Category Archives: Contemporary

Blog Tour: Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson

Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson

Heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure, DIFFERENTLY NORMAL is about first love and the sacrifices you’ll make for the ones you hold close. For fans of Nicholas Sparks and Jojo Moyes.

For Maddy, life is all about routine. It has to be, to keep her autistic sister happy and healthy. With just Maddy and her mother as Bee’s full-time carers, there’s no time in Maddy’s life for complications like friends, let alone a boyfriend. So when Bee joins a new Riding for the Disabled stable and they meet Albert, the last thing on Maddy’s mind is falling in love.

Some things, she’s about to learn, are outside of our control. Albert has resigned himself to always being a disappointment to his strict father. When he meets Maddy, he gets a glimpse of what being part of a family can be like, and of the tremendous sacrifices that people will make for the ones that they love.

DIFFERENTLY NORMAL is a heart-wrenching tale of love and loss, because sometimes it takes letting someone else in to discover who you really are . . .

‘A funny and poignant tale about first love. Tammy Robinson is a natural storyteller.’ Nicky Pellegrino

Purchase links:  booktopia (AU)  | Dymocks (AU)  whitcoulls (NZ)  | Kobo  | iBooks  | Google Play

My Blurb (3.5/5 stars)

What really piqued my interest in this book is the New Zealand author & setting. I’ve not read many of those; I could probably count them on 1 hand. The next factor of interest is the main character’s responsibility as a carer for her autistic sister. She sounds amazingly strong, generous, and loving. I’m not sure if I could be like that…

Unless someone has someone else who is so dependent on them for everything like my sister is on me, they can’t understand. They might think they do, but they don’t. Everything I do, every single decision I make, has to be weighed up carefully to decide how it will affect my sister. I have to consider things we may encounter that will upset her….There are a million things that will either make sister happy or upset, and only two people in this whole world who know what those things are. It’s a heavy responsibility.

There are 2 perspectives in this novel; Maddy’s & Albert’s. Both of their families are dysfunctional in different ways and whilst Maddy is too busy for love, Albert never thought he’d ever recover from his heartbreak. And then, they met. It was touch & go but they were obviously made for each other. Albert’s dreams of his future takes him far from home whilst Maddy’s commitment to her sister meant she might never leave home. Some sacrifices are needed, a compromise required; will they be able to work this out?

Differently Normal is such a cute heart-warming read. The romance is pretty goofy especially at the beginning and I loved it to bits. I’m pretty embarrassed that I’ve probably snorted a bit on my train commute and kept finding myself grinning at Albert’s & Maddy’s antics. It’s a beautiful romance! Of course, a spanner was then thrown into the works and I am rather upset at this turnaround in the story. I feel that there needs to be a ‘spanner in the works’ but I don’t feel that this is the one; I just feel that the story’s sparkle dimmed and the weave loosened to become a rather frayed ending.

Nevertheless, Differently Normal turns out to be a comfort read; a light humour with a bit of teary mess near the end. It’s perfect for me-time at the end of a very long & hard day as spending time with this adorable couple will definitely loosen you up.

Thanks to Hachette Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 


About the author

Tammy Robinson is a contemporary women’s fiction author from the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. After years spent working her way round the world, Tammy settled back in New Zealand with her husband, their two girls and a newborn baby boy. She has published six novels through Amazon, and DIFFERENTLY NORMAL was her first novel with Hachette New Zealand. She is currently working on PHOTOS OF YOU, which Hachette will publish in 2019.

Find her on: goodreads  |  twitter  | facebook  | instagram


Blog Tour: Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard + Giveaway

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

When I was wild, you were steady . . .
Now you are wild – what am I?

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.

Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.

As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.

My Blurb (4 stars)

Did I have a crush on a teacher? Sure, I did. I’ve probably done some silly things too, not that I can remember any of them now but knowing my naivety, I probably would have had though it would be nothing sexual. It’s incumbent on the teachers to act the adult and respect boundaries (enforce it, even). But what’s the right thing to do when it’s your best friend who’s embroiled in this? Do you keep your loyalties to her or spill the beans to the adults as surely it’s better for your friend?

There is never an easy answer. I value loyalty as highly as Eden did in this book so despite my adult common sense clamouring for Eden just spill the beans, my heart approved of her sense of loyalty. I know I’m ready contemporary YA and not any espionage thriller novel but still… didn’t they think that their phone will be tracked and/or tapped? Errr… that part sort of didn’t gel with me. There wasn’t even a hint of such thought going through Eden’s or Bonnie’s minds whilst that was one of the first things I thought of.

As a mother, I do worry that my sons may become involved in this issue one day so I’m glad that there is a book I can get them to read! This is a very pertinent issue that we all need to be aware of and the reasons why they are wrong and illegal. I believe this book is empowering, not only in its subject matter, but also just in being a teen. Eden is an admirably balanced & mature girl despite or is it in spite of her troubles.

Goodbye, Perfect is very easy on the eyes and can be read fairly quickly. It’s a great discussion starter and I’d recommend for the mums & daughters to take the chance and read together.

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


Courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia, 1 paperback copy of Goodbye, Perfect is up for grabs! To enter, simple leave a comment with what book you are currently reading and include a random sentence/short paragraph from it. I will draw the winner on the evening of Sunday, 4th March.

Please note this giveaway is limited to ANZ residents only.

About the author

Sara lives in Brighton and does all her best writing on trains. She loves books, book people and book things. She has been writing ever since she was too small to reach the “on” switch on the family Amstrad computer. She gets her love of words from her dad, who made sure she always had books to read and introduced her to the wonders of secondhand book shops at a young age.

Sara is trying to visit every country in Europe, and has managed to reach 13 with her best friend. She has also lived in Canada and worked in India.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter

Review: If I Tell You by Alicia Tuckerman

If I Tell You by Alicia Tuckerman

‘The second our eyes lock in the dark is all the time I need to know that whatever happens next, my life will never be the same.’

Life and love don’t wait until you’re ready, but what if finding yourself means losing everything you’ve ever known?

Seventeen-year-old Alex Summers lives with a secret and the constant fear someone will find out. But when a new family moves to town, they bring with them their teenage daughter Phoenix Stone. When Alex falls for Phoenix, there is no warning. In a small town with small minds, girls don’t go out with other girls, even if they want to.

In fear there is bravery – you can either cling to the edge or have the courage to jump. But what do you do when you’re left spiralling through the freefall?

This is a heart-wrenching story of love in an unloving Australian landscape.

My Blurb (5 stars)

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I don’t read many LGBT books though not because I purposely avoid them but more that they’re not particularly books I usually come across without having to research or specifically look for. I’ve done a lot of reading challenges so it’s come up a few times and I would usually have to really look for them. In addition, If I Tell You, is geared towards young adult… there are even less LGBT/YA books.

Alex Summers is an easily likeable character. She has dreams and wishes for her wedding day though there is one particular details which would differ from what her mother would’ve dreamed or planned. This is a secret Alex has kept from everyone. When Phoenix Stone arrived in town though, she was a temptation Alex cannot resist.

If I Tell You is told solely from Alex’s perspective and from it, I must say that it’s a pretty UN-likeable town (and I’m being nice here!) despite her supportive friends (I adore Lin!). I think Lin is the bright shining star in this book for me and that’s because I could identify with her better being Asian in ancestry. Which makes me think that Alex may be the bright shining star for those who have been and/or are experiencing the same sort of situation. How can you be happy when you can’t be yourself?

I was caught by story from the very first sentence. And I just couldn’t put the book down. I love that it’s very Aussie in setting & feel though I don’t know if I actually want to visit this town; it’s more of a homey sort of feeling that I’m sure we can all identify with. I cannot condone the behaviours of some of the people especially the mother. As a mother of 2 young children, I feel conflicted; I wanted to know further the reason for her reaction as I can think of dozens!

Writing this review is very hard for me. I feel like I am also treading a fine line as I may accidentally have written something which sounded okay to me in my head but due to missing the nuances of spoken words, they may be misconstrued. So, I’m just going to wrap it up by saying explicitly that I loved this book for its potential in the LGBTQIA+ community but also for the wider audience. I loved this book for all the feels; the giddiness of first love to the heartbreak of loss. If I Tell You is a compelling coming-of-age tale and all of you should jump into it.

Thanks to Pantera Press for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author


Alicia Tuckerman is a driving force for young LGBT voices within Australia. Raised in rural NSW before she left home at the age of sixteen, she accepted a position to study at the Hunter School of Performing Arts.

Described as having an overactive imagination as a child, she recalls writing stories her entire life. Alicia attributes surviving her teenage years to the comfort, release and escape writing offered and she hopes to inspire the next generation of readers and writers to embrace their true passions.

Alicia was inspired to write If I Tell You after finding a lack of YA novels featuring two central lesbian characters. She draws on her life experiences to explore the joys, triumphs and cruelties of modern day adolescence and considers there is no fantasy world she could create that is more terrifyingly beautiful than the one we’re expected to live in.

Alicia is a Law Clerk and now lives in the Swan Valley region of Perth with her wife and two children, where she does most of her writing in the small hours before the kids wake up, or on her daily commute to the office!

Find Alicia on: goodreads  |  instagram  | twitter  |  facebook

Review: The Three of Us by Kim Lock

The Three of Us by Kim Lock

A life lived in the shadows. A love that should never have been hidden.

In the small town of Gawler, South Australia, the tang of cut grass and eucalyptus mingles on the warm air. The neat houses perched under the big gum trees on Church Street have been home to many over the years. Years of sprinklers stuttering over clipped lawns, children playing behind low brick walls. Family barbecues. Gossipy neighbours. Arguments. Accidents. Births, deaths, marriages. This ordinary street has seen it all.

Until the arrival of newlyweds Thomas and Elsie Mullet. And when one day Elsie spies a face in the window of the silent house next door, nothing will ever be ordinary again…

In Kim Lock’s third novel of what really goes on behind closed doors, she weaves the tale of three people with one big secret; a story of fifty years of friendship, betrayal, loss and laughter in a heartwarming depiction of love against the odds.

My Blurb (5 stars)

The one sure thing I know I’ll come across in this novel is a female character giving birth. Well, okay, maybe I don’t actually know for sure but that’s 3 out of 3! It’s not the focus of this particular novel but it’s there… I remember my reading experience of Lock’s novel (Peace, Love, and Khaki Socks) and I could never forget that birthing scene and it will always forever colour my view of Kim Lock’s novels. She’s just gone from strength to strength!

The Three of Us opens with Thomas Mullet, a 70+ year old man, at his first appointment with a counselor. He’s there because he’s running out of time and needed guidance on what to do before time’s up. And within 5 pages, the first bomb was dropped. And it was a pretty big one…

There isn’t much I could say about the book without giving hints which may spoil it for you. Whatever your first expectation is… that’s not it. What I can say, however, was that it’s a love story; there is heartbreak and there is happiness. This book spans about 50 years of these characters’ lives. It began in the 60s when Thomas & Elsie just begun their lives as husband & wife. When brides are to give up their fulfilling jobs and maintain an efficient sparkling household. It ended in more recent times when wives and/or mothers are expected to work full time and maintain an efficient sparkling household. But still… in the span of half a century, society has not change all that much

‘Society is more tolerant?’

Thomas gave a wry laugh. ‘We like to think so, don’t we? But I reckon it’s just different versions of the same intolerance. There’s still criticism – horrible things still happen because of narrow minds.’

It was a very uncomfortable read for the first third of the book. Mainly because I have an aversion towards a certain trope and I was very anxious for it not to be employed here. By the end of the first third, the second bomb detonated. A little relief with the way the plot is taking but it was still a rather uncomfortable read. Uncomfortable because we do not speak of these things; we do not expect it in our mundane daily life (as an aside, I actually do know one household and… whatever works for them to be happy, you know).

This is the best of Kim Lock to date even though I still preferred her first work (being lighter in mood). However, The Three of Us is a novel we currently need in the world. The world does not change by itself. We change it. And sometimes, we need a prompt, a push, a nudge, a shove, to change it. In The Three of Us, you will find a love story like no other. I would highly recommend it for a bookclub read. I can guarantee you a very lively discussion! Some wine and chocolates are warranted to chill things a little.

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

About the author

Kim Lock was born in 1981. She is the author of two previous novels Like I can Love and Peace, Love and Khaki Socks. Her non-fiction has appeared in the Guardian, Daily Life, and the Sydney Morning Herald onlineShe lives in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, with her partner and their children, a dog and a couple of cats.

Find Kim on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook

Come back tomorrow for Q&A with Kim! 😀

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

Blog Tour: Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, Fiona Wood

Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, Fiona Wood

Kate, a quiet boarder, making some risky choices to pursue the experimental music she loves.

Clem, shrugging off her old swim-team persona, exploring her first sexual relationship, and trying to keep her annoying twin, Iris, at arm’s length.

Ady, grappling with a chaotic family, and wondering who her real friends are; she’s not the confident A-lister she appears to be.

When St Hilda’s establishes a Year 10 Wellness Program in response to the era of cyber-bullying, the three girls are thrown together and an unlikely friendship is sparked. One thing they have in common: each is targeted by PSST, a site devoted to gossip and slander that must have a source within St Hilda’s.

Who can you trust when rumour is the new truth?

My Blurb

When I heard about this collaboration happening, I knew it was going to be a cracker! And boy, wasn’t it ever! Take Three Girls is all about potentials; the potentials we all have inside of us but it’s up to us to make it a reality. Take Three Girls is about finding yourself and your place in society; not ‘fitting in’ like squeezing into a tight sexy dress that’s actually terribly uncomfortable but having a place set aside for you because it’s for you. Take Three Girls tackles contemporary teen issues, not sparing the heartaches, tears, and humiliation, with a spectacular triumphant touchdown in the end.

The authors took 3 girls from different walks in life:

Ady – the popular rich chick

Kate – the studious country chick

Clem – the sporty chick

placed them in a class where they must ‘work’ together and each found that the other doesn’t really stay in the squares they’ve been fitted into. Despite their differences though, not one of them was safe from a cyber-bully, PSST, a gossip site particularly aimed at the girls at their school. These three girls found themselves supporting each other becoming truer friends each day; they found that they could not let PSST get away with all the pains it caused but how do you fight an anonymous cyber bully?

I must admit to cringing my way through the first half of the book. It was soo difficult to read as I myself am a mother and uncertain myself how to protect or guide my kids through school and life but then there’s another set of challenge in the cyber world! This wasn’t really around yet when I was a teen – I really don’t know how I’d survive it but such is life… I did find it, like the girls did, a bit ridiculous that a male psychologist was cast as the ‘Wellness Program’ teacher but I think that rather portrays just how much we as adults can help or rather how little…

“Why is life so unsimple?”

This is a question that you’d never tire of asking but I am truly grateful though to be reminded that teens are so very resilient and given the chance, they can find their own true paths in life. I realised that especially this year, I’ve been reading through my YA books thinking more like a mother and that’s just my stage of life. I therefore, can definitely recommend mothers to read this with their daughters as there are so many issues open for discussions from career paths, bullying, love, sex, friendship, and family.

Take Three Girls is a novel of empowerment; not just of the feminine but of identity. It is tough, sweet, bitter, beautiful, sour, and everything in between. If you were only going to read only 1 book this year, read this one!!

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

About the author

Cath Crowley is a young adult author published in Australia and internationally. She is the author of The Gracie Faltrain trilogy, Chasing Charlie Duskin, and Graffiti Moon. In 2011, Graffiti Moon won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction, the Ethel Turner Award for Young People’s Literature, and was named an honour book in the Children’s Book Council, Book of the Year. Cath writes and teaches in Melbourne. Her new book will be published in 2016.

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


Simmone Howell is the award-winning author of YA novels Girl DefectiveEverything Beautiful and Notes from the Teenage Underground. She also writes non-fiction about dream houses, teen movies and ways to map a city. She lives in Melbourne and is currently working on a memoir about her formative female influences.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter

Fiona Wood‘s first young adult novel, Six Impossible Things, was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year, Older Readers. Her second, Wildlife, won the CBCA Book of the Year, Older Readers and was shortlisted for a number of other awards. Her third book, Cloudwish, was published in 2015. Her books are published internationally.

Before writing YA fiction, Fiona wrote television scripts. She lives in Melbourne with her family.

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

Blog Tour: If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

A sun-drenched and irresistible love story from a stunning new talent in YA, perfect for fans of Morgan Matson, John Green, and Rainbow Rowell.

“A uniquely dazzling love story – sunshine flows through every electric page, and into your heart.” Harriet Reuter Hapgood, author of The Square Root of Summer

Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she’s scared that Grace might never come back.

When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it’s a sign. Surely Álvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back – and how to bring her sister home?

Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he’s only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces.

As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Álvaro’s disappearance – and return – their planets start to collide. Linny’s life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters.

My Blurb

I just knew this was going to be a beautiful book. In fact, it was just so so cute! Yes, it speaks of grief and the characters struggling with missing pieces in their lives but it’s also a story of finding oneself, of life after grief and the possibility of happiness. And just look at that cover! I don’t think I need to say anymore to convince to read this, do I?

I love that this book is told from 2 perspectives, Linny’s & Sebastian’s, in that we all get to see what’s in their minds and therefore, how their minds work. They were both consumed with their own issues yet that first & subsequent sparks as they meet jolted them to life a bit at a time. Each chapters are imbued with their personalities; Linny’s are full of colours, notes of missing persons (why wasn’t there one on Agatha Christie?!), and her film manuscript drafts whilst Sebastian’s are full of scientific facts or Sebastian’s fact of life in scientific speak.

If Birds Fly Back was so easy to read and I fell in love with the characters from the beginning. It’s very cute & very sweet with a good dose of humour despite the deep sadness the characters were feeling. I’m pegging this as a pick-me-up sort of read… need one now? I highly recommend this book as your comfort read!

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

About the author

Carlie Sorosiak grew up in North Carolina and holds two master’s degrees: one in English from Oxford University and another in Creative Writing and Publishing from City University, London. Her life goals include travelling to all seven continents and fostering many polydactyl cats. She currently splits her time between the US and the UK, hoping to gain an accent like Madonna’s.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | pinterest  |  twitter  | youtube  |  instagram