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
Add to Goodreads
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
Add to Goodreads
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
Add to Goodreads
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
Add to Goodreads
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. 


Frostblood Saga Book One
Written by Elly Blake
Published January 10th 2017
384 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
Add to Goodreads
In a land governed by the cruel Frostblood ruling class, seventeen year old Ruby is a Fireblood who has spent most of her life hiding her ability to manipulate heat and light - until the day the soldiers come to raid her village and kill her mother. Ruby vows revenge on the tyrannous Frost King responsible for the massacre of her people.

But Ruby's powers are unpredictable... And so are the feelings she has for Arcus, the scarred, mysterious Frostblood warrior who shares her goal to kill the Frost King, albeit for his own reasons. When Ruby is captured by the Frost King's men, she's taken right into the heart of the enemy. Now she only has one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who took everything from her and in doing so, she must unleash the powers she's spent her whole life withholding.
For generations, Firebloods have been coveted throughout the kingdom, the Frost King lineage decimating villages in their search for a Fireblood to fulfill the prophecy. Ruby is a Fireblood, her power unharnessed since her grandmother passed, her mother a simple healer who is determined to protect her only child. Until the soldiers pillage the small settlement and Ruby is captured attempting to flee.

Abused and tormented, Ruby is imprisoned and awaiting her fate when she is freed and taken to the Abbey. Under the watchful eye of the monastery and Arcus, a lone Frostblood warrior as infuriating as he is handsome, Ruby is determined to avenge the destruction and senseless killings of impoverished villages and the genocide of the Fireblood lineage.

My Thoughts

Frostblood was enchanting and delightful, reminiscent of wondrous fairytales and captivating fables.

Seventeen year old Ruby is a Fireblood in a kingdom under the tyrannical command of the Frost King, where villages are tormented and burnt to the ground in the search for Firebloods. Ruby can create fire in a kingdom of ice and frost, making her a commodity. Ruby's narrative was compelling. Although she's aware of her ability to create fire, Ruby defies her mother's wishes and practices perfecting her craft each day under the guise of the forest canopy. She's feisty and blinded by revenge as the Frost King's guard burns her village to the ground and takes her captive only to be freed.

Arcus is a character veiled in secrecy, hostile and detached as he begins to assist Ruby in cultivating her abilities. The tentative friendship was charming and incredibly entertaining as the two used thinly veiled insults to conceal their growing attraction.

The romance was absolutely lovely, gentle and gathers a gradual momentum. Both Arcus and Ruby are tenacious and I loved their enchanting courtship amidst the insults and mockery. 
You don’t know the effect your words have on me, Lady Firebrand. It took years to build up this ice. You will melt it and then I will be broken.
Blinded by revenge, both Ruby and Arcus share a common ambition, to abolish the Frost King and protect the monastery but the King has plans for the liberated Fireblood.

I was enamored by the world Elly Blake envisioned, beautiful and captivating. I was pleasantly delighted by Frostfire. An admirable an enthralling debut that held me captive until the final page.

Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones
Written by Craig Silvey
Contemporary, #LoveOzYA, Mystery
Published March 31st 2009
394 Pages
Add to Goodreads
Published by Allen & Unwin Australia
Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.

Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it's here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper's horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.

And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.
In the town of Corrigan, a knocking breaks the silence of night. Town pariah Jasper Jones is outside Charlie's window, frantic, desperate and with a secret that will devastate the community. Thirteen year old Charlie knows Jasper only by reputation, his father's alcoholism and rebellious notoriety, racism thinly disguised as small town prejudice due to Jasper's Indigenous mother.

While navigating Jasper's circumstances, Charlie begins to observe the injustices of Corrigan. The racial torment his best friend Jeffrey Lu endures as he is determined to play cricket for the small community, why his mother is so abrasive and unnecessarily stern, Eliza, the town recluse Mad Jack Lionel and Jasper, a boy who under devastating circumstances, has taught Charlie to live.

My Thoughts

Jasper Jones is an honest portrayal of the nineteen sixties in small town Australia, confronting, compelling and captivating.

The Community of Corrigan is a charming town, they're passionate about their sporting prowess, upholding the law and being pleasant to their neighbours. As long as your neighbours are white. On a warm Australian summer night, fourteen year old Charlie Bucktin walked through Corrigan with sixteen year old Jasper Jones, his innocence and naivety abandoned to the night.
How strange and abandoned and unsettled I am. Like a snowdome paper weight that's been shaken. There's a blizzard in my bubble. Everything in my world that was steady and sure and sturdy has been shaken out of place, and it's now drifting and swirling back down in a confetti of debris.
Jasper Jones is a quiet, intelligent, part Indigenous Australian young man in a predominantly white town. He's treated as an outcast and the harbinger of disorder, culpable for crime and leading their youth astray. Since losing his mother, his alcoholic father had abandoned the family home and his son, leaving the sixteen year old to fend for himself. Jasper's discovery is sickening, incredibly confronting and violent but imperative to the narrative.

Charlie is young and charmingly naive. His mother is verbally abusive and acidic, frustrated at her life cemented in small town Australia. His father, a local teacher and a strong advocate for the written word. Charlie's father is a kind and gentle soul, withstanding the vitriolic attitude of his wife. His love of words has encouraged Charlie to read and aspire to become an author himself.

The town of Corrigan is fueled by racial tension and exclusion during the Vietnam war era, experienced by Charlie's best friend Jeffrey Lu and his family, having migrated by Vietnam. Jeffrey was a wonderful friend to Charlie, supportive and endlessly amusing. The racism and cruelty that the Lu family faces was deplorable. The casual bullying by the local cricket team that Jeffrey was so desperately seeking inclusion, the physical and racial verbal abuse by teens and complacent adults was nothing short of disgusting. Jeffrey was inspirational, determined to prove his sporting worth despite his small stature.

Although the community mentality has begun to progress, Jasper Jones is confronting, especially for those who have experienced violence, racism or prejudice, although Charlie's white narrative tends to obscure the explicit nature for the teen audience. An important fictional narrative of Australian history.

It was phenomenal.
© Diva Booknerd. Design by Fearne.