Category Archives: Australian Author

A.A. Kinsela: Q&A

Thank you, Alethea, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing journey. I can’t wait to see what’s installed for Nick & his friends!

Quick Qs

Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Dark.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee for work and friends, tea for relaxation.

Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark? Whatever is nearest. Usually a ticket or receipt.

Plot or Character? Ah damn this is a hard one! Can I say both? Character is paramount, but plot is essential as well. Character trumps plot though.

HEA or unexpected twist? I love an unexpected twist!

Q: Could you please share with us a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer? Was there a particular book you loved as a child or how did you love of words translate to writing?

A: I’ve always loved books and writing. I devoured books as a child and spent my teenage years reading while my peers were out socialising. I was also heavily into music, and when I finished school I wanted to be a film composer, so I went and studied music composition at uni. I realised after a year that I loved literature and writing more than music so I switched degrees. I’ve been a publisher, grammarian, psychology examiner, teacher, archaeologist, and more, but writing has always been the driving force in my life. I couldn’t imagine existing without it.

 

Q: In Lightning Tracks, you’ve brought the Roman Empire to Australia, mix in Aboriginal stories, and set it in this present time. You obviously love history and specifically Roman & Australia history? How did this come about and what in particular did you love about Roman & Australia histories?

A: I have always had a fascination with mythologies and cultural stories. My Bachelor of Arts majors were Literature and Classics, so as well as English Literature, I also studied Latin, Ancient Greek and classical literature. In Year 10, I did a week of work experience with an archaeologist and have always had a keen interest in archaeology as well, so much so that I went back to uni in 2010 to study archaeology. I’m particularly interested in Indigenous archaeology, and with my background in writing and teaching I wrote and published Ancient Australia Unearthed, a high school archaeology textbook, in 2014. Lightning Tracks does draw on mythologies from the ancient world, mainly Greece and Rome, and while it contains suggestions of other mythologies, none of them are taken from Aboriginal cultures. As an archaeologist and author, I’m very aware of the dangers of appropriation, so all the mythologies in Lightning Tracks are entirely my creation.

 

Q: I don’t know much of any Indigenous stories/legends so I’m not sure which part, if any, in Lightning Tracks, is actually part of the Australian Aboriginal story. Was there any? How much research did this involve? Are some of the names also derived from an Aboriginal dialect?

A: None of the legends in Lightning Tracks are Aboriginal stories. As a non-Indigenous Australian I have no right to tell these stories, nor can I appropriate them in any way, as they are copyrighted. The fictional legends in the novel may seem at times like Aboriginal stories, perhaps because mythologies are always representative of the people and environment in which they were created. The cultural groups in Lightning Tracks, whose ancestors arrived two thousand years ago and who are now very much grounded in the Australian landscape, have their own unique mythologies that have evolved over time to reflect this existence.

The research for Lightning Tracks was extensive, including visiting sites where parts of the novel are set, learning about different flora and fauna in the different climates and altitudes, ensuring the fictional world of Korelios reflected the archaeological record both in terms of its Roman/Greek roots and the current Australian archaeological record, and many other smaller details that are vital to world-building.

There are three main cultural groups in Lightning Tracks, all of them based loosely on real ancient cultures/regions: Roman/Greek, Persian/Middle Eastern, and North African. The character names for each group reflect their cultural origins. None of the names are Aboriginal.

 

Q: Please share top 3 things you’ve learnt in your journey of writing & publishing this particular book (Lightning Tracks); it could be something you learnt of yourself, about writing/publishing, a particular touching story from a research, etc.

A: I think the top of my learning curve list would have to be self-publishing. Lightning Tracks has come close on a couple of occasions to being accepted by traditional publishers, but never made it past the marketing department, perhaps because the novel crosses genres and doesn’t fit neatly into a single box. Deciding to self-publish was the next logical step. I’d already self-published an archaeology book, so I thought this one would be similar and easier. I can say unequivocally that self-publishing fiction is an entirely different arena to non-fiction!

Second would have to be the importance of accepting that a novel is finished. If I don’t set myself deadlines, I could work on a book for much longer than is necessary.

And third, it’s so thrilling to draw on many branches of knowledge and research and combine them to create something new. I thoroughly enjoy this aspect of writing.

 

Q: What are your top reads for 2018 to date? And which book are you desperately waiting for publication?

A: I’m currently reading Found by Fleur Ferris (I adore her work). I’ve ordered Ellie Marney’s Circus Hearts series (they haven’t arrived in the mail yet but I’m looking forward to reading these beauties), and I am always awaiting the next Patrick Ness.

Oooh, you’d love Circus Hearts! Ellie Marney is the BEST! I love Fleur Ferris too though not a big fan of Patrick Ness… just haven’t really got into his books, really. ~T

Q: What are you working on now? Or what can we look for from you next? I’m hoping it’s the sequel to Lightning Tracks! How many books can we expect in the series?

A: I’ve got a few writing and archaeology projects on the go, including a YA novel for my creative writing PhD, and I’ve almost finished the sequel to Lightning Tracks, which I’m aiming to release in mid-2019. There will be three books in the Song Gate series, with an undecided fourth. So stay tuned!

You can check out my thoughts on Lightning Tracks, here, and you can purchase it from following links: Amazon | B&N Nook | iBooks  |  kobo

 

About the author

A. A. Kinsela is a pseudonym for Alethea Kinsela

I’m a writer/teacher/archaeologist/jack-of-all-trades. My latest book Lightning Tracks is a dark YA alternative history/fantasy novel set in Australia. You can read an extract on my website. I’ve also got a little educational textbook about Australian archaeology, Ancient Australia Unearthed.

I’m halfway through a Creative Writing PhD, and I sometimes teach in the School of Education at La Trobe University and host writing and archaeology workshops for kids and teachers.

Find Thea on:  goodreads  |  twitter   |  instagram

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Review: Lightning Tracks by A. A. Kinsela

Lightning Tracks (Song Gate #1) by A.A. Kinsela

The rider angled the blade so Nick could see the oily residue on the metal.

‘All that’s needed to kill you, boy, is a single cut. A scratch. The poison will do the rest.’ His mask shifted, and Nick could’ve sworn he was smiling. ‘But that wouldn’t be any fun, would it?’

Nick gulped. ‘Why are you doing this?’

The rider leaned closer and hissed, ‘Because you exist.’

Nick isn’t a warrior. He knows some basic karate, but that’s it.

So when an assassin turns up to settle a blood debt, Nick narrowly escapes with his life. In his haste, he unwittingly flees to Korelios, a place he thought existed only in his eccentric aunt’s ancient legends.

All too soon, he finds himself caught in the middle of a war, and he must make an impossible choice: do his duty or follow his heart.

His choice will decide the fate of an entire civilisation.

Published 1 November 2018 |  Publisher: Plainspeak Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$4.99 (ebook) 

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N Nook | iBooks  |  kobo  

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I was approached by the author with a review request and I was very intrigued by the (loose) premise: “What if the Roman Empire had made it all the way to Australia?” The book basically is set in the present times, as such, if the Roman Empire made it to Australia. Such a fascinating proposition! What do you think Australia would be like if the Roman Empire conquered Australia at the height of its power?

Lightning Tracks also contained one of my favourite tropes, world within a world; specifically a gateway from our present-times Australia to another world (albeit hidden) where Empires rule over the world. There isn’t a Roman Empire as such, in fact, all the empires and/or races in the story are made up though loosely based on Romans, Greek, etc. I thought there was also an Indigenous spin but it appears I was wrong (see tomorrow’s Q&A post with the author).

The novel opens with Nick getting into trouble at school on his sixteenth birthday. When he got home that day, he found himself fighting for his life and having to flee, found himself in a part of Australia he didn’t know existed but yet some things felt familiar. A very exciting start to the story, for sure! Nick has to quickly find out all he can about this world and his position in it as there is a war brewing; hostilities escalating on both sides and atrocities abound.

There is actually a second perspective to this story, Cal, a highlander boy kidnapped to be a soldier of the Empire. He has been very obedient so far (even in committing a most atrocious act) due to the threat to his family’s lives but event transpired which had him running for his life. For both Cal & Nick, the answer lies in the city Auremos, the rebellion centre of strength.

I liked both characters & perspectives. Nick, a troublesome teen, is not actually aggressive but is rather thoughtful & kind. He’s got a temper which he has to learn to control. Cal, on the other hand, has been trained to be calculated in his moves and he kicks ass!

Lightning Tracks takes the readers on an adventure in Australia’s hidden depth. However, it reads more like a fantasy novel with a couple jarring mentions of Australia. With betrayals, tragedies, secrets, and battles, Lightning Tracks is an exciting & fascinating read for all teens especially for those who feel they are different (like Nick).

Thanks to the author, A.A. Kinsella, for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

A. A. Kinsela is a pseudonym for Alethea Kinsela

I’m a writer/teacher/archaeologist/jack-of-all-trades. My latest book Lightning Tracks is a dark YA alternative history/fantasy novel set in Australia. You can read an extract on my website. I’ve also got a little educational textbook about Australian archaeology, Ancient Australia Unearthed.

I’m halfway through a Creative Writing PhD, and I sometimes teach in the School of Education at La Trobe University and host writing and archaeology workshops for kids and teachers.

Find Thea on:  goodreads  |  twitter   |  instagram

Review: All Fall Down by Ellie Marney

All Fall Down (Circus Hearts #2) by Ellie Marney

A ringmaster’s daughter and a bearded lady’s son join forces to stop a saboteur…

Nineteen-year-old Fleur Klatsch is loyal to her trapeze team and her ringmaster father, dedicated to the circus, and tough on everyone around her. After a series of accidents at Klatsch’s Karnival, Fleur is left holding the ball: she’s running the carnival, trying to stop a saboteur, and taking care of her dad. She doesn’t need anyone’s help, least of all Eugenia Deloren’s son, Marco, who’s been trying to break out of show life since the moment he was born into it. All Marco needs to do is get Klatsch’s back on its feet so he can leave. But after one fateful kiss with Fleur, will he really want to? And will Fleur and Marco figure out who’s trying to kill the show before someone kills them…

Dark YA romance, with a criminal twist – Circus Hearts: Step. Right. Up.

Published 1 October 2018 |  Publisher: Bearded Lady Press  |  RRP: AUD$4.99 (ebook only)

Buy Links: Amazon AU | A&R  | B&N Nook | iBooks  |  kobo  | Mondadori | !ndigo 

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Personally, I don’t like it with series which has different MCs for each serial book. I think mostly because sometimes, it portrays the earlier character that you love in an unlikable light. Or sometimes, like the case here, because the protagonist in this book was so very much UNlikable in the first book. I truly wondered if I was going to be pulling my hair out reading this book.

I’m glad to say that there was no hair-pulling head-banging moments at all. I loved how Fleur recognised her mistake (and we’ve all made stupid mistakes at one point or another) and didn’t run away. And when push comes to shove, she pulled out all the stops to make sure things happen.

Once upon a time, Marco and Fleur were inseparable until the day Marco left to find a steady home-life. He returned to help when Fleur’s dad was injured in a sabotage incident. While Fleur is still angry at him for leaving, she recognise that he’s making her feel everything she’s never felt for any boys before. But will she risk all for someone who’ll be leaving her again soon?

I liked the mystery better in this one as there is actually one. I think my problem with this series is that the books are just too short! I’d love a couple extra more twists in these stories. I am very much looking forward to book 3!! I was disappointed that Ren was mostly missing in this instalment but can’t wait to read about her next.

All Fall Down is a story of redemption; of trust and loyalty. The characters in this book is a little bit older (19+) so again I’d say this borders on New Adult though there is limited sexual content (lots of smooching, peeps, relax!). Sometimes, I find New Adult books to be too much so if you’re looking for a clean-ish sort of New Adult book, I’d highly recommend this one.

Thanks to the author, Ellie Marney, for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

Ellie Marney is a teacher and YA author of the Every series (Every BreathEvery WordEvery Move), a highly-awarded crime trilogy for Young Adults – in 2015, Every Breath was named by the Australian Library Information Association as one of the top ten most-borrowed YA books in Australian libraries. Ellie has helped spearhead a collaborative group of literary sector professionals under the banner ‘#LoveOzYA’ to advocate for and promote Australian YA literature. She is one of the contributors to Begin End Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology, and she hosts a book club – ‘#LoveOzYAbookclub’ – online. She is an Ambassador for the Stella Prize Schools Program, and is a regular speaker at schools, events and festivals. In 2017, Ellie released No Limits, a companion novel to the series – her latest novel is White Night.

Ellie was born in Brisbane, and has lived in Indonesia, Singapore and India. Now she writes, teaches, talks about YA literature, and gardens when she can, while living in a country idyll (actually a very messy wooden house on ten acres with a dog and lots of chickens) near Castlemaine, in north-central Victoria. Her partner and four sons still love her, even though she often forgets things and lets the housework go.

Find Ellie on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  | instagram | pinterest

Review: All the Little Bones by Ellie Marney

All the Little Bones (Circus Hearts #1) by Ellie Marney

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.

Published 1 September 2018 |  Publisher: Bearded Lady Press  |  RRP: AUD$4.99 (ebook only)

Buy Links: Amazon AU | A&R  | B&N Nook | iBooks  |  kobo  | Mondadori | !ndigo 

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

*laughs* I don’t know why I think this was a fantasy novel! Well, the cover is sooo pretty and it’s shelved as fantasy on Goodreads. I didn’t bother looking into it further because I’ve been wanting to read Ellie Marney’s books but yet… too many books too little time, as always. Suffice to say when the chance came up, I grabbed it.

I may have a tiny tad bit disappointed that there wasn’t that particular [fantasy] magic but circus has always held a special magical place in my heart so this turned out to be a special sort of read especially when I came across words in my native tongue (Bahasa Indonesia)! *oh how my heart sings* (and pssst, I found out today, this particular character’s story is coming in book 3, squee!!)

All the Little Bones opened with Sorsha and Colm on the run. Something awful has happened and Sorsha is struggling to come to terms with it all. Strongman Colm has been a rock but Sorsha knows this is something she must face herself. At the beginning, Sorsha is at her most vulnerable but as time passes, her strength returned and was such an amazing character. And Colm… *dreamy sighs* I’ve never really had a crush on the strongman in any circus fiction but boy, this one ticks all the boxes 😉

There wasn’t a great big mystery on what’s happened to Sorsha and I guess the only twist in the book is what bring the matter to head. After that, things seem to snowball and I found the ending to be rather rushed. I didn’t expect Sorsha’s story to end in this book, tbh, I expected it to go for 3 books long. I loved Sorsha and didn’t really want to say goodbye this early.

I also kept expecting some sort of name of the place and/or town they were in. Descriptions of the areas etc but it was a bit sparse and I found a bit sketchy that it all felt rather unreal. I felt the romance, all right, but I could not get a feel of the setting very well. I do love the showtime though. I feel that the excitement and magic of the show came through very clearly. And I had a lot of fun imagining the costumes etc 😉

All the Little Bones is a very pretty book with a lot of feels. If you love YA romance (or even New Adult, as I feel this book borders on NA), you’d love this magical romance!

Thanks to the author, Ellie Marney, for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

Ellie Marney is a teacher and YA author of the Every series (Every BreathEvery WordEvery Move), a highly-awarded crime trilogy for Young Adults – in 2015, Every Breath was named by the Australian Library Information Association as one of the top ten most-borrowed YA books in Australian libraries. Ellie has helped spearhead a collaborative group of literary sector professionals under the banner ‘#LoveOzYA’ to advocate for and promote Australian YA literature. She is one of the contributors to Begin End Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology, and she hosts a book club – ‘#LoveOzYAbookclub’ – online. She is an Ambassador for the Stella Prize Schools Program, and is a regular speaker at schools, events and festivals. In 2017, Ellie released No Limits, a companion novel to the series – her latest novel is White Night.

Ellie was born in Brisbane, and has lived in Indonesia, Singapore and India. Now she writes, teaches, talks about YA literature, and gardens when she can, while living in a country idyll (actually a very messy wooden house on ten acres with a dog and lots of chickens) near Castlemaine, in north-central Victoria. Her partner and four sons still love her, even though she often forgets things and lets the housework go.

Find Ellie on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  | instagram | pinterest

Review: Burning Fields by Alli Sinclair

Burning Fields by Alli Sinclair

1948. The world is struggling to regain a sense of balance after the devastation of World War II, and the sugar cane-growing community of Piri River in northern Queensland is no exception.

As returned servicemen endeavour to adjust to their pre-war lives, women who had worked for the war effort are expected to embrace traditional roles once more.

Rosie Stanton finds it difficult to return to the family farm after years working for the Australian Women’s Army Service. Reminders are everywhere of the brothers she lost in the war and she is unable to understand her father’s contempt for Italians, especially the Conti family next door. When her father takes ill, Rosie challenges tradition by managing the farm, but outside influences are determined to see her fail.

Desperate to leave his turbulent history behind, Tomas Conti has left Italy to join his family in Piri River. Tomas struggles to adapt in Australia—until he meets Rosie. Her easy-going nature and positive outlook help him forget the life he’s escaped. But as their relationship grows, so do tensions between the two families until the situation becomes explosive.

When a long-hidden family secret is discovered and Tomas’s mysterious past is revealed, everything Rosie believes is shattered. Will she risk all to rebuild her family or will she lose the only man she’s ever loved?

Published 21 May 2018 |  Publisher: Harlequin MIRA  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Burning Fields is a novel set in post-war Australia where men struggled with the things they saw in war & women struggled at being expected to step back to their relegated role in the home. This novel tries to reconcile these 2 issues in a typically Australian outback setting. The lush and promising land beguiled all to believe that anything is possible.

This novel opens with Rosie Stanton returning to her family farm after she lost her bid for independence. Both her brothers went to war and neither returned. She is reluctant to face her parents and their grief. Despite her love for the farm and her capabilities, her father will not have her working at the farm. Her mother appears to be struggling with her own demons. Rosie is determined for her father to recognise her abilities and help her mother. There is also the attractive newcomer at the next farm…

Tomas Conti & his family are the new neighbours. Despite their attraction, Tomas is a troubled man. His recognition of Rosie’s independence is a big plus but will he be able to put the past behind to live in the present?

The story is mainly told from Rosie’s perspective in the present. Every few of Rosie’s chapter is broken by a chapter of Tomas’ perspective from the past (the war in Italy). I must say that each of Tomas’ chapters filled me with dread as I expected whatever horrid thing to happen then. Both characters are easily likeable and I enjoyed Rosie’s persistent effort to be recognise as being capable as any man.

Burning Fields is an easy and enjoyable read. It was rather easy to put down & pick back up again. It is a sweet romance and I love how the town people (or rather most of them anyway) get together as a community to support each other.

Thanks to Harlequin MIRA & Netgalley for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

Alli Sinclair is an Australian multi-award winning author published who has lived in Argentina, Peru, and Canada. She’s climbed some of the world’s highest mountains and worked as a tour guide in South and Central America. Australia has always been close to Alli’s heart as she loves the diverse landscapes and the rich multicultural heritage of this wonderful land.

Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery.

Find Alli on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook

Eleni Hale: Q&A

Thank you, Eleni, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing. The very best of luck for your next piece and I hope we’ll get to read it soon 🙂

Quick Qs

Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Both, it depends if I’m trying to be good or not.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee followed by herbal tea.

Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark? I often use a picture my kids drew as bookmarks

Plot or Character? Both, I can’t differentiate. The plot makes the character makes the plot…

HEA or unexpected twist? Can you have both?

Q: Could you please share with us a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer? Was there a particular book you loved as a child or how did you love of words translate to writing?

A: Even before I could read or write I made up stories for my little sister. As soon as I learnt to write I began filling notebooks.

I was the kid the adults looked at and said, ‘Wow, you’ve got an imagination, don’t you?’ The world just seemed magical.

I attribute this to growing up in Greece where stories about Greek Mythology were spoken like facts. My grandfather would answer my many, many questions sincerely so that, like Father Christmas in the west, I had to learn that the Greek Gods were not actually real.

In terms of books I loved as a tween/teen: anything by Judy Blume, Virginia Andrews and Anne Rice. I was also quite affected by Go Ask Alice.

The first time I wrote something just for the hell of it and not because a teacher told me to, I was about ten. I remember the idea coming to me and the odd sensation of thinking, ‘I should write this down’.

I got a piece of paper and pen and closed my bedroom door. An idea thumped demanding that I write it down. It felt like something special was happening.

 

Q: Was there a lot of research involved in writing Stone Girl? I understand that whilst the characters & story are fictional, you were writing from personal experience as someone who experienced homes as a teen. What was it that inspired you to make the choice you did that led to where you are now?

Stone Girl was influenced by the homes I lived in as a teenager, the people I met and the vantage point I had on society. It was a story that followed me around long after I tried to forget it. I felt compelled to write it. It wouldn’t leave me alone.

To be honest I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to say about that life. It took me a few hundred thousand words to find my way.

But from the start what felt important was that the book should demonstrate how and why things can go wrong for some teenagers and that we shouldn’t give up or judge them harshly.

 

Q: It wasn’t an easy book to read, Eleni, but it is a very important one. The public needs to know but who exactly do you hope to reach with this message? What do you wish others to take away from your book? And your children?

A:  When I got myself out of that world and went to university and landed a great job as a journalist I was suddenly someone with a voice. This is the very opposite of the hundreds, if not thousands, of kids who live just like Sophie in Australia right now.

It bothered me that their/my story wasn’t being told. I read a few whitewashed stories about foster care and I found those difficult and insulting to read. So I did my best to tell it as honestly as I could.

I don’t have all the answers about how to fix the situation but I think understanding and empathy are a good start. Knowing how the system works is half the battle because most people don’t realise this is how kids actually live.

In my wildest dreams I imagine I can be part of the beginning of change where as a society we discuss how we can better serve the most vulnerable kids in our society; those without parents.

My kids:

Do I want my kids to read Stone Girl? Yes, one day. They are only aged two and four so I’ll wait a decade or so. It depends on their personalities.

I would rather educate than shelter because they are going to learn about the world one way or another. Why shouldn’t it be through books? This is a cautionary tale and the world is full of dangers.

Also, I think seeing how a personality can transform the way Sophie does (which is at the heart of what the book is about) is an interesting subject for teens.

 

Q: How would you suggest the public to respond? What’s the best way to approach these kids? I think, in the book, that nurse on the train was possibly the best example?

A: The nurse is lovely isn’t she 🙂 I hope Stone Girl shows how kids end up in trouble and people might not judge as quickly. Treat everyone with respect because that can make a huge difference.

 

Q: What are your top reads for 2018 to date? And which book are you desperately waiting for publication?

A: I am currently ‘reading’ The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (audio book) and freaking loving it!

I’m reading ‘The Centre of My Everything’ by Allayne Webster which is BRILLIANT!

I can’t wait to read Hayley Lawrence’s ‘Inside the Tiger’ which sounds incredible! Very gritty and tough, something I love.

 

Q: What are you working on now? Or what can we look for from you next?

I am currently writing an adult book which is kind of the sequel to Stone Girl with Sophie as the protagonist but quite different. No one will guess what happens next.

You can check out my thoughts on Stone Girl, here, and you can purchase it from following links: Booktopia  |  Dymocks  |  QBD  |  Abbeys  |  Boomerang

 

About the author

Eleni Hale was a reporter at the Herald Sun, a communications strategist for the union movement and has written for many print and online news publications. Her short story fig was published as part of the ABC’s In their branches project and she has received three Varuna awards. She lives in Melbourne, and is currently working on her second book. Stone Girl is her first novel.

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

 

Review: Stone Girl by Eleni Hale

Stone Girl by Eleni Hale

A heartbreaking novel of raw survival and hope, and the children society likes to forget.A stunning and unforgettable debut YA for older readers.

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.

Published 30 April 2018 |  Publisher: Penguin Books Australia  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Truthfully, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I saw the chance and grabbed it; I’m spontaneous like that because otherwise, I’m rather indecisive and will take forever and a day to make up my mind. I don’t think I even looked at the blurb at the back of the book and just started reading… boy, did I get the shock of my life!

The novel opens with a shocked twelve-year-old Sophie sitting at the police station. Her mother had died and it is all her fault. Her father is in Greece and she has no other family to care for her. She was placed in the care of social workers and hence begins her journey through the system. About 1/3 through the book, we skipped to 2 years later and Sophie’s life did not get any better… is it possible to even be worse than it already is? Her life is like a roller coaster and she’s about to hit rock bottom…

We only have each other

Stone Girl tells of brutal lives of teens who have been betrayed again and again. First by their parents who reversed the roles by having the children as carers then to disappoint them by leaving (or dying) and/or breaking promises again and again. No wonder these children do not and cannot place any kind of trust in adults. How can you when all they’ve learnt are betrayals and disappointments?

The homes have taught me some important life lessons: need no one, rely on no one, trust no one. Cry inside. Feel but don’t show. If you think you need someone to talk to about deep stuff? Don’t. Sort it out alone. Mask up and survive.

I can’t tell you just how heartbreaking this story is. And to read in the author’s note that she herself has lived through this system back in the 1990s made this book all the more heartbreaking and powerful in its inspiration of hope. It wasn’t an easy book to read and whilst it holds no trigger moments for me, it came quite close. I won’t say that it’s a must-read for anyone because not everyone could survive reading this but I do very much hope that the message it brings will reach those who need it.

It’s not too late…You can if you are tenacious, determined. Try, and never give up… You have a choice to make and pretending you don’t is a choice in itself.

Thanks to the author, Eleni Hale, for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

Eleni Hale was a reporter at the Herald Sun, a communications strategist for the union movement and has written for many print and online news publications. Her short story fig was published as part of the ABC’s In their branches project and she has received three Varuna awards. She lives in Melbourne, and is currently working on her second book. Stone Girl is her first novel.

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Come back tomorrow for Q&A with Eleni! 😀