporary author, creating socially conscious characters with compassion and consideration. The Names They Gave Us is marvelously delightful, beautifully written and enchanting.

Release

Release
Written by Patrick Ness
Contemporary, LGBT, Paranormal
288 Pages
Published May 4th 2017
Thank you to Walker Books Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★
Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume's Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn It's a big day. Things go wrong. It's intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches...

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything.

It's a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won't come out of it unchanged.

And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.
Adam Thorn is sensitive, compassionate, beautiful, complicated. His grief is palpable, poignant and often confrontational. The Thorn family believe in the capacity of faith. To rehabilitate and to offer judgement especially concerning Adam's sexuality. Emotionally depleted after his relationship dissolved, Adam is navigating the parameters of a new relationship, desperate to find love once more.

Adam identifies as gay, his father using his faith to thinly veil his homophobic beliefs and whilst his sexuality isn't acknowledged categorically, he is often discussed as being dishonourable and needing to rediscover his own faith. Adam is nursing the heartbreak of first love while trying to commit to a new relationship. Adam's narration was wonderful, profound, often poignant and takes place over the span of a single day. Throughout his narration, Adam questions his own faith by being in a same sex relationship and when reaching out his evangelist father, he is ridiculed and dismissed.

Release touches on issues such as homophobia, substance abuse, manslaughter, sexual assault and the religion verses sexuality contention. Courageously and compassionately. The incorporation of sexual relationships was wonderful, a mature inclusion rarely seen in young adult novels accentuating same sex relationships.

The emphasis of Release is familiar relationships and in particular, the relationship Adam shares with his father. LGBTQIA teens and adult readers as an extension may find these particular passages confronting as it explores homophobia and erasure. Adam's family is homophobic, expressing the view that gay love is fraudulent.
It's not real love. Everybody's convinced themselves that it is, but it isn't. And it never will be.
Angela is a tremendous support to Adam, compassionate and maternal. Angela's adoptive family are wonderfully inclusive of her Korean ancestry, supporting Angela who identifies as bisexual and offering sanctuary to Adam.

The magical realism elements of Release were enchantingly lyrical, perplexing and synonymous within Patrick Ness narrations. A Queen infused with the spirit of a young women, dying from asphyxiation by her narcotic effected partner. Her companion is an anxious Faun. The two narratives converge and although peculiar and lyrically enchanting, the significance was nonsensical other than two characters seeking release


Patrick Ness is a magnificent author and Release is a tender and compassionate read, confronting and captivating until the final page.

Defy The Stars

Defy The Stars
Constellation Book One
Written by Claudia Gray
Science Fiction, Space Opera
432 Pages
Published April 2017
Thank you to Allen & Unwin and Hot Key
RRP $19.95
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up, they know that Earth's settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.

When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth's robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis' salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her, even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He's a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?

Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth's various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer, both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world's fate, and Abel's.
The Earth is dying. Countless generations of Earth residents have survived famine, contamination and the consumption of resources. Genesis is environmentally conscious and a sustainable civilisation, believed to be technologically inferior. The young inhabitants of Genesis have been conscripted for the Masada Run, a suicidal mission against the mechanised humanoid military technology, artificially intelligent beings sent to decimate Genesis assembly in order to recolonise the planet.

Noemi is a wonderful character, abrasive, determined and willing to self sacrifice for the preservation of Genesis. Seeking medical attention, Noemi embarks upon the Daedalus, the abandoned, aging and debilitated Earth spacecraft. Noemi is human, her Polynesian and Latin American ancestry the only remnants of her biological genealogy.

Abel has lived isolated on board the Daedalus for decades, his father and crew members having abandoned the vessel leaving Abel behind. Abel is a prototype of entrepreneur Burton Mansfield, creator of mechanised humanoid military technology. In isolation for thirty years has allowed Abel's technology to evolve, humanised emotions, to dream and through evolution, Noemi and Abel develop a tentative amnesty.

One aspect I really appreciated was the subtle discussion of religious spirituality and empirical science. Noemi follows the teachings of the Second Catholic Church of Genesis, her interactions with Abel were approached without intolerance. I enjoyed Noemi and Abel's comfortable companionship, a gentle progression as Abel discovers his own humanity. Delicate and captivating.

Greenhouse gas emissions, depletion of natural resources and increased population and pollution have led to the environmental decimation of Earth and Defy The Stars explores scientific, spiritualistic and environmental aspects of humanity. Defy The Stars is spectacularly atmospheric, captivating and breathtakingly celestial.
We are this world. Its next generation. If you’re not trying to save us, then what exactly are you trying to save?

This Side Of Home

This Side Of Home
Written by Renée Watson
Contemporary, Diverse, Realistic Fiction
352 Pages
Published April 1st 2017
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★
Maya Younger and her identical twin sister, Nikki, have always agreed on the important things. Friends. Boys. School. They even plan to attend the same historically African American college. But nothing can always remain the same.

As their Portland neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up and coming, Maya feels her connection to Nikki and their community slipping away. Nikki spends more time at trendy coffee shops than backyard barbecues, and their new high school principal is more committed to erasing the neighborhood's ghetto reputation than honoring its history.

Home doesn't feel like home anymore. As Maya struggles to hold on to her black heritage, she begins to wonder with whom, or where she belongs. Does growing up have to mean growing apart?
Senior Maya Younger is a remarkable young woman, articulate, intelligent and ambitious. Identical siblings Maya and Nikki aspire to attend Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college for women. The Portland neighbourhood is evolving, a predominantly black community displaced by white residents and corporate franchise stores.
They've painted and planted and made beauty out of decaying dreams. Block after block, strangers kept coming to Jackson Avenue, kept coming and changing and remaking and adding on to and taking away from.
Best friend and neighbour Essence is forced from the rental property she shares with her alcohol dependant mother, the landlord an opportunistic man exploiting the real estate demand. Another white family are now residents within the Portland community while her suburban school begins to diversify.

Maya's frustration was palpable. Her community flourishing black family homes are being acquired and businesses financially constrained while residents acclimatise. Maya has inherited her parental legacy, her mother and father community activists while encouraging Maya to uphold her ideals. As Maya and Nikki form a tentative friendship with new neighbours, Nikki is thriving, exploring the contention of Caucasians encroaching on black communities.

As senior president, Maya will collaborate with the new principle who is determined to innovate and positively influence education for all students. As Richmond tradition, the school celebrates Black History Month but as the new diversification has been introduced, African American students will celebrate diversity. The principal seemed awfully misguided. While attempting to promote inclusion, he erased the cultural signification of black teens and as a black educator he was inconsiderate and dismissive.

Instinctive prejudice and stereotyping of the African American community is predominant within the Portland suburb and touches upon black residents campaigning for community safety, beautification and infrastructure. Landlords evicting tenants from debilitated homes, refurbishing to satisfy white families. The community seems reluctantly accepting of the suburb transformation, Nikki in particular and Maya begins to challenge her sister and her ideals, causing a fracture within their relationship.

A point of contention is the flourishing interracial relationship between Maya and new neighbour Tony, shortly after her dissolving relationship with Devin.
And women throughout our neighborhood pull me aside, saying things like, "I'm glad he's dating you and not one of them." And by them they either mean a white girl or hood girl.
Although Tony is attentive and considerate, Maya experiences a sense of expectations within the wider community. Her concern of being hypocritical, dating a Caucasian Tony in contrast to diversifying her Portland town with the influx of white families. While at Richmond, white and Hispanic students are instrumental in a new diversity inclusion policy, at the detriment of black students and Black History Month. It raises the discussion of marginalisation and the erasure of racial identities in favour of inclusion. Inclusion is paramount in creating safe spaces especially with adolescents but the cultural and historical significance of Black History Month in particular should be celebrated. Black teens should be celebrated. One month per year shouldn't be infringed upon.

This Side Of Home is an intelligent read, wonderfully diverse and encourages discussion about cultural significance and inclusion. Compelling, compassionate reading.

The Blue Cat

The Blue Cat
Written by Ursula Dubosarsky
Middle Grade, Historical, Magical Realism
180 Pages
Published April 2017
Thank you  to Allen & Unwin
RRP $19.99
Add to Goodreads
★★★☆
A boy stood in the playground under the big fig tree. 'He can't speak English,' the children whispered.

Sydney, 1942. The war is coming to Australia, not only with the threat of bombardment, but also the arrival of refugees from Europe. Dreamy Columba's world is growing larger. She is drawn to Ellery, the little boy from far away, and, together with her highly practical best friend Hilda, the three children embark on an adventure through the harbourside streets. A journey of discovery and terror, in pursuit of the mysterious blue cat...
The air raid siren wails throughout Sydney harbour while American Warships dapple across the horizon. The war has reached the Australian shoreline with the Japanese military threatening a hostile destruction of the land. For Columba this is simply how we survive, we live in each moment.

While the city of Paris falls to the Germanic forces, European refugees are migrating to Australia, fractured and displaced by conflict. Ellery is a Jewish boy, withdrawn and unable to verbally communicate. Children are remarkably resilient and Columba was a wonderfully compassionate young girl and curiously, approaches Ellery.
I had never heard Ellery laugh before, not out loud. I loved the sound, it filled me up. It tinkled like a magic bird.
Ellery and Columba engage in apprehensive smiles and amiable silences, a tentative companionship leading to adventure. Columba is influenced by friend Hilda, a young girl fond of telling tales and repeating rumours. I found Hilda's character quite manipulate and relentless, insisting Ellery has migrated from Germany where his mother had perished, a casualty of war. The narrative being told through the narration of a young girl although charming, is unreliable.

At the essence of the narration is a stray Blue Cat, suspected to have escaped from the Warships dappled throughout the harbour. The role of the feline is of little significance, temporarily residing at an elderly neighbours residence when it disappears into the night. Is the Blue Cat mere symbolism for a greater relevance? Bringing communities together? The infusion of magical realism felt incoherent and as though an integral aspect of the storyline was absent, creating an incredibly abrupt ending. 

The Blue Cat is beautifully written, lyrical and delicate, within the nineteen forties atmospheric Sydney harbour. Although the narrative required direction, author Ursula Dubosarsky has created a wonderfully Australian ambiance, breathing life into our historical city landscapes.

Swoony C. J. Duggan

See my review for book one Paradise City

Paradise Road
Paradise Book Two
Written by C. J. Duggan
New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
306 Pages
Published November 22nd 2015
Thank you to Hachette Australia
★★☆
The Road to Paradise is never easy
After a year on the coast, Lexie Atkinson can't settle back into country life. She’s missing the glitzy, gritty nightlife of the big city and the group of misfit friends she’d loved to hate. She knows to move forward she has to go back, back to face the guy who stole her heart.

But when Lexie arrives in Paradise City to work out if her future includes bad boy surfer, Luke Ballantine, he is nowhere to be found.

With no home, no money and no Luke, Lexie gets a job slinging drinks at the wild Wipe Out Bar. Soon her heartache is eased when broody bar owner, Dean Saville, starts taking an interest and stirs more than just her drinks. But nothing is ever as it seems in Paradise City and when Luke barrels back into town, Lexie has a choice to make. But who will end up with the broken heart. Luke, Dean... Or Lexie?
Lexie Atkinson is back in her sleepy home town of Red Hill for the summer, grieving for the relationship what could have been. With the bright lights of Paradise City in her sights, Lexie plans to return to the city. I adored Paradise City. A small town, home schooled Lexie Atkinson was a breath of fresh air as she navigated her new life in the city. In Paradise Road, unfortunately Lexie now is under the illusion that with her aunt and uncle unable to offer her accommodation, she'll be able to find work, complete her education and become independent. The one condition that will allow her to stay.

Conveniently, the Wipe Out Bar is looking for employees and with a small room available for lodgings, Lexie is now reluctantly employed by Dean Saville. Lexie is determined and begins to assert her dominance, believing she has the authority to transform the bar into a family friendly atmosphere. Her vision was innovative but ultimately, she is a young woman who knows nothing about small business management and infringed on her employment boundaries. While Lexie is coming to terms with her relationship falling apart, Luke is consistently in her thoughts even while beginning to pursue Dean as a romantic interest.

I found the romance between Lexie and Dean improbable unfortunately due to Lexie's demeanor, interchanging one brother for another. The pleasant, country charm is replaced by a determined and arrogant young woman, naive and frustrating. Although wonderfully written, Lexie was incredibly unpleasant and hindered my enjoyment of the duology finale.



Paris Lights
Heart Of The City Book One
Written by C. J. Duggan
Adult, Contemporary, Romance
251 Pages
Published November 2016
Thank you to Hachette Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★
Twenty five year old Claire Shorten had looked forward to spending a romantic weekend in Paris for as long as she could remember, and now it was here, three blissful days of strolling through cobbled streets arm in arm with her beloved, eating copious amounts of baked goods and soaking up the culture through each and every pore of her body. Well, at least, that was how she'd pictured it.

Even after her boyfriend dumps her rather unceremoniously in the most romantic place on earth, Claire is determined not to give up on her dream altogether, with or without a boyfriend. She finds herself a job in the kitchen of a small hotel. Michelin starred it most certainly is not, but somehow Claire makes a place for herself amidst the dirty dishes and the foreign misfits who run the place.

When the restaurant attracts the attention of the enigmatic, if not slightly terrifying, tycoon Louis Delarue and Claire manages to survive his high powered business luncheon from hell, she knows that she can survive anything, surely. But all bets are off when Louis makes a game changing decision, he's coming back for a second course...
Delicacies, Parisian art galleries and boutique hotels but for Claire Shorten, Paris is an experience. Compromising her itinerary to placate Liam, Claire is astonished when her partner declares they should see other people. Claire is devastated and upon returning to the Hotel Trocadero will determine whether to return to London and the apartment she shares with Liam or Melbourne. Stricken and collapsing in the hotel foyer, the hotel personnel places Claire in a new suite at the Trocadero where the twenty five tear old Australian continues to despair. The once grand Hotel Trocadero is a commotion of anxiety and elation as they've been chosen to partake in Renovation or Detonation. Impressing the merciless Louis Delarue is paramount to the Hotel Trocadero's application and with a background in event organising, Claire will guide and motivate hotel personnel as compensation for her accommodation.

Louis Delarue is infuriating and arrogant as he is handsome, wielding wealth and influence as his weapon. Confident, capable and determined, Claire will not become a casualty to anguish, she is tenacious and will reclaim Paris and she most definitely will not succumb to the charm and sex appeal of Louis Delarue.

My Thoughts

Claire is a passive, passionate girl who departed her home town of Melbourne for London to ensure her partner Liam achieved his aspirations. As their relationship evolved, Claire relinquished her sense of identity and Liam isn't manipulative or abusive, despite the circumstances surrounding their relationship seperation. On their final day sightseeing, Liam returns to London as a bachelor while Claire remains in Paris, grieving from the loss of her disproportional relationship.

Single. In Paris. Hello Pierre.


Rather than embrace the singleton lifestyle, Claire finds herself fantasising about Louis, sexy, domineering and sexy. Yes, I mentioned sexy twice. Rather than the typical male protagonist, Louis is mature, greying temples and although described as lean, Louis is an intellect. Passionate and ambitious. Claire offered very little resistance against Louis and his charismatic innuendo and I felt slightly disappointed by the relationship between Claire and Louis as it felt purely sexual.

Sexual tension y'all.

Paris Lights is mischievous, enticing and one young woman who is determined to embrace life. A brisk, pleasant read for an afternoon on the couch. 

Remind Me How This Ends

Remind Me How This Ends
Written by Gabrielle Tozer
Contemporary, Romance, #LoveOzYA
352 Pages
Published March 27th 2017
Thank you to Harper Collins Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★★
It's the summer after high school ends and everyone is moving on. Winning scholarships. Heading to uni. Travelling the world. Everyone except Milo Dark. Milo feels his life is stuck on pause. His girlfriend is 200 kilometres away, his mates have bailed for bigger things and he is convinced he's missed the memo reminding him to plan the rest of his life. Then Layla Montgomery barrels back into his world after five years without so much as a text message.

As kids, Milo and Layla were family friends who shared everything, hiding out in her tree house, secrets made at midnight, and sunny afternoons at the river. But they haven't spoken since her mum's funeral. Layla's fallen apart since that day. She pushed away her dad, dropped out of school and recently followed her on again off again boyfriend back to town because she has nowhere else to go. Not that she's letting on how tough things have been.

What begins as innocent banter between Milo and Layla soon draws them into a tangled mess with a guarantee that someone will get hurt. While it's a summer they'll never forget, is it one they want to remember?

My Thoughts

Ambivalent eighteen year old Milo Dark is adrift after choosing to remain in the small country town of Durnan. His girlfriend flourishing at university in Canberra while Milo endures the intermediate. Isolated, dubious and detached. Milo Dark is a wonderful young man who is tormented by adulthood. His peers have abandoned the small country town of Durnan for university while Milo remains working in the Dark family bookstore and navigating a long distance relationship. Most adolescents spend thirteen years within the educational system only to apply for university dependent on tertiary requirements, compromising and negotiating. Milo's narrative echoes those overwhelming sentiments and parental expectations. As his long distance relationship begins to dissolve, childhood friend Layla arrives in Durnan after a five year absence.

It's been five years since Layla Montgomery and her father disappeared, the emotional trauma of losing his wife unbearable as is the prospect of raising his daughter alone. Layla has now returned to Durnan and resides in share accommodation with her narcotic dealer partner, desperate to recapture her life once more. Layla's partner is manipulative and emotionally abusive, exploiting her insecurities and displacement while dealing narcotics despite Layla's plea.

An unconventional romance, two young adults seeking solace in one another while their lives transition into adulthood, a reconnection as friends exploring a physical relationship. It was a comfortable, consensual relationship in which Milo and Layla found strength. It was wonderfully refreshing considering often young adult novels only explore all encompassing or toxic relationships between characters. Often friendships and physical relationships can be comforting, offering stability and release, adding a further level of maturity throughout the storyline.

Layla shares an estranged relationship with her father. Having lost her mother at an incredibly tender age, her father immersed within his own grief was unable to offer Layla stability. Her father now has a wonderful long term partner who's supportive and nurturing and it was a moment of rejoice as Layla escaped her manipulative relationship. Milo's parents attempt to offer support which involves disappointment, misleading suggestions and ultimatums. They refuse to allow Milo to dwell within Durnan but in their attempt at motivation, it further highlights why adolescents need encouragement, not ultimatums.

Both Milo and Layla felt emotionally fragile to varying degrees and reminiscent of my own further education, I experienced similar feelings of resentment and depressive moods. Education is important but as Milo's narration demonstrates, it's important to forge your own pathways, experience life and to find who you are and your place within our ever changing world.

It was phenomenal.

Gabrielle Tozer is an exceptional author who creates vivid narratives and characters that are relatable and remarkable. Remind Me How This Ends is emotional, impactful and absolutely superb.

Blog Tour: Queens Of Geek

Queens Of Geek
Written by Jen Wilde
Contemporary, LGBT, Diverse, Romance
Published April 24th 2017
288 Pages
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
Charlie likes to stand out. She's a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she's over her public breakup with costar Reese Ryan. When internet famous cool girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie's long time crush on her isn't as one sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there's one thing in her life she knows will never change, her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie, no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favourite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
Eighteen year old Charlie is an internet sensation and has been invited to attend the premier fan based pop culture convention to promote her debut independent film. Escorted by best friends Taylor and Jamie, the convention is an opportunity for Charlie to establish her career after her relationship dissolved with actor Ryan, who is also in attendance.

Taylor stands in line at her first convention, sharing her experience on her Tumblr page, a inspiration for societal anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorder. While Chalie attends promotional panels to promote her independent film, Taylor and best friend Jamie are left to immerse themselves, the pinnacle is fictional Queen Fireheart, a heroine that fought alongside Taylor during her moments of need.

My Thoughts

Two vibrant, realistic and remarkable young women.

Positive friendships are quintessential in young adult literature and should be celebrated and encouraged. Charlie and Taylor are contrasting characters, both determined young women who share a quiet resilience to our ever changing societies. Jamie and Taylor have a wonderfully gentle friendship, encouraging, supportive and quite flirtatious. Jamie was tremendous support for Taylor and although has never experienced anxiety, is compassionate and considerate of Taylor's needs.

The relationships were beautifully portrayed. Taylor's narrative explored her relationship with Jamie, the anxiety and hesitation. Charlie's relationship with her fellow actor Ryan has dissolved, celebrating the emergence of her independence. At the tender age of fourteen Charlie identified as bisexual, a positive and affirming realisation that she has embraced despite Ryan's biphobia. Internet sensation Alyssa Huntington is a wonderful character, tenacious and comfortable within her sexuality. A passionate intersectional feminist, the attraction between Alyssa and Charlie was captivating. I appreciate a relationship in which characters communicate and although Charlie is hesitant to embark on another public relationship, Alyssa is a wonderful support for Charlie.

It also addresses sexism, especially within the entertainment industry. Male actors are revered for their capability to perform whilst their female counterparts are distinguished by their appearance.

Queens Of Geek is magnificent and an own voices narrative. Author Jen Wilde also identifies as Autistic, Bisexual, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety. A resounding applause from readers for affirming and positive portrayals. Charlie, Taylor and Jamie are Australian and although the convention transpires in San Diego, the narrative is universal. Friendship, relationships and a sense of belonging.
For the first time in my life, I don't feel like I have to try to fit in, because I'm surrounded by people who are as passionate and excited about the same things I am. For the first time, I'm not totally alone in my weirdness. My weird is normal here. My weird is embraced, accepted, and expected. You guys, I'm starting to love my weird.
Bisexuality, Chinese Australian protagonist, sex positive, same sex female relationships, positive friendships, support networks. Queens Of Geek breaks down the barriers of body shaming, toxic relationships, slut shaming, Austism, mental illness, societal illnesses and the reality of expectations young adults place upon themselves.

When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi
Written by Sandhya Menon
Contemporary, Diverse, Romance
Expected Publication June 1st 2017
384 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★★
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the Ideal Indian Husband. Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers… Right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him, wherein he’ll have to woo her, he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this suggested arrangement so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
When Dimple Met Rishi is one of the loveliest contemporary young adult novels I've had the privilege of reading and the epitome of young adult literature. Representative and diverse experiences with an affirming narration.

Dimple Shah is a spirited young woman who is determined to push patriarchal career boundaries. Before she attends Stanford University, Dimple plans to attend an internet development program for aspiring developers, much to the dismay of her traditional Indian mother who believes in the traditional roles of women. To marry and raise children.

Rishi Patel is a quiet and charming young man, a traditionalist that has abandoned his artistic passion to pursue an Engineering degree to placate his parents. Before attending University, Rishi will attend a development program to rendezvous with his intended, unbeknownst to Dimple who is accosted by the enthusiastic Rishi.

The romance was captivating.
And then he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her to him, one hand moving up to cup her cheek, thumb just under her jaw while his fingers tangled in her hair. Rishi kissed her with purpose, with meaning, like he believed this was exactly where they were supposed to be in this moment. He kissed her till she believed it too.
Dimple and Rishi are wonderful individuals. Determined and enterprising but ultimately family orientated. Dimple is comfortable within her Indian American heritage but challenges her traditional parental ideals while Rishi is a traditionalist. Although Dimple opposes the perception of the Ideal Indian Husband she remains faithful to her culture. The eldest of two children, Rishi perceives his younger brother as carefree while abandoning his own aspirations of becoming a comic book illustrator, burdened by parental expectations. Rishi allows Dimple to establish the parameters of their tentative friendship, consistently the gentleman.

The narrative traverses a six week period of the development program and over the course of the duration, Dimple establishes a friendship with a girl who she shared an internet friendship with prior to arriving. It also explores casual racism and stereotypes associated with socioeconomically prestige. It was incredibly sex positive and touches upon the choice of sex before marriage and faith, something I've yet to find within young adult.

The infusion of Indian culture was magnificent. Arranged marriage is often viewed as negative and often oppressive by western societal ideals, ignorant perceptions of forced unions and the lovely Mishma addresses the wonderful representation of Indian culture within her review and the concept of positively depicting arranged marriage.

Debut author Sandhya Menon has woven an incredibly endearing narrative, an affluent and opulent diverse narration that is inspiring and delightful. 

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls
Written by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
Non Fiction, Feminism, Shirt Stories
Published March 20th 2017
212 Pages
Thank you to Penguin Australia
Add to Goodreads
★★★★★
What if the princess didn't marry Prince Charming but instead went on to be an astronaut? What if the jealous step sisters were supportive and kind? And what if the queen was the one really in charge of the kingdom?

Illustrated by sixty female artists from every corner of the globe, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls introduces us to one hundred remarkable women and their extraordinary lives. Empowering, moving and inspirational, these are true fairy tales for heroines who definitely don't need rescuing.
Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls is inspirational. One hundred accomplished women from all around the globe who are shattering stereotypes and forging pathways for generations of women pushing against the glass ceiling in our patriarchal societies.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
Wonderfully illustrated by sixty female artists representing our diverse and cultural lands, illustrating women as distinguished and accomplished. As tenacious.

 

 

Amelia Earhart, an aviator from the United States and the first woman who achieved the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Coy Mathis an elementary school student and  transgender girl who challenged the education department. Irish pirate Grace O'Malley refused to surrender to the English rule whilst Jacquotte Delahaye who commanded a legion of pirates with her girlfriend and fellow pirate. Kate Sheppard a New Zealand suffragette. Loren an Apache warrior among men. Mae Carol Jemison an American engineer, physician and NASA astronaut.

Each page is dedicated to a brilliant woman who has excelled in her field of expertise and accompanied by a bright and wonderfully interpretative illustration. The magnitude of women featured throughout Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls reflect our communities, celebrating ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, disability and socioeconomic diversity from the Republic of Mauritius, India, Sudan, Cuba, Italy, United Arab Eremites, Canada, Russia, Burma, Mexico, Somalia, Haiti, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Columbia, Kenya and western countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and of course, Australia and New Zealand.

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls is a magnificent. A celebration of feminism for children and adults to inspire imagination and dream the impossible as possible.

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
Add to Goodreads
★★★★★
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
Add to Goodreads
★★★★★
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
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
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.

Follow Blessie via  Mischievous Reads  TWITTER   INSTAGRAM   GOODREADS

Night Swimming

Night Swimming
Written by Steph Bowe
Contemporary, Diverse, #LoveOzYA
311 Pages
Published April 3rd 2017
Thank you to Text Publishing
Add to Goodreads
★★★★★
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
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
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
Add to Goodreads
★★★★☆
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. 
© Diva Booknerd. Design by Fearne.