Category Archives: Australia

Blog Tour: The Harper Effect by Taryn Bashford

The Harper Effect by Taryn Bashford

Harper Hunter doesn’t know how it came to this.

Her tennis dreams are collapsing: her coach says she doesn’t have what it takes to make it in the world of professional tennis.

Her new doubles partner is moody, mysterious and angry at the world. What is he hiding?

She is in love with Jacob, but he is her sister’s boyfriend. Or, he was. Harper could never betray Aria with Jacob … could she?

As Harper’s heart and dreams pull her in different directions, she has to figure out exactly what she wants. And just how hard she’s willing to fight to get it.

My Blurb

Strictly from the book’s description, I wouldn’t have picked up the book as I usually would avoid a love triangle involving sisters and/or best friends. However, when an invite for blog tour arrived, I couldn’t resist. I had my doubts about the book but maybe because of a lower expectation that I found myself actually enjoying the read.

In the first instance, Aria and Jacob had broken up at the beginning of the book. I’m still uncomfortable with the competing feelings however a couple of things eased my conflicted thoughts: Harper knew what’s right or wrong really but she’s struggling to do the right thing (haven’t we all been there?!) and I do not like Jacob. These helped me to settle comfortably into the story.

Despite Harper’s choices, I liked her a lot. Sure, she’s in a star-child bubble but at least she’s not a ‘tennis brat’. She worked hard for her dreams. She’s quite lucky actually with her parents and coach who will rebuke her when she’s wrong, nudge her to the right direction and love her for who she is. And Colt! Hhhmmm… what can I say? Mysterious. Hot. Broody. Talented. Even romantic. *sighs*

Even adults get confused with their feelings some times so really, Harper is allowed to be confused. Adults struggle to do the ‘right’ things too so Harper is allowed to struggle with doing the right things. Adults also make mistakes so Harper must be allowed to make her own mistakes and learn from them. I was cheering Harper from the stands.

As an adult, I’m just reminded of just how hard life is some times especially when you’re in the cusps of adulthood. I think this was a lovely novel; I have definitely enjoyed the few hours I spent reading it. I don’t follow tennis at all but it was an easy one to read, language and plot wise. It was a smooth read so don’t expect any twist. It’ll make a fine beach read or maybe um… at the tennis? lol ;p

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review. I have restricted my review to the book and my personal experience in the reading of it. Whilst I have seen what’s going on social media; I have made a commitment (blog tour) to the publisher.

You can, by following this link, read an Excerpt

About the author

Taryn lives the typical writer’s life with a supportive husband, teen children, and characters from her latest book insisting they help make dinner. Taryn has been an English Literature Honours student, a media Manager and a CEO of an internet company, but she plans to write inspiring, engaging novels until the day she can no longer type. Taryn is from a family of elite athletes, musicians and academics and is fascinated by teens that surpass the norm in their field.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  | facebook  |  instagram

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Review: Haxby’s Circus

Haxby’s Circus by Katharine Susannah Prichard

Run away to the circus with this book by award-winning Australian novelist Katharine Susannah Prichard.

A world of wandering mushroom tents, spawning on bare paddocks beside some small town and then off again … places that smelt of milk and wheat, where the farmer people gave you milk and apples, or melons; you got fresh water to drink and a bath sometimes. A dirty, strenuous world. Cruel, courageous, a hard, hungry world for all the glitter and flare of its laughter; but a good world, her world.

Welcome to Haxby’s Circus – the lightest, brightest little show on earth. From Bendigo to Narrabri, travelling the long and dusty roads between harvest fields, the Haxby family and their troupe – acrobats, contortionists, wirewalkers, clowns and wild beasts – perform under the glaring lights of the big top. But away from the spotlight and superficial glamour of the circus the real, and sometimes tragic, lives of the performers are exposed: their hopes and dreams, successes and failures, the drudgery of life on the road.

Proprietor Dan Haxby lives by the maxim ‘the show must go on’, even when his daughter Gina, the bareback rider, has a dreadful accident. Gina may never ride again, but, with some advice from circus dwarf Rocca, who shows her how to transform her liability into art, she flourishes and discovers a courageous spirit within.

My Blurb (3.5 stars)

An impulse buy based on:
1. eye-catching cover: PINK!
2. I love anything CIRCUS related
3. Sale bin
4. Aussie classics

Did it live up to expectations? Yes and No… it’s a very realistic tale of circus life from the point of view of a woman. I love the glamourous face of a circus. Ever since I read Enid Blyton’s Circus series, I’ve always been enamoured (and a bit jealous) of the adventures of circus folks. This novel, however, does not spare you the drudgery and hard work of that life. And in that way, it’s a realistic story but it also made the novel hard to bear as sometimes the author would list of what needs doing etc. I found this last bit a little boring.

Gina Haxby has just bloomed into womanhood with the admiration of the crowd when she fell and broke her back. She will never again ride her beautiful horses nor perform any acrobatic feats. While her back is hunched, she’s lucky to still be alive and able to walk though it didn’t feel like that to her. She then found a reason to live; to protect her weak baby brother from her father’s expectations. Once again, tragedy struck and she decided not to stay with the circus but took her mother and new baby sister away.

She could not stay away forever, however, as fate brought them all back together. This time, however, she is a woman of strength and can stand on her own. Her little sister is also a strong character of her own and together, they will bring the circus back to its brightest.

I didn’t pay that much attention to the blurb at the back of the book before I started reading so I really was surprised when the first tragedy struck (oops!). I was really heartbroken for Gina as she’s such a lovable character but of course, steel needs tempering and that’s what’s happened. It wasn’t an easy road for Gina but she’s traversed it with help from her loved ones and flourished despite all that life dealt her.

I’ve read one other of this author’s work, Coonardo, and it was such a hard book to read (nature of topic). Haxby’s Circus was also a bit of a struggle as it was such a hard life that I barely felt the excitement of the circus. Plus the way she did lists became annoying and dreary after the first couple of times. Still, I did like the characters and the descriptions of life in Australia in those days.

About the author

Katharine Susannah Prichard was born in Levuka, Fiji in 1883, and spent her childhood in Launceston, Tasmania, before moving to Melbourne, where she won a scholarship to South Melbourne College. Her father, Tom Prichard, was editor of the Melbourne Sun newspaper. She worked as a governess and journalist in Victoria then travelled to England in 1908. Her first novel, The Pioneers (1915), won the Hodder & Stoughton All Empire Literature Prize. After her return to Australia, the romance Windlestraws and her first novel of a mining community, Black Opal were published.

Prichard moved with her husband, war hero Hugo “Jim” Throssell, VC, to Greenmount, Western Australia, in 1920 and lived at 11 Old York Road for much of the rest of her life. She wrote most of her novels and stories in a self-contained weatherboard workroom near the house. In her personal life she always referred to herself as Mrs Hugo Throssell. She had one son, Ric Throssell, later a diplomat and writer.

#LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge: Wrap up

BINGO!!! BINGO!!! BINGO!!! BINGO!!! BINGO!!!

Wow! Can’t believe I made it 😀

My deepest thanks to The YA Room for running this challenge! I’ve actually made a little dent on my TBR 😉 And I’ve had such a good reading month to end the year with! #LoveOzYA has so much to offer our teens (& teen-in-hearts such as myself); tackling critical life issues, establishing identity, and sometimes, saving the world too :p

Below images are from my insta feed as I read for the challenge

 

Written by 2 or more Aussie authors: Puberty Blues by Kathe Lette & Gabrielle Carey -read 2/12 (my blurb)
Set in your state (NSW): Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle -read 7/12 (I’ve not post a review yet but gosh, my favourite to date!)
Shortlisted for the Gold Inky Award: One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn -read 20/12
Strong Friendship Element: Swarm (Zeroes #2) by Scott Westerfeld, Deborah Biancotti, & Margo Lanagan -read 30/12
A Book you’d like to see Adapted: The Road to Winterby Mark Smith read 8/12
Part of a series: Vulpi (Thyla #1) by Kate Gordon -read 26/12
Written by an Indigenous Author: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina read 10/12
Set in the Past: Me and Rory Macbeath by Richard Beasley read 14/12
Mental Health Rep: The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie Fornasier -read 29/12
Male Protagonist: The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett read 11/12
Young (Under 25) Author: Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle -read 28/12
Marginalised Protagonist: Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah read 18/12
Free Space: Thyla (Thyla #1) by Kate Gordon -read 24/12
Set in a Small Town: Brown Skin Blue by Belinda Jeffrey -read 27/12
Debut Novel: Fury by Shirley Marr read 15/12
Includes an Indigenous Character: Deadly, Unna? by Phillip Gwynne -read 22/12
Set After High School: The Convent by Maureen MacCarthy read 19/12
Published by a Small Press: Esme’s Wishes by Elizabeth Foster -read 31/12
A Book You Related To: Laurinda by Alice Pung read 17/12 (Most INTENSE read EVA!)
#OwnVoices: Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim -read 28/12
Aussie Spec Fic: Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres -read 26/12
2017 Release: Draekora by Lynette Noni read 6/12
Queer Romance: The Flywheel by Erin Gough -read 29/12
Self Published: It Came from the Deep by Maria Lewis read 18/12
Set in the City: Frankie by Shivoun Plozza -read 27/12

“Bingo!” – #LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge

BINGO!!!

Woo hoo! I’m so excited 😀

I have planned a book for each square (25 in total) but I am playing another challenge at the same time so it all depends on what book is picked for me to read. Hence, I’ve actually read 12 books out of the 25 BUT it’s all over the place and only got my first Bingo! now.

The orange stars on the Bingo sheet below noted squares I’ve read and the red line is my Bingo!

Written by 2 or more Aussie authors: Puberty Blues by Kathe Lette & Gabrielle Carey -read 2/12 (my blurb)
Set in your state (NSW): Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle -read 7/12 (I’ve not post a review yet but gosh, my favourite to date!)
Shortlisted for the Gold Inky Award: One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn
Strong Friendship Element: Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Deborah Biancotti, & Margo Lanagan
A Book you’d like to see Adapted: The Road to Winterby Mark Smith read 8/12
Part of a series: Vulpi by Kate Gordon
Written by an Indigenous Author: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina read 10/12
Set in the Past: Me and Rory Macbeath by Richard Beasley read 14/12
Mental Health Rep: The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie Fornasier
Male Protagonist: The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett read 11/12
Young (Under 25) Author: Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle
Marginalised Protagonist: Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah read 18/12
Free Space: Thyla by Kate Gordon
Set in a Small Town: Brown Skin Blue by Belinda Jeffrey
Debut Novel: Fury by Shirley Marr read 15/12
Includes an Indigenous Character: Deadly, Unna? by Phillip Gwynne
Set After High School: The Convent by Maureen MacCarthy read 19/12
Published by a Small Press: Esme’s Wishes by Elizabeth Foster
A Book You Related To: Laurinda by Alice Pung read 17/12 (Most INTENSE read EVA!)
#OwnVoices: Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim
Aussie Spec Fic: Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres
2017 Release: Draekora by Lynette Noni read 6/12
Queer Romance: The Flywheel by Erin Gough
Self Published: It Came from the Deep by Maria Lewis read 18/12
Set in the City: Frankie by Shivoun Plozza

How are you all going with your #LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge?

Review: Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette & Gabrielle Carey

Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette & Gabrielle Carey

Written twenty years ago, Puberty Blues is the bestselling account of growing up in the 1970s that took Australia by storm and spawned an eponymous cult movie. It also marked the starting point of Kathy Lette’s writing career, which sees her now as an author at the forefront of her field.

Puberty Blues is about top chicks and surfie spunks and the kids who don’t quite make the cut: it recreates with fascinating honesty a world where only the gang and the surf count. It’s a hilarious and horrifying account of the way many teenagers live and some of them die. Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey’s insightful novel is as painfully true today as it ever was.

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Ok, wow, now I get all the controversy surrounding this book! I still don’t know whether to cry or laugh…

Cry because it’s saddened me, as an older woman, to hear these young teens (starting at 13 when they still haven’t had their periods yet) giving in to sex just cuz it’s what the boys wanted. And sorry but those boys sound like such losers! Gorgeous maybe but err all the girls did was what the boys wanted to do; I wanted to scream!!

Laugh because well, weren’t we all boy crazy at that age? I didn’t get to any of the shenanigans these girls got up to but then again, my life was very sheltered and I did go to a private Catholic girls school where most girls in my class are rather intelligent so yea… but I did remember the slathering baby oil to sunbath; ah, those were the days.

This book was set in the 70s so please do take that into consideration when reading. If you are a parent, be prepared for a fully open & honest conversation with your teens. If you are a teen, please please please have a chat with a trusted adult especially with your questions.

Really, these girls were just dreaming of romance and why shouldn’t they? We dream of romance at any and every age; I still do 😉 I am, however, thoroughly GLAD (capitals required to stress my feelings) with the ending. You go, girls!

 

Plans for #LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge

Well I just cannot resist a challenge! Despite my failures in completing them ha ha ha

Still I own quite a number of un-read #LoveOzYA books so I thought this will at least kick start me to shift some off my TBR 🙂

I love just love this gorgeous Bingo grid by Read At Midnight 😻 Do join in the challenge, here’s the original post: #LoveOzYA Month

So, I’ve spent heaps of time considering my plan of attack. I’ll share my planned books below and if you’ve read any of those and loved them, please do let me know so I’ll bump them up!

I’ll also be posting the books by row of tasks on instagram, so follow me to check their covers out: @babemuffin

Written by 2 or more Aussie authors: Puberty Blues by Kathe Lette & Gabrielle Carey
Set in your state (NSW): Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle
Shortlisted for the Gold Inky Award: One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn
Strong Friendship Element: Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Deborah Biancotti, & Margo Lanagan
A Book you’d like to see Adapted: The Road to Winterby Mark Smith
Part of a series: Vulpi by Kate Gordon
Written by an Indigenous Author: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Set in the Past: Me and Rory Macbeath by Richard Beasley
Mental Health Rep: The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie Fornasier
Male Protagonist: The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett
Young (Under 25) Author: Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle
Marginalised Protagonist: Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Free Space: Thyla by Kate Gordon
Set in a Small Town: Brown Skin Blue by Belinda Jeffrey
Debut Novel: Fury by Shirley Marr
Includes an Indigenous Character: Deadly, Unna? by Phillip Gwynne
Set After High School: The Convent by Maureen MacCarthy
Published by a Small Press: Esme’s Wishes by Elizabeth Foster
A Book You Related To: Laurinda by Alice Pung
#OwnVoices: Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim
Aussie Spec Fic: Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres
2017 Release: Draekora by Lynette Noni
Queer Romance: The Flywheel by Erin Gough
Self Published: It Came from the Deep by Maria Lewis
Set in the City: Frankie by Shivoun Plozza

Now, I have to admit that I guessed the fits of some of these books (eg. ‘a book you related to’, etc) so if you spot anything that definitely won’t fit, please DOOOO tell me! I’d very much appreciate it 🙂

I’ve dug up Draekora and that’s what I’d start with this coming Friday, woot! Can’t wait, I’ve really enjoyed the first 2 books & found them to be absolutely fun reads. I’ll catch you next week when I post my progress with this challenge (if any ;p)

Review: The Silent Invasion by James Bradley

The Silent Invasion (The Change #1) by James Bradley

The Earth is dying.

Plants, animals and humans are being infected by spores from space and becoming part of a vast alien intelligence.

When 16-year-old Callie discovers her little sister Gracie is Changing, she flees with Gracie to the Zone to escape termination by the ruthless officers of quarantine.

What Callie finds in the Zone will alter her forever and send her on a journey to the stars, and beyond.

The first book in an heart-stopping trilogy from award-winning author James Bradley.

My Blurb

There aren’t many post-apocalyptic / dystopian novels set in Australia. I can think of 2 others besides this one and only this one is YA. That is one of the main reason I was interested in this book.

We were told that people disappear. They disappear because they’re sick and will have to be quarantined. Callie’s dad ‘disappeared’ a long time ago but now her little sister, Gracie, seems to be falling sick. Gracie is basically the only family Callie has left and she wasn’t going to let Gracie go just like that despite what everyone says and so began her journey to find sanctuary for them both.

Callie is one amazing character. She was so strong and courageous yet very gentle with Gracie. The landscape was frightening as people are losing hopes and yet, there are still pockets of humanity. I’m still conflicted about the love interest though despite liking Matt and enjoying the romance, I think this story can stand on its own. I think Callie can stand on her own. The ending was tense but I’m surprised that I wasn’t actually surprised with that last word…

Despite being un-surprised, I’d love to get onto the next book as The Silent Invasion was quite an adventure and I’d like some closure too! In the meantime, if you know & liked any other post-apocalyptic / dystopian set in Australia, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

James Bradley was born in 1967. He is the author of three novels, Wrack, The Deep Field and his most recent, The Resurrectionist; a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus; and the editor of Blur, a collection of stories by young Australian writers. He is a well-respected critic and regularly reviews for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. He lives in Sydney with his partner, novelist Mardi McConnochie.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website |  twitter