White Night: A Bogan Book Review

White Night
Written by Ellie Marney
Contemporary, #LoveOzYA
384 Pages
Published March 1st 2018
Thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia
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Bo Mitchell has little on his mind except school, footy and friends. Rory Wild has grown up on a nearby commune and is attending a normal high school for the first time. Bo is determined to find out everything about her, even her secrets...

In Bo Mitchell's country town, a White Night light show event has the potential to raise vital funds to save the skate park. And out of town, a girl from a secretive off the grid community called Garden of Eden has the potential to change the way Bo sees the world. But are there too many secrets in Eden?

As Bo is drawn away from his friends and towards Rory, he gradually comes to believe that Eden may not be utopia after all, and that their group leader's goal to go off the grid may be more permanent and more dangerous than anyone could have predicted.

A wonderfully compelling novel from the acclaimed author of the Every series.
G'day and welcome to the town of Lamistead Victoria, where everyone knows your business and doesn't mind a gander in your windows. There's not much to do in Lamistead for sixteen year old knockabout kid Bo, footy, school, hanging round the soon to be demolished skate park. And no cooking. Definitely no cooking. Bo just wants to make his old man proud, a hard ask with all those bloody rules, the tough old bastard.

Just outside of town, the locals will have a yarn, there's a place where all the tree huggers live called Eden. No one knows what's going on in Eden but most will tell you there's a roo loose in the top paddock. Including that tough old bastard. So when Rory Wild rocks up at school one day with her hairy pits and getaway sticks, she's a punching bag for the halfwits of Lamistead.

Naturally Bo has got the hots for Rory and not just for her hairy pins. If that was the case I'd have to beat them off with a stick. This chick is smart and doesn't think Bo's a dickhead. Bonus. Starting out as mates, I loved those kiddos. Rory gave Bo the guts to want more than bring a local frothy drinking footy player and even though his dad'll be devo, he wants a cook tucker. Rory learns what a wasteful pack of mongrels Lamistead is until Bo adopts the recycling lifestyle, even giving his mates a serve for being wasteful.

Eden isn't the great unwashed that the pricks of Lamistead want you to think, it's a whole village of veggoes growing their own carrots and saving the planet. Probably should have called it Flatulence Town just quietly. The message at the heart of Eden is getting your hand off it and taking care of your own back paddock. Grown your own tucker and reuse shit you have laying round the house. We might not all want to be Greenies, live in a commune and meditate but we need to pitch in before this world goes down the gurgler. Whip up an Eden in your own back paddock and teach your ankle biters the value of reusing and recycling.

I'm always banging on about Aussie authors because let's face it, they're grouse and Ellie Marney is the top chick of Aussie authors. Let me tell you a bit about my mate Marno, she's a fair dinkum Aussie legend, she's a hard working mum living out in the sticks and raising a group of ankle biters. She knows her shit. She writes no bullshit books with heart and White Night is a bloody ripper. She's a beaut mate. 

Small Spaces

Small Spaces
Written by Sarah Epstein
Contemporary, Thriller, #LoveOzYA
384 Pages
Publishing April 1st 2018
Thank you to Walker Books Australia
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We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing.

As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?
The New South Wales coastal town of Port Bellamy is synonymous with Mallory Fisher, abducted from the promenade carnival and discovered wandering the surrounding forest physically unharmed. Natasha Carmody wandered the carnival alone, visiting the small rural community as her brother was welcomed into the world. Child psychiatrist Ingrid Ballantine believes Sparrow is a manifestation of isolation, a fabrication created by a child displaced by a sibling. Natasha has endured the degradation and resentment of her mother, a woman disengaging with her daughter over the fabricated account.  Detectives interviewed Natasha Carmody who was present the day Mallory was abducted by Sparrow, a nondescript shadow disregarded as a suspect.

Natasha Carmody is a photography enthusiast, a conscientious young woman and diligent daughter. Sparrow is a constant and menacing presence, a figure cloaked in shadows believed to be the vivid imaginings of a narcissistic child. It begun at Willow Creek, the derelict childhood home of her father. Sparrow would enter through the bedroom window, coercing eight year old Natasha into dangerous predicaments for his own amusement and gratification. His manipulation culminating with the disappearance of Mallory. Although Sparrow engages in predatory behaviour, cruelty and manipulation, he is not a sexual predator. 

Mallory now communicates through non verbal cues, diagnosed with selective mutism, her recollection of her ordeal unable to assist the authorities. Mallory experiences anxiety, preferring the sanctuary of her bedroom and online friendships. Morgan Fisher was present at the carnival when Mallory disappeared, accepting culpability for her abduction. Morgan is an interesting character, although self condemning his positivity is infectious. His tentative friendship with Natasha is sincere and compassionate, although Morgan unsuspects Natasha's involvement in the abduction investigation.

Although Natasha concedes that Sparrow is a manifestation, she is an unreliable protagonist. The nonlinear narrative blends present tense with the childhood psychiatric transcripts succeeding the abduction. Natasha now experiences social anxiety, apprehensive of forming new friendships. Her friendship with Sadie is wonderful, a young Māori woman identifying as lesbian, her single mother operating a small catering business is inspirational.

Another extraordinary aspect is Sarah Epstein's ingenuity to create an atmospheric environment, as a bystander encompassed by the narrative, menacing and foreboding. Small Spaces is a compelling, unpredictable and consuming debut. Phenomenal. 

The Poet X

The Poet X
Written by Elizabeth Acevedo
Poetry, Contemporary, Social Issues
320 Pages
Publishing April 1st 2018
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont
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Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers, especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
Sixteen year old Xiomara Batista is a beautiful young woman, intelligent and compassionate, whispering words between the pages of her worn leather journal of a life never her own. Altagracia and her husband migrated to America from the Dominican Republic, surrendering her celibacy to a womaniser and embracing her Catholicism, residing in the community of East Harlem.

My parents probably wanted a girl who would sit in the pews
wearing pretty florals and a soft smile.
They got combat boots and a mouth silent until it's sharp as an island machete.

Brother Xavier was birthed as a whisper moments before Xiomara, wailing, entering the world. Xavier attends a prestigious private school, incapable of confronting his tormentors, incapable of confronting the men who sexualise Xiomara, now conscientious of her physique.

Her mother is antagonistic woman, disapproving, abusing and degrading Xiomara and the young woman her daughter represents. An independent feminist young lady. Emotionally absent, her father is a complacent bystander, creating a turbulent and oppressive environment.

We're wild women, flinging verses at each other
like grenades in a battlefield, a cacophony of violent poems
and then we're both gasping, wordless.

Xiomara's exploration of the world as a young woman is analytical, faith, femininity, relationships and the expectancy of young women and women of colour. Inspired by the poetry of women of colour, creative writing encourages Xiomara to articulate her thoughts. A formidable young woman who will confront, inspire and empower her captive audience throughout her verse narration.

To grab my notebook,
and write, and write and write
all the things I wish I could have said.
Make poems from the sharp feelings inside,
that feel like they could
carve me wide

Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone
Legacy of Orïsha Book One
Written by Tomi Adeyemi
Fantasy, Magic, Diversity
352 Pages
Published March 13th 2018
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
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Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for the enemy.
Heaven and Earth once blessed the lands of Orïsha until the Maji community was slain, a genocide ordered by King Saran. Zélie Adebola remembers the night her small wind swept community was pillaged, her mother slain by atrocities of the Monarchy. The vibrant white mane of the Divĩner children continue to be oppressed and persecuted by the King, in retribution for the atrocities of the Kosidán.

Zélie Adebola is a defiant young woman, her village of Ilorin decimated by the Monarchy of Orïsha as her mother was captured and slain. The young women of Ilorin are disciplined in the artistry of non lethal defence, taught to protect their bodies against the brutality of the Guard, Mama Agba ensuring the Ilorin godlaw is preserved. Brother Tzain is a gentle man, Zélie and Tzain caring for their windowed father and one another. Zélie inherited her tenacity and defiance from her mother, a vivacious woman compassion and inspiration, her husband and children bereaved by their loss.

As Zélie encounters the Monarch heir attempting to abscond the Orïsha marketplace she is reluctantly embroiled in the heist, enticing the Guard to Ilorin to retrieve the sacred artefact. The Divĩners are an enslaved lineage, children with dormant abilities and artefacts once lost to time have now resurfaced to awaken the Divĩners, their ashê laden blood a language of the gods and expendable to King Saran. 

Amari is the daughter of King Saran and a reluctant heir to the Orïsha Kingdom alongside brother Inan, a general of the Orïshan forces. Unaware of atrocities of her Kingdom, Amari is held captive within her palatial tower, maligned by her mother for her dark complexion, her vitality quelled by her oppressive confinement. Brother Inan is a morally ambiguous young man pursuing validation from his father. With the Monarch wealth comes privilege but Inan and Amari are burdened by parental expectations. Amari is a treasonous deflector pursued by Inan under instruction of King Saran, loyal to the Orïsha kingdom and the crown.

The narrative Tomi Adeyemi has conceived is transcendent, intertwined with meticulous folklore. Children of Blood and Bone emphasises the lives of the African American youth lost to violence, inspiring readers and invoking discussion about prejudice. The prose is exquisite, the celebration of  West African mythology and the Yorùbá dialect is captivating. A breathtaking debut.
Abogbo wa ni ọmọ r1ẹ nínú 1j1 àti egungun.
We are all children of blood and bone.

Tempests and Slaughter

Tempests and Slaughter
The Numair Chronicles Book One
Written by Tamora Pierce
Fantasy, Magic, Coming Of Age
464 Pages
Published February 13th 2018
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends, Varice, a clever girl with an often overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the leftover prince with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never before told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.
The Imperial University of Carthak is a prestigious school, educating the brightest adolescent Mages throughout the kingdom, including promising young mage Arram Draper, the ten year old son of a thread merchant. Mages are a revered member of the community, educated in the artistry of healing, spell casting and the combative arts. Arram Draper is an intelligent, gentle young boy and an advanced learning academic of The Imperial University of Carthak.

Prince Ozorne is an interesting character and although charismatic, isolates himself from his peers at university. Beneath the debonair facade is a volatile and passive aggressive young man, his despair exoneration for the threatening and abusive behaviour towards friends and acquaintances.

Varice Kingsford is a wonderful young woman, a culinary artiste despite the displeasure of her family. Established friends Varice and Ozorne welcome Arram to the independent learning program where he will receive private tuition in each discipline.

In a kingdom where slavery is celebrated in the gladiator area, the Sirajit revolutionaries oppose the barbarism of the royal family, Prince Ozorne's father slain during the uprising and his son determined to avenge his father. Encouraged by his mother, Princess Mahira, Varice and Arram are concerned for Ozorne, the Emperor's nephew now second heir to the Emperor throne. Arram is introduced to the gladiator arena when rescued by Musenda, Gladiator and slave. Under the Carthak empire, slaves are imprisoned to serve nobility or destined for the arena where death is inevitable. Musenda is a gentle, compassionate man, financially supporting his widowed sister and her two children on the arena. Arram has seen the despair, the hunger of enslavement and the life threatening wounds throughout his placement as an apprentice medic, believing in freedom against slavery and a prosperous Kingdom.

Carthak is atmospheric and meticulously illustrated. The linear narrative traverses several years throughout Arram's education, as he begins to specialise in healing. Throughout his interactions with each discipline Master, Arram learns humility, compassion and the atrocities of slavery within the Kingdom.

Tamora Pierce is an esteemed and accomplished fantasy author, exploring a world enduring exploitation and injustice, revenge and slavery. Racially and sexually diverse characters epitomise a vibrant origin story of gallantry and valour. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
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