Because Of You

Because Of You
Written by Pip Harry
Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, #LoveOzYA
264 Pages
Published August 1st 2017
Thank you to UQP
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★★★★★
Meet Tiny and Nola. Two very different girls with two very different stories who are just trying to find a place to belong. A powerful and compelling novel about friendship, love and acceptance.

Tiny is an eighteen year old girl living on the streets in Sydney, running from her small town past. She finds short term accommodation at Hope Lane, a shelter for the homeless where she meets Nola, a high school student on volunteer placement.

Both girls share their love of words through the Hope Lane writing group. Can they share their secrets, too?
Seventeen year old Lola Piper is an intelligent young woman, attractive, wealthy and privileged. As a curricular activity required by her prestigious Sydney college, Lola has reluctantly volunteered to assist at Hope House, a shelter for the homeless community that offers activities for residents, sharing their stories through creativity. Lola is the offspring of two wonderful parents, coparenting friends. Both Lola's mother and father are gay, her father a nurturing transgender woman who became Lola's primary caregiver while postponing her celebrated career. Lola's parents are a wonderful, guiding influence in her life, inspiring equality, compassion and tenacity.

Eighteen year old Tiny has been sleeping on the streets of Sydney since escaping her home town of Dubbo, sleep deprived and depressed. As winter begins to descend upon the city, Tiny is offered a three month residency at Hope Lane and through the compassion of others, also begins to change Lola's perceptions. Tiny is a captivating character, a wonderful young woman who is a casualty of her circumstances, homeless and not afforded the same opportunities as privileged Australians. Through creative poetry, Tiny begins to confide in Lola.

Throughout the narrative, Pip Harry illustrates the callous installation of defence architecture, metal spikes used as a deterrent to erase homelessness from public exposure. While our governments allocate funding to frivolous enterprises, councils prohibit homeless communities sleeping within the city centre, denying those seeking safety in public places. In Melbourne, the Lord Mayor has amended the legislation to allow police to remove provisional forms of accommodation, further displacing the homeless members of our community.

Pip Harry is remarkable. Because Of You is the immaculate and captivating narrative of the Hope Lane community, a homeless initiative that encourages our most vulnerable community members to communicate through creativity. Inspirational and influential. 

No Limits: A Bogan Book Review

No Limits
Written by Ellie Marney
Contemporary, Romance, Suspense, New Adult
508 Pages
Expected Publication August 14th 2017
Thank you to Ellie Marney
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★★★★☆
Boozer, brawler, ladies' man, nineteen year old Harris Derwent is not a good guy.

His one attempt to play the hero, helping out his old flame, Rachel Watts, has landed him in hospital. Now injured, broke, and unemployed, he’s stuck back in the country, at his father’s mercy. Harris needs to pay off his dad’s debts, and fast. But working as a runner for a drug cartel is a dangerous path, especially if Harris agrees to narc…

Eighteen year old Amita Blunt is the perfect police sergeant’s daughter, practical, trustworthy, and oh-so responsible. Getting involved in Harris’s case was never part of the plan. But working at the hospital, she’s invisible, which makes her the ideal contact for a boy feeding information back to the police...

Harris and Amie’s connection is sizzling hot, but if the cartel finds out about them, things could get downright explosive. Backed into a corner, with everything at stake, it’s time for Harris and Amie to find out if love really has no limits…
Feeling like a dickhead after telling Rachel Watts he had the hots for her, Harrison Derwent has pissed off back to Ouyen. His leg is cactus after being banged up at the quarry. Harris may be a hot spunk but he's had a pretty shit life, his old man is a shitfaced bastard who knocked him around after his mum nicked of with the ankle biter. So the dunny rat offers him a deal. He'll tell Harris where his mum pissed off to and Harris will put up with his abuse and fuckery. The old prick is sick and Harris being a bit of a softie, says why the hell not.

Big mistake son.

Amita Blunt is a top chick. The daughter of the local copper, it's been Amie and her old man since her mum died. Amie works at the Ouyen hospital mending brawlers, guys knocked about after a night on the piss and the odd ice addict. She's heard the rumours about Harris, a knockabout guy who likes to get his kit off but no one prepared her for the shit that's gonna go down. It'll be fucking epic.

Amie and Harris are a goer. She's treating his leg and he's trying hard not to pitch a tent. Harris needs cash. His old man owes a shitload in gambling debts and bar tabs and being the dickhead that he is, Harris will have to clean up after the fucker. The local weed drongos are offering cash to move up to Mildura and run ice to the junkies. Harris is tempted but he's sweet on Amie and dobs to her copper dad instead.

That Marney chick is sick mate. The eye rooting and pashing is bang on. Amie is an Indian Australian chick and it was a corker seeing a biracial sheila thrown in. Australia's a massive country and we've all mates who migrated here. Even Harris being a bit of a knob at times, Amie's nanna had the hots for him too. When you're sex on legs like that piece of man candy, can't blame a woman for wanting him to put his shoes under her bed.

Look mate, you don't need to read Marney's Every series to give these two dags a fair go but I reckon she'll be right. You'll remember Harris from Every Move when he as trying to give it a burl with Rachel Watts and deadset he's come a long way. Ellie Marney is a fair dinkum Aussie icon. Like Acca Dacca, moccos and flannies. I love this sheila.

The Dream Walker

The Dream Walker
Written by Victoria Carless
Contemporary, Magical Realism, #LoveOzYA
256 Pages
Published June 27th 2017
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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★★★☆
The weight of a secret can drag you under.

Sixteen year old Lucy Hart has been counting the days till she can get the hell out of Digger's Landing, a small Queensland fishing hamlet home to fifteen families, a posse of mongrel dogs and Parkers Corner Store. No apostrophe and nowhere near a corner.

But just like the tides, Lucy's luck is on the turn, and as graduation nears her escape plans begin to falter, her best friend, Polly, is dropping out of school to help pay the bills, and Tom has been shipped off to boarding school, away from the flotsam of this place. And then there's Lucy's nightlife, which is filled with dreams that just don't seem to belong to her at all...

When the fish stop biting, like they did when her mum was still around, Lucy realises she isn't the only one with a secret.
Digger's Landing is a barren landscape of decrepit dwellings, residents livelihoods flowing with the tides of the local creek that sustains the small coastal town. Sixteen year old Lucy Hart is grieving for her spontaneous and spirited mother, her body salvaged from the water forsaking those she leaves behind. Lucy walks among the subconscious minds of slumbering Digger's Landing residents, observing their aspirations and desires sharing a prevailing theme. Lucy's mother.

Digger's Landing is an underprivileged socioeconomic community in Far North Queensland and sustained by the local creek. Lucy and her widowed father are residents of the predominantly Australian and Indigenous Australian community, where the emphasis is placed upon labour of the land rather than education in order to support those living in impoverished conditions. Lucy aspires to leave Digger's Landing, displaced since the suicide of her mother while her father is disengaged. The relationship between Lucy and her father is constrained and Lucy feels progressively isolated.

I enjoyed the friendship between Lucy and friend Polly, a wonderful young lady who is believed to be Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander. While Lucy continues her education, Polly abandons school to financially support her family. Mutual friend Tom is an interesting character and potential love interest for Lucy. Comparatively, all three adolescents experience the burden of parental expectations of varying degrees.

The magical realism elements were captivating. Since a car accident months prior, Lucy has been able to walk among the dreamers of Digger's Landing as a bystander. It's through the subconscious minds of others where she is able to see her mother, a woman who had a profound effect on the small coastal community. The narrative also explores impoverishment, suicide, environmental sustainability and parental neglect. Often confronting whilst challenging the privilege of readers.

The rural location was breathtaking and incredibly atmospheric, although I found the narrative languished at times and was disappointed the Indigenous Australian aspect wasn't further explored. The Dream Walker is a confident and enchanting debut novel from a fresh and wonderful new voice in Australian young adult literature.

Living On Hope Street

Living On Hope Street
Written by Demet Divaroren
Contemporary, #LoveOzYA
256 Pages
Published June 2017
Thank you to Allen & Unwin
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★★★★★
We all love someone. We all fear something. Sometimes they live right next door or even closer.

Kane will do everything he can to save his mother and his little brother Sam from the violence of his father, even if it means becoming a monster himself. Mrs Aslan will protect the boys no matter what, even though her own family is in pieces. Ada wants a family she can count on, while she faces new questions about herself. Mr Bailey is afraid of the refugees next door, but his worst fear will take another form. And Gugulethu is just trying to make a life away from terror.

On this street, everyone comes from different places, but to find peace they will have to discover what unites them.
Kane and his family are casualties of alcoholism and domestic violence. His father a violent man who has held his family to ransom, his mother recovering from her fractured marriage. Terrified his father will return, Kane is resolute and will sacrifice his benevolence to defend his family. While Kane is resentful, brother Sam continues to regress and is plagued by nightmares of his father. The narrative commences with perspectives from brothers Kane and Sam, their father physically assaulting their mother before the police are notified and child welfare services intervene. The residents of Hope Street understand the volatile environment of domestic violence, refusing to intervene.

Mrs Aslan cares for Sam and Kane as though they were her own grandchildren, estranged from granddaughter Ada after an altercation with her mother. Ms Aslan now lives alone, migrating to Australia as a young woman from Türkiye, her devoted husband passing away shortly before her abandonment. Elderly neighbour Mrs Aslan is a compassionate woman and a thirty year resident of the suburban Hope Street. While neighbour Angie is hospitalised, Mrs Aslan cares for her children while aspiring to reconnect with her granddaughter Ada. Ada is a young woman exploring her sexual identity and pushing against her parental guidelines.

Gugulethu's family have very few possessions but are among the wealthiest families on Hope Street, the Bulawayo family sought refuge in Australia and are blessed to live with freedom and opportunity. Mr Bailey is a Vietnam war veteran, living with his wife and experiences debilitating post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the conflict. Perched at his window all day watching his neighbours, bigoted and judgemental. 

The houses are debilitated, the gardens parched by the unforgiving Australian climate but in the suburbs of Melbourne resides the residents of Hope Street. Wonderfully diverse characters representative of our families, our neighbours and communities throughout Melbourne. Living on Hope Street explores the lives of immigrant, asylum seeking and Australian families, examining socioeconomic, faith, domestic violence, racism, prejudice and sexuality from considerable and compassionate perspectives. A remarkable and compelling debut from author Demet Divaroren. 
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