Review: Leap by Myfanwy Jones

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

25015111Leap by Myfanwy Jones
Released: 1st June 2015
Published by: Allen and Unwin
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 336
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | QBD
A few weeks after finishing their final exams high school sweethearts have an argument at a party. Joe wants to go - Jen begs him to stay. They fight in the corridor, following their usual script, and then he walks out and leaves her. A few hours later she dies. Three years on, after burning up his own dreams for the future, Joe is working in dead-end jobs and mentoring a wayward teenager not dissimilar from his younger self. Driven by the need to make good, he spends all his spare time doing parkour under an inner-city bridge, training his mind and body to conquer the hostile urban environment that took his love and blighted his future.

Somewhere else, a middle-aged woman, Elise, is treading water in her life as her marriage breaks up. We watch as she retreats to the only place that holds any meaning for her - the tiger enclosure at Melbourne Zoo, where, for reasons she barely understands, she starts painting the tigers and forms a close connection to them. Joe is broken by grief, but the outside world won't let him hide forever. A cool and bewitching girl turns up on the doorstep of his share house, somehow painfully familiar to him. Then there is the skateboarding chef at the bar where he works, the girl with the Cossack-blue eyes, who wants to be his friend. And someone going by the Facebook tag Emily Dickinson wants to reminisce about his dead girlfriend and won't leave him alone.

Can Joe staunch the flooding return of desire - or is it time to let go of the past? And will he make the nine-foot leap from girder to pillar or does he want to fall too? While at its heart is a searing absence,

Leap is driven by an unstoppable and exhilarating life force, and the eternally hopeful promise of redemptive love. Funny, moving, quirky and original, Leap is an effortlessly enjoyable novel that quietly creeps up on you until its final jaw-dropping pages and a narrative twist that will take your breath away.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Leaving grief behind is a journey, and a difficult one at that. Though it is an inevitable aspect of the human experience, it is no less evocative than any other emotion. In fact, it can be the most poignant of all. It is this sentiment which Leap conveys - how grief is multifaceted and experienced in different ways, and how hope can shine through the cracks in ways which we might not see coming. 

Everything about Joe's life had taken a negative turn after the death of his girlfriend Jen. There's a strain on his relationship with the rest of his family and he relies on his adrenaline-raising stunts to avoid his true feelings. I liked how there were some valuable lessons to be found in this book, the first being that grief is something which can't be simply pushed away without being confronted first. Joe's path towards a happier life is one with its own obstacles, mysteries and a touch of the supernatural which all converge to make this story one that is both moving and unique.

Another element of the novel which caught my attention was Elise's plight. Dealing with her own personal struggles and degraded marriage, she seeks solace in watching the tigers at the zoo. She draws them and is mesmerised by their sublime majesty - their fierceness and power. And here we find another important point - nature has a cathartic effect on us, and seeing how the animal kingdom operates with its natural order can help us understand ourselves. If we are only willing to take the leap, both literally and figuratively - then things may just get better and we can find peace with the present.

Profound - that's one word to describe how the whole story comes together, when the intricacies of the plotline are revealed in full. Though there were some points where the pace lagged, overall the beauty of this book is at its pinnacle when you have that light bulb moment when the fog clears and links are made which make so much sense. This is a satisfying read in the end that although not rigidly complete, offers a comforting sense of hope.


Leap is a contemporary novel rich with metaphors and meaning, offering powerful insight into grief and how it affects individuals differently. 

Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Monday, 29 June 2015

23482825Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella 
Released: 9th June 2015
Published by: Doubleday Children's
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 288
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
Audrey can't leave the house. she can't even take off her dark glasses inside the house.

Then her brother's friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again - well, Starbucks is a start.And with Linus at her side,

Audrey feels like she can do the things she'd thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable. Be prepared to laugh, dream and hope with Audrey as she learns that even when you feel like you have lost yourself, love can still find you . . .
Thank you to Random House Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Finding Audrey is my first Sophie Kinsella novel, and after reading this quirky yet insightful story of one girl searching for herself outside of her mental illness - I know I'm going to want to read more. This is a book that will make you smile, or even actually laugh out loud. While it is undeniable that social anxiety disorder and other forms of depression are serious issues in themselves, having that portrayed in this way through one girl's experiences with a focus on family and finding the courage to move forward was refreshing, and made for a story which I could definitely re-read in future. 

What instantly draws us into Audrey's world is her speaking directly to us readers. Not being able to leave the house and wearing sunglasses all the time after this one defining incident at her old school made her trapped in the confines of her life. What this book did explore well I feel is the preconceived notions people have when they witness someone else acting differently, not realising that mental illness is often something hidden. For example, seeing Audrey's 24/7 sunglasses wouldn't necessarily tell you that she was someone who perhaps wanted to hide from the rest of the world - and taking them off would really mean something. Sophie Kinsella has a sensitive touch in writing this, and all throughout the humorous tone was right in balance with grounding those deeper issues. Even if you haven't experienced mental illness yourself, I think everyone could relate to this book in some way. Yes, we all have imperfections and own challenges to overcome, but we don't have to let those define us. Audrey herself was a perfect example of that quality - she still had her own unique personality and wit in abundance. Some of her backstory is revealed which provides a glimpse into why she developed anxiety, but while these teasers were adequate I do wish we had the whole explanation.

However, Audrey does develop as a character, not only because she had the strength to do so but because others around her were that catalyst for change. Linus brought her confidence, and while perhaps even he couldn't fully comprehend the extent of her situation, he did push her boundaries. There was a cute relationship between them, and in some parts I just wanted to give this book a hug because it was adorable. Family also has a role to play, though with an eccentric/obsessive worrywart of a mother it definitely wasn't the perfect picture. Her younger brother Felix was so nice to get to know though, and it just goes to show how children can see the world in such a blissfully whimsical way. 


Humourous, heartwarming and with a sense of hopefulness, Finding Audrey is a novel which is
worth reading more than once. It shows that a mental illness doesn't have to become the be-all-and-end-all for someones state of existence. Although it has an impact on the person, it's someone's vibrant personality which can still shine through.

Genie's Weekly News (37)

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Hi everyone and welcome to my weekly blog feature to recap the week with bookish news and what to expect coming up! So without further ado...

*Currently Reading*

*In The Bookish World*

That's right - The #SparkArmy will be proud to reveal the long-awaited cover for Stray by Rachael Craw this week, and let me tell you - I love it already! 

Author Jessica Brooks has some fantastic US + International giveaways happening on her blog at the moment which are ending soon! Click the image to go to the page.

*Previous Posts*

*Recommendation of the Week*


Aussie YA at its best - poignant, edgy and memorable.

*From The Interwebs*

*Book Haul*

Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia and Penguin Teen Australia for the review copies!

  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir - I got this in a trade with Chelsea @ Booknerdigans and am so excited to reading it since I've heard only good things!
  • Legend by Marie Lu - Another trade with Chelsea, and I've wanted to start this series for what feels like forever. Now I can!
  • Letters from Skye - My final trade with Chelsea, and I love the sound of this historical fiction novel told with letters. 
  • Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas - I've heard some mixed reviews for this one, but being allergic to electricity is definitely something interesting.
  • The Almost King by Lucy Saxon - It's been a while since I'v read Take Back the Skies, which was okay, but I'm hoping this one is better.
  • The Devil You Know by Trish Doller - So this is one of those books I've REALLY been looking forward to this year, and I can't wait to get to it ASAP.
  • Dumplin' by Julie Murphy - I now have an extra ARC of this since I got one from TeenCon, so I *may* be doing a giveaway for it at some point...stay tuned.
  • Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle - I won this from Tash @ Confessions From Romaholics and can't wait to read this Aussie YA contemporary.

*Giveaway Reminder*

My giveaway is ending very soon!

How has your week been? 

Review: Fable - Short Story Collection

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Illustrations by Ricardo Jorge
Fable by Kate Forsyth, Lucy Balmer, Hoofr J.L. Baldock, Gareth Brierley, Michelle Madsen, Eli Lee and Krisham Coupland
Series: Staves 1-8
Released: 15th May 2015
Published by: Pigeonhole Publishing
Genre: Fairytale/Folklore short stories
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Read Stave 1
Talking badgers and salacious pixies. Impossible promises and broken hope. Exploring the fairy-tale evolution, Fable brings new tales formed from old skin with original inventions to boot. Spanning across three continents, Fable draws together some of the most beloved, or even feared, fairy tales while bringing to light those lesser known.
Thank you to Pigeonhole Publishing for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Fable is a collection of short stories in eight 'staves', incorporating a mix of old an new, fairytale and folklore, modern day and historical settings. In this engaging anthology, there's a seamless blend of different cultures and plotlines which all combine beautifully to produce a work which is both enchanting and captivating.

The text opens with two existing stories, Ashenputtel by the Brothers Grimm and The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson. Having these well-known tales at the beginning drew me right in, and is a reminder to how much the original versions differ from the Disney interpretations we've seen. Cinderella as it turns out had step sisters who were willing to go much further to get that shoe to fit than we may have first thought, and though Andersen's tale did have more of a resemblance to the simplified version children are told today it was still fascinating to read what it actually was back when it was first published. In all, having these two examples of classic fairytales at the beginning set the tone well. However, different from what I expected - things did actually get more and more modern and whimsical.

In the second stave Kate Forsyth's writing is introduced which I found particularly intriguing with the story The Three Sons of Ada. I have loved both Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl, both of which draw on fairytales and their origins, so it was interesting to see her writing skills once again come through here. While there are a few more stories which draw on a more traditionalist style, there are also instances where the stories take a very modern stance. Rumpelstiltskin for example gets a creative twist put in, as well as a story that does herald some of its roots from Sleeping Beauty. While towards the end things took quite a strange turn and I couldn't quite see where things were going, on the whole I found the stories to be both innovative and refreshingly different with a dash of the old.


From dark cottages and forests to out modern world of today, Fable is an anthology quite unlike anything I have read before. If you're looking for a glimpse into fantasy both then and now with the perspective of lots of different authors then this is for you.

{Blog Tour} Review & GIVEAWAY: The Girl I Was Before by Ginger Scott

Friday, 26 June 2015

The Girl I Was Before by Ginger Scott
Released: 23rd June 2015
Series: Falling #3
Genre: NA Contemporary
Source: Author
Pages: 273
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Google Play | Barnes and Noble | Kobo
I’m the selfish one. I suppose that’s the nicest thing people say about me. I’ve heard the other things, too. “Paige Owens is a pretty girl with nothing else to offer. She’s just a good time at a party. She’s stupid, heartless, cold and useless. All she cares about is getting a guy to look at her. Why would anyone want to be her friend?” Some of those things are true. Others were true. They’re all hurtful. None of it matters. I’m ready to make the hard choices. I’m ready to face the consequences. I’m ready to be the girl I was before, and I’m done being the one who lost her way. I’m ready to become the girl Houston Orr sees when he looks at me. Houston isn’t a star athlete. He doesn’t play in a band. He’s never going to be president, and his life is so far away from simple and easy it isn’t even funny.

 He wasn’t part of my plan. But I’m starting to think plans are overrated, and maybe our stories are what we make them. And mine depends entirely on me, and the choices I make…starting now. Houston is my fairytale. He’s perfectly imperfect. He’s poetry and life. He’s truth and heartbreak, all rolled up in a tall body with dark hair, broad shoulders and green eyes that lull me into submission. He’s nothing I ever thought I wanted, but the very thing I need. He’s the only guy I’ve ever really loved, and he thinks I’m a princess. I fell into him, and now I’m holding on. But sometimes life takes away our ability to choose. Sometimes…things aren’t in your control. Sometimes, it hurts to be selfless.

My only hope is that when it comes time to choose, I get it right. Welcome to my once upon a time and wish for happily ever after.
I've loved this series ever since I read This is Falling, and it was fantastic to see it continue where each main character has their spotlight and they develop through every story. In The Girl I Was Before I can sincerely say that Ginger Scott has done it again in producing a story with realistic characters and a heartwarming romance while still demonstrating the intrinsic importance of family who are there throughout the good and the bad.

What I think really works in a book like this is the two POV's we're exposed to. Both from Paige and Houston who we have met before in the previous novels, seeing a relationship blossom between them, with hardships in between, was wonderful from both their perspectives. What's even better? - This isn't a good-girl-meets-bad-boy story, and neither is it the smart girl falling for the 'jock' (although I have to say that this author has done both of those storylines really well with some of her other books). In this case, Houston does computer science, and Paige is pretty much an academic all-rounder, especially in Spanish. What makes this book different I think is that it illustrates different personalities and how they complement each other, and how couples have to work through their issues when obstacles come up. There was some college drama in between, and sorority mean-girls to contend with, but what was a really smart move was actually making something out of that stereotype which had a real impact on the main storyline. I won't say too much, but what I can tell you is that as with all of Ginger Scott's work - there are twists where you least expect them! And you know what, that's just the way I like a novel - especially when it's a contemporary.

I've learned that life twists and turns on you, that unexpected shit falls in your lap, and sometimes it's a blessing and other times it's your worst nightmare. Through all of that, I've learned that wasting time missing out on the things that really matter is just that - a waste of time.

Of course, this wouldn't be a Ginger Scott novel without family playing an important role. I love how the characters from the previous books in the series got involved in this one, and especially exploring further the bond between Cass and Paige, There's also some complex dynamics going on in Houston's household, where there are more twists abound, but I'll leave that to you to find out! There are some really sweet moments though and some parts that you can't help but go 'aaaaaaaw!'. 


Though I'm sad that this might be the end of Rowe, Tyson, Cass and Paige's stories, it was still amazing in its own right. I have enjoyed every page of getting to know these characters, through their moments of hardship and happiness, and can't wait to see what Ginger Scott will write next. 


About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling author of eight young and new adult
romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How
We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, Wild
Reckless and The Girl I Was Before.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she

often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot
quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has
been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than
15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors,
scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work,
visit her website at

When she's not writing, the odds are high that she's somewhere near a

baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce
Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona
Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college
sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork 'em, Devils).

Twitter: @TheGingerScott

Mini Reviews: A Soulprint for the Haunting where There Will Be Lies and Miracles

Thursday, 25 June 2015

As you can probably tell from the title, this post is going to include my condensed thoughts on a range of books (with titles that can make some pretty interesting sentences). 

17985564Soulprint by Megan Miranda
Released: 12th February 2015
Published by: Bloomsbury
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Source: Publisher
Pages: 368
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
Alina Chase has spent her entire life in confinement. With the science of soul-printing now a reality, she is 'protected' for her own safety - and the safety of others - because her soul has done terrible things ...or so she's told. When Alina finally breaks out of prison, helped by a group of people with unclear motives, she begins to uncover clues left by her past life that only she can decipher. And she may not be as innocent as she once believed.

Can Alina change her future, or is she fated to repeat her past and face the consequences?
Thank you to  Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Soulprint for me is a book that had a great premise and overarching concept, but I just couldn't connect with the characters or the story as much as I would have liked. The futuristic, pseudo-scientific ideas of 'stealing souls' and having the implications of that be so far-reaching for people was definitely interesting, and not something I've seen too often in YA. The only book I've read which has a similar idea is 'What's Left of Me' by Kat Zhang.

I feel her in me - the parts of her I like, the parts I struggle against, all of them - and I gather her close. 

In any case, while the beginning was hard to get into, the pace did start to pick up after that, and Alina's character underwent some development. Dealing with the soul of a criminal isn't easy, and what did add to my interest for this book was her internal struggle and conflict regarding her identity and differentiating her own character from the other soul to contend with.  


In all, this was a satisfying read with an idea that believable enough to keep you reading.

20617945There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake
Released: 6th January 2015
Published by: Bloomsbury
Genre: YA Mystery
Source: Publisher
Pages: 464
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
In four hours, Shelby Jane Cooper will be struck by a car. Shortly after, she and her mother will leave the hospital and set out on a winding journey toward the Grand Canyon. All Shelby knows is that they’re running from dangers only her mother understands. And the further they travel, the more Shelby questions everything about her past—and her current reality.

Forced to take advantage of the kindness of unsuspecting travelers, Shelby grapples with what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can trust . . . if anybody. Award-winning author Nick Lake proves his skills as a master storyteller in this heart-pounding new novel. This emotionally charged thrill ride leads to a shocking ending that will have readers flipping back to the beginning.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

Well I can definitely say that There Will Be Lies is unique..albeit really strange. As a thriller it definitely keeps you guessing, and with an unreliable narrator even us readers call into question. With an unconventional writing style and structure, strong narrative voice and a twists coming from every direction - I did end up enjoying this book despite its intrinsic weirdness.

Shelby had lived a really sheltered life with her domineering mother before being hit by a car when everything changes. We are first told this by Shelby herself, and it's interesting how the whole story is her recapping what's happened - all in her very sarcastic narrative voice. She was definitely an interesting character to read about, and while you may be taken aback by all the conversations being in italics at first, there is an explanation. What I still couldn't figure out though was what the parentheses were in different places - was it a part of a conversation she couldn't understand or is there some other explanation? Regardless, she was a complex character, and her confusion and frustration as to what the heck was going on is something that I could resonate with - because for the most part I felt the same.

There is a recurring star motif which was nice, and when there is this alternate reality shift into 'The Dreaming' it was interesting at first. However, once we had visited it a few times I did find myself just wanting to skip to what was happening in the much more thrilling real world. Who can be trusted? Can you tell a lie from the truth? Where are the boundaries of reality? This book definitely keeps your mind whirring as to all the possibilities, and at the end it does all come together in some way.


Though it took me a while to read this book, once I picked it up again I did find myself drawn into the web of lies and mystery as this unique story unfolded. If you're looking for a book that will keep you turning the pages to chase up the answers, then this is for you.

23652528The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Released: 21st June 2012
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Genre: YA Contemporary/Apocalyptic
Source: Publisher
Pages: 384
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
Luminous, haunting, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles is a stunning fiction debut by a superb new writer, a story about coming of age during extraordinary times, about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty. On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray.

Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life--the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

 With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

I really loved The Age of Miracles the first time I read it when it was released, and now re-reading it has brought back the memories of why I did find it so fascinating and unputdownable. This is a book that takes a glimpse into the seemingly ordinary lives of people, faced with a situation that rocks the very core of their existence. The one thing that could seem so constant in our lives...that night follows day and the earth keeps spinning is something which we shouldn't have to think about - it just happens. Yet, it's so fascinating to read a story that takes what sounds so bizarre a situation and subtly explores one family in particular and how they react.

I should have known by then that it's never the disasters you see coming that finally come to pass; it's the ones you don't expect at all.

The phenomenon of 'the slowing' as it becomes known has a profound impact on eleven year old Julie especially. This coming-of-age story is unlike any other I've read. Not only did the characters all have their small nuances and have their own way of coping with this looming disaster, but Julia was very easy to connect with and likable. Sure, the pacing isn't zooming past, but the plot just flows really well and the writing is so lyrical and insightful. 


The Age of Miracles is one of the best coming-of-age novels I have ever read. It's a book that I've now re-read, and can see myself looking back at again in the future. I can't wait to see what Karen Thompson Walker writes next. 

23634169The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie
Released: 26th March 2015
Published by: Pan Macmillan
Genre: YA Paranormal/Horror
Source: Publisher
Pages: 301
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as “ Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.”

YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine—the adorkable girl living in a haunted house—a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine…
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was more of a paranormal YA novel, than one which truly had the ability to scare, but I still really enjoyed it nonetheless. It did have all the elements of what a good creepy story should have - an old house where there are strange noises, a ghost doing the haunting, and a main character who finds it hard to make people believe what she sees.

Now, I haven't read a good ghost story in a while, and I don't watch that many horror movies - but this did seem pretty mild. I think it did read in a somewhat cinematic fashion though, however the plot developments did happen quite slowly overall. We get a glimpse at the 'typical' signs of a ghost lurking - unexplained occurrences, a cold chill coming into the room and the inhabitant of the house trying to solve why they are there. Despite these apparent cliches, I still found myself somewhat invested in Sunshine's story. The cute friendship/romance in the mix was a nice touch to take a break from the real mystery at hand. Though the twist was one I saw coming, even then I found myself flicking through the pages wanting to know how it all would end.


Though I wouldn't say this is a book to 'read with the lights on' necessarily (unless you are very easily freaked out), this is still a decent contemporary novel with a paranormal element. It didn't scare my socks off, but perhaps if I had read it on a 'dark and stormy night' then it would have.


ARC Review: Risk by Fleur Ferris

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

24973955Risk by Fleur Ferris
Released: 1st July 2015
Published by: Random House Australia Children's
Genre: YA Mystery/Contemporary
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 288
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Booktopia | QBD
Taylor and Sierra have been best friends for their whole lives. But Taylor’s fed up. Why does Sierra always get what – and who – she wants?

From kissing Taylor’s crush to stealing the guy they both met online for herself, Sierra doesn’t seem to notice when she hurts her friends. So when Sierra says Jacob Jones is the one and asks her friends to cover for her while she goes to meet him for the first time, Taylor rolls her eyes. But Sierra doesn’t come back when she said she would. One day. Two days. Three . . . What if Taylor’s worrying for nothing? What if Sierra’s just being Sierra, forgetting about everyone else to spend time with her new guy?

When Taylor finally tells Sierra’s mum that her daughter is missing, Taylor and her friends are thrown into a dark world they never even knew existed.

Can Taylor find Sierra’s abductor in time? Or should she be looking for a killer?
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley

How safe are you online? How much do you share? Who is seeing it? It is these questions which Fleur Ferris's thought-provoking debut novel Risk raises, and with shocking results. The presence of online predators is unfortunately a chilling reality, and there are grim consequences when swept up in a dangerous web of lies.

The feeling inside me is numbness. A massive, strange void that makes me feel like my body's not mine. My mind has detached itself from my body and I feel nothing. 

This book has quite a smart construction, as from the start it seems that there's some typical teenage drama happening - two best friends, one bright and popular while the other can't take her seriously. Crushes, boyfriends and school are covered...until Sierra and Taylor start talking to guys on MysteryChat online. Though many of us readers will sit there and say 'how could they be so stupid?', the truth is that some girls will fall into these traps, and at just fourteen years old - they're more vulnerable than ever. However, this almost cloying beginning soon gives way to the more sinister underlying danger which lurks behind the screen. There was an unexpected turn quite early on which caught me off guard, and the story took on a different path than I had anticipated. Not only is there that 'shock' factor, but one which makes you take a step back and evaluate how you act online. The didactic nature of this novel just adds a whole other dimension and makes it a memorable one.

There is a crescendo when the adults become involved, which was an essential aspect. In some books the adults are barely even mentioned, let alone play a major role in any of the developments. What got a big tick from me in this case is that they were present, and though Sierra missing did have an impact on her friends, especially Taylor, the adults also had an important stance in the storyline. There is definitely a holistic exploration of characters in Risk which made everything well-rounded and compulsively readable. 

Something black is inside me, lurking just out of reach. I can't grasp it, but it's there, heavy, filling every crevice as I move.

To realise that a pedophile had effectively 'groomed' your best friend before she disappears is chilling to say the least, and obviously has an enormous emotional impact. The flow-on effects from one major event really demonstrates the extent to which one girl's fate can change the people around her. The author captured the emotional ramifications in such a realistic way and it drew me into the lives of these fictional characters as if they were real. Taylor's initiative and her own relationship made her a likable character, and just the anguish of it all was executed perfectly. Though there was that little something which perhaps could have added an extra kick near the end, there was definitely a fair share of drama throughout and suspense in abundance. 

Anger pulses through my veins, but it is not anger at Jacob Jones. It is anger at me. My stupidity and carelessness. I should have swallowed my pride and gone with Sierra. 


In all, Risk is a compelling and didactic novel which depicts a situation that could be all too real. Though the bar was set high for this one, I'm happy to say that I enjoyed it, and would recommend it to anyone who reads YA as it has an important message at its core. As a piece of Australian YA, it is a shining example of just how talented local authors are! I can't wait to read whatever Fleur Ferris writes next, because after this fantastic debut, she sure is one to watch.

ARC Review: The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward
Series: Potion #1
Released: 2nd July 2015
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Genre: YA Magical Realism
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

 Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company?

Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime? And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. No big deal, then.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

The Potion Diaries is a fine example of magical realism in a creative and adventurous story with a hint of humour in the mix. This is a book which yes, I did find a little strange at first, though once the real action began the pages started to fly by. It's not exactly a story that's 'hardcore' fantasy by any means, yet by incorporating elements of our own world into one where alchemy and magic prevails, I still found it quite engaging.

If Harry Potter taught us anything - it's that a) potions can be temperamental to make, and b) love potions are both difficult to get right and dangerous if used incorrectly. In this story, a love potion has had an affect on the Princess in the Novaen Kingdom in a much different way than expected. Usually one would think that such a potion would, you know, work on someone else. But what made this book so quirky is that the Princess....falls in love with HERSELF - or at least, her own alter-ego. Now this is just one small aspect of the novel as a whole and I don't want to give too much away, but some of the sections from Princess Evelyn's POV were just plain hilarious. I really liked the light-heartedness of the plot as whole, and though there were some aspects which I would have preferred to see more 'flow' in, it still kept me engaged.

Samantha Kemi works with her Granddad as an alchemist with their old-fashioned ways, and is summoned to 'The Hunt' among other competitors to find a cure for the princess. Contrasting 'traditional' methods of making potions with the 'synths' used by big corporations like ZA was a nice choice in differentiating the magic world. The magical world and the real world didn't seem to be interacting all too seamlessly from the start, but I suppose the focus really is on this supernatural side of things anyway. Sam was a pretty well-developed character, and it was nice to get to know the rest of her family, especially her grandfather who was quite an interesting one. Her relationships with her sister, her Finder Kristy and her parents, along with some glimpse at a romance further along added some depth and made the plot more realistic.

The bulk of the novel though is the adventure element - a race against time to find the ingredients for the love potion cure. There is a battle between good and evil, mistakes are made, friendships are tested and even lives are at stake. Through it all, Sam's knowledge of what typical ingredients could be used and their purpose in potions were great in terms of world-building. Although some scenes were bordering on the melodramatic and cheesy side, there was a sense of satisfaction at the ending, and I'm sure more will be revealed as to what happens next in the second book of the series. 


The Potion Diaries is a light and enjoyable read which will transport you into a world like our own, but with something refreshingly magical. Though it wasn't perfect, this book ticked most of the boxes for me and its quirky charm makes for a spellbinding read.

The Real Neat Blog Award

Monday, 22 June 2015

Firstly, thanks so much to Brett for tagging me in this! It seems like a fun way to spread more positivity in the blogging world and answer some fun questions in the process.

These are the rules:

Answer the five questions of the person who nominated you, then nominate four or five other blogs and ask them five new questions.
And here are my answers to Brett's questions:

1. What was the last book you finished?

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut - I read this for school, and though it is one of the stranger novels I've come across, I did really enjoy it!

2. What is your favourite ‘classic’ book?

Gah this is a tough one - but I'll go with Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It's a classic that's really stuck with me since I've read it.

3. Where (and when) do you like to read?

Usually before I go to sleep since them I'm relaxed, or on lazy weekend afternoons.

4. What book/s on your bookshelf do you treasure the most?

I feel like saying 'all of them!', though if I had to choose, my signed copies of Jackie French's novels and books from other authors which I've met at events and had signed are special. Others include my favourites like The Rosie Black Chronicles by Lara Morgan, and even my well-worn copy of The BFG by Roald Dahl.

5. If you could talk with any author (alive or dead), who would it be, and why?

Another tough question! I think it would be pretty interesting to talk to F. Scott Fitzgerald - I'd love to know from a writer's perspective what it was really like to live in the 1920's.
My questions:

1. What is your favourite book from your childhood?
2. Who is your favourite OTP?
3. What is the best book you've read this year?
4. Favourite bookish quote?
5. What book do you think would make a great movie?
I tag:

Cait @ Paper Fury
Cassie @ Cassie the Weird

Genie's Weekly News (36)

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Hi everyone and welcome to my weekly blog feature to recap the week with bookish news and what to expect coming up! So without further ado...

*Missed me?*

Basically, with a heap of exams near the end of term I just couldn't blog/read as much as I normally do and had to prioritise. Though this year isn't the 'be all and end all', putting in the effort to get the results is still important to me so I had to do what I had to do and take a step back.

BUT. Exams (for now) are over! And the results I've been getting back so far have been worth it.

So now instead of going like this for studying:

It can now be because I've been up late reading. Much better.

*In The Bookish World*

Other Aussie YA bloggers will have found out about a blogger night happening at one of the major publishing houses...and there is much speculation as to who the big 'special guest' might be.

I have a few theories, but who knows??? Either way, I'm excited!

*From The Interwebs*

*Haul - Physical Books*

Thank you to HarperCollins, Walker Books, Simon and Schuster, Text Publishing and Five Mile Press for the review copies!

Ophelia by Jackie French - If there's one thing to know about me, it's that I love Jackie French's works. I really enjoyed 'I Am Juliet', so this one looking at a character from 'Hamlet' should be just as interesting.

Remix by Non Pratt - I haven't really read books set around music/music festivals, so this looks like a fun read.

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider - I've been seeing some good things about this already, and the premise is a heart-wrenching contemporary with all the feels.

Afterlight by Rebecca Lim - Creepy and thrilling with a touch of the supernatural? I'm looking forward to seeing how this goes.

Burn by Paula Weston - With a very convincing quote from Melanie @ YA Midnight Reads, a very well respected fellow YA Aussie blogger - I just know I have to start this series ASAP! Plus, I haven't read a book about angels since...the Hush Hush series, so it's definitely time for something new.

How to be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski - A road trip, three teenage girls, secrets and drama - I love a good contemporary.

The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers - This is a trade thanks to Jeann @ Happy Indulgence as part of #booksfortradeAU. Sometimes it's nice to switch up the contemporary and sci-fi with something creepy, so I hope to get to this one soon.

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner - Another trade thanks to Jeann, and since I've had my eye on this for a while, I'm definitely excited to see how it fares.

Inside Game of Thrones Season 3 & 4 - I won this beauty from Hachette Australia! At least while recovering from the season finale, I can find comfort in looking back at the good old days when some characters were actually ALIVE.

*Haul - Ebooks* 

I've been very fortunate on Netgalley to get approved for those first three, and The Girl I Was Before is by Ginger Scott who I am a big fan of! Oh and I'm reading Risk by Fleur Ferris at the moment and really loving it - it's creepy, but addictive and you can see how it could be so real.

*What I've Been Watching*

After that SHOCKING!!!!!!! Game of Thrones season finale, I've been in a bit of a TV-series hangover.

I had...a lot of feelings after that episode. It was EPIC for sure, but STILL. People who have watched it will understand...

But I am on the lookout for historical drama again, so leave your recommendations in the comments below!

*Giveaway Reminder*

How has your week been?