Category Archives: Coming of Age

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: 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!


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

Review: Refuge

Refuge by A.V. Mather
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Opening a normal-looking door into a whole new world is one of my favourite trope because there are just so many possibilities. In this novel, Refuge, our heroine, Nell McLennan, wanted to run away from her problems, her life. I bet each one of us has felt like that at one time or another… escape the daily drudge or any relationship difficulties and see how they cope when we’re not around or will they miss us at all?

Nell did not have a particularly close relationship with her parents. In fact, they were too busy with work to bother too much with her. And then, just before Christmas holidays, she managed to botch things with her best friend who won’t ever speak to her again. The final kick came when her parents decided to go on a holiday without her. She is being sent to a grandfather she’s never met who lives in woop woop. When the chance of escape was presented, Nell jumped for it.

It was a bit of a slow start or maybe I was just too impatient to get to the other world behind the door. It felt like there were too much setting up in the beginning; a steamrolling of events to drive Nell to truly want/need a ‘refuge’ from ever having to face up to her troubles. However, ‘Refuge’ really isn’t a haven where you do not have problems instead Nell came across a set of different yet the same sort of issues. Refuge is a dark world filled with madness and supernatural talents. Everyone came to Refuge for the same reason and all have their own sets of secrets, enemies, and allies. Who can Nell trust? Will she stay or will she return home?

I didn’t expect Refuge to be such a dark world but I do love the variety & dynamics of characters in this world. Nell was a little frustrating but it’s one of those passenger-driver issue, if you get what I mean. I am fascinated by the mad scientist and ever curious on the backgrounds of the other Refuge-ans (we don’t get to hear very much about them). The ending also makes me think that this is really only the first in a series; am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be more Refuge tales.

My sincere thanks to the author for providing e-copy of this book in exchange of honest review

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Blog Tour: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

About the book


A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.

My Blurb

A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a beautiful read. Mind you, there were stacks of romance in here though I think you can kind of tell by the number of hearts on the cover 😉 There were times that I found the romance crossed the corny cheesy line but I made the allowance for “First Love”. They really weren’t that bad; just a teeny weeny bit more than I liked so you may love it.

At the beginning, however, Steffi was facing first day back at school without her best friend. She’s 16 so she’s in sixth form; which term I actually had to look up as I’m not familiar with the British education system (thanks, Google!) and it’s like years 12 & 13. She may know all the students there but it’s a big day for her. She is determined that she will speak this year. She needs to prove to herself and her parents that she’s capable of ‘normality’ so they will let her go to university. Minutes later, she met a boy who cannot hear, Rhys, and he’s rather cute…

There is only one perspective, Steffi’s, and we get to hear everything she’s saying in her head. She’s getting help and she’s working very hard to overcome that which limit her. I love that we get to hear these things; she may not be able to speak but it doesn’t mean that her head is empty! I can’t tell how accurate the things she’s thought of in relation to other people who are in the same boat as Steffi but it felt just as how they could’ve thought (feel free to correct me) and in some ways were really enlightening. Meeting Rhys with a different type of limitation helps her in a way as they found support in each other; tackling the world which place those limitations on them and along the way, found her confidence and identity.

I have truly enjoyed this book. It was a fun, educational, heart-warming, and totally encouraging book to read. It really inspires you to reach for your dreams despite what the world tells you; only you can decide your limits.

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

Quick Q&A

  1. What kind of research was involved in writing A Quiet Kind of Thunder?

A lot! I learned some (very basic) sign language and read as much as I could on deaf culture and community. I also watched videos on YouTube, including those from/about people in deaf/hearing relationships. For selective mutism, I did a lot of general research into things like diagnosis and treatment, and read the materials that were aimed at teachers and parents to get an idea of how they would deal with a child in that situation.

  1. Is there an interesting story/incident that you came across during your research that you could share with us?

Everything I learned about deaf culture and BSL was fascinating, and I really loved watching BSL music videos online – they absolutely blew my mind.

  1. What is it that drives you to write contemporary YA and of such confronting truths?

For me, those are the kinds of books I most love and that I take the most from. I love books that are honest about people, relationships and the world, and so I suppose it makes sense that I would also try to do this in my own writing. Writing is also a great cathartic way to explore issues and problems that goes beyond just talking or thinking about them, so there’s probably an element of that, too.

About the author

sara-barnardSara 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.

Sara is inspired by what-ifs and people. She thinks sad books are good for the soul and happy books lift the heart. She hopes to write lots of books that do both. BEAUTIFUL BROKEN THINGS is her first book and a dream come true.

Find Sara on: goodreads  |  tumblr  |  twitter  | instagram


Review: The Golden Braid

the golden braidThe Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

After Bitter Greens, I needed a lighter retelling of Rapunzel and this fits the bill so well. Rapunzel is a very capable girl especially noting the medieval setting. She hungered for knowledge though she’s yet to learn to read. She hasn’t had the opportunity so far because she and her mother have moved many times but mostly from village to village. This time, however, they are moving to a large city where Rapunzel hopes there will be a better chance in finding someone to teach her to read.

I don’t usually read Christian fiction and I’m not sure whether I realised this was one when I first requested it off NetGalley but it has been a very interesting experience. Whilst I quite enjoyed the read and am touched by Rapunzel’s simple piety; I was mostly struck by the frequency of prayers. This is probably due to my irregular prayers so really, this proves to be a good encouragement for me to pray more often.

The Golden Braid is a lovely retelling of Rapunzel. She’s definitely not an insipid fool but brave, accomplished, and fairly intelligent. There were moments of frustration where I thought she was blind but truly, her upbringing was very sheltered and it takes time to learn of the world. This is a good wholesome and romantic novel suitable for teens aged 13 and up.

Thanks Thomas Nelson for eARC via NetGalley in exchange of honest review

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Review: Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club

lady helenLady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected proof courtesy of publisher

I very much adored The Eon Duology! I still remembered vividly staying up late whilst heavily pregnant with my first because I just could not put down The Two Pearls of Wisdom; absolutely captivating and one of my favourite books ever! Therefore, I’ve kept my eye on Alison Goodman and have heard about this Regency project some years ago… I’ve waited a lifetime for Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club!

This story is told from Lady Helen’s perspective and readers are privileged, as well, to know her private thoughts. The novel opens with Lady Helen’s preparation for her presentation to the Queen. Immediately, we are deliciously teased with a taint on Lady Helen’s reputation or rather her mother’s and therefore, hers. A few pages later, her aunt entered with a scandal involving one of her good friends and the second chapter brought a disappearance of one of the maid. The mysteries continued to be piled on top of one another until there is a knot that demands untangling.

Lady Helen herself turns out to be a very admirable character. Right from the beginning, she evinced her independence of thoughts and ingenuity in problem solving. Nevertheless, even as she finds herself becoming different, her upbringing constrained her and she struggled with this new knowledge of herself and the world. I found this struggle to be very realistic and actually made me like her a lot more than I thought I would. Honestly, I wasn’t sure which outcome I’d like for her though of course, the other one will mean that there will be no series ;p

I think I looked too hard for Eon in these pages… I loved Eon very easily but Helen took some time to understand. The world building was just as incredible and hence, probably the reason it felt quite slow… It’s a whole big old but new world! I expect the next instalment to be at a faster pace and even more amazing; I can’t wait!

Thanks to Harper Collins Australia for copy of Uncorrected proof in exchange of honest review

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