Kindred with Michael Earp

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories
Edited by Michael Earp
Written by Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin
Publishing June 2019
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Twelve of Australia’s best writers from the queer community are brought together in this groundbreaking collection of YA short stories.

What does it mean to be queer?

What does it mean to be human?

In this powerful #LoveOzYA collection, twelve of Australia’s finest queer writers explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers. The connections that form us. This inclusive and intersectional #OwnVoices anthology for teen readers features work from writers of diverse genders, sexualities and identities, including writers who identify as First Nations, people of colour or disabled.

Includes a foreword by anthology editor Michael Earp, resources for queer teens, contributor bios and information about the #LoveOZYA movement.

He's a champion for Australian young adult literature, a bookseller extraordinaire, an author, an editor and he can rock a pair of overalls like nobodies business. I had the pleasure of talking to the always wonderful Michael Earp about the upcoming release of Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOZYA Stories.


I wanted to begin by asking how the concept of Kindred begun and how you were able to curate what is a landmark release for young adult literature in Australia.
The idea for Kindred was spawned at the launch of Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology. Danielle Binks had previously been the Chair of the #LoveOZYA committee and at that time, I was the Chair and so I had lots of people asking me if I would be editing the next anthology. This is not at all how it works. Being Chair did not mean we automatically edited an anthology, Danielle had worked tirelessly outside of her role as Chair to usher Begin, End, Begin into the world. And so while there wasn’t a justifiable correlation, I started to think, maybe I could edit an anthology. But, if I did, I’d want it to be a dedicated queer anthology. Because, let’s face it, I spend most of my time daydreaming about how to make my own world a little bit gayer… It’s only natural.

Then the work begun.

However, Kindred isn’t the first dedicated queer anthology for young adults published in Australia. There were actually two published in the nineties, Hide and Seek edited by Jenny Pausacker, and Ready or Not edited by Mark Macleod which, unfortunately, are out of print. I was privileged to be able to read Hide and Seek and it holds some wonderful stories in it. But to be able to work on this project has been an amazing experience and I’m so thrilled I’m able to offer contemporary readers something. Because I really do feel like it’s time that such a celebration of queer authors and queer Australian YA be out there in the world.

Could you tell us a little about the story you contributed to the anthology?
My own story in the anthology is a fantasy called Bitter Draught. I don’t want to say too much about it, other than I knew I wanted to write a gender non-binary witch, and I was going through a rough patch personally when I wrote it. Don’t at me.

The anthology features various genders, identities and sexualities and also includes Indigenous authors, authors of colour or disability. How important is it for adolescents to see themselves reflected on the pages of Kindred?
When I was working out who to approach to write for Kindred with my editor, Nicola Santilli, we knew we wanted it to reflect the diversity of the Australian people. After all, it’s supposed to be a snapshot of who we are and what we’re thinking about at this point in time, having as many identities represented as possible was incredibly important to us. When you’re dealing with a minority that is as broad as the queer community, intersectionality is bound to come into play. And try as we did, there are still many identities that aren’t represented. (we only had twelve places!) But I’d love to hear from Aro / Ace and Intersex authors next time! I believe that whether we were conscious of it or not, we all look for ourselves when we read, especially as teenagers. And what a happy thing to discover a reflection of yourself in the pages of a book!

What messages do you hope readers take away from Kindred?
Above all else, I hope that Kindred is just a thoroughly enjoyable read. As for other takeaways? That there is hope, regardless of what you’re currently facing. I don’t want to sound too schmaltzy, but I’m still learning that now. What’s going on right now is not for always, and there’s always joy to chase around the corner, and hold onto while you can. But you have to turn the page to find out.

Calling Australian and New Zealand Queer Reviewers

Walker Books Australia, together with Michael Earp and the #AusYABloggers are celebrating the release of the Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories anthology. This is an own voices tour and open to bloggers, reviewers, Instagrammers and Youtubers from Australia and New Zealand and will begin on the 1st of June and run until the 10th June 2019.

Simply fill out the form found here.

About Michael

Michael Earp is a book obsessed author with a love of children’s and young literature. He's read it, sold it, blogged about it, studied it and written it. He's the editor of Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories which will be released in June 2019 by Walker Books Australia. He is also a contributor to Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories which is out now through Black Inc Books.

You can find Michael on his Blog  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram and Goodreads

What I Like About Me

What I Like About Me
Written by Jenna Guillaume
Contemporary, Coming Of Age, #LoveOZYA
256 Pages
Published February 26th 2019
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
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You know all those movies where teenagers have the summer of their lives?

This summer is probably not going to be that.

Here lies Maisie Martin, dead from embarrassment, aged sixteen.

The last thing sixteen year old Maisie Martin thought she'd be doing this summer is entering a beauty pageant.

Not when she's spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone.

Not when her Dad is AWOL for Christmas and her gorgeous older sister has returned to rock Maisie's shaky confidence. And her best friend starts going out with the boy she's always loved.

But Maisie's got something to prove.

As she writes down all the ways this summer is going from bad to worse in her school assignment journal, what starts as a homework torture device might just end up being an account of how Maisie didn't let anything, or anyone, hold her back.
Good day to you Discovery Journal.

Unlike Maisie Martin, I am writing this journal entry entirely of my own free will. Maisie on the other hand is being forced under extreme parental duress to write in her school appointed, fire breathing teacher approved journal each day. That's what happens when your mother is also a teacher, you can never escape school.

Now I'm sure Maisie will tell you that even though her father is staying in the city, working, this summer promises to be epic as she's allowed to invite totally gorgeous best friend Anna along for company. More like a buffer against her overbearing mother and her almost but not quite estranged yet perfect sister who is bringing her new and probably equally as perfect girlfriend to Cobbers Bay. Not that Maisie plans on spending time with either of them, it's summer which means sun, sand, dodgy barbecues watching others swim like a totally non perverted creeper and summer crushes. For the last few years Maisie has been making serious heart eyes at smoking hot, resting dreamy faced Sebastian Lee. If only his annoyingly flatulent best friend Beamer wasn't always around. That and if Maisie could work up the courage to take a chance.

Discovery Journal, I feel that. At sixteen and convinced I was the ugly friend, you know the one. She's the funny but less attractive sidekick and she most certainly never gets the boy. Even as a married adult who's reasonably confident and no longer the ugly friend, you still convince yourself that people only like you in small doses. Which is bullshit. Sometimes you just need to pull up your Maisie pants and realise that is people don't like you then that's their own damn fault for not spending the time getting to know you. The difference between us at sixteen is that Maisie is about to have the summer of her life.

I think most of us have had a friend like Anna. She's beautiful, popular and although you don't spend much time together any more since she started dating, you'll always be there for her. Especially during the breakup with her dickhead boyfriend when she's utterly miserable. Because that's just what friends do, only Anna seems to be spending more time with resting dreamy face Sebastian than she is Maisie. Maisie is so not okay with this recent development because you should be happy when your hot heartbroken friend starts hooking up with your hot forever crush. Best friends, the reason why we can't have nice things.

Maisie is hitching up those britches and making new friends, proving that you can't keep a good woman down. Leila is a local, a fashion designer and just bloody fabulous. Discovery Journal, this is why you you need friends that empower you and at the risk of breaking into a rendition of Wing Beneath My Wings, friends that help you soar. They don't suck face with your crush fully knowing how so not over him that you are.

Don't get me wrong Discovery Journal, Sebastian is a stand up guy but what happens when all the things Maisie thinks she loves about him, he isn't actually worthy of... Unexpected shit happens with delightful results. Now the real sucking face begins. Like an Italian chef, I am kissing my fingers to show you how delicious these developments are. Have at it girl.

Maisie is the heroine. She's me at sixteen, she's probably you at sixteen, she's the girl that lives next door or the girl that sits in front of you in social studies while you draw genitals in your text book. She's the girl with moxie and doesn't know it, the girl who is constantly evolving and finding herself. She's the girl who'll set the world ablaze, who deserves more than the assholes trying to extinguish her fire. She's the fat, funny and beautiful girl. She's us.

What I Like About Me is a feel great, utterly charming read about friendship, finding love and finding yourself along the way. It's about loving yourself and stuff what anyone else thinks. It's confidence building, it's empowering and it's embracing your inner Maisie and unleashing her on the world.

It's everything.
Love, Kelly.

Blog Tour: Enchantée

Enchantée Book One
Written by Gita Trelease
Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance
464 Pages
Published February 26th 2019
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia
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Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries and magicians...

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic, la magie ordinaire, Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won't hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family's savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark, the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist, who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she's playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose, love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic, before Paris burns.
In eighteenth century Paris, the streets whisper with discontent. The wealthy aristocratic community collecting taxation payments from the lower socioeconomic castes, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette holding lavish parties for the affluent society. Camille Durbonne provides for her sister Sophie, recovering from the small pox virus that their parents succumbed, her brother Alain an alcoholic indebted to the dazzling lights of the royal casino.

Camille relies upon magie ordinaire and her ability to manipulate metal into currency, using sorrow as motivation for the transformation. Once celebrated for their abilities, magicians were revered by royalty and aristocrats to transform the Palace of Versailles into a glittering showcase of wealth, beauty and privilege. For a lowly printers daughter, Camille needs money for Sophie's medication and to keep the roof over their heads, brother Alain is unable to hold down a job and has sold anything of value within their crumbling, rented rooms. On a drunken rampage, Alain ransacks their home, assaults Camille and flees to Versailles with their overdue rent money.

Camille is a resilient young woman, using whatever means are at her disposal to earn money to care for her younger sister Sophie. Sophie is recovering from small pox, a disease which had taken both their parents lives and left the siblings for fend for themselves. And one another. While Camille and Sophie have been a means of support for one another, Alain begun gambling, seduced by the bright lights of Versailles and the careless life of an aristocrat.

Alain is an abusive character. He cares little for the welfare of his sisters, rather his own lifestyle of drinking and gambling which has lead him debt with dangerous creditors. Not only does he attempt to manipulate Camille but also threatens to sell Camille and Sophie with the implication of selling their bodies to clear his debts. Sophie is awestruck by this lavish life Alain leads and idolises her brother, Alain filling her head with false promises of Sophie meeting a wealthy aristocrat and marrying. Sophie is frustrating. Although incredibly naive at only fifteen years of age, she's only beginning to realise the toll that magic takes on Camille and begins working for a local milliner creating hats for the wealthy women of Paris. Unfortunately it still isn't enough money to survive.

Using her mother's glamoire gown and the last of their savings, Camille uses magic to manipulate her appearance to join the aristocrats at Versailles, where she's taken into the fold as the young widow Baroness de la Fontaine. For Camille, it's impossible not to lose her sense of identity within the dazzling atmosphere of Versailles and the privileged aristocrat lifestyle. Although Camille is seduced by her new lifestyle, she returns home with her winnings each day to provide for sister Sophie.

Sophie's loyalties seem to lie with Alain, her brother convincing the fifteen year old that she will one day become an aristocrat with influence, marrying a wealthy man and living a life of affluence. She becomes increasingly jealous of Camille, even as magie ordinaire slowly begins to destroy her sister. I found Sophie incredibly self centred and it's not a term I use lightly. Understanding that she is only fifteen years of age and recovering from a life threatening illness, she showed such little compassion for Camille except for wanting her sister to pursue relationships for societal gain.

The subtle romance was lovely. Meeting in the most unconventional manner, the aeronautic Lazare is dashing, charming and oh so chivalrous. His wonderment at Camille is absolutely delightful and he cares not for her societal standing. Leading her double life, Camille meets the wealthy, mysterious Seguin, an acquaintance of her new friends. Seguin is incredibly forward with his intentions, he likes Camille as her alternative ego but Camille also suspects he is aware there is more to her than the wealthy, lonely widow she portrays. 

It was incredibly atmospheric. I was lured into the world of Versailles and the the lavish romanticism of the wealthy aristocrats. Gita Trelease has sprinkled words and phrases in French throughout the prose, creating such a lovely narrative and authenticity. An inclusion I really enjoyed.

My only complain is of the pacing. It's incredibly slow to begin. We follow Camille throughout the streets of Paris as she collects scrap metal to transform into coins and gambling to create a better life for her and Sophie. There was so much emphasis on the gambling and Camille stumbling home each night from exhaustion that there was little left for romance or developing Sophie's character. 

Overall, it was slow but incredibly lovely. I expected more from the brewing revolution subplot rather than glittering casinos but really enjoyed it despite the slow beginning. Fans of lavish historical romances will love this one and looking forward to the next installment. 


As part of the Bloomsbury Australia blog tour, I'm celebrating the release of The Priory of the Orange Tree by celebrating the the magnificent females of acclaimed author Samantha Shannon's Queendom.

The Priory of the Orange Tree
Written by Samantha Shannon
Adult, Fantasy, Dragons
848 Pages
Gifted by Bloomsbury Australia
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A world divided.

A queendom without an heir.

An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady in waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

Eadaz Duryan

Eadaz is a young woman placed within a foreign kingdom to safeguard the Queen. Eadaz resides within the palatial compound, her forthright sincerity winning the favour of the Queen as she is elevated to a lady of the bedchamber and secretly safeguarding Sabran against cutthroats. Although committed to the mages of the Priory of The Orange Tree, Eadaz is conflicted by her affection for Sabran. Her close proximity to Sabran will endanger the Queendom and her life.

Queen Sabran Berethnet

The Nameless One, a dragon that brought upon the Grief of Ages that decimated Queendoms is rousing once more, the prophesy leading Sabran, a young Queen coerced into matrimony for political alliance to conceive a daughter. Sabran is an independent woman and although tenacious and resolute, her anxiety and affliction is palpable. Suitors for her affections are presented to the court, Sabran expected to choose a notable partner and conceive to protect her Queendom against the slumbering dragons. She is plagued by nightmares of children lost within the forest, of mages who practice forbidden magic.

Without a Berethnet heir, the Queendom will be overthrown.

Tané Miduchi

Tané Miduchi is a young woman born of a lowly caste and an aspiring dragonrider. On the eve the Choosing Day when riders will learn heir fate, she rescues a young man that emerges from the ocean and risking the Draconic Plague, arranges the stranger to be concealed illegally upon the island peninsula. In her position as student, Tané has experienced blatant socioeconomic and classist prejudice. Degraded and tormented as a successful young woman on the threshold of entering the prestigious Dragonriders.

Females Of The Queendom

The Donmata Marosa, Crown Princess of the Draconic Kingdom of Yscalin.
The Dowager Duchess of Zeedeur. Kalyba, the Lady of the Woods.
The Pirate Captain, sovereign of the Sundance Sea with forty thousand pirates under her command.
Mita Yedanya, The Prioress.
And, Dragon Nayimathun of the Deep Snows.

Who run the world

Of our matriarchal societies. Of women in authority. Women who aspire. Women who achieve. It's diverse women. It's women who love women. It's females who are vulnerable, resilient and determined. It's women at our finest. The heroine. The villainous. The Priory of the Orange Tree is a celebration of women. Let queendom reign!

No woman should be made to fear that she was not enough.
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