The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars

The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars
Kingdoms and Empires Book Two
Written by Jaclyn Moriarty
Adventure, Mystery, #LoveOZMG
528 Pages
Published November 2018
Thank you to Allen and Unwin Australia
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I was taken by Whisperers at 2:00pm, so I never pulled the lever for the laundry chute.

That's what bothered me most.

This is way ahead in the story, though. A lot happened before that.

The town of Spindrift is frequented by pirates, Shadow Mages and charlatans. It's also home to the Orphanage School, where Finlay lives with Glim, Taya and Eli. Just outside town is the painfully posh Brathelthwaite Boarding School, home to Honey Bee, Hamish and Victor, Duke of Ainsley. When the two schools compete at the Spindrift Tournament, stakes are high, tensions are higher, and some people are out to win at any cost. Before long, the orphans and the boarding school are in an all out war.

And then Whispering Wars break out, and Spindrift is thrust onto the front lines. Children are being stolen, Witches, Sirens and a deadly magical flu invade the town, and all attempts to fight back are met with defeat.

Finlay, Honey Bee and their friends must join forces to outwit the encroaching forces of darkness, rescue the stolen children, and turn the tide of the war. But how can one bickering troupe outwit the insidious power of the Whisperers? And who are the two mysterious figures watching them from the shadows?
Seventeen children have disappeared from Spindrift, thousands of children across the Kingdoms and Empires. The town of Spindrift resides within the Kingdom of Gusts, Gales, Squalls and Violent Storms, each year children within the Kingdom participating in the Spindrift Tournament for prestige, including the children of the Orphanage, reigning defenders of the tournament. Brathelthwaite Boarding School are competing in the tournament, the privileged students and conceited headmaster believe victory is foregone conclusion but when the tournament is challenged, the orphanage and Brathelthwaite Boarding School declare warfare.

Almost eleven year old Finlay is a resident of the Spindrift Orphanage, abandoned as a small child along with best friend and resident storyteller Glim. Twins Eli and Taya washed up upon the Spindrift shore and joined the fray at the Orphanage under the their caregiver Lili Daisy. The children are educated and cared for, although Honey Bee of the Brathelthwaite Boarding School will advise you differently. She'll tell you those unfortunate children are nothing but trouble.

If you ask Finlay, he'll tell you about those entitled children at the Boarding School, sitting on their breeches eating pastries and drinking tea but the Brathelthwaite Boarding School isn't as delightful as Finlay believes. Under the watchful eye of her uncle, the students at the Boarding School adhere to very stern guidelines, anything less could be deserving of a whipping.

When the Orphanage goes up against the Boarding School, revenge ensues until another child disappears. The Whispering Kingdom declares warfare, brandishing Mages, Gnomes and Whisperers in an attempt to destroy the Kingdom of Gusts, Gales, Squalls and Violent Storms. In The Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars, our alternating narrators Finlay and Honey Bee are documenting the circumstances surrounding the Whispering Wars, child abductions, a rampant illness and the destruction of Spindrift by the use of illegal shadow magic.

The children must put their differences aside and work together to find the missing children by becoming missing children themselves. The underlying themes of socioeconomics, concentration camps, abduction and child labour are woven throughout the narrative, a wonderful point of discussion for middle grade children. Jaclyn Moriarty sprinkles a delightful whimsicality throughout the narration, creating enchanting characters that are wonderfully illustrated. A born storyteller and a phenomenal read for the young and young at heart. 

What the Woods Keep

What the Woods Keep
Written by Katya de Becerra
Fantasy, Mystery, #LoveOZYA
384 Pages
Thank you to Allen and Unwin
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R.R.P $16.99
On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home, on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden has tried to put the past behind her, and so far it's worked. She's getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and flatmate, Del. But now it's all catching up with her, her mother's mysterious disappearance a decade ago, her father's outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden's own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, Del in tow, it begins. Neighbours whisper secrets about Hayden's mother; the boy next door is now all grown up in a very distracting way and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible, something that threatens reality itself.
Hayden Holland has lived an extraordinary life. The daughter of a renowned physicist, Hayden vividly remembers the wilderness of Promise Colorado, an adventure beside her vivacious mother into the neighbouring forest surrounding the Holland Manor residence. Until her mother disappeared, Thomas Holland impetuously relocating his daughter to New York.

Hayden has inherited the Holland Manor, her mother declared deceased in absentia and bequeathing the now abandoned estate upon rigorous conditions. Discover the possessions of Ella Holland within the stately manor. Use those possessions to destroy her heaviest burden and trust no one. Especially the ravens. The ambiguous testament is reminiscent of how Ella Holland prevailed, whimsically and surreptitiously, wandering into the forest instinctively and often compelled by a greater force.

Hayden now resides in Brooklyn and embarking on her first year at university, her mother is a continuing presence despite intensive clinical psychological therapy throughout her adolescence. Hayden experiences impulsive moments, perceived as a violent, neurotic child after an altercation at school. Thomas Holland is now a dishonoured physicist. Motivated by the disappearance of Ella, Thomas Holland is a conspiracy theorist, researching Germanic mythologies in particular the Nibelung since the loss of his university tenure. Unbeknownst to her father, Hayden is journeying home to Colorado with best friend Delphine Chauvet, a French Sengelease University student.

Hayden is an intellectual young woman, finding solace within scientific reasoning and thought. The disappearance of her mother rendered her relationship with her father as fractured, as Hayden was removed from the Holland residence and friend Shannon Reaser. Inseparable childhood companions. Returning to Promise is a demoralising situation for Hayden and although Delphine speculates that Hayden isn't forthcoming with information about the disappearance, she is a source of unconditional companionship. Delphine appeared suspiciously accepting of each new revelation, how Ella Holland disappeared within the scorched forest, the insistence of Thomas Holland of otherworldly intervention and the apparitional possession she scarcely remembers, compelled as a conduit to guide Hayden to uncover the burden placed upon her mother.

The mythology woven throughout the narration was enchanting. The Nibelung is Germanic and Old Norse referring to a mythical dimension of a supernatural monarchy declaring warfare. Upon her return, Hayden and childhood companion Shannon reestablish a tentative friendship, although his contribution as a potential romance for Hayden is underwhelming. His friend Santiago is enamoured with Delphine, creating an intense environment for Hayden and Shannon.

Atmospherically, Promise Colorado creates an impression of peculiarity and a religious idolisation of the Nibelung mythology as Hayden is coerced into a congregation of residents engaging in ritualistic, sacrificial bloodletting.

Katya de Becerra has created a deliciously and intensely sinister, an infusion of a contemporary and paranormal narrative entrenched with the atmospheric Colorado timberland. A wonderfully intellectual and exceptional read from a remarkable debut author. 


Written by Margot McGovern
Contemporary, Mental Health, #LoveOZYA
336 Pages
Thanks to Penguin Books Australia
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Kit Learmonth would rather die than grow up and leave Neverland...

When she was twelve, Kit Learmonth watched her parents drown in a storm as their boat sailed over the Tranter Sink Hole. Now seventeen, Kit doesn’t remember the incident, and she doesn’t want to. In fact, her only clear memories from before her parents’ death are of the fantastical stories of pirates and mermaids that she and her dad invented about the small island where she grew up, a place she calls Neverland.

Following Kit’s parents’ deaths, her uncle and guardian, Doc, transformed the island into a boarding school for mentally ill teenagers and sent Kit away to school on the mainland. But when Kit tries and fails to end her life, Doc brings her home to the island and places her in the care of his colleague, Dr Hannah Ward.

Resisting her treatment, Kit instead pulls her friends deeper into her world of make-believe. It’s only when Kit and her new boyfriend, Rohan, take the fantasy too far and land themselves in very real danger that her faith in Neverland is shaken, and Kit must find a way back to reality.
Found bloodied and lifeless after attempting to take her own life, Katherine Eloise Learmonth is returning to her childhood home of Neverland, a secluded private island now housing a wellness hospital for adolescents. Seven years ago in a tragic sailing accident, Kit's parents perished, Kit the only survivor found on board the small vessel bound for the mainland. Neverland is an island and former residence of the Learmonth family, Kit growing up playing upon the shore and dreaming of the mythological stories her father created for his best selling novel Kingdom By The Sea.

The island is now home to at risk teenagers, sent to the exclusive resort style wellness centre to work with renowned psychiatrists and doctors, including Kit's uncle affectionately known as Doc. Kit uses self harm to escape the numbness of her parent's death, her mind unable to remember the tragic accident rendering her an orphan and placing her in the care of her uncle. 

Kit becomes the unreliable narrator, her trauma lingering as she still accepts the responsibility for the death of her parents. She begrudgingly accepts counselling sessions but often explores emotions of guilt and neglect as the narrator of a fictional story, replacing moments of difficulty with outlandish characters such as mermaids, selkies and sirens, incorporating the Neverland mythology taken from her father's best selling book. Avoiding the confrontation of self reflection leaves Kit carrying feelings of animosity and abrasiveness towards authority.

When she begins to accept help, her breakthrough occurs but it's a long journey for Kit to travel alone. Kit's treatment included stays in isolation, counselling and medication. It also explored relationships and mental health and the downfalls of a toxic relationship as she befriends new patient Rohan. Although Neverland centres upon Kit's narrative, the reader is introduced to friends Alistair and Gypsy. Alistair is a Psychopath and although friends with Kit and Gypsy, he lacks empathy and emotional responses, making him the perfect candidate for a no strings physical relationship with Kit. Gypsy has been diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and currently in a relationship with a young and upcoming actor. Gypsy is heavily influenced by her relationship and the media, after visits from her boyfriend, her condition deteriorates. Although friends and a support for one another, they often enable one another, sneaking off grounds to drink, smoke and escape the confines of the wellness hospital. The one respite for Alistair and Kit is a sailing carnival hosted yearly on the island. 

The most striking aspect of Neverland is the blending of realism and imagination. It's written with a compassionate and considerate narrative yet realistic in the portrayal of mental wellness. One scene in particular has stayed with me, Alistair, in a rare moment of seriousness, displaying his vulnerabilities.
There's no cure for what I have. I'm not capable of change. But you, you can get better. Don't squander that because you're scared.
For Kit, that had become a sobering moment and the realisation that Rohan had become another toxic element in her life and to become well, she must journey alone. It was a sign of maturity and progress, for Kit to come to the realisation that she needed professional help. 

Although Neverland is a difficult, confrontational read, it reiterates the importance of recognising when we need help and accepting the hand that is able to guide our way. Not a cure, but feeling well with the assistance of coping mechanisms and medication. Margot McGovern has crafted a masterful and remarkable debut that destigmatises mental illness through characters that will resonate with readers. Tread softly my friends. 

2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield today announced the winners of the 2018 Prime Minister's Literary Awards at a ceremony at Parliament House. Winners across the six categories received one of the most prestigious literary awards in the country. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government was proud to support Australia's outstanding authors through the Awards, now in their eleventh year.

Minister Fifield said reading has far reaching benefits, it expands our understanding and stimulates our imagination. These Awards reinforce the importance of literature and reading across all ages, this year receiving more than five hundred entries across the six prize categories, an exceptional response from our writers, poets, illustrators and historians.

From this competitive group of entries, the judges selected a diverse and deserving list of finalists and identified outstanding winners. Today we celebrate the nominees for the young adult literature award.
The Nominees

Living On Hope Street
Written by Demet Divaroren
Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Check the synopsis on Goodreads

My Lovely Frankie
Written by Judith Clarke
Historical, LGBT
Check the synopsis on Goodreads

Written by Bruce Whatley
Dystopian, Illustrated
Published by Scholastic Australia
Check the synopsis on Goodreads

The Ones that Disappeared
Written by Zana Fraillon
Contemporary, Magical Realism
Published by Hachette Australia
Check the synopsis on Goodreads

The Winner Is

This Is My Song
Written by Richard Yaxley
Historical, War
Published by Scholastic Australia
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This is my blood, This is my song.

In the 1940s, musician Rafael Ullmann is sent to a Nazi concentration camp.

In the 1970s, Annie Ullmann lives a lonely life on a Canadian prairie.

Three decades later, in Australia, Joe Hawker is uncertain about himself and his future, until he discovers a song, written by his grandfather many years ago.

This Is My Song crosses three continents and timelines, chanting the need for each of us to find our own music, to sing to those we love most.

Beautifully written, Richard Yaxley’s unforgettable story strikes a chord and plucks the heartstrings.

The Judges Comments
There have been, of course, many novels about the Holocaust, including ones for younger readers. This book explores the way the terrible events of the Holocaust affect the generations following, sometimes in ways even they don't understand. This is My Song also explores the damage that secrets can do. It is poignant, memorable and intensely moving.

Check out all the nominations and winners in their respective categories on the Department of Communications and The Arts here.

You can win a young adult book pack containing all of the young adult literature nominees, including the Prime Minster's Literary Award Winner, This Is My Song by following and retweeting on Twitter here.

Girls Of Paper And Fire

Contains themes of sexual violence, sexual assault, oppression and animal cruelty
Girls of Paper and Fire
Girls of Paper and Fire Book One
Written by Natasha Ngan
Fantasy, Diverse, LGBT
384 Pages
Thanks to Hachette Australia
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Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after, the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable, she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.
A Paper Girl is a prestigious title. Sanctioned by the Heavenly Father to reside within the ornate palace, sating the desire of the King as a concubine. Eight girls are removed from their villages within the outer provinces and presented to the King, families compensated by wealth and aristocratic privilege. Lei resides within the outer provinces, a remote village of Ikhara and distinguishable by her golden eyes.

Her father an accomplished herbalist within the family depository, is vigilant of his daughter. A Kingdom of societal standings, the Paper Caste are human commonalities, oppressed by the autocratic Steel Caste, a demonic human species. Seven years prior, a sentry of Steel Caste commanders inundated the small village community, igniting the pasture and farmland as they captured and massacred the Paper Caste residents. Seven years since her mother was captured. Villagers whisper of the night of devastation, the desolate pasture barren as the community prepares for an impoverished season.

Unprecedented, Lei is the ninth Paper Girl, forcibly captured to compete for favour of the King. Lei arrives at the royal province where she begrudgingly assimilates as a consort, educated by private tutors and disciplined in finesse, compliance and seduction. Residing within the palatial chateau, each Paper Girl is denied her innocence, modesty and coerced to pleasure the King by enduring sexual violence and assault. Provocation is condemned, sentenced to isolation and imprisonment.

Her endurance and fortitude are besieged as Lei scandalises the Paper Girls, challenging the King by refusing his advances. She is assaulted, her body fractured and innocence momentarily unscathed. The Paper Girls are abused, sexually assaulted and manipulated, punished for insolence. The King claims ownership of each Paper Girl, her body and independence. Girls of Paper and Fire centralises on rape culture and consent within a patriarchal society. Denied freedom and perceived as disposable vessels, aesthetically pleasing and objectified by society and the King, a sexual predator. The scenes and discussion surrounding sexual assault are confrontational, reminiscent of society within our own communities.

I don’t realise it until I speak it. And it’s different from the times I’ve said it before, or the way I’ve hoped it, as if dreaming something enough could birth it into being. I know it now with a certainty that has fitted into the lost core at the heart of me, as hard and angular as my hope was soft and shimmering. The King will not have me.

Within the Kingdom, male same sex sexual relationships are customary, Paper Girls are not permitted to engage with male courtiers, punishable by branding and ostracised by their family and community. The Paper Girls begin to measure their experiences through whispered secrets, they've been persuaded to believe that to become a Paper Girl is not only prestigious but that the female significance is dependant on their desirability. The King will discard each girl, bestowing upon his allies for political or societal advantage. This is the female capacity until whispers of a rebellion is encompassing the provinces begins to demoralise the enraged King.

The forbidden female romance was beautifully tender, allowing Lei and Wren to tentatively explore hope and optimism beyond the palatial confinement, an existence of equality and humanity where slavery and prejudice are abolished. Beginning with the oppressive rule of a tyrannical King. Their relationship enables each girl to experience vulnerabilities and sensitivities within the sanctuary created through compassion. Unfortunately the relationship was the fundamental aspect for the Paper Girl rebellion, rather than a sense of preservation.

Girls of Paper and Fire is a passionate and exceptional debut novel that will invoke discussion through a confrontational and intricate narrative. 


Mirage Book One
Written by Somaiya Daud
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
320 Pages
Published August 28th 2018
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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The crown of Dihya had been stripped from me, my face changed, my body broken.

But I was not a slave and I was not a spare.

I was my mother's daughter, and I would survive and endure. I would find my way back home.

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen year old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation and of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she too will have adventures and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects, she is kidnapped and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double to appear in public, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear and if Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection... Because one wrong move could lead to her death.
Imprisoned and held within her gilded cage, Amani was taken captive by imperial droids moments after her Majority ceremony, a milestone celebration of maturity. Amani is a character of quiet determination, intelligent and spiritual, enshrined to Massinia. A theological Prophetess that has become the symbolism of a rebellion. Captured from her home among the stars, Amani is enslaved upon the Vathek occupied Andala. Amani and the Andalaan Vathek Princess Maram are indistinguishable, Amani is deprived of her identity, tortured, assaulted, her Indigenous symbolism removed and instructed to simulate as surrogate for the reclusive Princess Maram.

The blood never dies. The blood never forgets.

Maram is young woman of Indigenous and Alien heritage, forsaken and displaced by the Vathek and Andalaan communities. Maram is isolated from royal courtesans and betrothed for political alliance, her father is apathetic towards his young daughter and heir. As the rebellion opposing the Vathek colonisation intensifies, Maram remains sheltered within her palatial home, her inhumanity ensuing Amani remains compliant.

You do not kneel or bend, I told myself. To anyone. You continue.

Amani and Maram establish a tentative friendship, Maram remorseful of her treatment of Amani on arrival and confiding in the young woman she is holding captive. Posing as Maram, Amani deceives the royal consort and betrothed Idris. Idris is perceptive and determines Amani as an impostor as his attraction to Amani jeopardising both their lives. The romance is delicate and compassionate, allowing Amani to disengage the masquerade of captivity.

Mirage centralises on oppression, erasure and slavery. Although contrasting characters and circumstances, the imprisonment of a young woman who is tortured and a Princess within her gilded cage, both young woman are tormented by the burden of expectation. It scrutinises colonisation as the Vathek conquered the Mizaal Galaxy, poisoning the atmosphere of Vaxor and colonising Andala, enslaving the Indigenous population and depriving the Andalaans of their ethnology and spirituality. Rebellion arises as rebels strategise against their oppressors, Amani becoming embroiled in the uprising.

The narration infused with delicate female and Indigenous empowerment throughout the instability of dissent and cultural reclamation, comparable to the current political climate and resonating with Indigenous readers. Amani represents a quiet endurance and resilience against her environment, a reiteration of nevertheless, she persisted. Somaiya Daud has composed an exquisitely imagined narrative, enchanting and affluent. A remarkable debut.

A Curse of Ash and Embers

A Curse of Ash and Embers
Tales of the Blackbone Witches Book One
Written by Jo Spurrier
Paranormal, Witches, #LoveOZYA
368 Pages
Published September 24th 2018
Thanks to Harper Collins Australia
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A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic. Some people knit socks by the fire at night. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters.

But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it's Elodie's job to clean up the mess.

When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she'd find herself working for a witch; and her acid tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.

Gyssha's final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie's help, whether she likes it or not.

And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it's still better than going back home.
Elodie Foster is forsaken. Isolated to the family cottage, Elodie maintains the small, ramshackle homestead, illiterate and denied an education. Elodie is verbally and emotionally abused by her stepfather, her mother remains passively apathetic, accusing her daughter of antagonism and initiating conflict. A mysterious correspondence arrives providing salvation, an opportunity for employment in the small pastoral community of Lilsfield, migrating to the infamous Black Oak Cottage, escorted by a local farmer, his daughter and a destitute magician on her journey.

All The Women Who Are Independent... Throw Your Hands Up At Me
Elodie is an intelligent young woman, despite denied an education. As a young lady, her biological father passed away, survived by his daughter and destitute young widow. Elodie is isolated from her community and although is forsaken by her abusive stepfather, reluctantly accepts the position of servitude. An ancient sorceress befelled by her young apprentice, monstrous creations arisen from the land and a small community encompassed in folklore.

Returning to the small ramshackle cottage, Aleida Blackbone tenaciously liberated the Lilsfield community from the subordination of Gyssha, a malevolent crone pleasured by consuming the small town. Fiercely independent, the confrontation has diminished the once apprentice to an ailing woman needing assistance to endure the forthcoming catastrophe. The apparitional cavalrymen.

Elodie and Aleida are contrasting characters. Aleida is assured, confident and perceptive. An apprentice to Gyssha as a young woman, exploiting her humanity to ensure her compliance. Elodie and Aleida have experienced a callous manipulation, remarkably similar as they find solace within their tentative companionship.

I Don't Want No Scrubs
Although Elodie is enchanted by local huntsman Kian, neither Elodie or Aleida are interested in pursuing a romantic relationship. On occasion entrusting neighbour Attwater for assistance. Aleida is independent, inspiring Elodie to discover her own bravery and heroism, becoming Aleida's caregiver during her recovery. A Curse of Ash and Embers reiterates that female characters are individuals and independent, unreliant on male characters or masculinity to further their own narrative.

On her journey, Elodie encounters a young magician. Although charming and eccentric, he abandons his travelling companions rather peculiarly, perplexing why his character was introduced within the narrative.

Legends And Folklore
The Lilsfield folklore is captivating. The monstrous automatons created from the fertile earth, Laurel the dryad and her companion Attwater, the apparitional warlocks and the Blackbone legacy. The atmospheric Black Oak Cottage creates a foreboding whimsicality, enchanting and captivating throughout the narrative of sixteen year old Elodie.
We are the eye of the storm. We are the darkness behind the stars. We are the glare of the sun, and nothing touches us unless we let it.

A Curse of Ash and Embers is a charismatic narrative of enchantment and folklore, of independent women and shared experiences. Wonderfully characterised, beautifully illustrated and emphatically captivating.

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow

See my review for book one in the Nevermoor series here
Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow
Nevermoor Book Two
Written by Jessica Townsend
Middle Grade, Fantasy, #LoveOZMG
467 Pages
Published October 30th 2018
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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Wunder is gathering in Nevermoor...

Morrigan Crow may have defeated her deadly curse, passed the dangerous trials and joined the mystical Wundrous Society, but her journey into Nevermoor and all its secrets has only just begun. And she is fast learning that not all magic is used for good.

Morrigan Crow has been invited to join the prestigious Wundrous Society, a place that promised her friendship, protection and belonging for life. She's hoping for an education full of wunder, imagination and discovery but all the Society want to teach her is how evil Wundersmiths are. And someone is blackmailing Morrigan's unit, turning her last few loyal friends against her. Has Morrigan escaped from being the cursed child of Wintersea only to become the most hated figure in Nevermoor?

Worst of all, people have started to go missing. The fantastical city of Nevermoor, once a place of magic and safety, is now riddled with fear and suspicion...
Miss Morrigan Crow, calamitous young lady of the Wintersea Republic is now preparing to become an esteemed scholar of the Wundrous Society, accompanying eight fellow students including the marvellous Hawthorne. Although compelled to confidentiality considering the dastardly mayhem instigated by Wundersmith Ezra Squall, Morrigan's Wundersmith ability is discovered and unscrupulously, an unknown antagonist is conspiring towards the extraordinary children with a bizarre series of anonymous notes and peculiar stipulations.

Fragments throughout the Wundrous Society community have vanished, scholars, colleagues and acquaintances. Instinctively Miss Morrigan Crow is a suspect as an accused nefarious Wundersmith but with the steadfast assistance of the nonchalant Hawthorne, Jupiter North, Jack and an unlikely collaborator, Morrigan is determined to preserve the Wundrous Society, Nevermoor and substantiate that a Wundersmith is fantastically wundrous.

Our Magnificent Morrigan!
Morrigan Crow is a intelligent and practical young woman. Forsaking the calamity and misadventure of the Wintersea Republic, Morrigan is now a resident of Nevermoor, liberated by Jupiter North to compete in the Wondrous Society tournament. As a Wundersmith, Morrigan attends a specialised program consisting of the history of the Wundersmith and their heinous atrocities. 

Throughout the narration, Morrigan discovers that beneath the fantastical facade of Nevermoor, wickedness is awakening. Jupiter North is investigating an illegal marketplace in correlation to the community members. His extended absences further isolating Morrigan as she adjusts to her new environment. Morrigan is challenged by prejudice and at a disadvantage, increasingly isolated from her fellow scholars and Society facility, fearing the Wundersmith notoriety. Her Society companions are disciplined within their individual abilities however, Morrigan is secluded and denied an education despite Jupiter protesting for equality. The demeanour of Wundersmith Ezra Squall reflects on Morrigan and although only twelve years of age, she is held responsible for the actions of her predecessor. Outlandish! 

The Merry Band Of Sidekicks
The grand Hotel Deucalion is resident to a fictionally diverse and eclectic community and although Jupiter is her guardian, Morrigan relies upon the Deucalion residents for guidance and perspective. Fenestra the talking Magnificat, Jack the nephew of Jupiter who returns from boarding school on weekends, the operatic singer and the vampire dwarf with a penchant for lavish carousing. 

Hawthorne Swift is a tremendous character, friend and entourage for Morrigan. His solidarity is unconditional and although his character appears humorous and sprightly, he fiercely defends his friend against Morrigan naysayers. Former antagonist Cadance Blackburn is delightfully surprising. Although adversaries, Cadance recognises the importance of Morrigan and her abilities as they cooperate to solve the mystery of the illegal marketplace.

Step Boldly
The atmospheric enchantment of Nevermoor is an experience. The fantastical Brolly Rail as it bustles throughout the expansive metropolis, the intricate and deceptive thoroughfares and animated diorama of Nevermoor and the residents. Nevermoor is fantastically imagined and beautifully illustrated. Although the world is intricate and voluminous, it's encompassed by a wonderful intimacy and warmth.

Nevermoor transcends children's literature, captivating and enchanting audiences. Categorically breathtaking.

Spotlight - Tales of a New World

To celebrate the release of the third installment of the Tales of a New World by best selling author P. C. Cast, Pan Macmillan Australia in conjunction with the Australian Young Adult Bloggers and Readers Group are hosting a blog celebration! Including reviews, author interviews and competitions. Today I'll be hosting a series spotlight and linking to my fellow participants.

Moon Chosen
Tales of a New World Book One
Published October 25th 2016
600 Pages
Recommended Retail Price $18.99
Available from Pan Macmillan Australia
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Mari is an Earth Walker, heir to the unique healing powers of her Clan; but she has cast her duties aside, until she is chosen by a special animal ally, altering her destiny forever. When a deadly attack tears her world apart, Mari reveals the strength of her powers and the forbidden secret of her dual nature as she embarks on a mission to save her people. It is not until Nik, the son of the leader from a rival clan, strays across her path, that Mari experiences something she has never felt before.

Now, darkness is coming, and with it, a force, more terrible and destructive than the world has ever seen, leaving Mari to cast the shadows from the earth. By forming a tumultuous alliance with Nik, she must make herself ready. Ready to save her people. Ready to save herself and Nik.

Sun Warrior
Tales of a New World Book Two
Published October 31st 2017
576 Pages
Recommended Retail Price $18.99
Available from Pan Macmillan Australia
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The battle lines have been drawn and Mari, an Earth Walker and Nik, a Companion, who were once from rival clans now find themselves fighting to save each other and their people from destruction.

Thaddeus betrayed his own people, killing Nik’s father and destroying their entire clan. But he wants more. He wants the power he believes Mari has stolen from him and his people and he will do anything he must to get them back, even if it means destroying everything in his path. There is only way to stop Thaddeus, but it means a harrowing journey for Mari and Nik into the heart of darkness. Meanwhile, Dead Eye becomes a willing vessel for the newly awakened god, Death. Death has plans of his own and he, too, will use whatever and whomever he must, including the mad Thaddeus

Wind Rider
Tales of a New World
Published October 30th 2018
544 Pages
Recommended Retail Price $18.99
Available from Pan Macmillan
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Mari, Nik, and their newly formed Pack are being hunted. Thaddeus and the God of Death will stop at nothing until they are obliterated from the earth. But Mari and Nik have one goal: to reach the plains of the Wind Riders in order to band together to stop Thaddeus from destroying all that Mari and Nik hold dear.

But will the mysterious Wind Riders accept the Pack, or will Mari and Nik and their people be rejected by the mighty Riders and be forced to flee for their lives? And what happens when a rogue Lead Stallion gets too close to the Pack, rejecting all Wind Riders and turning to a stranger for companionship instead?

In the next installment of the Tales of a New World series love and goodness are put to the ultimate test. Will the Wind Riders and the Pack be strong enough to withstand the God of Death? Will the Great Goddess of Life awaken to join the battle, and if so, will it be as Death's consort, or will the Goddess stand with Mari and her people against the great love of her eternal life?

With her daughter Kristin, P. C. Cast is the author of the House of Night novels. She was born in the Midwest, and grew up being shuttled back and forth between Illinois and Oklahoma, which is where she fell in love with Quarter Horses and mythology. P.C. Cast is a number one New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame.

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Stone Girl

Contains sensitive themes for mature young adult readers
Stone Girl
Written by Eleni Hale
Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, #LoveOZYA
368 Pages
Published April 30th 2018
Thank you to Penguin Books Australia
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An unspeakable event changes everything for twelve year old Sophie. No more Mum, school or bed of her own. She’s made a ward of the state and grows up in a volatile world where kids make their own rules, adults don’t count and the only constant is change.

Until one day she meets Gwen, Matty and Spiral. Spiral is the most furious, beautiful boy Sophie has ever known. And as their bond tightens she finally begins to confront what happened in her past.

I’m at the police station. There’s blood splattered across my face and clothes. In this tiny room with walls the colour of winter sky I hug a black backpack full of treasures. Only one thing is certain... No one can ever forgive me for what I’ve done.
There are currently over forty five thousand children within the foster care system within Australia. These are children without a primary caregiver, children who are casualties of family violence, substance abuse or children without a nurturing environment. Her story is harrowing and confrontational and although Sophie Soukaris is a fictional character, her narrative is indicative of many adolescents placed within the system.

Sophie Soukaris has been placed within temporary care after her mother passed away, child protection authorities attempting to contact her estranged father in Greece. As a young woman with a child, her mother returned to Australia after a dissolution of marriage, raising Sophie as a single parent and substance abuser, known to child protection authorities.

The quivering in my chest feels like frantic butterflies under my skin. They want to get out but can't, their colourful wings trapped in darkness.

Awaiting a permanent position with a foster family and accommodated with adolescents, Sophie begins to assimilate to her environment, susceptible to substance abuse, addiction, manipulation, sexual assault and misdemeanours as a minor. As her environment becomes increasingly treacherous, Family Assistance Services provides Sophie with a sequence of temporary housing, a vulnerable and perceptive young girl a consequence of her environment. Sophie is coerced, abducted and imprisoned by a paedophile. Attempted suicide, narcotics abuse, alcoholism, gender violence and engaging in destructive although consensual relationships.

The narrative is confrontational and controversial. Adolescents abandoned by protection services, ostracised by society without a sense of belonging. Debut author Eleni Hale has created a remarkable, captivating and courageous narrative. Imperative reading. 

We Three Heroes

Contains spoilers for the Medoran Chronicles
We Three Heroes
The Medoran Chronicles Novella Series
Written by Lynette Noni
Fantasy, Adventure, #LoveOZYA
367 Pages
Published August 27th 2018
Thank you to Pantera Press
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Alexandra Jennings might be the hero of The Medoran Chronicles, but she would be lost without her three closest friends. They are her heroes, and like all heroes, they each have their own story.

Meet the real D.C. in Crowns and Curses and discover how she becomes the princess Alex once despised but now adores.

Follow Jordan on his healing journey in Scars and Silence as he struggles in the wake of being rescued from his living nightmare.

Walk beside Bear in Hearts and Headstones as he faces an unspeakable trauma while helping his world prepare for the coming war.

Jordan, Bear and D.C. are the heroes of their own stories.

It is time for their stories to be told.
Crowns And Curses is narrated by Princess Delucia Cavelle, heir to the Medoran Kingdom. As a young girl, D.C was well acquainted with the expectations of representing the Medoran crown, the increasing loneliness as she was sheltered from public life and educated within the palatial residence. D.C yearns for companionship, believing she has found a friend in Maxton, the young son of the High Court Judge but Maxton is deceptive and determined to humiliate the young princess.

As her prophetic ability manifests, Delucia receives an invitation to Akarnae Academy. A new beginning and a chance to connect with her peers. At Akarnae, D.C is without her Princess title but with years of isolation and protecting her emotions, she becomes estranged from her fellow students before being introduced to Alexandra Jennings.

Scars And Silence accompanies Jordan Sparker throughout his journey of empowerment after which his life was claimed and manipulated by Aven Dalmarta. Jordan is experiencing a crisis of identity, betrayal and consumed by his affliction. Through compassion and understanding, Jordan begins to acknowledge his anxiety and is encouraged by Delucia and Hunter, two positive influences within his life.

Jordan continues to blame himself for the death of his brother, adding to his anguish. 

Jordan's narrative is confrontational and distressing. Jordan discovered his brother moments before he had taken his own life, watching in horror but rendered helpless. Jordan shares with D.C the circumstances surrounding Luka's suicide which may distress readers. Luka identified as gay and although in a wonderful relationship with a male partner, their volatile father dismissed Luka's sexuality, going as far to force Luka into an arranged marriage. Luka, feeling as though he had no other option, took his own life. 

Hearts And Headstones is narrated by Barnold Ronnigan, affectionately known as Bear and surrounds the journey to Graevale as diplomatic emissaries, ending in anguish for the Ronnigan family. Bear finds solace within his tentative friendship and potential relationship with Declan. Amidst the devastation, the apprehensive smiles of the potential romance is beautiful.

We Three Heroes offers readers an insight into the significant moments that shape each character throughout the series, from each characters point of view. The brave, tentative and vulnerable moments that add depth and humanity to characters we typically see as indestructible.

The Medoran Chronicles is a phenomenal series, adventurous, imaginative and superbly written. Lynette Noni is a prolific author, creating atmospheric worlds and vibrant characters. I've fallen in love with reading all over again. 

What If It's Us

What If It's Us
Written by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
448 Pages
Published October 2018
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia
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Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his former boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated. Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date? Or a second first date or a third? What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play? But what if it is?
Although I've never read anything by Becky Albertalli, I'm a great admirer of Adam Silvera. He creates diverse, profound characters that are beautifully complex. Unfortunately, this isn't the case with What If It's Us. As individuals, Arthur is a gentle and sensitive young man, his inexperience is incredibly endearing. Ben is a pensive character, enduring the melancholy of his relationship dissolving, proceeding the loss of mutual friendships. Through serendipity, the two young men meet, are separated, then attempt to reconnect by searching New York for one another.

The character representation was a wonderful aspect. Ben is Puerto Rican and identifies as gay. He often feels ostracised due to his light skin, low socioeconomic status and unable to speak Spanish fluently. Arthur is Jewish, gay and originally from Georgia, yet residing in New York over the summer with his parents. Arthur manages his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder through medication, as does secondary character and Ben's best friend Dylan, to manage his heart condition.

You've Got A Friend In Me
The secondary characters are a fundamental element of the storyline, in particular Dylan. Ben and Dylan share a wonderful relationship, unabashed and companionable. Dylan has a wonderfully flirtatious personality which creates lighthearted moments within the narrative. Ben often referenced Dylan as abandoning their friendship to accommodate a series of unsuccessful relationships. Dylan compassionate and consistently reassured Ben of his companionship. Jessie and Ethan are expendable unfortunately, although allegedly Ethan is a person of contention. Arthur believes Ethan is uncomfortable with his sexuality, creating an excessive intensity within the narrative. 

The Creepy Edward Cullen Guide To Dating
The whirlwind romance was rather an infatuation with one another. Although the scenes of intimacy were beautifully portrayed, Ben reassuring Arthur and placing the emphasis on consent, their relationship was overdramatised and inauthentic regardless of character sexuality. In the beginning of the narration, Arthur begins to pursue Ben obsessively. He learns of Ben's former boyfriend and through encroaching on his social media accounts, discovers an image of Ben and proceeds to create posters to ambush him. I found Arthur's behaviour incredibly intrusive.

Ben, a young gay man of colour in a large city could have been endangered by Arthur's actions. Rather than being addressed, his actions were romanticised. 

Potentially Triggering
One incident may be distressing to readers. Ben and Arthur are sitting with one another on public transport when approached by a man and his young child. The man proceeds to use threatening, homophobic and distressing language. Throughout the exchange, Arthur is incredibly distraught, Ben challenges the homophobic patron and another passenger intervenes.

The Conclusion
What If It's Us shares a similar narrative of a character origin story and although the lighthearted and tender moments were wonderfully written, it lacked substance. Two young men, a chance meeting and falling in love under the bright lights of New York City should have been the romance we've all been waiting for. I'm still waiting unfortunately.

Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds

Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds
Jane Doe Chronicles Book One
Written by Jeremy Lachlan
Fantasy, Adventure, #LoveOZYA
432 Pages
Published August 1st 2018
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont
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When a fierce quake strikes the remote island of Bluehaven, and her father disappears, Jane Doe is thrown headfirst into an epic quest to bring him home.

But this ain’t no ordinary rescue mission. Her father is lost in a place between worlds, a dangerous labyrinth of shifting rooms, infernal booby traps and secret gateways. And Jane has to find him fast, because someone else is searching for him, too. A man who knows her father’s secrets. A man who has an army.

With a pyromaniac named Violet and a trickster named Hickory by her side, Jane is about to discover that this adventure is even bigger on the inside than it looks...

This is the blockbuster adventure the worlds have been waiting for.
The island nation of Bluehaven is a picturesque community, a village permeated by earthquakes and immersed in mythology. For thousands of years, the residents of Bluehaven have apotheosised the remnants of the entrance to another world, a decrepit, monument representing adventure and heroism. The entrance dormant since John and infant daughter Jane Doe arrived on the cusp of destruction, the Night of All Catastrophes.

The Cursed Ones
Fifteen year old Jane Doe and her father are undesirables, contaminating the community of Bluehaven. Reluctantly imprisoned within the basement of Beatrice and Bertram Hollow where Jane cares for her father, incapacitated since his unexpected arrival on the island. Each tremor brings accusations of an abomination, Bluehaven remonstrating against John and Jane Doe until the annual Night of All Catastrophes celebration. During the commotion, John Doe is consumed by the labyrinth.

With gallantry and tenacity, Jane embarks on a adventure to recapture her father and return to Bluehaven. Accompanied by whispered words from the peculiar Winifred Robin and a mysterious brass key, Jane evades the vigilante community and enters the labyrinth. Alone. Abandoning Violet Hollow, her friend and coconspirator. 

The Sidekicks
Jane must navigate through wintery wonderlands and arid, desolate conditions as each landscape challenges courageous, accomplished adventurers. Hickory Dawes continues to journey through the decrepit remnants, unable to escape. Hickory understands the extraordinary ecosystem of the labyrinths, entrances infringing upon the otherworld. Jane and Hickory agree on a tentative alliance, reluctantly, Jane still uncertain of his intentions and authenticity.

Violet Hollow is an incredible heroine. Although Jane has journeyed several days, Violet is now sixteen years old and no longer a pyromaniac child seeking adventure. When Jane disappeared, Violet immersed herself within the history of the Otherworld and beneath the instruction of Winifred Robin, will reunite with Jane to salvage the catacombs. Bringing her friend and companion home.

Violet has endured the antagonism and resentment of Bluehaven as she was ostracised by her parents, now residing within the library under the supervision of Winifred. Her journey is miraculous and incredible heroic, creating an inspirational character of determination and perseverance.

The Villian. Dun. Dun. Dun
Roth is man withered by disease, a decomposing illness throughout his decrepit world now infecting the labyrinths. Roth is determined to conquer each world, his artillery composing of soldiers bound in leather and enslaved humans. To escape the Otherworld, Roth must capture Jane and the brass key.

It's Just A Little Crush
Throughout literature written for the middle grade and young adolescent audience, friendships are at the forefront of the narrative. The friendship was beautifully compassionate but beneath the companionship, a wonderful attraction is flourishing. Jane is attracted to Violet, exploring unfamiliar feelings of her first infatuation. A wonderfully tender and delightful inclusion.

Absolutely Phenomenal 
Incredibly atmospheric and intricately engineered. A phenomenal blend of fantastical and dystopian landscapes, meticulously illustrated and beautifully cinematic. 

Jeremy Lachlan is a wonderfully imaginative and ingenious voice in Australian young adult literature. Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds is breathtaking and delightfully captivating until the final page. 

The Traitor's Game

The Traitor's Game
The Traitor's Game Book One
Written by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
400 Pages
Published July 1st 2018
Thank you to Scholastic Australia
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Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won't stop her from being drawn back into her father's palace politics. He's the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip.

A group of rebels knows this all too well and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home. The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary.

As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what and who it is they're fighting for. Jennifer A. Nielsen introduces us to an unforgettable new heroine in this epic tale of treachery and intrigue, love and deceit.
Kestra Dallisor has been summoned home by her father, a garrison of soldiers ensuring her compliance. Upon her journey, Kestra is captured by the Corack, a rebellion alliance and escorted to her father's palatial residence in Highwyn as handmaiden and footsoldier. The Corack alliance are pursuing the Olden Blade, an artefact to subjugate the immortal Lord Endrick and his oppressive reign.
The Princess
Sixteen year old Kestra Dallisor is a formidable and coarsened young woman, ostracised by her father to the desolate Lava Fields. Henry Dallisor is a malevolent and treacherous persecutor, second in command and enforcer representing the immortal Lord Endrick. Kestra is summoned to Highwyn to be exploited as a commodity for political advantage, her betrothal will ensure the compliance of neighbouring regions under the reign of Lord Endrick, her father unconcerned of the freedom for his daughter. During her journey, Kestra is held captive by the rebellion, a group of unrelenting recruits tenacious in their pursuit for sovereignty, her handmaiden and footsoldier held as assurance for her cooperation and allegiance. 

Her Captor
Captain Grey Tenger, leader of the Coracks has assigned Simon Hatch to accompany the Princess, his objective to retain the Olden Blade. Simon is acquainted with the Dallisor lineage, as a young boy within the palace compound until accused and sentenced for theft.

Often in young adult literature, characters placed within precarious positions find solace within one another, consumed by the intensity of the narrative. Kestra and Simon are coincidental companions, physically attracted to one another. Their tentative companionship is disingenuous and mistrustful. Simon wasn't anticipating a young woman, tenacious and spirited to challenge his patriotism to the Corack revolution, creating a precarious alliance.
The Blade
The Olden Blade is believed to be buried beneath the dungeons of the Dallisor Highwyn residence, infused with Endrean alchemy by Lord Endrick. The mythology maintains that the blade was wielded during the War of Devastation by a young woman before her capture and sentence. Only those of Halderian lineage can wield the blade and the denouement of the Endrick reign. To ensure the survival of her Footman and Handmaiden, Kestra is coerced to find the blade, endangering the lives of the Corack if captured. She's placed in an inconceivable, treasonous position.

Tell Me More
I'm optimistic that the next installment will traverse the greater Antora kingdom and the politics between regions under Lord Endrick. The Traitor's game only touches upon the impoverished conditions beyond Highwyn. Is the desolate landscape and socioeconomic collapse consequences of conflict?

In Conclusion
While the overall young adult fantasy narrative was marginally repetitive and conventional, I really enjoyed the characterisation and the mythology infused narrative. Highly recommended for reluctant fantasy readers.

The Virginia Shreves Series

May contain minor spoilers throughout discussion

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
The Virginia Shreves Series Book One
Written by Carolyn Mackler
Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
251 Pages
Published April 2018
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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Fifteen year old Virginia Shreves has a larger than average body and a plus size inferiority complex. She lives on the Web, snarfs junk food, and follows the Fat Girl Code of Conduct. Her stuttering best friend has just moved to Walla Walla, of all places. Her new companion, Froggy Welsh the Fourth has just succeeded in getting his hand up her shirt, and she lives in fear that he'll look underneath. Then there are the other Shreves, Mom, the successful psychologist and exercise fiend, Dad, a top executive who ogles thin women on TV and older siblings Ana's and rugby god Byron, both of them slim and brilliant. Delete Virginia, and the Shreves would be a picture perfect family. Or so she's convinced. And then a shocking phone call changes everything.

With irreverent humor, insight, and surprising gravity, Carolyn Mackler creates an endearingly blunt heroine whose story will speak to every teen who struggles with family expectations and serve as a welcome reminder that the most impressive achievement is to be true to yourself.

Carolyn Mackler's acclaimed book has been updated for a new audience and is as relevant, funny and full of heart as it was when it was first published fifteen years ago.

The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I
The Virginia Shreves Series Book Two
Written by Carolyn Mackler
Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Published October 1st 2018
288 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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Six months after Virginia decides to ignore the Fat Girl Code of Conduct and make her relationship with Froggy Welsh the Fourth official, things are getting complicated. She's not sure she still likes Froggy, her mum has betrayed her to the meanest girl in school, and her feelings about her brother Byron are still a mess since he was suspended from university for date rape.

But then police come to their apartment and arrest Byron. As Virginia tries to figure it all out, she meets Sebastian, a guy with his own private drama. They make a pact not to talk about their troubles, but then a terrible secret comes out that could ruin everything.
Fifteen year old Virginia Shreves believes she's an imperfection within her wealthy, flourishing family. Her father a womaniser within his monogamous marriage, her mother a former overweight adolescent, overcompensating. Existing within the shadow of sister Anaïs, presently volunteering in a remote village in Burkina Faso, Africa and brother Byron, the Shreves family paragon and Columbia University honour student, Virginia experiences moments of body negativity based on her weight. Her mother Phyllis Shreves is an adolescent psychologist and overweight as an adolescent, reprimands her youngest daughter on the importance of young women maintaining an attractive appearance.

At Brewster Academy, the prestigious New York Private college, Virginia is ostracised and tormented, her childhood and only friend Shannon studying abroad this year and her Monday rendezvous with Froggy Welsh the Forth in her family penthouse apartment, an often mortifying experience. Her mother again counting calories, Virginia attempting another diet regime under duress and Byron has been suspended from Columbia University pending an investigation.

Body Negativity
Adolescent young women, women and bodies identifying as women are measured by our appearance. From a young age, we're conditioned to believe femininity as pliable and lithe, luminescent skin. Females existing in traditional positions as the caregiver, for male objectification. Humiliated and ridiculed at the Academy, Virginia has created a Fat Girl Code of Conduct. A series of guidelines to ensure she remains unnoticed.
There is an unspoken rule that if you're not on the popular side of things, you shouldn't take up too much space. 
At home, Virginia is coerced into healthier eating options, her father continues to reiterate that only slenderised bodies are attractive, commentating unnecessarily on Virginia's weight and body. Virginia experiences abdominal discomfort from starvation, confronting and a controversial aspect of the narration as she is praised for depriving her body.

No Such Thing As Perfection
The Virginia Shreves Series illiterates the importance of perception. How we perceive ourselves and others. How we continuously reprimand ourselves and place others on infeasible pedestals, unable to meet our unrealistic expectations and our behaviour attracting consequences. Throughout the narrative, Virginia realises that acceptance begins with confidence, that she is deserving of love and acceptance.

Curvaceous Chicks Deserve Pleasure
Cognitive, physical and emotional stimulation. Although Virginia is conscious of her body, she allows herself to enjoy intimacy without being sexually active. Her relationship with Froggy Welsh the Forth in particular. It is a positive experience, ensuring she is comfortable and consenting. A wonderful precedent for physical adolescent relationships and learning about your partner.

Although the narrative is chronicled from Virginia's perspective, Byron Shreves is a character of significance. A  Columbia University student, acclaimed sportsman and exemplification. After an intoxicated incident, Byron is accused of sexual assault and suspended from University pending an investigation. Virginia is disgusted although her parents are only concerned for Byron and his future, how his actions will leave lasting consequences on his family. It's Virginia who is concerned for his victim, a young woman attempting to reclaim empowerment after the terrifying incident.

In The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, the narrative explores the consequences for Byron, Virginia's frustration is palpable as her parents remain deliberately ignorant. During The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I, we experience the trauma of sexual assault from a survivor standpoint.

The Virginia Shreves Series is a wonderful, conversational and often confrontational read that I cannot emphasise enough the significance of reading both novels consecutively. Thoroughly enjoyed it. 

All The Little Bones

All The Little Bones
Circus Hearts Book One
Written by Ellie Marney
Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Published September 1st 2018
179 Pages
Thank you to Ellie Marney
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A teenage trapeze artist and an apprentice strongman on the run from a terrible crime…

Seventeen year old Sorsha Neary’s life is changed in one night when she defends herself behind the vans of her family circus troupe. Now Sorsha and apprentice strongman Colm Mackay are travelling south, to evade the fallout and escape the long arm of the law. All they have in their favour is talent, an old promise, and slim acquaintance with the crew members and performers of their new home, Klatsch’s Karnival. But the question for Sorsha and Colm isn’t if the police will catch up with them, but when…

Dark YA romance, with a criminal twist. Circus Hearts. Step. Right. Up.
Saoirse Neary is evading the authorities. Defending herself against a sexual assault, the seventeen year old trapeze performer is escaping persecution accompanied by strongman, nineteen year old Colm Mackay.

The Performers
Sorsha Neary is a beautiful young woman. Orphaned as a child, Sorsha lives with caregiver, aunt Morrighan. Fostered by the stoic woman, also a fortune teller within the northern travelling circus. Frightened for the repercussions after the attempted assault, Sorsha flees. Escaping the intimate northern family troupe, Sorsha and Colm travel south.

Colm Mackay is a gentle, compassionate young man, protective of Sorsha although the two performers are virtual strangers. Colm joined the intimate northern troupe several years prior, his mother an abusive, exploitative woman. Sharing the small confined space of Colm's car is an intimate experience, establishing a tentative friendship encompassed by their shared experience.

Swoony Sexy Times
A tentative friendship, a smouldering attraction creating an intense, sensual romance. As her protector, Colm is gentle and understanding and relies upon verbal consent before touching affectionately or intimately, apprehensive and compassionately the gentleman. Moments of intimacy are beautifully written with fragility and vulnerability. Considering the possibility of being captured, while Sorsha performs, Colm is employed within the mechanics yard, the troupe unable to provide a position for the former performer. Colm embraces his new position, his priority is to ensure Sorsha is protected.

Step Right Up
Klatsch’s Karnival is a company of distinguished characters and performers. Unbeknown to the troupe performers, the significance of the attempted sexual assault induces anxiety and trepidation for Sorsha. Immersing herself within the atmosphere of the carnival and despite expressed caution from Morrighan, Sorsha is unwilling to appease Fleur Klatsch, daughter of the Ringmaster and traipse performer. Fleur is a hostile and antagonistic young woman and expeditiously, is suspicious of Sorsha and her capacity within the troupe. Fleur embraces her notoriety intensely and is determined to ostracise Sorsha.

Atmospherically exhilarative, All The Broken Bones embraces the essence of anticipation amid the performance, awakening the decadent and historical carnivals of yesteryear through intrigue and romanticism.

Ellie Marney, you are exceptional.

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