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?