Waiting on Wednesday: Wreck

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where the participants tell their readers about an upcoming release they are waiting to read. This week I've picked Wreck by Fleur Ferris.

Tamara Bennett is going to be the first journalist to strictly report only good news. Finished with high school, Tamara is ready to say goodbye to her sleepy little town and part-time job at the local paper.

O-weeks awaits, which means parties, cute boys and settling into student res with her best friend Relle.

Things take an unexpected turn, however, when she arrives home to find her house ransacked and her life in danger.

What is this mysterious note? And why does it mean so much to one of Australia’s most powerful media moguls?

Caught between a bitter rivalry and dangerous family secret, who can Tamara trust? Or should she trust herself?

Fleur Ferris definitely knows how to write a #LoveOzYA thriller with suspense and unexpected twists if Risk and Black are anything to go by. The blurb for this latest release definitely has me intrigued, and I can't wait to read it as soon as it's released!

Releasing 3rd July 2017 from Random House Children's Australia

Genie's Weekly News (58) - May Events Recap ft. Sarah Crossan, Jennifer Niven and Roxane Gay

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

1) Bloomsbury Institute Event

Wednesday saw the first of Australia's 'Bloomsbury Institute' events; small sessions with authors designed so that readers really get a sense of meeting some of their favourite writers. In conversation with Mia Freedman, Sarah Crossan provided such inspiring insight into her process and how it differs when writing in verse as opposed to prose. It was interesting to hear how she collaborated with Brian Conaghan on their latest work We Come Apart - which featured lots of conversations over Whatsapp and many frenzied emails. 

Following your passion and using the inherent creativity within us were other ideas which she spoke about, as well as tackling real issues in her books that can be appreciated at different levels by both adults and those on the cusp of being teens. What I love about her books that I've read so far (One and Apple and Rain) is that they prove books in YA don't have to have a romance to be meaningful or compelling. Friendship comes through as a strong theme, which form some of the strongest relationships of all. I'm definitely looking forward to her latest book Moonrise coming in September, and seeing who Bloomsbury will feature next!

2) Lunch with Jennifer Niven

There's no denying that Jennifer Niven is one of the biggest YA authors right now, especially with her heartbreaking (but amazing) novel All the Bright Places currently being made into a film. Thanks to the team at Penguin Teen Australia I was lucky enough to be invited to a lunch with her and other bloggers Alison and Rebecca from the YA Chronicles, The Bookish Manicurist and Joy Lawn who also writes reviews for the Weekend Australian. As well as talking about how she writes with playlists for each of her characters in her work and what she'd been up to in Australia, Jennifer Niven also shared her experience writing the screenplay for the movie. She is genuinely lovely in person, and I'm so excited to see what other books she'll be hopefully bringing out in future. 

3) Roxane Gay at the Sydney Writer's Festival

Difficult Women is one of my top reads of this year as a brilliantly raw and unflinching portrayal of women in a variety of complex situations. Roxane Gay did not disappoint in her last appearance at the Sydney Writer's Festival, speaking frankly about how she brings feminism into her work, women being perceived as being 'too much', the obsession with 'dead girls' and how she can watch crime series on TV while writing. She definitely kept the conversation real, making the audience laugh with a few jokes on how men can be 'delicate flowers', while retaining an emphasis on gender equality. Since reading this fictional work with stories that are all so different and hard-hitting in their own right, I just know I'm going to have to pick up Bad Feminist to see what her essays are like. 

What bookish events have you been to lately?

{Blog Tour} Girl in Between by Anna Daniels - "A coming of age book in your thirties!"

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Girl in Between by Anna Daniels
Released: 26th April 2017
Published by: Allen and Unwin
Genre: Popular Fiction
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
RRP:  $29.99
Amazon | iBooks | Booktopia
Life can be tricky when you're a girl in between relationships, careers and cities… and sometimes you have to face some uncomfortable truths. The sparkling debut from comic TV and radio presenter, Anna Daniels.

Lucy Crighton has just moved in with some gregarious housemates called Brian and Denise… who are her parents. She's also the proud mother of Glenda, her beloved 10-year-old… kelpie. And she has absolutely no interest in the dashing son of her parents' new next-door neighbour… well, maybe just a little.

When you're the girl in between relationships, careers and cities, you sometimes have to face some uncomfortable truths… like your Mum's obsession with Cher, your father's unsolicited advice, and the fact there's probably more cash on the floor of your parents' car than in your own bank account.

Thank goodness Lucy's crazy but wonderful best friend, Rosie, is around to cushion reality, with wild nights at the local Whipcrack hotel, escapades in Japanese mud baths, and double dating under the Christmas lights in London. But will Lucy work out what she really wants to do in life and who she wants to share it with?

Anna Daniels is a natural-born comedian. She originally set out to write a screenplay that was part Muriel’s Wedding, part The Castle. Instead, she wrote Girl In Between, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Vogel’s Award. She says ‘I’ve always loved comedy which not only makes you laugh but also pulls at your heartstrings. I think a lot of people may be able to relate to Lucy’s story!’

Girl in Between is a warm, upbeat and often hilarious story about life at the crossroads. Featuring an endearing and irrepressible cast of characters, it will have you chuckling from start to finish.

Book Trailer

Guest Post from Anna Daniels

Girl in Between…A Coming of Age Book in your Thirties!

Recently, I was asked to compile a list of my favourite Aussie authors, and once I got started, I realised how many Aussie books I just adored!

This is the list I came up with…

-My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin – that classic ferocious and fiery coming of age story.

-Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta – even picking that book up now, in my thirties, I still feel like it hasn’t dated.

-Between a Wolf and a Dog – such a beautifully written and evocative novel by the late Georgia Blain.

-The Sound of One Hand Clapping and Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan

-Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

-The Solid Mandala by Patrick White

-Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy – a beautiful coming of age story.

-The gritty Praise and 1988 by Andrew McGahan

-And the comedy classics, Zigzag Street by Nick Earls, The Girl Most Likely by Rebecca Sparrow and The Family Law by Benjamin Law.

It was only when I’d reflected back on my list, that I realised a major theme was coming through…that of the ‘coming of age!’

And then, it occurred to me with a start that I’d actually written a ‘coming of age’ book of sorts, with Girl in Between!

Girl in Between captures life at the crossroads in your thirties, and even though we generally associate the coming of age genre with YA, I believe perhaps at different stages of our lives we’re always coming of age!

The protagonists, Lucy Crighton, and her best friend, Rosie, are on a quest to sort out and make sense of their lives in their early thirties. They’ve landed squarely in their third decade and aren’t quite sure how they got there!

We, as readers, follow their journey, with all their tumbles and triumphs! And do they come of age?

Well, permit me to be coy and say you’ll have to find out!

Best wishes,
Anna x 

Check out the other stops on the tour!

Waiting on Wednesday: Understory

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where the participants tell their readers about an upcoming release they are waiting to read. This week I've picked Understory: A Life With Trees by Inga Simpson.

A memoir about staying in one place, told through trees, by the award-winning author of Mr Wigg, Nest and Where The Trees Were. 

 The understorey is where I live, alongside these plants and creatures. I tend the forest, stand at the foot of trees and look up, gather what has fallen. Each chapter of this absorbing memoir explores a particular species of tree, layering description, anecdote, and natural history to tell the story of a scrap of forest in the Sunshine Coast hinterland - how the author came to be there and the ways it has shaped her life.

In many ways, it’s the story of a tree-change, of escaping suburban Brisbane for a cottage on ten acres in search of a quiet life. Of establishing a writers' retreat shortly before the Global Financial Crisis hit, and losing just about everything when it did. It is also the story of what the author found there: the literature of nature and her own path as a writer. Understory is about connection to place as a white settler descendant, and the search for a language appropriate to describe that experience.

I've heard amazing things about Where the Trees Were (which I'll definitely be reading just before this one), and I'm always fascinated to read about how authors reflect on a sense of place in their work - especially when it revolves around nature. Upstream by Mary Oliver is another book with a similar theme which I'm also hoping to pick up. I don't normally read a lot of non-fiction but I'm definitely looking forward to branching out into it!

Releasing 30th May 2017 from Hachette

Genie's Weekly News (57) - Taking on new recommendations, embracing crime drama and AusYABloggers news!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

With assignments for the semester over and *kind of* more time to read, I've been taking on recommendations in genres that I don't usually read from. There have been ballets (Faster and The Nutcracker) which I've LOVED, and the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone with a live orchestra which was magical. I've got a couple of bookish events coming up this week so watch out for some recaps of them as they happen!

Currently Reading

The Name of the Wind is the kind of epic fantasy I've been meaning to read for a while. I can already tell that Patrick Rothfuss has a poetic writing style which I want to see more of. There's a slow build so far, but I can tell it will pay off.

As for John Dies at the End - it's the opposite end of the spectrum. The bizarre storyline has meant I've been reading it in bits and pieces for a while, but I'm finally nearing the finish. Honestly at this point I still don't know what to think of it...it's not bad...just very, very weird. Funny...but weird. For my final thoughts on this one - stay tuned. 

Recommendation of the Week

This won the Seizure Viva la Novella prize in 2015, and for a short story with a unique premise, it really made an impact. Would definitely recommend for a quirky read. 

Previous Posts

From the Interwebs

Book Haul

It's two #LoveOzYA titles that I'm really excited about - I've already started the anthology which is brilliant, and thanks to Hachette Australia I recieved The Dream Walker which looks like a touching coming-of-age novel. 

What I've Been Watching

I'm always keen on trying out a new historical drama, and The Halcyon has lived up to expectations so far. Set in the beginning of World War II in a 5 star hotel, it's about more than what's going on with the staff. Though a few of the storylines within it have been a tad predictable, it does go some way in capturing the feeling that the world could fall to pieces at any moment, and important decisions about the future could change it all. 

A crime series wouldn't usually interest me, but here I am saying that I've finally found one which is both suspenseful and realistic enough to be truly gripping. The Night of is both chilling and atmospheric, based around a murder under circumstances deem the accused culprit nothing but guilty - yet the question remains; did he actually do it? It takes a harrowing glance into the criminal justice system, and leaves you needing to know what the final verdict will be.

AusYABloggers News

After a few changes to the group, and with some new additions to our mod team, we're excited to share with you our new blog launching very soon! We'll be letting you know all about it once it is launched via our Instagram and Twitter

What have you been reading/watching lately?

Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel - Old house, small town, disturbing secret

Saturday, 20 May 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Released: 14th March 2017
Published by: Hachette
Genre: Thriller
Source: Publisher
Pages: 277
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane's first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.
Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Before the prologue even begins, the quote on the very first page from Vladimir Nabokov sums up the essence of this story: "Look at this tangle of thorns". The Roanoke Girls is a darkly enigmatic novel about what happens behind closed doors, the perpetrators of unthinkable acts and the people who protect them. While the major 'twist' of where this disturbing conduct stems from came a little too early to have that lasting impact on the story for me, this book is testament to Amy Engel's ability to write successfully in a genre other than YA.

She stayed. That's what it meant to love. Never letting go. Never giving up. Never giving in. And when it was all over, she would be the last one standing.
The only one left for him to love.

Engel's prose provides the feeling of being unsettled from the beginning, unveiling the first piece of shock factor with the detailed revelation of Lane's mother's instability and eventual suicide. The 'family tree' of Roanoke women proves useful in the pages to come, as the story switches back and forth between the disturbing events of then and now. With quite a few to keep track of, in the sections referring to the past, it did create a slight detour in the continuity of the plot, although since this is a relatively short read anyway it did help shape the context of the future events that followed. I'm being deliberately vague here as to say any more about the fate of these girls would give away too much, but it was not what I expected and made my skin crawl.

After a lifetime of relying only on myself, believing in someone else felt nearly impossible. But the look in his eyes, as if I were the most precious thing he had ever seen, made me want to try, to give in a little and trust that maybe he wouldn't let me down.

Where Engel succeeds is in her depiction of characters who are all dysfunctional - in their relationships, and at their very core. It seems that not only the Roanoke girls themselves, but everyone in the rural town is inadvertently hurtling towards destruction. Lane running from the devastating events at her home and coming to Roanoke to once more be pulled into its tortured embrace is at first glance a recipe for disaster. Her cousin Allegra, whose name ironically would translate to 'happy', and her feverish dalliances, are a prelude to Lane's tense determination to find out the truth of why she went missing. The men of their past; Tommy as Allegra's quick but intense fling, and Cooper as Lane's old flame, have their own roles to play in the drama which unfolds. Yet what was more intriguing was seeing how the miasma of deranged desires lay at the heart of Roanoke itself. Although some of the twists were perhaps convenient, Amy Engel certainly knows how to create a sense of place - and that is what stood out to me the most.


The Roanoke Girls is a dark novel about the twisted personalities within a brooding house, in a town which has been touched by the disconcerting mysteries which come from it. 

Waiting on Wednesday: Adult Fantasy

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where the participants tell their readers about an upcoming release they are waiting to read. This week I've picked Adult Fantasy by Briohny Doyle.

A wry and topical inquiry into how we respond when our cultural clock starts ticking.

‘For a long time I pretended turning thirty was no big deal - but looking back, it’s clear I was bat-shit na-na for a good nine months either side of that birthday.’ The first of the millennials are now in their thirties. Dubbed ‘the Peter Pan generation’, they have been accused of delaying adult milestones. But do marriage, careers, mortgages, and babies mean the same thing today that they did 30 years ago? 

Briohny Doyle turned 30 without a clear idea of what her adult life should look like. A greengrocer with a graduate degree, the world she lived in didn’t match the one her parents described. Her dad advised her to find a nice secure job; her best friend got married and moved to the suburbs. But she couldn’t help wondering if the so-called adult milestones distract us from other measures of maturity.

In a crackling mix of memoir and cultural critique, Doyle explores how societies cultivate ideas about education, work, relationships, and ageing. She interrogates the concept of adulthood through the neon buzz of pop culture and the lives of other young adults. In a rapidly-changing world, she asks: what is an adult, and how do you become one?

Given all the present discussion about how anybody in my generation is going to be able to afford their own home and enjoy all the avocado on toast they want, I think a memoir like this would be quite interesting to read. What does 'adulting' even mean any more? How do we measure success? I'm looking forward to seeing the perspective this book brings to those questions.

Releasing 29th May 2017 from Scribe Publications

Discussion: A Breakdown of Growing Up - featuring 3 of my #LoveOzYA favourites!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Seven years of traversing the erratic, precarious territory of adolescence. 2555 days of wondering how you are ever going to cope with ‘adulting’ in the big bad world out there. A seemingly infinite number of minutes brooding over anything from what your next ingenious caption on Instagram will be, to “what am I going to do with my life?”. These formative teenage years are a melting pot of paradoxes, where the fanaticism associated with the freedom of deserting childhood forever, masks an underlying fear of facing harsh realities which juvenile naivety had previously obscured.

Australian YA novels such as My Best Friend is a Goddess by Tara Eglington, The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub and Remind Me How This Ends by Gabrielle Tozer provide a relevant snapshot of ordinary teens facing a coming of age. In these examples of a contemporary Bildungsroman, there is more at play than the stereotypical catalysts of angst and raging hormones which create their narrative arcs. These authors have captured not only elements of school life which anyone could relate to, but also the visceral sentiments of self-awareness and grief.

Whether it is perceived as an intellectually stimulating atmosphere that allows your mind to flourish, or a detested prison of educational bureaucracy, high school is one of the universal experiences which defines being a young adult. Both Eglington and Ayoub have effectively utilised this dynamic environment in terms of setting, to emphasise the unique social mores that teens contend with and how this affects their self-image. In Goddess, Emily and Adriana have always been the closest of friends, never missing a beat in each other’s lives until Adriana spent eighteen months overseas when her father took up a position in Borneo. When Ade returns, it seems everyone but herself has realised that she’s undergone the ultimate ‘glo up’. Tara Eglington discerningly follows the evolution of their friendship, while reflecting on the impact which the immediacy of social media brings to the ensuing drama. The overall plot has its fair share of adorkable moments, and even a clique of ‘mean girls’, yet never morphs into a cliché. 

The Yearbook Committee presents a focused cross-section of teens, with five different personalities being thrust together to create their year twelve yearbook. Sarah Ayoub candidly conveys the anxieties, family pressures and vulnerabilities of her characters at this turning point in their lives. From the loner, to the politician’s daughter, the school captain, the popular girl who appears to have it all, and the subversive newcomer who can’t wait to leave that stage of her life behind, these archetypes are all explored, and can be identified with in some way. Gabrielle Tozer’s latest release reaches beyond high school to the murky domain of ‘real life’ which follows. Unsuccessfully striving to maintain a long-term relationship he’s had since sixteen with his girlfriend Sal, Milo’s life in the dead-end town of Durnan seems to be on hold. While his future is vague with no solid plans for TAFE or uni, Tozer writes with clarity on how some people totally transform once they escape the microcosm of high school, leaving those who knew them at that time grappling with the idea of who they have become.

What all three of these novels are able to achieve is a genuine insight into how teens relate to each other and induce a collective coming of age. In some instances, blossoming friendships among the most unlikely personalities foster new realisations about the importance of looking beneath the surface of someone’s façade. In others, the most poignant moment is accepting the transience of relationships which were once thought to be forever, and being comfortable with the emotional distance that creates.

Interestingly, Eglington, Ayoub and Tozer also explore the enduring implications of grief which inadvertently force their characters to mature. Matty from The Yearbook Committee may not have completely lost his mother, but after her breakdown it is as if she is no longer present. Balancing extra responsibilities at home and the demands of his education has made him shrewder than some of his peers, but Ayoub reminds us that he still may need to turn to other adults for help. In Goddess and Remind Me How This Ends, the death of a mother has an even greater effect. Adriana describes its isolating impact, stating that “grief makes you feel like an alien”. Her new appearance may have caused her peers to forget how they used to taunt her for visiting her mother’s grave, but she is ultimately the same girl who misses the special moments she had with her mum. Tozer has painted her second protagonist Layla as a confident young woman who alternatively attempts to supress the pain of losing someone who had such a profound influence on her life.

For these characters, the combination of anger, sadness and reminiscence of their lives before this major event which caused such disruption, is the first of many hurdles which their impending adulthood would bring. These writers depict teens with major tribulations at a time in their lives which is already affected by turbulence; reminding us that adolescence is not merely a facetious rite of passage, but perhaps mandatory call to ‘grow up’ and face life’s tragedies head on.

In the real world, teenagers are so often satirized for their histrionics and exaggerated ennui. From reading these novels however, it’s clear that adolescence is one of the steepest learning curves there is. Perhaps we should be looking towards fiction to truly grasp the lives of these individuals teetering on the cusp of adulthood. After all, you were once young too.

What do you like most about coming of age novels?

Review: Charisma by Jeanne Ryan - The high price to pay for popularity

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Charisma by Jeanne Ryan
Released: 1st December 2016
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Genre: YA Thriller
Source: Publisher
Pages: 372
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
An edge-of-your-seat thriller from the bestselling author of, Nerve, the book behind 2016's hottest YA film, starring Emma Roberts, Dave Franco & Juliette Lewis.

A chance at the ultimate makeover means deadly consequences... Aislyn suffers from crippling shyness - that is, until she’s offered a dose of Charisma, an underground gene therapy drug guaranteed to make her shine. The effects are instant. She’s charming, vivacious, and popular. But strangely, so are some other kids she knows.

The media goes into a frenzy when the disease turns contagious, and then deadly, and the doctor who gave it to them disappears. Aislyn must find a way to stop it, before it's too late.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

We live in a society full of different personalities. Some are the life of the party, possessing the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone and exude that general air of confidence in whatever they do. Others however can experience the opposite, and like Aislyn in this book suffer crippling social anxiety. Then of course, there is the whole range of in-between on the introvert/extrovert spectrum; though the question posed in this novel is - who would want to be the 'average' level of sociable when you can be the star? Charisma is a quick read which does go some way in exploring the controversial topic of gene therapy and its implications, as well as the importance of finding other ways to be yourself; and own it. 

Who'd have thought I'd hang out with folks from the Nova Genetics teen group, with at least two of us acting way more extroverted than usual? And way happier. Thank you, Charisma.

Before learning of Charisma and how it could supposedly improve her life, Aislyn is no stranger to the opportunities which gene therapy creates. Her brother Sammy with cystic fibrosis is a regular visitor to Nova Genetics and Dr Sternfield, where it is hoped that he'll be accepted into a new clinical trial for a drug that could be the cure. So, when she learns of a top-secret trial from Sternfield which involves the 'CZ88' drug 'Charisma', she boldly takes the chance. However, with a drug previously untested on humans before the risks are high, and when her friends Rosa, and even party-boy Shane seem to have also taken it and are experiencing side-effects, Aislyn may just be second-guessing herself. 

While I did find some parts of the plot a little too predictable, and the trope of 'trying to get popular to win over the nice cute guy who would never like me otherwise (even if he does already)' somewhat cliche, I could appreciate the fast pace of the story. I also hadn't read any YA novels which had this focus on gene therapy before, and the author's notes at the end did reinforce the possibilities of where more research into that area will take us in reality. In an age where especially in the realm of social media there is a silent competition to see who really does 'have it all' - the most friends, the witty comments, and perfectly worded captions, this book provided a glimpse into the dangers of going too far to reach that level of fame. 


In all, though it wasn't a perfect read for me, Charisma is still worth trying for its glimpse into a controversial topic, and the importance of having a good support network to ultimately feel comfortable in your own skin. 

Review: Remind Me How This Ends by Gabrielle Tozer - More than just a 'boy meets girl'

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Remind Me How This Ends by Gabrielle Tozer
Released: 27th March 2017
Published by: HarperCollins Australia
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 352
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
It's the summer after high school ends and everyone is moving on. Winning scholarships. Heading to uni. Travelling the world. Everyone except Milo Dark. Milo feels his life is stuck on pause. His girlfriend is 200km away, his mates have bailed for bigger things and he is convinced he's missed the memo reminding him to plan the rest of his life.

Then Layla Montgomery barrels back into his world after five years without so much as a text message. As kids, Milo and Layla were family friends who shared everything - hiding out in her tree house, secrets made at midnight, and sunny afternoons at the river. But they haven't spoken since her mum's funeral. Layla's fallen apart since that day.

She pushed away her dad, dropped out of school and recently followed her on-again-off-again boyfriend back to town because she has nowhere else to go. Not that she's letting on how tough things have been. What begins as innocent banter between Milo and Layla soon draws them into a tangled mess with a guarantee that someone will get hurt.

While it's a summer they'll never forget, is it one they want to remember? A boy-meets-girl-again story from the award-winning author of The Intern and Faking It.
Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

So you've finished high school...what next? In this heartfelt and adorable read, Gabrielle Tozer explores the time 'in between' the teen years and reaching adulthood. What I've come to love about this author's work from The Intern and Faking It is the humour and awkward-but-hilarious moments which we can all probably relate to on some level. Aside from the lighthearted banter between the characters, there is enough depth to what they are experiencing which really makes you think.

When we first meet Milo Dark, his life is almost on pause. Working in 'The Little Bookshop' in the small town of Durnan and his girlfriend Sal who seems to be having an amazing time at university hundreds of kilometres away, he's not really sure where to go from here. The pressure from his parents to go out there and 'make something' of his life like so many of his peers seem to have done is something which transcends fiction, and his journey which follows in the novel continues to reflect the challenges teens face today. From coming to the realisation that the excitement of a first love may not be forever, to slowly forging your own way in the world, Milo's character development seemed authentic. 

When Layla, Milo's best friend from childhood enters back into the picture after five years, it's certain that both of their lives are about to change. It was interesting to see how they both had been in relationships that were fundamentally flawed, stuck in a rut where their partners didn't truly appreciate or understand them as people. The friendship and flirty banter which soon develops between the pair and their text messages was a sweet touch, though I like how Tozer didn't shy away from addressing Layla's grief over her mother's death and how this had an enduring impact on her own sense of self. The alternating POV's between Milo and Layla worked well here, as we had the opportunity to see them reach their own conclusions about not only where the relationship was heading, but what their lives could be like outside Durnan and all the possibilities that lay beyond. 


Yes, this is a 'boy meets girl (again)' story, yet also so much more. Where Gabrielle Tozer truly shines is in her ability to portray characters who are equally endearing and realistic. She has captured the uncertainty and the thrill of growing up; both the pain and the joy of leaving your old self behind to begin a new adventure. 

{Blog Tour} The Last McAdam by Holly Ford - Guest Post

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Last McAdam by Holly Ford
Released: 22nd February 2017
Published by: Allen and Unwin
Genre: Romance 
RRP: $29.99 
Pages: 304
Can Nate McAdam win the heart of the woman who’s taken over his farm? The Last McAdam combines an unforgettable cast of characters with an irresistibly entertaining tale of romance, suspense and the unbreakable bonds of friendship.

Passed down through the same family for over a century, the remote sheep and cattle station of Broken Creek has recently been taken over by global agribusiness company Carnarvon Holdings. Now Carnarvon has sent its best troubleshooting manager, Tess Drummond, to turn the property's failing fortunes around - fast. When Tess arrives to take the reins of Broken Creek she's faced with a couple of nasty surprises. For starters, her head stockman, Nate McAdam, happens to be the same gorgeous stranger she hooked up with - and ran out on - a few weeks before.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Nate was supposed to inherit Broken Creek until his stepfather ran it into the ground. Now the last McAdam on the station leads a team of men whose bonds have been forged through hell and high water and whose mission is to see off Carnarvon and Tess so he can take his rightful place. A genius with farm work - and women - but a disaster in the office, Nate is everything Tess believes a farmer shouldn't be. Determined not to give in to her growing attraction to him, Tess sets out to do her job, but she soon finds herself caught up in the battle of her career.
Guest Post by Holly Ford

As a writer, I can get asked a lot of questions - which is fair enough, because they’re rarely as strange as the questions I ask other people. At the moment I’m enquiring of every sheep farmer I know if they’re testing their rams for brucella ovis this year (and since testing demands a thorough feel of the testicles, I’m getting some pretty odd looks for my trouble). If you needed to raise your micron count in a hurry, what would you do? How do you rotate your grazing? Not so long ago I found myself sitting at an elegant table over a beautiful meal discussing drench resistance and acceptable levels of faecal egg count.

It’s not that my books contain pages about such things - I promise they don’t! But I do need to set the scenes. Okay, so it’s late summer now at Broken Creek Station… What is Tess doing out there in the paddock? Why does Nate turn up? These are questions that have to be asked, and each time around they require a different answer.

Farmers aren’t the only ones who get the third degree. Service station owners, mechanics, sales reps… Nobody’s safe. And certainly anyone foolish enough to admit to being a paramedic or a helicopter pilot in front of me is in for a world of trouble. Would you give Tramadol for a broken leg? How long do rotor blades take to stop? What drives the motor of an irrigation pump? (As a water pump manufacturer’s daughter, I ought to have known that one, but it’d been a while.) If I cracked a Range Rover’s sump in Omarama, could you fix it there? How long would I have to wait for parts?

It’s amazing what you can find yourself insatiably curious about for a while… and then, just as quickly, the need is gone. My poor long-suffering husband will bound home with the answer to some question I spent three days obsessing over to be rewarded only with a blank look and an ‘I don’t care, darling - that was last month.’

Check out the other stops in the tour!

Genie's Weekly News (56) - "Shock horror!", historical drama and binge-reading

Sunday, 12 March 2017

I've been shaking up my reading habits recently, choosing some more adult fiction and even some horror which was a totally different experience. That being said, I'm looking forward to also getting back to YA with Gabrielle Tozer's upcoming release Remind Me How This Ends - so stay tuned!

Currently Reading

Reading more than one book at once seems to be becoming the norm with me, and these two could not be more different. At over 1000 pages, Voyager is a hefty book, but at almost the halfway point I'm finding it's still an enjoyable read. The Outlander series is slowly becoming one of my favourites in historical fiction, and I look forward to seeing how the saga continues. Diana Gabaldon's captivating writing style certainly makes it easier to commit to completing it.

 As for The Troop, I'm not too far in yet, but can already tell it's going to get very strange, and more than likely extremely disturbing. There's a Lord of the Flies vibe to it at the moment, but other than that I have no idea what I'm getting myself into here. Time will tell.

Recommendation of the Week

This short story collection is brutally raw, but so well written. 

Previous Posts

From the Interwebs

Book Haul

This book has been translated from Swedish which is quite interesting, and sounds like a feel-good read. I love the sound of the jazz music playing a large role too. Thanks Allen and Unwin for the review copy!

What I've Been Watching

Hidden Figures was every bit as amazing as I hoped it would be. Not only was the casting perfectly done, but this story based on true events is a true inspiration. I really hope to read the book one day as well to learn more about these extraordinary women who it appears had both intelligence and sass in abundance. 

Deutschland 83 is the latest historical drama TV series I've been hooked on. In German with English subtitles, it provides a fascinating portrayal of life in Germany in the context of the Cold War, with reference to both the political climate and social unrest at the time. There are some lighter moments in the first few episodes, but towards the end of the first series where tensions are running high and more lives are at stake than what was first thought, the plot does take a darker turn. A spy-thriller with a twist, I'm already highly anticipating the second season. 

What have you been reading/watching lately?

Review: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay - A brutal, surreal take on feminism

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
Released: 10th January 2017
Published by: Hachette
Genre: Short stories
Source: Publisher
Pages: 260
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
A collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection from award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay.

The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the elder sister's marriage. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind.

From a girls' fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America.
Thank you to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

It takes great skill as an author to provide an immediate connection to characters and the situation they are facing in a short span of pages. Roxane Gay in her collection of stories has achieved just that. With piercing insight into the nuances of everyday life with all its pitfalls, and small triumphs where there is an upheaval of power imbalances, Gay's prose is equally commanding and authentic.

The stories within this book take on topics such as rape and assault in an everyday context with an unflinching brutality, and the loss of a child with words that are heavily laden with emotion. The characters are flawed, at times frustrating, but ultimately realistic. From the bonds between sisters, to exploring with sardonic wit the different stages of a relationship, either blossoming with sweet innocence in its early stages, or taking a malignant turn towards the end, each topic is probed without inhibition. The author has coaxed us into the lives of these women who are not so much difficult as they are complex, emotionally and physically.   

The stone thrower lives in a glass house with his glass family. He is a flesh-and-blood man going about the business of living with his glass wife and glass child, their glass furniture and glass lives. - Requiem for a Glass Heart 

Nestled among the shocking moments however are those that cause you to take a step back and think in a different way. One of my favourites in this book is the piece 'Requiem for a Glass Heart', which at just seven pages is perhaps one of the most hard-hitting. It is a tale of a woman who is not simply flesh and bone, whose intimate moments are left exposed, yet her inner thoughts remain guarded. It is personification of a totally different kind, subverted to display both the fragility of this woman and her sharper strength of mind. 

I wanted to tell her that we did not dare speak, that what was once the sun might once again become the sun. I wanted to tell her the sky lightened the day my perfect child was born and that with time, the world would be bright again. - The Sacrifice of Darkness

In another story which takes on a sci-fi/speculative angle, 'The Sacrifice of Darkness', the absence of the sun allows one love to blossom while deep seated resentment against the couple threatens to taint their union. In contrast to the many instances of men undermining women or attempting to make them feel somewhat inferior, the tenderness here offers a glimpse of hope. When there is enough darkness to be found in the everyday snide remarks or not so subtle digs at what a woman should be, Gay puts the spotlight on deserving better. 


As with most collections of stories, there were some which resonated with me more than others, but there were definitely enough defining moments in this book to make it worth a read. This is an unflinching portrayal of love when it is tender, and when it is twisted beyond recognition, being a woman who has suffered but is not broken, and the state of humanity in this mad world we live in. 

{Blog Tour} A Boy Like You by Ginger Scott

Friday, 10 March 2017

A Boy Like You by Ginger Scott
Released: 3rd March 2017
Genre: YA Romance
Source: For review
Pages: 300
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
They say everyone’s a superhero to someone. I’m not sure who I’m supposed to save, but I know who saved me. We were kids. His name was Christopher. And up until the day he pulled me from death’s grip, he was nothing more than a boy I felt sorry for. In a blink of an eye, he became the only person who made me feel safe. And then he disappeared.

Now I’m seventeen. I’m not a kid anymore. I haven’t been for years. While death didn’t take me that day, the things that happened left me with scars—the kind that robbed me of everything I once loved and drove me into darkness. But more than anything else, that day—and every day since—has taken away my desire to dream. I wasn’t going to have hope. I wouldn’t let myself wish. Those things—they weren’t for girls like me. That’s what I believed…until the new boy. He’s nothing like the old boy. He’s taller and older. His hair is longer, and his body is lean—strong and ready for anything.

I don’t feel sorry for him. And sometimes, I hate him. He challenges me. From the moment I first saw him standing there on the baseball field, he pushed me—his eyes constantly questioning, doubting…daring. Still, something about him—it feels…familiar. He says his name is Wes.

But I can’t help but feel like he’s someone else. Someone from my past. Someone who’s come back to save me. This time, though, he’s too late. Josselyn Winters, the girl he once knew, is gone. I am the threat; I am my worst enemy. And he can’t save me from myself.
Thank you to Wordsmith Publicity for a copy of this book to review

Ginger Scott definitely knows how to hit a home run when it comes to writing an emotional love story with heart. In A Boy Like You, Joss the protagonist may have her flaws and scars from a fateful day in her childhood, but there is a chance that her walls will come down if she is willing to once again be the best person she can be. Wes, with his athletic boyish charm, and most importantly, a kind heart, may just be the person Joss needs - but is he the same boy who saved her life all those years ago?

At its core, this is a romance, one with the warm and fuzzy moments that are equal parts awkwardly cute and adorable. But of course, as with any book by this author - there is more to it than that. Scott deftly explores the strain of a father-daughter relationship after a family breakdown, how someone can turn around the questionable choices they've made in the past, the changes facing friendships and the bond between siblings which is unlike any other. Similar to Hold My Breath and The Hard Count, there is also a sporty aspect to A Boy Like You, in this case baseball. This added another dimension to the story, and as the coach's daughter, Joss had even higher expectations placed upon herself. Her character arc was one with more than a few bumps and mistakes along the way, but it did go to show that with the right support of someone who believes in you, the future can look brighter.

In all, this is a sweet book, but is not without some heart-wrenching moments thrown into the works. I'll be keeping an eye out for the sequel A Girl Like Me, coming soon!

Excerpt from A Boy Like You

I let my eyes drift back to the field, where Wes is throwing balls to nobody, letting them hit the backstop. I push from the wall and throw my bag over my back, my cleats untied and loose around my feet as I trudge through the outfield toward him.

“I can catch for you…if you want,” I say. He turns quickly at the sound of my voice, startled.
“Oh…uh, thanks, but it’s okay, I was almost done, ” he says, jiggling his arm against his side as if it’s sore and tired. He hasn’t thrown many pitches at all today, though. I know, because I’ve been watching.

“You know, eventually you’re going to have to give in to the fact that I can handle you,” I say, my eyes leveling him with a challenge. He laughs lightly to himself, his lip held between his teeth as he tugs down on the bill of his hat, shadowing his face, until he finally nods at me.
“A’right,” he relents, shrugging to home plate.

I step over to the backstop and throw the dozen or so balls he pitched on his own back to him, and he drops them in his bag near his feet one at a time. I brush the dirt from home plate with my glove, then crouch down. I hold the pose for a few seconds while Wes stares at me, and eventually he shakes his head with a quiet laugh.

“What?” I yell, dropping my arms to my knees. I hate catching; it’s miserable. I only did it because it was him—he needed help. No…I wanted to help. And now he’s laughing at me?

He jogs toward me in long, slow strides, and I stand, leaning with my glove against my hip. He’s wearing dark blue shorts over black compression pants, and unlike the other boys on my dad’s team, he actually looks good in them—like a real ballplayer. I look away and take a step or two back when he gets closer, but he reaches for my arm, catching my elbow with his fingers. My eyes go right to his hold and then to his face where he’s waiting for me with the same expression I have.
“Sorry,” he says, letting go of me quickly. I feel the loss of his touch.

Kneeling down, he urges me to do the same next to him, shirking his glove from his hand and holding his palms on the insides of his thighs. “You are sitting like this. It’s unsteady, and you’re going to get tired…fast,” he says, his eyes gliding over to my legs. He licks his lips, and sucks in a slow but heavy breath, before putting one knee down and bringing his hand to my leg, glancing at me quickly for permission before resting his fingertips on my kneecap. His touch is cautious and purposeful. It’s also powerful, and I feel it. 

“If you just turn…like this, and then shift your weight,” he says, tugging my knee out gently before clearing his throat slightly as his eyes run up my thigh. He stands abruptly, and I let down one knee to rest my legs. “Anyhow, I just figured maybe you never caught before, and I could show you something. You probably already knew that though, so—”

“Thanks,” I interrupt him before he steps away. I’m not warm and fuzzy. I make him nervous. And I regret that. “Really,” I add, as he tilts his head sideways over his shoulder, glancing back at me. “My dad use to show me stuff like that, but…it’s been a while.”

His lip pulls up with sympathy, and he looks down before glancing back at me with a sideways tilt of the head, raising the ball in his hand. “Let’s try a few,” he says, walking back to the mound.
I kneel just as he taught me, and my legs shake a little at first, so I adjust my knees more, giving myself a base. “I’m good,” I say, pounding the center of my glove and holding it out for his target.
Wes nods, then winds up for a pitch. He throws a changeup, and I know he did it because he doesn’t want me to get hurt catching anything faster. The fighter in me wants to spit and tell him to give me the real stuff, but the girl I am—the one that likes the way he looks at me—is okay with the fact that he wants to protect me.

“That looked good,” I say, throwing the ball back to him. His lips twist into a crooked grin, and he tugs his hat low again before winding up for another pitch. I praised him, and he liked it.
I liked that. 

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling author of six young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling and You and Everything After. 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 http://www.littlemisswrite.com. 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).