If Birds Fly Back

If Birds Fly Back
Written by Carlie Sorosiak
Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
352 Pages
Published June 27th 2017
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
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★★★★
Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she's scared that Grace might never come back.
When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it's a sign. Surely Álvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back and how to bring her sister home?

Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he's only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces.

As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Álvaro's disappearance and return, their planets start to collide. Linny's life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters.
Prolific author and filmmaker Álvaro Herrera had disappeared, presumed dead. Emerging from the wilderness, Álvaro is the newest resident at Silver Springs Retirement Community where sixteen year old Marilyn and seventeen year old Sebastian have both volunteered for the Florida summer.

Untraceable and elusive, Grace abandoned her family taking her guitar and the colour from Marilyn's world. At sixteen years of age Linny carries the weight of parental expectations, suffocating within the sterile environment her meticulous mother has established. Linny is reluctantly coerced to volunteer at Silver Sounds Retirement Community, a predecessor to a medical profession. Álvaro represents the population who succumbed to wanderlust, those who have sought adventure only to reunite with their families and uncovering their motives may guide Grace home.

Sebastian is a young aspiring astrophysicist who has recently discovered the identity of his biological father. On a journey from Los Angeles to Miami, Sebastian plans to confront the man who abandoned his mother but upon arriving at Silver Springs Retirement Community, discovers an elderly ambiguous man. Sebastian has wonderful support to shoulder his heavy burden. Best friend Micah who is Korean American and adopted by two Caucasian Christians, his mother and aunt Ana, where he is currently residing. 

Linny confides within her journal pages. Her parents are grief stricken and although continue to leave their home illuminated each night, are gradually erasing Grace from their lives. Her closest friends are conceited and emphatically condescending, trivialising what may be perceived as undiagnosed depression. Wonderfully diverse, Marilyn a Nigerian American and Sebastian who is experiencing identity loss once his mother remarried and abstains from speaking Spanish. Cuban American Álvaro is an enigmatic character, a commanding presence throughout the narration which unites both adolescents for a common cause.

Debut author Carlie Sorosiak has composed a compelling narrative of compassion and discovery with vibrant, diverse characters. Delicate, tender and ingenuous.

How To Bee

How To Bee
Written by Bren MacDibble
Middle Grade, Science Fiction
213 Pages
Published May 2017
Thank you to Allen & Unwin
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★★★★★
Peony lives with her sister and grandfather on a fruit farm outside the city. In a world where real bees are extinct, the quickest, bravest kids climb the fruit trees and pollinate the flowers by hand. All Peony really wants is to be a bee. Life on the farm is a scrabble, but there is enough to eat and a place to sleep, and there is love. Then Peony's mother arrives to take her away from everything she has ever known, and all Peony's grit and quick thinking might not be enough to keep her safe.

How To Bee is a beautiful and fierce novel for younger readers, and the voice of Peony will stay with you long after you read the last page.
Nine year old Peony aspires to become a Bee, a member of the team of children who hand pollinate the orchards at the Goulburn Valley plantation. Peony and sister Magnolia live with their ageing grandfather while their mother migrated to the city, supporting the family to purchase medicine and trade for the ferocious winter season. The Goulburn Valley community is responsible for producing fresh produce for wealthy, urban residents.

Peony is a perceptive and ambitious young lady, agile and slight, the perfect candidate to be awarded with the prestigious delegation of Bee. Peony and Magnolia share a wonderful relationship, their grandfather a tender and gentle man guiding two wonderful young ladies in the absence of their mother. The Goulburn Valley community is considerate, compassionate and although physically exhausting, the orchard is an invaluable resource. 

Peony and Magnolia's mother is a woman who is effortlessly manipulated. Rosie relinquished her responsibilities and migrated to the urban district to provide for her family. Returning to Goulburn Valley, Rosie insists Peony accompany her, expected to serve a wealthy urban family. Peony is inconsolable. Rosie has embarked on a new relationship with a degenerate and violent man, examining domestic violence, child endangerment and parental neglect. The friendship between Peony and Esmeralda is endearing. Esmeralda is the daughter of Peony's new employer who experiences social agoraphobia. Through compassion, Peony and Esmeralda reach an understanding. Peony will encourage Esmeralda to alleviate her anxiety and sequentially, Peony will return to Goulburn Valley.

The honey bee is obsolete, famine resulted in the decimation of organic pollination and How To Bee introduces middle grade readers to the environmental impact human development, pesticides, disease and climate change have affected populations. Displaced families throughout the urban district are living below the poverty line, at Goulburn Valley, families reside in meagre dwellings and although the sense of community is wonderfully portrayed, the socioeconomic divide is prevalent. Displaced and forcibly removed from the Goulburn Valley environment, the narrative may also be perceived as a gentle reminder of Australia's colonisation.

How To Bee is enchanting and atmospheric, achingly beautiful. Captivating until the final page.

Trust

Contains sensitivities such as violence, assault, substance abuse and intimidation

Trust
Written by Kylie Scott
Mature Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
382 Pages
Publishing July 18th 2017
Thank you to Kylie Scott and Netgalley
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★★★★
After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen year old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.

While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight, getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.

An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first, losing her virginity, their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose. Each other.
Seventeen year old Edith has been taken hostage. Lying on the floor of the convince store bloodied and terrified. While Edie survived the volatile hostage the repercussions of her trauma have altered Edie's perspective, abandoning her private school education and enrolling at the local public school in Northern California where she will become another young woman within the nondescript student community.

John is plagued by nightmares. Surviving the convenience store ordeal, the former narcotics trafficker is determined to change perceptions, returning to solitary and exclusion. Although John internalises the confrontation, Edie reluctantly attends counselling. Tethered by the harrowing experience, Edie and John discover companionship in one another, a tentative friendship flourishing.

Edie is a quiet, intellectual young woman who survived a terrifying and violent hostage incident. Although experiencing anxiety, the incident has emphasised how fragile our lives are when faced with adversity and encourages Edie to appreciate each moment. Edie is magnificent. Mostly. Her tenacity to confront her oppressor was a culmination of abuse and torment because she's a voluptuous young woman. Edie is confident but experiences moments of insecurity but with her positive perspective, refuses to allow others to demoralise or degrade her. It was wonderfully portrayed. 

John is an intriguing young man who was coerced into dispensing narcotics after his parents relocated, placing John under the supervision of his brother. John is afflicted by post traumatic stress disorder and although often agitated and sullen, remained resilient although tormented by nightmares. Aesthetically, John is a prototypical male protagonist. Attractive, indifferent and assured. In an act of altruism, John valiantly liberates Edie by confronting the perpetrator. Throughout their tentative friendship, John and Edie are a tremendous support to one another.

If rumours are to be believed, John prefers sexual encounters with various consenting partners. Positive sexual liberation is a wonderful exploration for teens but John and Edie became too dependant on their friendship to allow the other to explore relationships beyond their companionship. The gradual relationship between John and Edie was lovely but the decision to begin their physical relationship felt contrived. The narrative ventured into what is typically viewed as a conventional new adult romance and although I applaud authors who create positive sexual content, I felt mildly disappointed. Trust also touches upon post traumatic stress disorder, abuse, substance abuse and domestic violence. Delicately. 

Kylie Scott is a wonderfully accomplished author.  Trust is a pragmatic and conscientious narrative, captivating and tender, emphasising our fragility when faced with adversity. To appreciate each moment.

Risk. A Must Read

Risk
Written by Fleur Ferris
Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery
279 Pages
Published July 2015
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★★★★★
Taylor and Sierra have been best friends for their whole lives. But Taylor’s fed up. Why does Sierra always get what, and who she wants? From kissing Taylor’s crush to stealing the guy they both met online for herself, Sierra doesn’t seem to notice when she hurts her friends.

So when Sierra says Jacob Jones is the one and asks her friends to cover for her while she goes to meet him for the first time, Taylor rolls her eyes.

But Sierra doesn’t come back when she said she would.

One day. Two days. Three...

What if Taylor’s worrying for nothing? What if Sierra’s just being Sierra, forgetting about everyone else to spend time with her new guy? When Taylor finally tells Sierra’s mum that her daughter is missing, Taylor and her friends are thrown into a dark world they never even knew existed.

Can Taylor find Sierra’s abductor in time? Or should she be looking for a killer?
Fifteen year old Sierra was vivacious, a compassionate young woman, beautiful and captivating until an encounter with online predator Jacob Jones. Sierra is sexually active and her behaviour often characterised as destructive, so when she decides to spend the night with Jacob Jones, fifteen year old Taylor is concerned of the consequences of Sierra's lies.

Sierra isn't answering her phone. As the hours pass, the four young friends begin to speculate where Sierra is. While Riley is skeptical, Callum is concerned for Sierra's well being. Yet, her absence is unreported. Forty eight hours since Sierra disappeared with Jacob Jones and detectives are desperately searching for the fifteen year old. In retrospect, Taylor is left to speculate whether she was a friend to Sierra by allowing her to engage Jacob Jones unaccompanied. Taylor held resentment for Sierra's popularity but is she partially culpable? Mutual friend Riley is venomous, her character continuously shamed Sierra for her confidence and tenacity while Taylor compared herself to Sierra. Neither responsible for Sierra's choices but the toxicity of their friendship resulted in the delay in reporting her disappearance.

Jacob Jones doesn't exist. The online predator perused websites for vulnerable young women to manipulate into online relationships, using the young victim's social media accounts to accumulate information. Technology has introduced unwelcome communication throughout our safe spaces, predators potentially have access to children, posing as teens whilst creating an online persona. In Sierra's situation, the man posing as Jacob Jones used a proxy which allowed the predator to engage with both Sierra and Taylor anonymously.

Sierra's abduction is confronting and the ramifications reverberate throughout the community. Taylor believes she is culpable for Sierra's disappearance and creates a cautionary website to warn other young females about predatory behaviour online, encouraging teens to share their stories. Risk is inundated with young women with similar experiences.

Risk is compelling, exploring the anguish of despair and the cautionary narrative of communicating online often with concealed predators and pedophiles. A distressing realism facing adolescents as lives migrate online. Fleur Ferris examines the consequences, often within safe spaces that are infiltrated and provoking discussion within our adolescence communities. Distressing, poignant and captivating until the final page. 

#LoveOzYABloggers 001: High School

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

High School

For most adults reminiscing about their adolescence, high school was a moment of being carefree, of learning responsibilities and our place within the world. During my own adolescent years I was preoccupied with fashion and friendship rather than reading. With much regret. #LoveOzYA provides young adults with wonderful coming of age contemporaries, profound narratives and characters that will captivate readers until the final page.

Saving Francesca is a compassionate coming of age story, told from the perspective of a girl who is struggling to find her place in the world without her mother. You can continue the story of Saving Francesca character Jimmy Hailler in When Rosie Met Jim.

Green Valentine is wonderful coming of age with a strong environmental conscious, that proves that friendship and falling in love really knows no bounds.

Summer Skin is a book to empower young women. The snark, the strong female characters, the compassion and tenderness. The message of being your own person and fighting against the stereotypes of both sexes. Buy it. Idolise it. Refer to it as the thinking young woman's bible. 




My Review
Penguin Australia
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My Review
Allen & Unwin
Add to Goodreads
My Review
Allen & Unwin
Add to Goodreads

The next #LoveOzYABloggers is Fantasy recommendations. 

They Both Die at the End

They Both Die at the End
Written by Adam Silvera
Contemporary, Science Fiction, LGBTQIA
304 Pages
Expected publication October 1st 2017
Thank you to Simon & Schuster
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★★★★★
When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn't know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalised father, and his best friend and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it's his last chance to get out there and make an impression.

Rufus is busy beating up his ex girlfriend's new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it's time to run.

Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that this would involve falling in love...
The phone rings moments after midnight. Death Cast wishes to inform you that today will be your last day but for seventeen year old Mateo, today will be day he has chosen to live. Mateo is a wonderfully compassionate young man, conscientious and meticulous. Mateo contemplates his final moments, despondent, isolated and seeking companionship. The Last Friend network encouraging Deckers to atone, to live within the moment and find solace. Mateo lives in solitude, his mother passed away seventeen years prior while his father remains unconscious, debilitated and receiving palliative care. His platonic relationship with Lidia is wonderful, a tremendous support to the young single mother since losing her partner.

Eighteen year old Rufas has also received his Death Cast forecast, several months after the lives of his family members were claimed in an accident Rufas survived. Rufas is indignant, a violent young man evading the authorities after a physical assault, which some readers may find confronting. With his friends detained in custody, Rufas has registered with the Last Friend network and connects with fellow New York resident Mateo. Rufas is an interesting character, an instinctive leader accepting of his forecast. 

The narration takes place within New York City. Wonderfully atmospheric, it explores the ambiance of New York and the colourful, diverse residents. Mateo is Puerto Rican American, Rufas identifies as bisexual. Amidst their journey, the narrative introduces the voices of New York. Migrants, immigrants, same sex couples. Community kindness and fragments of the lives intersecting the Last Day journey, through coincidence and circumstance.

The contemporary science fiction fusion offered no explanation to how Death Cast had evolved or how a death forecast is determined. Which was of little impact overall. A Herald will inform recipients they will meet an untimely death within the next twenty four hours and although they cannot suspend the forecast, they are afforded the opportunity to live a final day. While Rufus seems comfortable within his mortality, Mateo is experiencing anxiety and concerned for those he leaves behind. His unconscious father, Lidia and his neighbours. Rufas begins to gently persuade Mateo to live spontaneously. Mateo is a wonderful influence on Rufas. The blossoming friendship and tentative relationship was captivating.

Adam Silvera is magnificent storyteller and They Both Die at the End is his most prolific release to date. Personal and resonating, to live in the moment, to be spontaneous.
I wasted all those yesterdays and am completely out of tomorrows. 
Mad love Adam Silvera, mad love.
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