Category Archives: Reviews

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

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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  

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

 

Review: The Impossible Story of Olive in Love by Tonya Alexandra


The Impossible Story of Olive in Love by Tonya Alexandra
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was taken by the title and the premise of a gypsy curse. Described as a quirky novel, I thought it’d be humorous and easy to read. While the language was easy to read, I was unfortunately disappointed with the book. In fact, this book got me so angry and as I started reading it on the Friday commute, it also ruined my weekend for me. I was that upset!

I’m not going to bang on about how upset I was as it was quite hard for me to actually understand myself why I was so worked up about this book. The only reason I could think of is Olive’s self-absorption and utter selfishness! My goodness, I really don’t know how anyone stay around her… I do understand that due to her unusual situation & therefore, the very atypical childhood, Olive became who she is and through her experience with true love, the joy and disappointment and all that came with it, is how she came to learn & accept herself. It is truly a coming of age story.

After all the angst I went through reading this book and the supernatural twist on a contemporary tale, I was also let down by the non-fairytale non-Hollywood ending. I’m all for girl power but seriously, my emotions need a balm this book did not provide. I still want to cry now months after I finished reading this book. Sorry but this one is definitely not for me 😥

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: Traveler by L.E. DeLano

Traveler (Traveler #1) by L.E. DeLano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the description, this book has everything I love in it:

Pirates ✓

Alternate worlds ✓

Delectable Book Boyfriend ✓✓✓

Said Delectable Book Boyfriend Comes to Life ✓✓✓✓✓

Totally sold on this book from the get-go!

It’s not a new theory that each time we make a choice, there is a split in reality as another version of us make a different choice and therefore, there are billions, gazillions, un-numbered alternate worlds out there. There are many books written about these too but probably not many of them are as fantastical as these worlds in Traveler. There is a post-apocalyptic world where the situation is so desperate that people are hunting people. There is a world full of everything shiny and sparkly with Glitter Mousse (yum!). There is a steampunk world with corsets and pirates! These are just my favourites out of the numerous alternate universes we were introduced in this book.

I like Jessa with her rather ordinary world turned upside down or is it rather right way up? Like any ordinary teenager, Jessa has her own share of troubles but they were nothing to what’s coming her way. She is being hunted down in every alternate worlds though this time, Finn has come, determined to save this Jessa. We rarely see the other Jessas though as Finn puts it, Jessa is always Jessa whichever world she’s in. We do see however different versions of Jessa’s friends & loved ones including Finn and I must admit to like the pirate Finn more than any other!

Traveler is a fun read; not only do you get dozens of different worlds in the one book but the most important spin was that book boyfriend coming to life (can you just imagine?! btw, who would you pick?!). I was a tad disappointed that Pirate Finn didn’t make that much of an appearance but *coughs* that ending… I absolutely can NOT wait for book 2!

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

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Review: Refuge

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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Review: Ambulance Girls

Ambulance Girls by Deborah Burrows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: Paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Ever since I fell completely in adoration of Deborrah Burrows’ last book, A Time of Secrets a couple of years ago, I’ve been waiting for another book. And while I was waiting, I kinda stalk her on Goodreads and twitter so I knew she’s been traipsing (sorry, researching) all over London when living there. I greeted the cover reveal of Ambulance Girls with a squeal of excitement and I think my heart might have stopped for mo when I received a copy in the mail.

Firstly, I do love this cover and I really like war historical fiction especially when this particular book’s main character was inspired by a real life historical Aussie woman serving in the London Auxiliary Ambulance Station during the Blitz. There were a lot of things I learnt from this novel about women during the Blitz. I guess there have been quite a number of books or even documentaries but the way it was written here made it all the more real to me. It was obvious that a lot of research was done in the writing of this novel and not just about the women or the Blitz as novel itself feels like veritable literary tour of London.

The novel opens with Lily on duty and having to face one of her fears of enclosed spaces. It was a great start to the novel and you’d easily fall in love with Lily. Her other fears though were not as easily conquered… Aside from her courage, empathy, and her wish to do well unto others, she’s also got a great sense of humour. Maybe that’s her Aussie flavoured humour that coloured her interactions with her friends and gave the book a reminiscent air. We follow Lily through her struggles with daily life during the Blitz; the grief of losing a friend and the joy of falling in love. There were some shaky moments where I thought things were just not going to be right with this book but thankfully, all was made quite well! I had to give the book a bit of a hug from relief and an affectionate pat when I finished reading for I was well & truly shaken.

There were a number of characters both likeable and despicable in this book and the variety and dynamics between these characters were really quite interesting. The book is told from Lily’s perspective only so in a way, we miss out on a lot about the other characters as only a few were well developed. However, as this is the first book of a trilogy, I do believe we will get to know some of the others quite well later on (and I look forward to this!). What you cannot mistake in this novel is the author’s views on anti-semitism (ignorant) and Hitler (evil); she’s loud and clear on that front. Hear! Hear! These things can never be stated enough and whilst Hitler is gone, there are still those like him & share his views.

If you loved the show, Call the Midwife, or the books that inspired it, you would love Ambulance Girls. Lily Brennan may not be English but she’s as brave as those midwives in facing uncertainties & adversities of the time. And I dare say that her Australian personality shone through especially against the foil of English reserved façade.

Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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