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 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).

Waiting on Wednesday: The Roanoke Girls

Wednesday, 8 March 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 The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel.

A gripping, provocative thriller about the twisted secrets families keep, perfect for fans of The Girls.

Beautiful. Rich. Mysterious. Everyone wants to be a Roanoke girl. But you won't when you know the truth.

Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin at the Roanoke family's rural estate following the suicide of her mother. Over one long, hot summer, Lane experiences the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls.

 But what she doesn't know is being a Roanoke girl carries a terrible legacy: either the girls run, or they die.

For there is darkness at the heart of Roanoke, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull, she must make her choice...

I'm fortunate enough to have a copy of this book for review, and can't wait to see how its compelling secrets come to light. To see this compared to The Girls by Emma Cline which was one of my top reads last year definitely makes for some high expectations!

Releasing 14th March 2017 from Hachette

Review: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay - Can true evil lurk within?

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Released: 27th September 2016
Published by: Titan Books
Genre: Horror
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 363
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. To her parents' despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie's descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help.

Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts' plight. With John, Marjorie's father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie's younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface - and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.
As winner of the Bram Stoker prize in 2015, scary enough to spook Stephen King and commended by Megan Abbott, one of my favourite authors, it's fair to say A Head Full of Ghosts had a lot to prove. I'll be the first to admit that horror isn't a genre I'll typically venture into, but this dubiously twisted novel is one I don't regret giving a chance. Paul Tremblay knows exactly how to keep readers invested in the fate of this dangerously dysfunctional family. If you want to look deeper though, I feel the essence of this book is that he retains a sense of ambiguity which leaves you questioning whether the source of the chaos is of this world, or another realm altogether. 

She kept talking and she kept talking. I thought she would never stop. Standing there, I felt the sun pour through the windows, setting and rising on my back. The sunroom had become a sundial measuring the geological age of my psychological torture.

A Head Full of Ghosts may not have outright 'scared' me, but it definitely was a mind-bending experience. The story is told largely from Merry's perspective recounting the events which unfolded regarding her sister, and the reality TV show The Possession which documented the lives of her family. Comparisons can be made between her reaction to Marjorie's behaviour as an eight-year old, and fifteen years later when being interviewed by a reporter. Merry's childhood innocence tainted by the terror of an older sibling morphing into someone unrecognisable, seems to have shaped her into cloistered horror blogger she had become, but calls into question the reliability of her narration.

It is ironic and quite 'meta' that as 'Karen Brissette' Merry is able to publish posts to 'The Last Final Girl' about all things relating to the genre, referencing other renowned horror films when dissecting the episodes of The Possession. I'm sure horror aficionados would appreciate these allusions more than a novice like myself, but I do commend the author in weaving all these narrative elements together in such a way that we're always on the brink of discovering the truth - and yet at every dark turn it eludes us once more. 

Or maybe. Maybe. Maybe I'm just a lost, confused kid, scared of what's happening to me, to my family, to the world, and I hate school and I have no friends, and I spend my days sleeping with my iPod cranked up as loud as it'll go, trying not to go completely crazy, and with all that time alone I'm looking shit up on the Internet, looking up the same stuff over and over, and I memorize it all because I'm wicked smart, because I have to fill my head with something other than the ghosts.

When the facts of Marjorie's diagnosis are obscured by the idea that her father is convinced she is 'possessed', in conjunction with the sensationalism of reality TV, the plot takes on an even more labyrinthine quality. Is her father's proselytism justified for the right reasons? Is Marjorie actually putting on a teenage 'cry for help'? These fundamental questions are what kept the pages turning for me, and even upon finishing the book you'll be left pondering them, and others, even more. There were definitely some disturbing twists towards the end which pull back part of the curtain obscuring the skeleton of this story, but I think it would take a second reading to truly grasp it all. 


A Head Full of Ghosts is an eerie read presenting a dichotomy in the sanity of its characters, while simultaneously teasing the minds of those who brave its pages.