Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my syllabus if I taught 'How to Stay Alive' 101

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by bloggers at The Broke and the BookishThis week I've  picked the top ten books I would put on my fictional syllabus if I had to teach kids how to survive in a situation where it really ain't that easy - think apocalyptic/dystopian fiction.

1. Genesis by Lara Morgan


It's through Rosie's character that her resourcefulness is revealed and ability to protect those she cares about. Both are good skills to have in any case!

2. The Last Girl by Michael Adams


Having telepathy is a skill which admittedly not many of us have, but still - Danby proves that with it - survival is possible.

3. Angelfall by Susan Ee


Penryn not only displays that yes, it is possible to survive an angel-apocalypse (well, especially with the help of an insider).

4. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey


So aliens have invaded earth and what do you do? Trying not to be killed by said aliens is a preety good start.

5.The Host by Stephenie Meyer


Another alien invasion story. How to tell if someone's human? LOOK INTO THEIR EYES...

6. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker


The earth is slowing down, the days are getting longer. The solution? Try to go on with life as normal as possible (warning: Things might still get crazy around you).

7. We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

24685506 there's a meteor about to hit Earth (most likely). Well, there's not too much you can do to CHANGE that really, except go by the idea YOLO right? 

8. Days Like This by Alison Stewartt


If there's a wall to climb - you may as well climb it. There may just be something better waiting on the other side...♫it's the cliiiiiimb♫ (note: listening to Miley Cyrus while doing so is optional and not necessarily recommended). 

9. Doomed by Tracy Deebs


A pandora's box has been opened and the outlook isn't too good - but NEVER FEAR, if you beat the game, you live!

10. Way Down Dark by James Smythe


The rules - 'you fight or you die' (well, at least it's simple). Just do what you can to make it back to earth in one piece okay?

What are some books you would recommend for this list?

Review: In The Skin of a Monster by Kathryn Barker

Monday, 24 August 2015

25380845In The Skin of a Monster by Kathryn Barker
Released: 1st August 2015
Published by: Allen and Unwin
Genre: YA Contemporary/Speculative Fiction
Source: Publisher
Pages: 344
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Booktopia
What if your identical twin sister was a murderer? Does that make you a monster too?

A profound, intense, heartbreaking fantasy that tackles issues of fate versus free will, and whether you can ever truly know someone. Caught in a dreamscape, mistaken for a killer ... will Alice find a way home?

Three years ago, Alice's identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the same face as a monster. She's struggling with her identity, and with life in the small Australian town where everyone was touched by the tragedy. Just as Alice thinks things can't get much worse, she encounters her sister on a deserted highway. But all is not what it seems, and Alice soon discovers that she has stepped into a different reality, a dream world, where she's trapped with the nightmares of everyone in the community.

Here Alice is forced to confront the true impact of everything that happened the day her twin sister took a gun to school ... and to reveal her own secret to the boy who hates her most. 
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

In The Skin of a Monster is one of the most provoking and poignant reads I've come across this year. It artfully converges both the real and surreal in a creative way which makes the content that much more powerful. Though the main character's name is Alice - she doesn't discover a 'wonderland' - in fact the lucid dreamscape she enters is quite the opposite. Once I started reading I began to realise that there was a level of complexity to this story that you can't pick from the outset, making this a truly multifaceted novel that stands proud as a piece of Aussie YA. 

What was your last feeling before you pulled the trigger? Were you pleased or horrified? Did you feel like a monster? Was pain the last thing you felt in life? And if so, how long had it been going for?

This book struck me from the very first pages as something which I knew would pull me into the pages. The narrative voices from Alice and Lux are both so distinct and engrossing. From the outset I found it fascinating that Alice wasn't simply 'narrating' the story in her parts, but actually telling this as if it was to her twin sister who carried out the shooting. This story doesn't shy away from the more gritty side of humanity - in both our realm and the metaphysical one on the edge of our imaginations. 

The world doesn't revolve around one disturbed girl, no matter how low she sank to make an impression. Life is more than that. It's blissful and rubbish and crappy and kind and infinite worlds of emotion. And you know what? So are people.

The aftermath of one tragedy is something which changes people and has such far-reaching ramifications. I've read books that deal with the topic of a school shooting before (And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard) among others, but never have I come across one which has as much depth as this. Not only is the cast of characters certainly a unique one (when you read it, you'll see what I mean), but even the setting is constructed with a meaning. Though I think it's best to read this in a shorter span of time to truly get your head around how everything fits together, it certainly packs a punch when you realise the truth. Kathryn Barker has provided insight into the minds of these characters who are dealing with moving on from this, but also making peace within themselves. It's a journey which isn't easy - but I loved how outstandingly it was executed. The ending wasn't rushed at all, but provided a fitting conclusion to a story which has some profound messages encapsulated in the experiences of the characters.


Australian YA has long been known as a genre which presents characters and tough situations with almost brutal honesty. In The Skin of a Monster is a shining example of a stunning debut which definitely has me looking forward to reading whatever Kathryn Barker writes next!

Genie's Weekly News (41)

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Well it has been a while since I've done a weekly wrap up hasn't it? Finally the blog is slowly getting back on track and I'm trying to keep posting more often. In any case, in September there is LOTS to look forward to - think more blog tours, author interviews and guest posts, plus some discussions coming up as well. In the meantime, here's what's been happening recently in my little bookish world:

*Reading Right Now*


I'm a big fan of Kate Forsyth already, and this is shaping up to be another fantastic novel!

*Previous Posts*

*Recommendation of the Week*


This book...just wow. So powerful, unique, and with a genuine message in the end. #LoveOzYA

*From The Interwebs*


Thanks to HarperCollins Australia, Penguin Teen Australia, Date A Book and Bookworld for the review copies!

Now let's just take a moment to admire how pretty Ten Thousand Skies Above You is! (even in ARC form). 

*On Instagram @genie_inabook*

*Movie Thoughts*

Madame Bovary

I went to see Madame Bovary on the weekend, and while Mia Wasikowska had a good performance, I can't say I loved the movie. The clashing accents of the actors despite it being set in France, along with the fact that there wasn't so much of an engrossing climax did make it boring in places, especially right at the beginning where there was hardly any dialogue to start. 

While it is a tragic tale in essence with a moral lesson at heart: be happy with and appreciate/make the most of what you have, it was a pretty bland movie overall. It's sad because I usually am a fan of historical drama, though in this case I wasn't blown away. 

My final rating? 2.5/5

*Other News*
Books for Trade

#booksfortradeAU is still going strong on twitter! It's lovely to see more Aussie bloggers and readers getting involved, and I've participated in a few more swaps myself recently. Look out for my haul in next week's recap :)

This week has overall been a pretty good one and I'm so glad to have more promising books to look forward to and start. How has your week been?

Hachette YA Blogger Night Recap

Monday, 17 August 2015

Tonight was a very special book event - the annual Hachette YA Blogger Night! I was invited to the first one last year which was fantastic, and this time it was just as amazing, if not even better. Not only was it a great opportunity to meet with other bloggers and YA lovers in person (matching twitter handles to names!), but also a time to meet the lovely Sophie Hardcastle and Holly Black. Ashleigh and Kim were wonderful hosts, and I think I speak for everyone when I say the night was a big success!

First of all, it's at events like this that the bookish community can really come together - and aside from the fangirling and general book conversations which occurred, the #DABNight hashtag actually trended at #1 across the country!

Sophie Hardcastle

After following the smell of popcorn from the elevator to the offices and then getting some snacks/socialising - it was time for one of the special guests of the night, Sophie Hardcastle to speak about her memoir. It was quite moving to hear her story of dealing with bipolar disorder and how she came about writing her book, and I am looking forward to reading it soon. I also got to meet Sophie and get it signed which was lovely too. 


Running Like China Releases 25th August 2015

What's new and coming up

One of the most exciting things about going to a publisher's is learning of all the books they're excited about, and what there is to look forward to!

1. Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

I personally really loved this book when I first read it (and you can see just how much in my review). The best news? Lauren Oliver will be visiting Australia later in the year! 

2. Thunderwith by Libby Hawthorn

This was first published in 1989 but is making a comeback with a new jacket. I love Australian contemporary YA so this is definitely going on my TBR.

3. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

This is another one of those books set in a short period of time (12 hours), and I'm interested to see how it pans out since I've heard lots of good things about Jennifer E. Smith's novels. 

4. The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

Now this sounds like a pretty intense thriller - and I'm up for it!

5. The Dead House by Daen Kurtagich

A psychological thriller that has interview transcripts, medical records and other interesting pieces of information woven in. I love multimodal fiction, and this looks like it's going to be a hit! The 'urban legend' sound of it almost reminds me of Night Film by Marisha Pessl.

6. The Raging Light by Estelle Laure

I can already tell this is going to be an emotional contemporary - definitely one to pull at the heartstrings I'm sure.

7. Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger

As a companion novel to the DUFF, this seems like it has the potential to be just as fun as its predecessor

7. Changers by Drew T Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper

When I was hearing about this book tonight it did remind me of Every Day by David Levithan, but I can see where this will also have it's major differences. It's the first book in a four-part series, and I'm really looking forward to it. 

8. Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

I recently read and reviewed Love May Fail by Matthew Quick which was really good, and so this new book of his definitely has now found its way onto my list of books to keep an eye on. Quirky contemporary with unexpected turns definitely is something I'd be interested in reading.

9. Mosquitoland by David Arnold

This roadtrip novel already seems to stand out from the rest just from its description, and so I am eagerly awaiting reading it for myself!

10. Court of Fives by Kate Elliot

Historical fantasy usually gets a big tick from me, so Court of Fives certainly has my attention.


Yep, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is getting so much hype at the moment (and no wonder why - it looks amazing). Some people were lucky enough to win ARC's tonight, so hopefully they love it!

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard, the sequel to Red Queen is a DEFINITE MUST-READ for me once it comes out! (next February). That ending was a killer so we must know what's next in store for Mare!

Hachette will be publishing the third book in the Reckoners trilogy! I haven't gotten around to starting this series yet myself, but now that I know about it - why not?

Author Spotlight: Louise O'Neill

I'm so glad this spotlight was on because it reminded me how  much I really want to read Only Ever Yours and Asking For It as well. Both are shaping up to be very poignant reads from the sounds of things. 

Author Spotlight: Ryan Graudin

This is another author whose work I really need to read! In particular, the new alternate-history novel she has coming out called Wolf by Wolf sounds absolutely fascinating. Definitely one to watch out for! We were shown a video with Ryan talking about it and reading the first lines, and just from that I'm hooked already.


Keep your eyes out for those page-turners coming soon!

Holly Black

UNFORTUNATELY, my copies of The Darkest Part of the Forest and The Coldest Girl In Coldtown didn't arrive in time for the event today (though knowing my luck they're probably what's waiting for me at the PO). Even so, it was so exciting to see Holly Black in person (with her super-cool hair and accent). She shared some really interesting insights into how she researched fairies to use in her novels, and how her creative family background influenced her. 

There were references made to creepy doll searches, and even Robert Pattinson (though not necessarily in the same sentence). Aside from her infectious laugh, she also had some other things to share like the fact that she'll probably never write a contemporary novel, and her views on character relationships. It's always inspiring to hear authors speak about their works, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have seen Holly Black in person! She's so charismatic, lively, and passionate - and those are characteristics which can make for a very talented author which she is.

Book People!

 Bloggers/Booklovers I met in person for the first time:

Bloggers it was lovely to see again:
The Haul

I got some books from Keely and Kat, as well as some goodies in the gift bag!


Thanks again to the amazing team at Hachette Australia for hosting the event again this year! I had an awesome time and can't wait it to come around again next year :)

Mini Reviews: Because Another Day You'll Never Meet Me Before Sunrise

Wednesday, 12 August 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). 

20649195Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
Released: 2nd July 2015
Published by: Bloomsbury
Genre: YA Contemporary/Speculative Fiction
Source: Publisher
Pages: 344
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Because You'll Never Meet Me is a fascinating epistolary novel which epitomises the idea of an 'unlikely friendship'. When two boys, both having their own unique responses to electricity begin talking, the blossoming kinship that follows makes for an endearing read. As a piece of speculative fiction that morphs the real with the somewhat unfathomable, this story is both refreshing and delightfully told in a way that does have a special 'spark' (pun intended).

Living in isolation with his mother in the woods, it's safe to say that Ollie didn't get out much, especially when there's the case of being allergic to electricity. When his doctor suggested he communicate with another boy in Germany, Moritz, the pair begin a correspondence which slowly warms up to friendship. It's always good to see two very different characters come together (without actually meeting of course) like they do in this book - both Ollie and Moritz had their own distinct voices and personalities which came through in the letters, and in this way it was easy to see how they developed as characters. There's a lot going on in the background as well though, in each of their families and the world beyond, which was fascinating to read about. The thing that struck me here was that I really didn't know where the story was going to go - because it doesn't follow any 'normal' contemporary formula. The sci-fi elements do yes, make the story a tad too unrealistic at times, but by the same token that's the quality which makes this book stand out in its own right,

Above all however, this is a novel about overcoming obstacles and perseverance in a friendship. Hope is never unreachable, and there is always someone to understand our own anxieties and the journey of emotions we are experiencing. There's a bigger picture at play here beyond the usual sequence of events, and it is this message which comes through that makes this book well worth a read. 


Just looking at the synposis for this book won't tell you the full depth and breadth of it, so you just have to read it yourself. There are deeper issues at play here, and Leah Thomas has found a way to make the unbelievable resonate with us readers on a deeper level. If for nothing else, read this for the electric vibe coming through, not just in the dynamic nature of the characters, but the sheer unpredictability of the plot. I'd love to see what she writes next!

17978133Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt
Released: 14th April 2015
Published by: Bloomsbury
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 304
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
Jonah and Brighton are about to have the most awkwardly awful night of their lives. For Jonah, every aspect of his new life reminds him of what he has had to give up. All he wants is to be left alone. Brighton is popular, pretty, and always there to help anyone . . . but has no idea of what she wants for herself. Her seemingly perfect life is marred only by Jonah, the one person who won't give her the time of day, but also makes her feel, well, something. So when they are repeatedly thrown together over the course of one night, anything can--and does--happen. Told in alternating chapters, this poignant, beautiful novel's energy and tension, amidst the humor and romance, builds to a new beginning of self-acceptance and hope.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

There's no doubt that it would be challenging to write a profound and thoughtful novel which is set in such a short space of time as one night. But in the case of Bright Before Sunrise, I do think that Tiffany Schmidt has made a notable achievement in showcasing the typical 'boy meets girl' trope with a new angle. This is a YA contemporary novel which is jam-packed with both emotional tension and drama within a matter of hours and so makes for a quick read as time really does fly.

Brighton (am I seeing a pun here with the title name too?...) is the quintessential 'good girl' at school, though is fighting her own grief over her father's sudden death. Jonah is bitter and angry following his parents' break-up, and refuses to assimilate in this new school on the rich side of town where he feels he doesn't belong. A series of fated events lead them to meet, and though hostilities may at first show through, it's amazing how provoking a new person in town can be.

You can't really deny that Jonah at first seemed like a jerk - he's rude and just doesn't want to be in the situation  he's been forcibly thrown in to. I did feel sorry for him to an extent, though I was hoping that things would get better. What happens between him and Brighton in those hours they are together isn't something which I would say moved along monumentally quickly, but there was definitely a transformation on both sides. It was certainly interesting to see how both characters had their perspectives in different fonts, and how the clock was ticking down to an important milestone the next day. I liked how the vulnerabilities and insecurities within them both became apparent, and how past prejudices were shattered. It's a valuable lesson to learn with anyone really that having preconceived notions about them is never a good idea, and perhaps those who we initially dislike can be the catalyst for a surprising awakening in ourselves.


In all, Bright Before Sunrise was an enjoyable read in the end, and conveyed that being true to yourself and ready to move on from the past are two of the most important things in life. Whilst there were some limitations due to the timeframe, I still found this book to have some pretty solid positives and I would read more from this author in future.

18459855Another Day by David Levithan
Released: 25th August 2015
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Contemporary/Speculative Fiction
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 300
My Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Bookworld | Book Depository
The eagerly anticipated companion to David Levithan’s New York Times bestseller Every Day In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan (co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up. Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning.

Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Considering how much I loved Every Day, I had high hopes for this companion novel...and unfortunately they weren't realised. Whilst it was nice to see the story through Rhiannon's eyes, I can't say that for me it was as fascinating as having the speculative fiction element as the central focus with A's perspective. That being said, I feel that the two books could be read separately or out of order, so if you want to start with the more contemporary side, then this book may appeal more to you.

There's 'trouble in paradise' for Rebecca when the enigmatic 'A' enters into Justin, her boyfriend's body for a day which turns out to be the best in their relationship. Justin (the real one) was a complete and utter moron for the rest of the book, so being someone else was a definite improvement. If I didn't like him in the first rendition of this story, then I couldn't stand him in this one. It's not so much the fact that he's so possessive (though that is an issue), but also that he treats Rhiannon like crap and she just puts up with it. Her friends were right about them not truly suiting each other, and though he does have feelings too - he just wasn't good news and irritated me to no end. Knowing how the story would go anyway as it is the same plot as its sibling, I found myself just wanting to skim by because there wasn't much really 'happening' in places. I just wish that I had been able to connect more with the characters this time around, but I couldn't form that same bond as I had before.

That being said, there were some quite profound moments as Rhiannon found redemption by actually thinking for herself. She proves that she does have a backbone and wants a real love, that although unique, is also fulfilling emotionally. 'A' was given a different filter in this book I found, and definitely more on a subjective level as we saw him/her through Rhiannon's perspective. In some ways I could sympathise with her uncertainty and confusion over the ambivalence of it all and the sheer strangeness of meeting someone who was constantly morphing identities.


I have mixed feelings about Another Day - while on the one hand it didn't live up to the amazingness of Every Day, it does have some good qualities about it as it provides a fresh perspective on what happened. If you want to read one of these for the first time though, I'd definitely recommend going for the original.