Bone Gap

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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


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

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

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

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

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

Draekora

Check out my reviews for Akarnae and Raelia

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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


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

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


Guest Review: Twist

Guest review by Blessie from Mischievous Reads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Night Swimming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geekerella

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

The Song Rising

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Nowhere Near You

See my review for Because You'll Never Meet Me

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

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

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

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