Aurora Burning

may contain mild spoilers for Aurora Rising
Aurora Burning
Aurora Rising Book Two
Written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Science Fiction, Adventure, Australian
512 Pages
Published April 2020
Thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia
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Our heroes are back. Kind of.

First, the bad news. An ancient evil, you know, your standard consume all life in the galaxy deal is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They've just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of Gremps who'd like to rearrange their favourite faces. And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who'll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri. Then there's Kal's long lost sister, who's not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it's time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them but time is short, and if Auri can't learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion's most unforgettable heroes and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.
The Ra’haam blooms are slumbering on their desolate planets, an ancient hivemind race threatening to consume the galaxy. The lost colony of Octavia III has been devoured by the Ra’haam, the adrift Hatfield vessel destined for the Octavia settlement before succumbing to the Fold. Aurora Jie Lin O'Malley has long since awakened and rescued by a gallant Tyler Jones, the unlikely company of a diplomat, scientist, warrior, engineer, navigator and Tyler are now felonious fugitives escaping the Global Intelligence Agency.

Delightfully creepy, wonderfully imaginative and superbly entertaining, Aurora Burning is an unpredictable adventure of sarcasm and wonderfully diverse characters. Aurora Burning introduces readers to the Syldrathi Unbroken, a warrior civilisation involved in an ages old conflict with human civilisation, their planet decimated, those who survived are now displaced. Kaliis found solace within the Aurora Academy, his squad of unlikely friends and the memory of his mother, a woman who instilled humility, compassion and peace within her children, their father a warmonger in contrast. Aurora Burning introduces audiences to the fierce Saedii, Kaliis' sister and Unbroken soldier that is entirely deserving of her own series.

With a substantial bounty offered for their capture and accusations of terrorism, the group of unlikely friends must evade the Global Intelligence Agency, the relentless Unbroken and Syldrathi forces. 

In Aurora Burning, the secondary characters are sensational and provide a reprieve from the intensity of the consuming romance. Zila possesses a quiet intensity, incredibly intelligent and possibly identifies as neurodiverse. Finian has impaired mobility and wears a specially designed suit to lessen the impact of gravity on his skeletal, nerve and muscle systems. He's quite possibly pansexual, appreciating the beauty of those around him regardless of gender. Finian is open about his sexuality, he's flirtatious and flamboyant and uses sarcasm as a coping mechanism. A stark contrast to Zila, who confides in Scarlett that she identifies as lesbian. It's a moment of inspiration and triumph, that Zila and Scarlett's friendship had blossomed and Zila felt comfortable confiding in her friend. It was an immense moment with little fanfare and endeared me to Zila's character. 

The intense romance between Aurora and Kaliis threatened to overwhelm the overall narrative, Aurora's newfound empowerment needed be at the expense of Kaliis' character. A romance where Aurora was content to allow Kaliis to become her protector, she begun losing her own identity in the process. In a narrative where characters are driven foremost by their relationship, it's inevitable that characters will feel isolated within their worlds and become dependant on one another. 

That ending.


Although the romance is entirely melodramatic, Kaliis being sacrificed to further Aurora's evolution is merciless. Heavens, it's unforgiving. Aurora is confronted with an impossible situation, the reality of her relationship and although the Aurora Burning narrative divided readers, I enjoyed the glimpses of ruthlessness, the often reckless decisions and the regret. It added a level of humanity to the storyline.  

Aurora Burning is a whirlwind adventure of beautifully illustrated worlds and diverse, vibrant characters. Immensely entertaining!

Rebel Gods

See my review for Monuments

Rebel Gods
Monuments Book Two
Written by Will Kostakis
Fantasy, Adventure, LGBT, Australian
256 Pages
Published August 27th 2019
Thanks to Hachette Australia
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Newbie gods Connor, Sally and Locky want to change the world, no biggie. But they're soon drawn into a centuries old conflict that just might destroy the world they're striving to make better. Book two in the Monuments fantasy duology from young adult superstar Will Kostakis.

With the Monuments gone, newbie gods Connor, Sally and Locky must stop the rebel gods from reducing the world to ruin. Trouble is, they don't know how.

While Sally searches for answers and Locky makes plans to change the world, Connor struggles to keep up appearances as an ordinary teenager. But when a rebel god offers them a deal to end the chaos, their lives are turned upside down and they're forced to reckon with the question: who should decide the fate of the world?

Coming to terms with their newfound Godly status, friends Sally, Connor and his totally dreamy boyfriend Locky are determined to find the estranged Rebel Gods before they wreak havoc upon the world. What's the point of being a God if you can't change the world for the better? When Locky decides to spread joy on the lawn of the local parish, turning their grass into the rainbow flag in opposition to their queerphobic agenda, he's suddenly thrust into the spotlight and making their task of keeping their Godly duties on the down low even harder. Sydney is awash with speculation, could the Gods really walk among the people? For Connor and Locky, it's no easy task dating a God but now with his newfound rockstar slash miracle status, Locky may have inadvertently placed their lives in even more danger, despite the threat of the two dangerous sisters living in the otherworld that threaten life as we know it.

Adventure is afoot my friends as Connor begins to accept the fate thrust upon him, a God that will never age, never able to stay in one place any longer than a few years or risk exposure and of course, telling his dear mother. The other light of his life. Although the Monuments duology is steeped in modern mythology and moments of hilarity, the heart of the narrative is friendship and finding our way into the world. Although generations of teens aren't supernatural godly beings, it's still entirely relatable. Teens invoking change and being the change they want to see within the world. 

Rebel Gods explores the deeply queerphobic aspects of religion, those condoning intolerance and prejudice under the guise of religious ideology. Locky challenges the local parish, exposing himself in the process and although the Monuments series explores the urban fantasy narrative of Sydney, the characters are exposed to societal and community issues. It provides a realism beyond world ending scenarios and one of my favourite aspects of the series, besides the brilliant and entirely likeable characters. 

A brilliant conclusion to the duology from one of Australia's most loved authors. 

A Tale of Magic Series

A Tale of Magic
A Tale of Magic Book One
Written by Chris Colfer
Middle Grade, Magic, Friendship, Adventure
Published August 11th 2020
448 Pages
Thanks to Hachette Australia
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When Brystal Evergreen stumbles across a secret section of the library, she discovers a book that introduces her to a world beyond her imagination and learns the impossible: she is a fairy capable of magic! But in the oppressive Southern Kingdom, women are forbidden from reading and magic is outlawed, so Brystal is swiftly convicted of her crimes and sent to the miserable Bootstrap Correctional Facility.

But with the help of the mysterious Madame Weatherberry, Brystal is whisked away and enrolled in an academy of magic! Adventure comes with a price, however, and when Madame Weatherberry is called away to attend to an important problem, she doesn't return.

Do Brystal and her classmates have what it takes to stop a sinister plot that risks the fate of the world, and magic forever?

In the Southern Kingdom, young girls are educated to become housewives, mothers and caregivers, good girls by honouring their fathers, brothers and husbands as silent, neglected members of society. Thirteen year old Brystal Evergreen is determined to journey across the kingdoms, seeking adventure and freedom but for the time being, Brystal is content to read. For women and girls within the oppressive kingdom, reading is illegal so when Brystal stumbles across a banned magic book while covertly cleaning her local library, she's caught not only reading but practicing magic and sentenced to the horrific Bootstrap Correctional Facility. 

Ohh Brystal, what a darling girl you are with your big dreams and immense feelings. I was so incredibly smitten by this spirited young lady. She's courageous and determined to push against societal boundaries. Brystal's father is a leader among their community and although paid handsomely for his work, the family live with the bare necessities, handmedown clothing while Brystal and her mother work tirelessly to keep house. After all, the Southern Kingdom tells women that's all their good for. Grown men scared of the superiority of women and Brystal's father is without a doubt, a misogynist. As a Justice, along with both Brystal's brothers, they're responsible for keeping women in line, uneducated and sentencing those suspected of magic to death. 

Girls from across the kingdom have been accused of practicing magic, outlawed after hordes of magical creatures were purged from the kingdoms into the inbetween, a dangerous and unruly place where ogres, goblins and club thumping trolls dwell and fight for resources. The inbetween is incredibly atmospheric and foreboding, an ancient forest and ungovernable land separating the northern and southern kingdoms and where Madame Weatherberry has stationed her new school. 

A reprieve arrives in the form of Madame Weatherberry, a delightful Mary Poppins type woman who has Presidential approval to open a school for Fairies, Under the guidance of Madame Weatherberry, students Brystal and her new friends Xanthous, Emerelda, Tangerina, Skylene and travelling showbusiness performer extraordinaire Lucy, will learn to control their abilities and become the faces of the magical community to promote acceptance and understanding. Madame Weatherberry has an ulterior motive, the children must learn to defeat the Snow Queen, an enchantress wreaking havoc on the northern kingdom, decimating villages and homes. 

Although the injustice and inequality of the kingdom are fictional, young readers will draw parallel's within the world and the prejudice communities endure. Communities of colour, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexualities, persecuted rather than celebrated. 

A Tale of Magic is a whimsical series debut that will delight and enchant readers. Simply magical.

A Tale of Witchcraft
A Tale of Magic Book Two
Written by Chris Colfer
Middle Grade, Magic, Friendship, Adventure
Published September 29th 2020
528 Pages
Thanks to Hachette Australia
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Brystal Evergreen changed the world, but the journey is just beginning.

Brystal Evergreen and her friends have saved the world from the evil Snow Queen and secured worldwide acceptance for the magical community.

However, when a mysterious new witch named Mistress Mara arrives at the Academy, the celebrations are cut short. As Mistress Mara begins recruiting faeries into her rival school of Witchcraft, it becomes clear she has dark intentions. And soon Brystal's friend Lucy becomes embroiled in an ominous plot against mankind.

Elsewhere, the fragile peace is on the brink of shattering. Outrage has spread throughout the kingdoms in opposition to the legalisation of magic. And a dangerous and centuries old clan known as the Righteous Brotherhood has resurfaced, with one goal in mind: to exterminate all magical life for ever. Starting with Brystal.

As the kingdom celebrates the once isolated and persecuted magical community, Brystal is now academy administrator and along with Xanthous, Emerelda, Tangerina, Skylene and Lucy, the academy welcomes the wider community seeking solace within the sanctuary grounds. The northern conflict has been resolved, the land thawed and the Snow Queen has been banished under the northern lights but a new threat has emerged. 

The Righteous Brotherhood is a patriarchal organisation opposing the magical community. While the community was isolated by the kingdom, the Brotherhood remained dormant and with Brystal's new found popularity, they have awoken to destroy the alliance the kingdom and fairy community has aligned. Brystal has found an unlikely but wonderfully charismatic ally in Prince Gallivant, affectionately known as Seven due to his lineage to the royal throne. The Brotherhood will stop at nothing to see their leader on the throne, including the decimation of the royal family and Brystal will risk her life to ensure the safety of the academy and community. 

One of my favourite aspects of the A Tale of Magic series is the societal and political undertones. How society often devalues the lives of minority communities and legislates, discriminates and excludes based on ethnicity, gender and sexualities. Brystal has matured into a wonderful young lady, confident and fiercely vigilant, protecting the community she embraces. A Tale of Witchcraft is very much Brystal's journey of acceptance and growth, learning who she is and her place within the world. 

Beautifully written and lovingly told, The Tale of Magic series is a wonderful exploration of adventure and found family, of wanting to belong and finding your place within the everchanging world. An absolute delight. 

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