Monday, June 30, 2014

Blog Tour: Spark by Rachael Craw

Tuesday, June 24 Diva Booknerd 
Wednesday, June 25 The Tales Compendium 
Thursday, June 26 Kids' Book Review & Happy Indulgence 
Friday, June 27 Fictional Thoughts 
Sunday, June 29 Striking Keys & Thoughts by J 

Hallo! I'm so happy to be part of the Spark blog tour. Spark is the debut sci-fi novel by New Zealand author Rachael Craw. I have Rachel doing a guest post for my stop, check out the tour schedule above to see all the other awesome content throughout the blog tour!

Release Date: July 1st 2014
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Genre: Sci-Fi

"Evie doesn’t have a choice.

One day she’s an ordinary seventeen year old, grieving for her mother. The next, she’s a Shield, the result of a decades-old experiment gone wrong, bound by DNA to defend her best friend from an unknown killer.

The threat could come at home, at school, anywhere. All Evie knows is that it will be a fight to the death.

And then there’s Jamie. irresistible. off-limits."

Guest Post

DNA: Nature versus Nurture

- What's inside us versus what we're brought up to believe and how Spark, with the premise of altered DNA can affect that.

Spark explores the question of free-will through an extreme premise of genetically engineered predestination. The megalomaniacal Affinity Project use ‘Optimal’, a synthetic gene, to create a breed of combatants with pronounced affinities for defence or attack. These individuals are physically bound to follow their instinct to protect or kill. Evie is one of their unwitting initiates. One minute she’s a normal 17 year old girl grieving the loss of her mother, the next she’s a Shield bound by her DNA to watch over and protect Kitty, her best friend from a deranged killer. 
The idea of being compelled, bound, doomed, fated to a course of action is a fairly harrowing concept. I wanted to force my protagonist to have to operate within these parameters almost like an experiment in human nature. How does it impact decision making, the view of self and others, personal responsibility, culpability, motivation, relationships, commitments, values etc, etc? Evie struggles against this loss of ownership over her life while liviing the demands of her new reality. She questions her own feelings: Is love or desire real if it’s designed in a test-tube? Is loyalty, devotion, compassion legitimate if it’s simply programmed into your DNA? Where’s the value in it if it’s not birthed in choice? 
I’m an advocate of personal responsibility. Undoubtedly there are individuals born into extreme circumstances over which they have no control: war, disease, political climates, religious dictates but for the most part we still carry the wild card of ‘choice’. I like to think of myself as a free-agent determining my own path, choosing who I am and who I will become within the constructs of my family and society but I can’t deny I had a moment when I made contact with my birth mother where I was confronted by the power of DNA. Aside from the striking novelty of acute family resemblance (something I had never personally experienced) I was astonished that I could share so many similarities in personality, temperament, sense of humour, mannerisms, interests and talents with someone I had never spent time with before. I can’t deny it stirred up some spooky contemplation about how much of who I am and who I am destined to become is already built into the foundation of my person at a cellular level. 
Poor Evie has some painful wrangling to do with these tough questions. The injustice of it, alone, could drive a girl mad. In ‘Stray’ (Book 2), Evie comes face to face with the power brokers operating within the Affinity Project. Her time at the compound is not easy and their gruelling ‘orientation’ process pushes her to the limits, physically, mentally and emotionally.

That's very deep. I can't imagine constantly questioning whether I have free-will because of something in my DNA :/ Thank you so much Rachael for stopping by the blog today. Spark is sure to be an interesting read!


About Rachael Craw

I love words. I always have. I love the shape, sound and texture of them and sometimes pinning them down but I didn't always know I wanted to be a writer.

When I was six I was pretty sure I'd grow up to be a Solid Gold Dancer, all that glittering spandex. By about 10, like every girl I knew, I wanted to be an Air Hostess. As a teen I fancied acting and studied Drama and Classical Studies at Uni. In the end I became a high school English teacher and I loved it despite the lack of Lycra and jet setting. I have kept journals most of my life and written poetry, scripts and short stories for my own entertainment. 'Spark' is my first novel, the beginning of a Young Adult sci-fi trilogy picked up by Walker Books Australia. I lived in Christchurch my whole life until our house was wrecked in the 2011/12 earthquakes. Now I live in sunny Nelson at the top of the South Island of New Zealand with my husband, three daughters and our odd little dog.

Find her at the following places:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cover Reveal: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

I love cover reveals. I haven't done one in ages so of course I jumped at the chance of partaking in the cover reveal for one of the awesomest authors I know - Paula Stokes (:

I really like the concept of this - lies and mystery and a sort of high school black market thing - it's so cool.

"It all starts with one little lie…

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell lies to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts a business providing forged permission slips and cover stories for the students of Vista Palisades High. Liars, Inc. they call it. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters."

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for — THE COVER!




Is this mean?


I'm sorry


No I'm not


Sorry not sorry



Here’s a little more info from Paula:
OMG, I’ve been flailing about the awesomeness of this cover since April. I saw it and was basically like HOLY COVER LOTTERY!! :D

I’ve talked about how LIARS, INC. is very different from THE ART OF LAINEY, and this cover really highlights that. LIARS has first-person narration, a bit of romance, and similar fast-paced dialogue to LAINEY, but that’s where the major similarities end. This book is a dark mystery for fans of I HUNT KILLERS, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (the TV show, because I’ve never read the books), or old-school Christopher Pike novels. I hope you love it, because if it does well I might get to write a companion novel, and I’m seriously not ready to let go of these characters. Max is a little aloof and slackerish so it might take you time to warm up to him, but his girlfriend Parvati is totally badass and fun, and both of them really grow and change over the course of the novel. (You know how I love me some character development!) And no worries, this is a total standalone book, plotted and written as a solo novel.
What do you think? Do you like this cover? Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a signed, personalized ARC of LIARS, INC.
Woah. How cool is that? I love how the shadow is a lie. It's sort of creepy too. If I saw a pair of shoes on the street with nobody in them and a shadow coming off them I think I'd run away screaming... I love original YA covers like these - it's unique and will definitely get me reading the book!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Interview and Review: Cracked by Clare Strahan

I am proud to have on the blog today debut Aussie author Clare Strahan! I was lucky enough to score an interview with her so thanks Allen & Unwin for organising this, and Clare for answering my questions (: Cracked was released June 1st and is now available in-stores and online!

Firstly, thanks to Allen & Unwin for this review copy and for organising the interview <3

Release Date: June 1st 2014
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Aussie contemporary

"A wonderful debut novel that captures the essence of real, messy teenage lives: of action and consequence, of poor choices and fragile friendships, of standing up for what is right, and the attempt to make sense of a world when everything feels like it's falling apart.

At fifteen, Clover is finding the going tougher than she expected. Her life is close to being derailed on the rocky terrain of family, friendship, first love, acts of defiance and a planet on the brink of environmental disaster. So when Keek breaks his promise to her, and school sucks, and her mother is impossible, and her beloved old dog is dying, and her dad is in the wind, and the girls at school are awful and the footy-boys are bullies and she's arrested for vandalism - well, what else can she be but a little bit broken? Can Clover pull herself together - or will she spiral further out of control?

When life feels like it's fracturing, how do you find a way to feel whole?"


Hi Clare, it's so great to have you on the blog today!

Questions About the Book

I absolutely loved the descriptions of Aussie nature in Cracked. Why was it important to the story to have such intricate and detailed descriptions?
Thanks Jaz. Nature is important in the book – a love of the earth and a longing to protect and care for the earth is a central theme. Clover’s relationship to nature, and the idea of nature as a pathway to reverence and love in her childhood shapes her connection with life and with home – in particular, her local area, especially the creek. Trees are significant to Clover – the golden ash she made cubbies in as a child, the willow down the road from Keek’s and the poor gum from across the road that is tinder for the flint of her call to activism. I guess the detail is an attempt to transmit this importance to the reader, so they understand Clover’s motivations.

Racism is addressed in Cracked - do you find that it's still a serious issue in schools despite Australia being such a multicultural society?
I was born in England and grew up as an Aussie in the 70s and so I never experienced racism first hand. In the early years of my high school, one of my besties was Indian in a largely Anglo school and she copped a lot of name-calling and racist nonsense that slipped under the radar as being ‘jokey’ – but I remember her being very upset and also remember yelling at people about it in passionate outrage on her behalf: her experience woke up my understanding that racism hurts. Unfortunately, I think there is systemic racism in Australia which results from our history not being properly examined and redressed: ‘Terra nullius’ and the White Australia Policy, for example. It’s not difficult to see the ‘turn back the boats’ campaign as a reworking of ‘White Australia’ prejudice. Schools are switched on to bullying of all kinds these days, but in my opinion, Australia has a long way to go as a free and equitable society (and isn’t being helped by our backwards-looking conservative government); nevertheless, great schools do great work in helping shape such a society. As to young people themselves, of course it depends on the individuals, but generally I find that the young adults I know accept diversity of all kinds without a lot of fuss.

Art was a key way of expression for Clover (I realised many characters had their own ways of expression), and I noticed there was a lot of research into art/paint/colours etc. Are you an artist yourself?
I’m not a fine artist, alas, though I dabble now and then. I think my longing to express myself through fine arts shows itself in Ms Yamouni’s passion. I think an artistic sensibility is important though, and that a person can have, and cultivate, an artistic view of the world. Having an imagination is what is inherently artistic in the human being, I think. Perhaps that’s what our education should be about: developing imagination so that we can see the world through an artistic lens. We’re going to need our imaginations to think in new ways and try new styles of living together, growing food, distributing food, looking after nature, generating electricity, etc., if we’re going to comfortably survive the fall-out from how stupidly we’ve managed the industrial revolution.

Many teenagers go through that phase of "rebellion" in high school. I know I had friends who did. However, reading from Clover's POV, it wasn't so much rebellion as a way of handling difficult situations. Do you think there are two groups of people then - those that rebel because they're bored and those that look like they're rebelling but are just surviving?
Jaz, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with Clover – she doesn’t set out to be a rebel any more than Keek does; they’re just trying to make sense of the world – but Clover would definitely change it, if she could. I’m not sure kids rebel because they’re bored: boredom leads to creativity. If kids haven’t had a chance to play freely – to strengthen their imaginations in childhood – boredom can lead to a kind of deadening of the soul and from that springs a kind of nihilism, I guess, which is what destructive vandalism/behaviour might be about – as well as angry frustration at the injustices of life, of course. The reasons we rebel are multi-layered – as are the reasons we don’t rebel. I believe that in its highest form, the idealism of youth is pure-of-heart and while it may be considered naïve, it perhaps sees more truly into the realities – the status quo is not always serving the greater good; finding a ‘comfort zone’ in an unhappy or unsustainable situation and hanging on regardless of the soul’s longing (or the suffering of others … or even our likelihood of surviving!) is not necessarily ‘mature’, but rather the result of fear. However, I don’t think we should be expecting young people to save us with their idealism while those with experience, power and influence actively work against it in every conceivable way – I’m pretty sure that if we want to change the world for the better we have to lead by example (or get out of the way).

What would you like readers to take away from Cracked?
A feeling that life is worthwhile, however crazy it is. I’d like the reader to feel like they’ve found friends in the book. I love books where that happens.

This or That Round

1. Living in one of the capital cities of Australia, or the country?
I often wish I lived near the CBD – in North Carlton or Fitzroy or East Brunswick or something, or maybe out West … but I need trees, so it’s the country for me. And an instant matter transfer machine please.

2. Wine from the Barossa Valley or Hunter Valley?
I am bound by regional duty to reject both these fine choices and say wine from the Upper Yarra Valley in Victoria.

3. Prussian blue or ultramarine blue? (a little something from the book)
Prussian, definitely. Love it.

4. Ebooks or print books?
Print. I am grateful that I’ve managed to get published while paper books are still a thing. I think print and ebooks are different creatures and both have their place in the world, but my house is full of paper books. I love them.

5. Aussie winter or Aussie summer?
Summer, most definitely! (But no bushfires, please).

Such awesome and thoughtful responses, thank you Clare!



“I cracked when I was eleven, but it didn’t show.”

It has been so long since I’ve read an Aussie YA book – not just one by an Aussie author but one actually set in Australia. Cracked was a very refreshing and quick read about a teenager trying to fit in high school and Strahan gives it the perfect touch that makes it distinctly Australian.

Clover’s character was an interesting one. At times I didn’t always think her thoughts were plausible for a 15-year-old (such as musings about black stuff coming off her soul) but she’s written in a very relatable way. Her mother’s eccentricities leave Clover to be considered an outcast in school. She’s like that disruptive kid in high school who got kicked out of class often which a lot of people found annoying. I never understood these people. Now, I think I do. Clover’s home life and struggles spark what looks like a rebellious nature to outsiders, but really, it’s her way of coping with everything that life’s throwing at her. She’s affected by issues of climate change, of oppression and she turns to art to express herself. Not always in the right way though. I thought Strahan did a really good job portraying the naiveties of a 15 year old in that sense – Clover thinks that what she does is right but doesn’t consider the consequences, and as teenagers I think that’s ok because they’re just beginning to face realities of the world. It’s overwhelming, it’s shocking and we lash out in different ways.

I liked how the secondary characters showed Australian culture. From Ms. Yamouni, to Mrs. T, to Trung I appreciated the multiculturalism because we are a very diverse society. So I guess I was sort of shocked when racism had a part in this. The way the students first react to Ms. Yamouni the new art teacher, or Trung a student who is obviously born and bred Aussie despite his first name. In this day and age, racism shouldn’t be an issue in schools. Emphasis on schools. When I attended high school I never had issues with racism. Everyone in my school was a mix of different backgrounds – even my teachers, the majority of which were Greek or Italian. Hence, why I would have assumed it was a given that the students and teachers would come from different ethnic backgrounds in Cracked. Still, it’s good this is dealt with well. Ms. Yamouni was definitely my favourite secondary character in this, she’s accepting, understanding and teaches everybody about tolerance.

“You’d better learn some respect. I won’t have racism in this classroom.”

The romance was so adorbs. Venturing into first love, Clover has absolutely no idea about her feelings for Rob or Keek and it was cute watching her stumble her way through and grow into her feelings. I absolutely loved Keek. He was a constant for Clover throughout the book despite dealing with his own problems. Poor kid was going through so much and yet he still watches over Clover and accompanies her on some of her crazier adventures.

I absolutely LOVED the way art was used here. Strahan gives everyone a form of expression – Keek with his riding, Clover’s mum with her Steiner thing – and Clover’s is art. Colours are so well detailed here and I got a few art lessons out of it. It was fascinating how Strahan phrased how an artist thinks and shows themselves through a medium. I loved the way Clover got lost in her own world because I got lost with her.

“Moving the blue there’s a sense of expanding space, like a dark ocean or an evening sky. Or even what’s behind the sky – the swirling cosmos that has no edges, no end.”

Strahan’s writing style is sophisticated but also incorporates Aussie slang because that’s how we talk. Her writing flows well and I couldn’t tell this was a debut which is always a good sign. I did learn a few words here (not sure they’re entirely appropriate lol) but at times thought the profanity was a bit much. Either way, very well written, especially the descriptions. Perfect descriptions of Aussie landscapes!

I’m gonna give massive two thumbs up to Strahan for a very, very particular reason. The word ‘slut’ was used here. As soon as I saw it, I froze. Slut shaming has been a massive talked about topic in YA and I was cringing, thinking “oh please no don’t slut shame I can’t read this if you slut shame”. STRAHAN DOESN’T SLUT SHAME. Biggest hugs to her for that. Instead, the word is discussed, the meaning and connotations associated with it drawn out and no real labelling is made. This really stood out for me in the book because far out the amount of books I’ve read that just casually chuck the word ‘slut’ out there and label people, it’s infuriating. You guys, you have no idea how impressed I was by this.

“I’m not convinced. Why does somebody suddenly become a ‘slut’?”

A great debut that encompasses the many qualms of our teenage years, written in an idyllic Australian style with lovely descriptions and an adorable romance, this book accurately portrays the cracks we all have in ourselves.

“Make beauty from pain there’s a kind of joy in that; and maybe that’s what art is for?”


About Clare

Clare Strahan is a Melbourne writer who once rattled out a novel on a manual typewriter by candlelight. She is also a drama tutor with a passion for Shakespeare, a graduate of RMIT's Professional Writing & Editing, a writer of fiction and poetry for humans of all ages and has published in Overland, where she curated their first fiction anthology and volunteers as a contributing editor. She is a freelance editor, creator of the Literary Rats cartoon, and flutters about the twittersphere as @9fragments.

Find her at the following places:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review: Antigoddess (Goddess War #1) by Kendare Blake

Firstly, thanks to Hachette Children's Books for this review copy <3

Date Read: September 30 - October 4 2013
Release Date: September 10th 2013
Publisher: Orchard Books (Hachette Children's Books Australia)
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy
My rating: 

"He was Apollo, the sun, and he'd burn down anything that tried to hurt her... Cassandra and Aidan are just your average high-school couple. Or so Cassandra believes. Blissfully unaware that she was once a powerful prophetess, Cassandra doesn't even know thats god exist... Until now.

Because the gods are dying - and Cassandra could hold the answer to their survival. But Aidan has a secret of his own. He is really Apollo, god of the sun, and he will do anything to protect the girl he loves from the danger that's coming for her. Even if it means war against his immortal family...

Sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; relentless action and suspense - ANTIGODDESS is the YA novel you've been waiting for."


“We should have seen it coming. It’s not as though it hasn’t been foretold and written about. The Twilight of the gods.”

Greek mythology is one of my favourite topics period. I’ve always enjoyed ancient history and it was one of my favourite subjects in high school. The sheer number of myths surrounding the gods and goddesses of the ancient Greeks have always fascinated me so I’m always on the lookout for YA books that are either retellings or have incorporated Greek mythology as the plot. There aren’t many that include the majority of the Olympians so I was very keen to read Antigoddess.

Cassandra seems like your average high school student with the uncanny ability to predict things like the outcome of a coin toss or when it’s going to rain. Then haunting dreams start plaguing her and she begins to see these dreams/hallucinations during the daytime.

Blake is true to mythology and Cassandra’s character is how I imagined a prophet would act, with adjustments for the modern era. Prior to her vivid visions, she’s a seemingly ordinary girl, the quiet type who stands on the sidelines. Her friends and boyfriend have much pretty much always believed the little things she sees because they do happen. When her freaky visions of mythical creatures being chased and killed begin, I liked how she questions them as to their relevance to her life. It’s obvious those visions are of another world so she takes it to mean something bad will happen, but not in the literal sense of actual Cyclops being killed which I found to be plausible. When the action does hit though, she’s pretty useless and I guess that’s reminiscent of the Cassandra in legends – never able to do anything but at least in this case people believe her. I can’t really say much about her character; I didn’t dislike her but I wouldn’t say she was profound either.

The ensemble of Olympians were mainly present which made me really happy. The book alternates between Cassandra and Athena; Blake shows what it’s really like for a god to die through Athena and Hermes’ desperate journey to find answers, and the physical changes they suffer. Various gods and goddesses are shown throughout the novel, at varying stages of their impending death and I liked how their traits came through – Athena the strategist, Aphrodite and her vanity, Hermes and his mischievousness. It was very interesting to see them with the outer appearance of 17-year-olds though.

It’s obvious Aidan loves Cassandra and believes everything she prophesises. He trusts her completely and really believes they’ll be together for a long time. He’s sweet and protective but in delaying the inevitable I just thought his actions just left them with less time to prepare.

The plot was very well thought out and I had no idea where it was going other than knowing the gods were supposedly dying. It’s a race against time as the different gods each try to get Cassandra because she holds the key to their survival… or their death. But do the gods really ever learn. Thousands of years ago, in their boredom, the gods sparked a war that ended in insurmountable casualties with dire consequences that reshaped the ancient world. Have their mistakes finally caught up to them? Is there a limit to being a god – to doing what they do? As this mounted, I was on the edge of my seat and that ending hit me so hard. I would have liked more action and a bit more build up, but the way Blake ended this had me completely intrigued as to how this trilogy progresses.

Despite the slow pace, I did enjoy this and I thought Blake did a very good adaptation of Greek mythology. The way she incorporated the gods, their various myths, powers and flaws with a twist nobody thought could happen was great. I mean seriously, who would have ever thought that gods could die? She does this in a very suspenseful and mysterious fashion and tops it off with her fantastic writing. Antigoddess is the first novel I’ve read by Blake but I can definitely say she’s a skilled writer – especially in the macabre. Her descriptions could be a touch gory, slightly disturbing, sending shivers down my spine and like a moth to flame, had me anxious for more.

“For the record I don't believe in Fate. I believe that the pieces have been placed. The ending hasn't been written yet.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Penguin Teen Australia Live (#PTALive) Sydney

Whew so I just came back from PTALive Sydney and it was FANTASTIC!!! Thank you so much to Floss and her team at Penguin Teen Australia for another wonderful event, you guys do such an amazing job.

This year's turnout was just woah - last year it was like <50 of us at Kinokuniya, and this year there were apparently 300 booklovers in the cinema (yes they had to get a cinema for us!).

For those of you who don't know, Penguin Teen Live is an event by Penguin Teen Australia, the YA division of Penguin Books Australia. Starting from last year, they went to the major Australian cities and held an event where they talk about their books! Book lovers get together to hear about these great titles, fangirl and ask questions. We also get a little gift too + there's a guest author (last year we had Will Kostakis, author of The First Third).

I got to see many bloggers again: Shirley from Shiirleyy’s Bookshelf, Sunny at A Sunny Spot, Mands from The Bookish Manicurist, Jenna from Belle’s Bookshelf, Pavan from Keep it Fictional, Estelle from Reading in the Dark, Keely from My Spin on Books, Viv from These Books Saved My Life, Kim from Two Girls and a Novel and Joy from ThoughtsByJ.

I also finally got to meet Laura from Laura Plus Books and Eugenia from Chasm of Books!

Here is my wrap up of the event. I've included my thoughts on titles, which you can skip over.
Where appropriate, I've included links to the Goodreads page.

5 YA Books that Resonated With Me (Felicity)

Firstly, Felicity aka Floss talked about 5 YA titles that resonated with her.

My Thoughts:
  • I've read all but Side Effects, and I can definitely agree that these titles have resonated with me too!
  • VA is one of my fav series of all time. It's the only vampire series I like and love. Rose and Dimitri omg <3 The cliffhanger at the end of Shadow Kiss killed me back in 2008.
  • Anna and the French Kiss is a light, funny and swoony read. Etienne St Clair!
  • Okay? Okay.
  • OtJR is my favourite Marchetta book. To me, she one is one of the pioneers of Aussie YA. She writes contemporaries that deal with serious issues and her writing is fantastic, her characters have so much depth. They’re all memorable and so unique. I read this 8 years ago, and it still resonates with me.

Titles We Love

What I love about pubs is that they're not afraid to talk about titles they love which they don't publish

My Thoughts:
  • I've read all those titles except for the The Impossible Knife of Memory. I can HIGHLY recommend all of the titles listed. 
  • If I Stay is coming out as a movie in Aus September 4 (I believe, US August 22) and the trailer looks fantastic. Gayle Forman is an amazing writer, I adore her books (Where She Went is one of my favs of all time).
  • Rainbow Rowell is also a great author. While I didn't enjoy E&P as much as everybody else, I absolutely love Fangirl because I can relate to it - it's about the fangirl/fanboy in all of us! 
  • Going Too Far is a really sweet read, it's one of the older YAs. 
  • These Broken Stars... ERMAGHERD. The cover is gorgeous. The story is just as gorgeous and the world-building is spectacular. 
  • Katie McGarry. AHHHH. Echo and Noah <3 Ryan and Beth <3 ISAIAH and Rachel <3 so perf. They're a more mature YA with slightly darker themes but the couples are just beautiful.

YA Titles We Want

Then Felicity talked about titles they (Penguin Teen) wished they published/wanted to read because of us fans!

My Thoughts:
  • I actually own every single one of these books but I haven't read Miss Peregrine's, TGoYaM and I have started but not finished The Diviners.
  • Shatter Me is one of my favourite trilogies of all time. It has one of the best ships. I ship Warnette to no end, I was shipping them from Shatter Me! Tahereh's writing style is very unique and the story reads just like a diary - very realistic thought processes.
  • We Were Liars is shocking. That ending broke me.
  • From what I've read of The Diviners, Libba's writing is engaging, her world-building is lovely and the world of The Diviners has this macabre touch that makes for a fantastic read.
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a really psychological read. I didn't enjoy it as much as others but worth checking out. Noah Shaw <3
  • Slammed is one of my favourite YAs of all time. I've read all of Colleen Hoover's books and love them all. Best thing? No angsty male protagonist in Slammed. Will Cooper is sweet, an English major and just so loving. I would classify Slammed as YA though it's considered NA.
  • Under the Never Sky omg! I'll admit the beginning of this one was a bit slow but Veronica's world-building and descriptions of the aether are amazing. The series just gets better and better. She writes one of the best platonic female/male friendships!
  • EEEEP LUX! JLA, in my eyes can do no wrong. While my favourite series of hers is Covenant, most people prefer Lux. Daemon Black is an alien and he is SMOKING HOT <3 This series you must check out.
  • I leave Throne of Glass for last BECAUSE I PUSH THIS BOOK SO HARD. Crown of Midnight (bk 2) was my fav book of 2013 and now Heir of Fire (bk 3, comes out in September) is my fav book of 2014. Stunning fantasy. Intricately woven and well thought out storyline. Swoony guys. Kickass heroine. A plot that will leave you reeling.

Web Series

Some great web series were mentioned including The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, through 100 YouTube vlogs. You guys this is fantastic watch it. 
The same creators of TLBD (Hank Green, brother of TFIOS author John Green, and Bernie Su) also created Emma Approved, a modern adaptation of, you guessed it, Jane Austen’s Emma. Emma Approved is still going but you can watch all 100 eps of TLBD + the bonuses which they just released.

Rachel Caine’s 15 book series, Morganville Vampires is also becoming a web series!


Underrated Titles


My Thoughts:
  • MLND MLND MLND <3 An amazing debut. A beautiful summery read about a girl who falls for the boy next door and how his loving family is so different to the protagonist’s quiet one.
  • LEGEND! Ugh. I binge read this series in the space of like 4 days. Fantastic dystopian series. Perfect pacing, lots of action, lots of feels, amazing characters. Out of EVERY single series I have ever read. Ever. Harry Potter etc. The Legend trilogy has the most wonderfully written epilogue. Hopeful, earnest, true, appropriate. Read. This.
  • I’ll be honest, I was disappointed by Cinder because I found it predictable but I’ve heard the rest of the series is much better! I do own all the books that are out right now.
  • I haven’t heard of the Enemy series but it’s about the outbreak of a disease and set in London.


Next, Fiona aka Felicity aka Floss talked about how it’s ok to read young adult regardless of age. I completely agree. At 21, I still can’t get into “adult” books. Why? I can’t relate to them. I can relate so much to YA and there really are great YA books out there (many listed above) with the quality of an “adult” book. And let’s be honest, there are great and terrible books for any age group or genre. As Floss said:
“Just read what you like”

Book Bloggers

Book bloggers (and Booktubers) were then given a mention YAAAY. I was so happy to see my banner up there again this year <3


Upcoming Titles (2014/2015)

Kylie Fornasier, author of Masquerade was also the guest speaker and she give us an awesome spiel on her book.

My Thoughts:
  • I’m really stoked about Masquerade, the premise is amazing. Gossip Girl AND Downton Abbey set in one of my favourite time periods? Um hell yes!
  • I own What I Thought Was True and I’m really excited to read it because Huntley Fitapatrick <3
  • THE INFINITE SEA OMGOSH EVAN WALKER. Rick Yancey’s mind is brilliant. The way he has written how an alien invasion is staged? If that ever happened to earth we would really be screwed.
  • I’d seen ARCs of Afterworld at BEA but hadn’t thought much of it because I’ve owned Uglies for like 6 years now but never read it. But hearing the idea? Woah. Told from dual POVs – a girl who goes to New York to become a writer and she writes a story. The other POV? Get this – it’s from the POV of the girl in the story and it’s a dystopian. Literally inception.
  • Atlantia ahhhh how long I have waited for an Atlantis retelling!!!
  • I have all of the PJO books – a hardcover box set but I just need to start it, I really love Greek mythology.
  • SYDRIAN SYDRIAN SYDRIAN. #FreeSydneySage. That is all.

Other News

  • Penguin will not be publishing Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie Perkins - from what I’ve HEARD on the grapevine, and no confirmations – Usbourne have the rights… But there’s been no word on this. The fandom in Aus is currently in a frenzy trying to find out details.
  • Penguin also won’t be publishing Marie Lu’s new series The Young Elites - if anybody has information on this series please tell me, I am dying to read it.
  • The Lorien Legacies novellas will be collected into 1 volume!
  • There may or may not be a Q&A competition with Rick Riordan - nothing confirmed
  • There is a REALLY SLIM chance of an author event with Scott Westerfeld but he's really busy right now in the US
  • PTA also gave out free books: Half-Bad by Sally Green (very unique take on witches, male POV), The Cinderella Moment by Jennifer Kloester and Popular by Maya Van Wagenen. I picked up Popular because I already own the first two.

Kino also had a massive sale with huge discounts on some amazing titles (e.g. John Green, Rainbow Rowell)

I picked up Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer!

My friend Lana also lent me Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy #1) by Lauren DeStefano as part of the book swap.

And that’s a wrap.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review: Every Breath (Every #1) by Ellie Marney

Firstly, thanks to Allen & Unwin for this review copy <3

Date Read: August 15 - 20 2013
Release Date: September 1 2013
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Australian Contemporary/Mystery
My rating:  

"Rachel Watts is an unwilling new arrival to Melbourne from the country. James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old genius with a passion for forensics. Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. And when Watts and Mycroft follow a trail to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion's den - literally.

A night at the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again..."


“His throat is a mess of red, bright and dark, all the reds there are in the world, red seeping down his neck, red bleeding over the front of his chest, staining his dirty shirt.”

I want to point out that the majority of this book was enjoyable and my rating is definitely biased with regards to the amount of books I’ve read, TV I’ve watched (especially crime shows) and my having read a bit of Conan Doyle. Because of this, I seem to have this skill to figure out the plot at the beginning of the show/book and know who the culprit is. There are always clues and some writers make it more obvious than others. Not everybody notices this though, but I do and it’s a serious kill joy when writers do the same thing that others have used before. Sadly for me, Every Breath followed a much overused crime twist.

In the city of Melbourne, teenagers Rachel Watts and James Mycroft are drawn further and further in to a murder of a homeless man they could call a friend. Mycroft’s inquisitive nature won’t let him stop thinking about why anybody would want to murder a homeless man. As the evidence they find builds but doesn’t add up to what the police say, the pair take matters into their own hands and before long, they’re in over their heads…

The protagonist Rachel Watts was someone whose voice I really enjoyed reading. She’s struggling with her family’s move from a farm to Melbourne’s city and I could understand her frustration at trying to assimilate with the city life while her family struggled financially. I enjoyed her realism and I thought Marney did a great job of writing the voice of a 17 year-old girl. I really liked the way Rachel tried to discourage James from investigating the murder as she voiced that they didn’t have the right resources – which was true as they’re young and not even adults, not to mention how dangerous it would be to pursue a killer. Basically, I liked that she had a head on her shoulders and her loved her strength.

James “Mycroft” was probably my second biggest issue with Every Breath. He’s obviously damaged and his past is shrouded in mystery. Mycroft is pretty much a child prodigy, he’s an absolute genius and I could see Marney draw the parallel with Sherlock/Mycroft Holmes. However, whereas Holmes saw the consequences of his actions, James – predictably, as a teenager with limits – most of the time didn’t consider the consequences of acting on his hunches. I understood that Marney was trying to humanise him by making him miss things or be pre-occupied with his past, but it took away from the genius of Sherlock who was able to separate himself from everything to solve mysteries. And this was where I was so conflicted – as a teenager, James couldn’t be anything like Sherlock and yet I expected this parallel.

“This is me and James – Watts and Mycroft. Two people united by fate, or random chance, or the law of averages, or destiny, or a freak of nature, or pure dumb luck.”

I wasn’t sure about the budding romance between Rachel and James. Watson and Holmes are one of the pairings that no matter the remake, I’m always a bit hesitant to think of as a couple because they work so well platonically. Even by the end I was a bit unsure of it but I will definitely be reading Every Word so will see how that goes.

The plot was where the book fell short for me. I knew who the culprit was but I was hoping beyond hope it wasn’t true because it would follow the cliché format of all the crime/mystery shows I watched. I wanted to be wrong, to be blown away by an unsuspecting person and by clues I hadn’t seen. Sadly, this was not the case; all the clues I saw pointed so obviously to the culprit. And motive? Cliché cliché. The motive was just your average murder mystery which I guessed immediately.

There is no denying Marney’s writing is fantastic. I was immediately hooked in the book and she has strong characters that I could see paralleled with those in Doyle’s work. She uses the Melbourne city as a perfect setting that brings the artistic flair of Melbourne through perfectly.

“Everything in the space is splotched, splashed, dripped and drizzled with colour, standing out in high relief against the pristine walls.”

Overall, I did enjoy this despite the plot. I’m a definite black sheep here. I can safely say many people would enjoy this because the people I know who did read this, had no idea who the culprit was. I don’t think most people would know which is why I think everyone would enjoy this; do try it out because this is a great Aussie YA with wonderful writing and I’m 100% going to get my hands on a copy of Every Word!

“We only have speculation. We don’t have enough facts to work out a theory.”

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summoner: Origins by A.G. Macdonald

I haz vellllyyyy interesting post for you guys today. You see, there is this Aussie author on Twitter whom I talk to about Final Fantasy ... And they're releasing a book. But this book will not be released in the normal manner - it's neither a physical copy NOR an e-book. Have a piqued your interest? Well I should've.

A.G. Macdonald is releasing a web series! How cool is that? I mean I know there are websites like Wattpad that allows people to post stories, but A.G. is doing this really cool thing where, every Thursday, they're posting a chapter of their book Summoner: Origins. Although the wait between chapters is going to kill me.

Summoner: Origins is the prequel story to Summoner. It's described as a mesh of traditional and modern fantasy - but not completely steampunk. Both Summoner: Origins and Summoner are web novels/series.

I can say I've had the privilege to read the beginning of Summoner: Origins AND the first chapter of Summoner. You guys, as a lover of fantasy, I can say this is definitely something to look forward to! Hence, why I'm doing this post. I don't usually promo authors who I don't know much about, but from what I was able to read and glean, the story is very promising.

And now you get to hear the beginning of Summoner: Origins too. Here's the Chapter 1 sneak preview of the audio book for Summoner: Origins

"After scientists discover a way to extract auras from magical creatures, the Arcean Empire sends bounty hunters to harvest them. But one hero, known as the Summoner, will rise up and fight for them, but who is the Summoner?"

Summoner: Origins premieres June 26th 2014 so keep your eyes peeled for more information and who knows I may have something about Summoner in the future (;

Find A.G. Macdonald at the following places:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Discussion Post: Disconnect in the Book Blogging Community

Recently, I started booktubing as some of you may know. For those of you that don't know what booktubing is, it's like us blogging here on Blogger/WordPress but people talk about books through videos on YouTube. There's a whole community of them on there!

Long before I started book blogging, I also had tumblr - I've had one since 2009 and just started using it again. I mainly reblog stuff - fashion, food, landscapes and other elegant/pretty looking things. However, I also found out that there is a WHOLE OTHER book blogging community on there. These book blogs that post reviews just on tumblr, their hauls,  lists, fanart/edits and it's beautiful and wonderful. I recently just started following a lot of them.

What is the disconnect then you say?

Firstly, us Blogger/WordPress bloggers (which is apparently what we're referred to in the other communities) don't interact as much with these other 2 communities. I mean I interact with some booktubers but most have thousands upon thousands of subscribers and I just feel in awe when I watch their videos and I don't comment on their videos like I do blog posts. I basically have never even interacted with the book blogging community on tumblr until these past few weeks when I've dropped a few messages in their Asks.

Secondly, most of us Blogger/WP bloggers interact very closely with authors on Twitter - a lot of Booktubers do too. I'm not sure about the tumblr ones as I know authors use tumblr but tumblr works differently to Twitter. Where we can directly chat with authors on Twitter, tumblr uses 'Ask' functionality. But I still think it's mainly us Blogger/WP bloggers that interact the most (along with those Booktubers that also have a book blog on Blogger/WP). From what I've observed, Twitter is definitely the central hub of where authors hang out and where us fans can get the most recent and accurate news direct from the source.

Thirdly, and the biggest difference I found: tumblr book bloggers and Booktubers don't get as many review copies as us, if at all. The few Aussie ones I talked to on tumblr weren't even sure of how to request review copies - they didn't know that most of the time WE approached the publisher. They seem content with NetGalley, but some posted such lovely reviews I thought - well some of them should be getting review copies. One of my Booktuber friends also mentioned she has JUST been approached by 1 publisher. One. And she'd been booktubing for AGES before I even STARTED book blogging. I definitely have contacts with more than 1 publisher and I was approached as well 1 year after blogging. What this also means is that they miss out on bookish events. The few Aussie book bloggers in these other 2 communities I talked to had absolutely no idea about the various signings we've had in the past, the launches, the book blogging meetups, and things such as the National Book Bloggers Forum. I also wonder: do authors know that their lovely readers on tumblr do giveaways of their books? Because it happens often. Authors on Twitter RT links to our book blog giveaways, but what about Tumblr? Do they know there's a whole community on there who absolutely adore their work?

You might think, well maybe they're content with just NetGalley and reviewing books they buy. And don't get me wrong, that's great. But it also means they're missing out on a lot - especially with regards to events and hearing about book news. Most importantly though, they miss out on when the latest books come out and the opportunity to read and review these before they are released to spread the book love in their respective communities.

What do you guys think about this? Am I wrong? This is just what I've observed. Should we be doing something to bridge this gap? I know that PTA has a tumblr account which really helps those with Aussie book news related to Penguin Teen and a lot of the US pubs do too... But what about other Aussie book news?

Lucy over at Queen of Contemporary also recently addressed the disconnect between the book bloggers and booktubers. Read her post here:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Book Swap for PTA Live Sydney 2014

PenguinTeen Australia Live is fast approaching for Sydney! I hope to see many of you on the 16th of June to discuss many things relating to bookish awesome.

As this is one of very few chances that many of us will get to see each other I thought it'd be good to do a book swap. We all have books we've read and don't want, or books we're willing to share with others because we want to share the love, so why not do it at PTA Live? I'm anticipating this to be a really large gathering so I thought it'd be the perfect opportunity.

Here's how it's going to work - if you guys think this is a good idea I'll put up a Google form where we can put in the books we're each willing to swap out.
For the sake of clarity I was thinking of dividing this into categories:

  • Book(s) we're willing to GIVE to other people which we don't want - these are for keeps for whoever claims it
  • Book(s) we're willing to LEND out for an unspecified length of time - it's assumed the owner won't really mind when/if this gets returned
  • Book(s) we're willing to LEND out as long as the borrower gives it back - either by meeting up or through mail which the owner will specify
Please comment below on your opinion on the matter and if you'd be considering participating c:

Here's the link to the gDoc:

Note: this is NOT organised by PTA at all. They don't have anything to do with it. The books we are lending fall under the responsibility of the respective owners. We are just using PTA Live Sydney gathering as a venue to swap!

Monday, June 2, 2014

DNF Review: Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon

Firstly, thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for this ARC <3

Date Read: May 17 - 23 2014
Release Date: June 5th 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Source: ARC via publisher
Genre: Steampunk
My rating:  (DNF at page 225)

"Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.
So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all . . ."


I would like to point out that I really admire Lucy Saxon for writing a book at such a young age. She’s got a lot of potential and talent. To get a book published at only 19 is a wonderful achievement and I commend her on that.

When I received Take Back the Skies at the beginning of March I actually wasn’t planning on reading it. However, as the release day draws closer the hype kept building and I thought, well maybe I should check it out. In a way I’m glad I did because I can see Saxon’s potential and how, with work, this could really get better with a couple more books.

The synopsis of this book implies that the protagonist Catherine escapes her stifling and privileged life by stowing away on an airship and having a wonderful adventure on board it. This was not the case. I was imagining something along the lines of Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff, or Final Fantasy X/Final Fantasy X-2/Final Fantasy XII and Howl’s Moving Castle. In fact, there is only one short journey on the airship and that’s it. The majority of the book is dealing with a government conspiracy and occurs on land.

Catherine Hunter is born into a privileged life as she’s the daughter of a government official. However, she despises the opulence she’s given and longs to get away. At only 14 I found this extremely implausible as her sympathising with the poor was just going a bit too far. I understood that her sneaking out at night to admire the airships allowed her to see the poverty of those around her but she wasn’t ever grateful for what was given to her. I really didn’t understand her hate towards her father – it wasn’t the familial hate we see in abusive parents where the child still feels an obligation to the parent. No, this was outright hate like she was a stranger without familial ties. I could understand that if she didn’t live with her father and distance made the relationship detached but she actually lived with him! And other than being overly strict, I couldn’t see what Nathaniel Hunter ever really did to her to warrant such loathing. Cat’s spirit is definitely admirable but her ambitious nature was not relatable at all. At 14 she thinks that she can change the world – that it’s easy. We all know this is not true but Saxon writes it as if it is so.

“How she wished to fly a skyship: the freedom, the boundless space, with no expectations from anyone but herself and her crew.”

The secondary characters were either all too nice or all too horrible in nature. There was this distinct black and white which I thought made the book even more naïve. I like books that have lots of grey space because it makes me question what’s right and wrong – that a lot of the time there is no right or wrong because that is humanity. Take Back the Skies was just too easy – these are the good guys and these are the bad guys. The crew on the airship were meant to have distinct personalities and I could see Saxon try to bring that through but why were they all so bloody nice? And the bad guys were oh so evil. Basically everyone was divided into these two groups and because of that I found absolutely no depth to anyone.

Of course there had to be a love interest and the romance could have been likable. Fox was the only ‘good’ guy that didn’t seem like he was under Cat’s spell. Or so we think. He was just hot and cold all the time without reasoning – I’m sure it was meant to show he was affected by Cat but I just couldn’t understand his vehemence towards her sometimes. He would get so worked about the littlest things or nothing at all. And then our little Cat, who seems so strong gets all flustered when he’s around. I couldn’t tell if it was insta-attraction for her or insta-love but it was borderline insta-love because by the time I stopped reading at page 225, they’d only known each other ONE WEEK. At four days of their knowing each other Cat herself had said something along the lines of “don’t you know me at all by now?” and how she couldn’t believe Fox didn’t trust her. Four days kid. YOU’VE KNOWN HIM FOUR DAYS. Basically everybody I’ve known my whole life I don’t trust. Trust is a hard thing to come by. So no. This just did not work.

“I don’t know you!”

“Believe what you’ve learned since you met me… Just trust me.”

I was expecting fantastic world-building because this is technically a steampunk. Sadly this failed in every respect. I wanted fantastic descriptions of the world as they flew to Siberene – I was expecting beautiful landscapes with intricate, picturesque descriptions of the palette of the islands and the sea. All I got was that the sky is apparently pretty and that there were large mountains. No showing, just telling. I wanted to hear more about these freaky storm barriers that the ship had to fly through. I was told this and then it was completely skipped over – I was waiting for the airship to be thrown about, for fierce winds and rain pelting the potholes. Nope. There is actually barely any flying in this at all which really disappointed me. Cat’s stowing away on the Stormdancer is just a trip to Siberene and back to Anglya which spans only a few chapters.

“Clouds drifted lazily above them, the endless blue-grey sea churned far below them…”

The plot was so darn convenient. Cat says let’s save the world and bring the revolution. Whole crew is suddenly on board with a 14 year-old’s plan. What about the consequences of this – who will rule the country? Basically, everything just resolves itself and I hated the convenience of everything. Cat gets into trouble, Fox saves the day. Cat sneaks around, doesn’t seem to ever get caught. Miraculously find out the plot twist by killing two birds with one stone and everything is just THERE all in one place. The writing itself was of the fantasy style – seemingly sophisticated and less colloquial but somehow it was so cliché it read like a children’s book.

“Cat’s right; we’ve been letting it lie for far too long now. The government seems to be escalating their plans, and who knows what their next step is.”

I just couldn’t deal with this book. The characters lacked depth, there was no world building, the plot was too convenient and the writing plain cringe-worthy. I have heard some people loved this so I guess it’s one of those hit or miss things. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it more than I did.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May Wrap Up & Book Haul

I used to do Stacking the Shelves every so often but I've decided to instead do monthly book hauls now as a video with a wrap up post here. I just can't find the time to film bookhauls weekly and I also receive books sporadically - I can go a whole fortnight without receiving any, or like last week, I received about 10 books in the space of 5 days!


Book Haul


Clicking on the links will take you to the Goodreads page.

Thank you!



Tenks Bloomsbury Australia and Harlequin Teen Australia for these galleys <3

Physical Review Copies:

Fanks Allen & Unwin, Bloomsbury Australia, Hachette Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia, Penguin Books Australia and Walker Books Australia for the awesome <3


Yassssss. Time to get reading!