I loved this book. I held it to my heart after I finished it because I wanted to hug Maisie, and her sister, and her friend Leila, and her mum (who was trying to grow), and Beamer and the lovely Seb. And most of all, I wanted to hug Jenna Guillaume, an emerging author who has captured parts of my teenage years so well it’s like she was there with me. I was Maisie – a big girl, a girl who felt invisible even though she took up a lot of room, a girl always needing external validation – but too afraid to try anything new or out of my comfort zone.
This book – it’s about knowing yourself, then accepting and loving yourself, and then SHOWING yourself to the rest of the world – and screw the consequences. It’s life-affirming, it’s gentle and sweet, and you must show it to every invisible girl or boy (or the ones who think they are – or should be) you know. NOW.
For ages 12 and up.
The conclusion to the epic Unearthed has been worth the wait. Mia and Jules are in a desperate race against time to save Earth from an imminent Undying invasion. Stowed away on the Undying’s ancient spacecraft, Mia and Jules manage to make their way back to Earth (no details – too many spoilers) and go on the run. As they try to convince the authorities that the Undying do indeed still exist and are an exigent threat, the two adventurers develop an attraction to each other, but one that neither is brave enough to act on. The URST in this novel is great – a real bonus as it adds weight to the perilous situations in which they continually find themselves. With the help of Jules’ cousin Neal, Jules and Mia attempt to reach his Jules’ father – the one man who might be able to help them stop the invasion.
I can’t wait to see what Kaufman and Spooner come up with next. This one is a corker!
This is a corker. A fun romp with the dissolute and self-centred Monty and his faithful and close confidante, Percy. Along for the ride is Monty’s sister Felicity who is not your average Regency chick. After embarking on their Grand Tour, things go horribly awry for Monty and his party when he decides, out of spite, to pilfer a small box from the home of a French Minister, the Duke of Bourbon. Their trip turns into a daring and breathless chase across France, Spain and Italy as they are robbed, kidnapped and enlisted as pirates along the way.
Monty and Percy are developing a close relationship, closer than society would like and, to make things even more complicated, Percy reveals he is epileptic – an affliction that will see him thrown into an asylum.
Lee maintains a good narrative pace, and the characters are engaging and likeable. The historical details feel accurate and cover a wide variety of issues of the period. Of particular interest are the treatment of black people such as Percy, and conventions around the roles of women such as Felicity. Monty is the lens the reader sees these things through, and he learns as we learn.
Heartily recommended for ages 14 and up.
This is my favourite in the Circus Hearts series so far. Contortionist Ren and card-sharp Zep are a great combination. Both trapped in some way by family ties, looking to make their own way, on their terms, in a hostile world that seems to put obstacles up at every turn. Zep is smart, sexy, sensitive, and – despite having the despicable Angus Deal for a father – a straight shooter. Ren is struggling to prove to her family that circus life is what she wants and is a worthwhile career option. She is also recovering from severe smoke inhalation from a fire; a fire Zep Deal saved her from.
Zep and Ren develop an unstoppable attraction and along the way they put themselves in danger to make sure Angus and the saboteurs from the past two novels, go to prison for a long time.
The beautiful, vulnerable, but resilient Ren and the savvy, handsome, and protective Zep are the best romance in this series yet.
This is an interesting book. There are three distinct voices telling the story, and we see events unfold from a number of perspectives that only enriches the experience. Clem, Ady and Kate are thrown together as part of a “wellness” program exercise and discover things about each other that ends up binding them together in deep, meaningful friendship. Each girl has her own baggage, and each commits herself to steadfast support of the other two.
Gender politics, sexual identity and finding one’s own path are the overriding themes here, with each girl having to make difficult and far-reaching choices about her life.
Not sure I personally would have given it CBCA Book of the Year (2018), but it certainly deserved a nomination, and it is a novel I would recommend highly for readers aged 13 and up.
There is power in this story, for everyone.
This is the start of a great new series by Ellie Marney. Colm and Sorsha are a hypnotic combination and the back story of being on the run was perfect to throw them together. As usual the first kiss between the two protagonists is HOT, which is an Ellie Marney speciality. Marney effectively paints a picture of circus life and show folk well, and I look forward to reading more about this cast of characters. Can’t wait for All Fall Down to drop into my Kindle!
Doomsday preppers…riiiight….I was not sure if I would enjoy this as much as Lili’s other novels. Sure, I knew it would be well-researched, and the writing would be impeccable, but preppers? I shouldn’t have worried. From the first page I was drawn in and couldn’t wait to know more. Pru and her sisters, twins Grace and Blythe, live with their Dad in the remote town of Jubilee. In the first pages of the book we see the girls dodging intruders and threats, but eventually learn it’s a drill their father makes them do on a regular basis. Already the reader is made to feel uneasy because Pru is a doomsday prepper, or at least the child of one, and they are not necessarily known for their rational view of the world. Having a possibly unreliable narrator just serves to make the story more interesting. Then, the unthinkable (except for preppers) happens. There is a massive disastrous event and all of a sudden nothing that relies on electricity, or that has circuitry, works. No cars, no phones, no radio, no TV. No electric cooking, etc. To make matters worse, there’s been an explosion at the mine where Rick, the girls’ Dad, works and only a few have survived. The girls are on their own, in their bunker, with only each other to rely on. “Family comes first” their father has drilled into them since their mother left, and the girls are determined to survive, even if it means denying the other people in town much-needed assistance. When someone tells the other townsfolk of the girls’ secret, things take a turn. I will not spoil the rest of the story, but this book is an absolute page-turner. Survival, romance, betrayal, violence, death, redemption – it’s all there and Wilkinson writes her narrative with admirable restraint. There would be a tendancy for someone less experienced to pump up the hyperbole and drama, but Lili Wilkinson allows the drama to develop from small things- things that become huge in remarkable and terrifying circumstances. If you like gritty and realist fiction with a dytopian edge, this is for you.
Recommended for ages 14 and up.
I was excited when this book landed at my local bookshop. Anything new from Ellie Marney is always going to be good, but this is great. Still set in rural Australia, in the fictional town of Lamistead, this is a terrific YA realist novel with a message that doesn’t beat you around the head.
Bo is approaching the end of his schooling and trying to decide whether to follow his gut and study subjects that will lead to him becoming a chef, or stay with what is expected and focus on sports and things his Dad will approve of. New girl Rory comes into his life, after being home-schooled forever, and everything gets turned on its head. Not only has Bo fallen hard for Rory, she lives in a community called Eden, which is about saving the planet – and Bo find himself drawn to their message (and Rory). Toss in a family secret that has Bo doubting everything he thought he knew about his parents, a friend going through a rough time at home at the hands of an abusive parent and sibling, and the imminent closure of the local skatepark, and you have the ingredients for an engaging and involving novel that hits all the right notes. The developing relationship between Bo and Rory is believable and sweet, and all the bit players like Sprog, Lozzie and Cam are terrific too. I wrote about this novel as a classic example of YA realism for a Uni essay this year and got 95%. Need I say more! Read it – you won’t be sorry.
Scott Westerfeld has taken two genres and meshed them together to create a novel that, whilst requiring concentration, is still great fun to read.
There are parallel stories going on here.
Story 1: Darcy Patel has written her very first novel, Afterworlds – a supernatural romance/suspense story. She is eighteen and bashed the book out in a month. Now, she has a two-book deal, and a massive advance to finance her first move away from home – to New York City – to work on the rewrites and start fleshing out “Untitled Patel 2”.
Story 2: Lizzie is the survivor of a terrorist attack at an airport. She survives this attack by playing dead, and unexpectedly finds herself thrust into the Underworld – the land of the dead. There she meets the strange and alluring Yamaraj – and romance is born.
This idea is very cleverly pulled off by Westerfeld. He gives us enough of each story in the alternating chapters to want to read on. I thought I would find this format tedious and I struggled intially to engage with the characters (and I still don’t think I fully engaged with them), but there was enough to keep me interested all the way through to the end.
Darcy’s story gives fascinating insight into the world of YA publishing and the personalities and processes that personify it. Lizzie’s story, to me, felt the more forced of the two and I did not find myself as immersed in her world and story as I did in Darcy’s.
Still, Scott Westerfeld writes well – it is clear he loves his characters and we are taken along for a very entertaining ride.
Recommended for ages 14 and up, due to some of the content and concepts.
Lindsay Leavitt has written a little gem. Going Vintage has a great style that really captures the inner voice of a teenage girl without being sappy or patronising. Leavitt also manages to impart a little wisdom without being preachy or ramming it down one’s throat, which is where many other writers of YA or children’s lit fail.
Central character, Mallory, is likeable and sympathetic – she has been cheated on by her boyfriend who also has an online girlfriend. After she breaks up with Jeremy, Mallory finds a list written by her grandmother when she was Mallory’s age and it inspires her to try living “60s style”. To do this she disconnects from social media, her moblie phone and her computer. The consequences of this, at school , at home and in her friendships and relationships are more far reaching than she could ever have realised. Mallory’s sister, Ginnie, is her partner in this experiment and proves to be a feisty, strong and steadfast friend too. As the days roll by, Mallory discovers secrets and talents about herself and those around her. The dumping of technology changes her life, not just her love life, and everything becomes harder and challenging. Her parents are fighting and her Mum is secretive, Jeremy is begging her to take him back, Ginnie is looking for her first steady boyfriend, Mallory’s grandmother seems to be pushing her away and then there is Oliver, Jeremy’s cousin. His funny, gorgeous, hipster cousin. Where does he fit in to all of this? Mallory has had a tendancy in the past to quit when things got the better of her, will she quit this time?
As usual, no spoilers, but I can guarantee you will enjoy this tale of romance, family and life choices. A great book for girls who are trying to find out who they are, and for boys who want to know those girls better!
For ages 12 and up.