Footprints On The Moon: Review

Footprints On The Moon by Lorraine Marwood
Genre: Historical Verse novel, #LoveOzYA/MG
Publication: February 2nd, 2021
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Source: @AusYaBloggers Tour
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵

Humans are about to leave footprints on the moon, but what sort of mark can one girl make here on earth?

It’s 1969 and life is changing fast. Sharnie Burley is starting high school and finding it tough to make new friends. As the world waits to see if humans will land on the moon, the Vietnam War rages overseas. While her little cousin, Lewis, makes pretend moon boots, young men are being called up to fight, sometimes without having any choice in the matter. Sometimes without ever coming home.

Dad thinks serving your country in a war is honourable, but when Sharnie’s older sister, Cas, meets a returned soldier and starts getting involved in anti-war protests, a rift in their family begins to show. Sharnie would usually turn to her grandma for support, but lately Gran’s been forgetting things.

Can she find her own way in this brave new world?

About The Author: Lorraine Marwood was born and raised in rural Victoria and has lived for most of her married life on a dairy farm with her husband and their six children. Lorraine is an award-winning poet who has been widely published in literary magazines across Australia, as well as magazines in the UK, USA, New Zealand and Canada. She has also published several children’s novels and collections of poetry.

Author Links: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | UQP Australia | Goodreads


Set in 1969 this verse novel by award-winning Aussie poet Lorraine Marwood follows the life of Sharnie as she navigates the first year of high school. Not only is Sharnie dealing with everything that happens when you start growing up – Friendships changing, making new friends and losing old, learning how to navigate bullies and the rules of high school – she can also tell her Grandma mind is starting to slip, that’s already so much to deal with emotionally, and I haven’t even touched on the War and Moon landings.

At the start of the book, Sharnie and her sister Cas are starting to drift apart. I loved seeing them coming back together by the end of the book, it was one of the highlights for me. As was Sharnie growing as a person and coming to realize how complicated life and the big and wild world is. Another highlight was Sharnie embracing Gail, whose brother was killed Vietnam War, and the beautiful and meaningful friendship they develop.

The moon landing plot was always in the background, and with the addiction of Sharnie’s space-obsessed little cousin, it provided relief from what is actually a very sad story.  I will be honest and say that I cried A LOT reading this book, every time their Grandma was mentioned it ripped me apart.

The War, conscription, and anti-war protests also feature heavily, but nothing is ever so descriptive that this book would be unsuitable for young audiences. I actually think this book is a magnificent time capsule for 1969 Australia – but this story is also timeless and universal, and one I will be encouraging my boys to read once they are a little older.

Check out the rest of the tour HERE.

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Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

Girl of the Southern Sea: Review

GIRL OF THE SOUTHERN SEA By Michelle Kadarusman
Genre: Middle-Grade Contemporary
Publication: February 2nd, 2021
Publisher: University Queensland Press
Source: Review copy received as part of the @AusYABloggers tour, THANK YOU.
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵

A gifted student, Nia longs to attend high school so she can follow her dream and become a writer. She has notebooks filled with stories she’s created about the mythological Dewi Kadita, Princess of the Southern Sea. But her family has barely enough money for food, let alone an education, so Nia’s days are spent running their food cart and raising her younger brother.

Following a miraculous escape from a bus accident, Nia is gifted with good-luck magic. Or at least that’s what everyone’s saying. Soon their family business is booming and there might even be enough money to return to school. But how long can her good luck last?

When a secret promise threatens everything she’s hoped for, Nia must find a way to break the mould and write her own future.

About The Author:  Michelle’s first middle-grade novel The Theory of Hummingbords was nominated for the OLA Silver Birch Express, MYRCA Sundogs and SYRCA Diamond Willow awards. Her novel Girl of the Southern Sea was a 2019 Governor General’s Award finalist, USBBY Outstanding Book and Freeman Book Award Honorable Mention. Her new novel, Music for Teens, released in 2020.

Michelle grew up in Melbourne, Australia and has also lived in Bali, Surabaya and Jakarta in Indonesia. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada. You can find her @ Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads.


The story opens in the slums of Jakarta Indonesia with POV Nia trying to get her drunken father home. A series of events (no spoilers here) leaves 14-year-old Nia’s father MIA and sees her having to work the Family’s banana cart by herself to feed herself, her 5-year-old brother Rudi, and to pay off their fathers’ debts.

Nia has had to play the role of mother to her little brother since their mother died giving birth to him. Even with this, Nia has no hated or resentment towards Rudi, rather she looks at having him as still having a piece of her mum to hold. She does come to, and rightly so, resent her father’s addiction to alcohol.

Nia is a natural-born storyteller, and she yearns to attend high school, and later become a writer. But sadly, in Nia’s part of the world, the government schools are only free until the end of middle school and Nia does not have enough money for the fees to attend high school. Even though I am trying to be spoiler-free, I will say that I love that Michelle included the stories that Nia writes her little brother and friends, so that the reader can enjoy them too.

At 14 Nia’s character is age-wise on the border of middle grade and young adult, Girl of the Southern Sea has been written for the MG market. The story is quick and engaging, written in a beautifully simple and flowing style. And fear not, the story does have a happy ending. Everything does not end all fairytale and fluffy, but the reader is left with the hope that things will improve for Nia, thanks to her being a hard worker and never giving up on her dreams.

Ultimately Girl of the Southern Sea is a story of never giving up or losing hope. A story of holding onto your dreams and working hard to make them a reality.

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Before the Beginning: #loveozya Review

The story of four friends, a mysterious stranger, and the week when everything changed. For fans of We Were Liars.

Schoolies week: that strange in-between time when teenagers move from school into the adult world. It’s a week when anything is possible, and everything can change.

Grace is questioning everything she thought about herself, and has opted not to join her clique of judgemental friends for schoolies, instead tagging along with her brother Casper and his friends. Casper, an artist, is trying to create the perfect artwork for his uni application folio. Overachieving, anxiety-ridden Noah is reeling from a catastrophe that might have ruined his ATAR result. And Elsie is just trying to figure out how to hold their friendship group together.

On the first night of the trip, they meet Sierra, a mysterious girl with silver-grey hair and a magnetic personality. All of them are drawn to her for different reasons, and she persuades them to abandon the cliched schoolies experience in favour of camping with her on a remote, uninhabited island. On that island, each of them will find answers to their questions. But what does Sierra want from them?

An empathetic and suspenseful coming-of-age story from the author of All That Impossible Space.


Before the Beginning by Anna Morgan, published September 29th, 2020. I received a review copy from Hachette via the #AusYABloggers – Thank You! 

Anna Morgan’s writing captured me from the first page. I loved this book way more than I was expecting to. I went into this book thinking it was a contemporary coming of age tale, it is that, but it is also so much more. My Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

This “schoolies” story is split up into five parts and is told through multiple points of view as the plot progresses.

The first narrator we meet is Grace. She is extremely endearing, and I was immediately drawn to her. Grace is at a point in her life where she is finding her church and her friend group does not fit her anymore (hence why she is spending schoolies with her brother’s mates). Nothing makes me happier than normalised sexual diversity, so Grace getting to have her first girl on girl kiss on the island and getting to journey with her as her entire world shifts, was bliss. While we are inside Grace’s head, we find out how lost and alone she is feeling. But also, how worried she is for her brother’s future too, even if for the most part he treats her dismissively and she always feels she has to compete with him and make up for his shortcomings.

The second narrator we meet is Noah. Oh, what a beautiful Bubba Boy. I just wanted to hug Noah and take him to therapy. This kid made the mother in me rear up, I wanted to help this kid. I wanted to nurture this kid. I saw a lot of my eldest son in Noah and it made my heartache. The poor bub has crippling anxiety and is way too hard on himself. He is super smart and a total sweetheart. While we are inside Noah’s head, we find out how pressure is on him to succeed and we see him crumble and break – thankfully he has good mates to help put him with some much-needed RNR and moral support.

The third narrator we meet is Casper at just around the halfway mark of the story. I really did not like Casper until I got to be in his head. He tends to get lost in his own head, losing track of the real world, and sometimes really struggles to get out and is left feeling a little out of sync. With the end of his chapters, we get to experience him realising what a dick he had been, but also the story really ramps up in suspense and action.

The fourth narrator we meet is Elsie. Oh Elsie, she is trying to get over her crush on her bestie, trying to figure out what she wants to do after school, who she wants to be, and trying to hold her group of friends together. Elsie and Grace were quite standoffish at first and I loved seeing their friendship grow.

For the fifth and final part of the story narration swaps back to Grace.

I have talked about the others, so now I must mention the last of all the main characters, the one who pushes the plot along to its flaring conclusion, but does not get to narrate the story. The one teen who was a stranger to the rest of them in the beginning. Oh, Sierra! Is she the ghost of a girl who died on Shearwater Island, or just a copycat using her name, or is she something else, perhaps a mythical creature from the sea? I do not want to tell you what I think about who or what Sierra is (I changed my mind a few times along the way). I want you to meet her and make up your own mind.

This book touches on faith, sexuality, sibling rivalry, growing up, the pressure put on kids relating to final exams, and picking the perfect careers. Each of the four friends’ journeys was beautiful, full of reflection and personal growth, their time on the island only strengthening their bonds of friendship.

BEFORE THE BEGINNING is a phenomenal read, a cut above the rest, and it will stay with you for quite some time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anna was born in Sydney, but spent most of her childhood surrounded by mountains in Nepal and Tibet while her parents were part of an international community of health professionals. Navigating this cross-cultural life made her a curious observer of people, although most of her time was spent reading Enid Blyton and dreaming of going to boarding school. This did not cushion the shock of shifting from home-school in Tibet to an all-girls high school in Melbourne when her family returned to Australia. All That Impossible Space explores some of the intense and convoluted friendships that thrive in this setting. Anna completed a MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University in 2015, and now lives in Melbourne with her husband. She works as a bookseller.
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The Secret Life of Stars: Review

We all know the Sun, the powerhouse of our solar system, but what about Luyten’s Flare, the Rosino-Zwicky Object or Chanal’s variable star? For those whose curiosity takes them far beyond Earth’s atmosphere, The Secret Life of Stars offers a personal and readily understood introduction to some of the Galaxy’s most remarkable stars.

Each chapter connects us to the various different and unusual stars and their amazing characteristics and attributes, from pulsars, blue stragglers and white dwarfs to cannibal stars and explosive supernovae. With chapter illustrations by Eirian Chapman, this book brings to life the remarkable personalities of these stars, reminding readers what a diverse and unpredictable universe we live in and how fortunate we are to live around a stable star, our Sun.


A book on Astrophysics aimed at teens, yes please! Science was one of my favourite classes in high school (that and Art & Drama, yes, yes, strange mix I know).

From the moment Lisa introduced herself at the start, just the vibe I got from reading her introduction, I knew I was going to enjoy this book. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I was going to love this book or the intense pull it would awaken in me to stop, slow down, and gaze up at the stars with a reinvigorating sense of wonder.

Before taking a stroll around the known universe one Star at a time, The Secret Life of Stars kicks off close to home, talking about the bringer of our life, the marvel that is our sun.

“At around 6 billion years old, the sun is in the middle age of her life. And before you ask, yes, the sun is a woman. How do I know? She holds down a steady job (heating and lighting the solar system), provides for a family of eight and hasn’t taken a holiday in 4.6 billion years.”

All hail the sun!!! and a high five and hug to Lisa, a woman showing up for girls in Science!

The pure love and worship of the universe around us and all the infinite number of stars in existence shines through in Lisa’s sometimes humous, always fascinating words.

Lisa has written an informative and interesting delve into the universe around us in an easily accessible way. Ha, maybe if they wrote textbooks like this more kids would be entranced by not only Astrophysics and Astrology, but Sciences as a whole!

I have been in a reading funk lately, struggling to focus on fictional tales and The Secret Life of Stars was a like an invigorating dip in the ocean, or use a different analogy, like a breath of fresh air. It is a perfect conversation starting coffee table book, a perfect read a little here and there book, and it is also engaging enough to read in a cover to cover marathon. I kept finding myself reading passages out loud to my other half Shane. The Secret Life of Stars has rekindled a stargazing passion for us both. And has us intending to save up for a decent telescope and muck around with Astro-Photography to make use of our old SLR in the meantime.

Who would like this book: This book may have been aimed at teens in its conception, but at 33 I can tell you it’s not just for teens. Maybe you know a stargazer, a dreamer, a sci-fi lover, a lover of all things science, or even a lover of travel – maybe it’s you – then The Secret Life of Stars would make a fantastic special treat, birthday or Chrissy gift.

There isn’t much more I can say, so I will leave you with this quote: “Every atom of iron on planet Earth was made inside a star. That goes for every atom of iron in your blood, too… Next time you look at your veins, or use a compass, or don’t die in a shower of lethal cosmic radiation, be grateful to the unnamed relic of a cosmic behemoth who gave its life that we might live. Our ancestor star, our gentle giant of the skies.”


Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, astronomer, author and Women in STEM ambassador looks up at the moon.Lisa Harvey-Smith is an award-winning astronomer and Professor at the University of New South Wales. She has a talent for making complicated science seem simple and fun. Lisa is a regular on national tv/radio/media and has appeared in several TV series and documentaries as a guest scientist and is a presenter alongside Prof. Brian Cox on ABC TV’s Stargazing Live. 

image2194In 2018 she was appointed as the Australian Government’s Ambassador for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). As an Ambassador Lisa is responsible for increasing the participation of women and girls in STEM studies and careers across Australia. She is also a vocal advocate for building inclusive workplaces for LGBTQI+ scientists.

Find out more about Lisa here > https://lisaharveysmith.com/biography

Links: Goodreads | Thames & Hudson Australia & Lisa’s Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Website

Follow the Australian Bloggers tour HERE.

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Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

The Diary of a Late Bloomer

The Diary of a late bloomer by L.M.L. Gil
Genre: Coming of Age, New Adult, Romance, Sports
Source: Review copy from Xpresso – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

Every wallflower blooms at their own perfect time, but some like quirky Lo, take longer than others.

Lo is a sheltered 20-year-old who loves baking, manga/anime, and octopi. When she spots her college swim team’s tryout flyer sporting her favorite sea creature, an octopus she knows it’s a sign that she must join the Flying Octopi. The only things standing her way are her social awkward nature and the fact that she just learned to swim.

Will Lo find her place to shine or will her social anxiety DQ her dreams?

Late Bloomer is a new adult novel that is a cross between Bridget Jones’s Diary, Baywatch and Kuragehime.


My thoughts: The Diary of a late bloomer was a blissful slow burn of a book, that I ended up adoring. The story is told in the format of diary entries written by the POV character, each day for five months (First entry Sept 3rd, 2003, last entry Feb 29th, 2004). The diary style in which this is told felt unique and as the reader, I felt as if I was reading a personal journal and like I was looking into Lo’s mind.

The story opens with Lo running late to swim team tryouts. She taught herself to swim over the summer, with the help of books, and really isn’t that good. But the coach takes pity on her and allows her on the team, even going as far as to come up with special training routines to help her become as capable as her other teammates – it’s actually super sweet now that I look back at it, he could have just turned her down – At first, she struggles with the grueling routines of the swim team, but grows to appreciate it as her fitness level increases.

Lo comes across as a bit stilted at times, but that grows on you and ends up being kinda adorable. She’s 20, has had hardly any adult life experiences, and oh boy does she wine a lot in the beginning. But that all starts to make sense as we see how overprotective her mother is and the life she leads at home with her brother and parents.

For the most part of the story, Lo is very down on herself after years of schoolyard bullying. It is glorious to see her come out of her shell. We see her go to her first concert without parental supervision, learn how to navigate friendships and dating, have her first kiss, and *spoiler* her first boyfriend. It was enjoyable watching Lo’s character grow, to see her stop making excuses and start moving forward with her life.

I would have loved a prequel showing the swim team still kicking, (person who I’m not naming as it’s a big spoiler) and Lo awkwardly in love and (that same person) spending more time with Lo’s family.

Summary: this book is a clean slow burn romance that will warm your heart.

NOTE! You do not need to be into swimming to enjoy this book!


Watch the book trailer HERE.  Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

L.M.L. Gil is a writer, a reader, and a dreamer. When she is not writing, editing, or thinking about her next story, she is either in the kitchen testing out a new recipe or snuggling with her fur munchkins reading.

As a glutton, she equates a good novel to a scrumptious dessert, which leaves your heart a little lighter and a smile on your face. She hopes her novels provide a sweet treat without the calories

You can find her HERE.

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Mister Invincible: Review

Mister Invincible: Local Hero by Pascal Jousselin
Genre: Childrens, Graphic Novel
Publication: August 4th, 2020
Publisher: Magnetic Press
Source: Review copy from Netgalley – Thank You
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵

Winner of the BEST MIDDLE GRADE COMIC Award at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair! There’s a new superhero in town — Mr. Invincible! Sure, he wears a mask and cape and helps widows and orphans as any self-respecting hero would, but he also thwarts the mad scientists and bad guys with his amazing super-power that makes him the only true comic book hero: he can reach outside the comic strip panels to affect both space and time! By breaking the boundaries of ‘comic book physics’ he and his companions are able to do amazing things that are only possible thanks to the magic of comics! A wholly unique and creative twist on conventional comic-book reading experience, this wacky Middle Grade title will put your imagination to the test!


Mister Invincible: Local Hero was a quick, fun and humours read. I quite liked the way Mister Invincible can reach through the story panels, breaking the fourth wall. Mister Invincible moves around the panels and pages grabbing things from the future and positioning himself perfectly to stop the bad guys.

Mister Invincible outsmarts evil supervillains (two reoccurring), befriends wayward teens who have their own superpowers and takes on one such teen as an apprentice, travels from France to America to help the president, saves cats stuck up trees – all sorts of things – Sometimes solo and sometimes with the aid of one of his sidekicks (one a local police officer and the other his superhero apprentice).

I do not know much about this series other than the synopsis grabbed my attention and that it has been translated from French. It reads like it was a weekly web or newspaper series that has been compiled and published together in a paperback format – it had major Sunday newspaper vibes for me. This book is filled with smaller standalone stories, which I think makes it a perfect coffee table book that you could pick up and read a few pages of here or there, as well as it also being entertaining enough to read in one sitting, cover to cover, as a whole.

I read this as an eARC from Netgalley and I am thinking that I will buy a printed edition when it comes out in August for my eldest son Riley, as I think he would find Mister Invincible rather fantastic!

All in all, Mister Invincible is a fun for all ages comic, that’d I recommend for anyone after some light-hearted reading.

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Saga: #LoveOZYA review

48640282. sy475 Saga by Nikki McWatters
Genre: Historical, #LoveOzYa
Publication: November 5th 2019
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Source: Review copy from publisher – Thank You
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵

In the last years of the Viking Era, as the traditions and old wisdoms are being replaced by the Roman Church, Astrid, a skaldm r who is learning to write royal sagas, takes on the task of recording the True Things so that they are not forgotten. When she realises that she must protect her baby from the King and the Bishop, Astrid runs away to the Orkney Islands to hide her daughter and the book.

Mercy is taken from a Victorian orphanage in Glasgow by a dangerous man. She escapes and meets Ann Radcliffe, a successful yet reclusive author of Gothic horror novels. Mercy joins Ann’s household and is taught the art of storytelling. But she longs to discover her true identity, the answers to which may be found in a book her mother left for her at the orphanage.

Mia, who lives in the Blue Mountains, is given the ancient book Systir Saga at the funeral of her cousin. With the help of a university research assistant, she manages to decipher the early rune symbols and discovers that it points to an even more mysterious book buried somewhere in the Orkney Islands. Mia travels to an ancient rock mound on a windswept island to discover the true secret of the Systir Saga.


Saga is the story of three strong and resilient young women who share a bloodline. The first chapter opens with the POV of Astrid (Orkneyjar, Norway 1066). In the second chapter, we move on to meet 2nd POV, Mercy (Glasgow, Scotland 1813). Then in the third chapter, we meet 3rd POV, Mia (The Blue Mountains, Australia present day).

For me Saga read like three books in one, with each chapter cycling through, Astrid, Mercy & Mia, then back again. By the end of Mai’s first chapter, it was obvious what the connection between the three young women was – but I think that is possibly intentional.

I really enjoyed and apricate the way McWatters has weaved historical figures, myths, and historical events in amongst fantasy in this historical/contemporary/treasure hunt mash-up of a book.

A highlight for me was the storyline of present-day Mia traveling to the Pagan holy island of Eynhallow and seeing what she and her friend learn about and uncover on Pict culture.

Overall, I think this book is a brilliant concept and has some fantastic storylines, and the ability to make the reader remember that we women did in fact run the world once upon a time.

“Four generations of women here,” Syvia said as the wind whipped her white hair about her face. “My women. My family. And our books that tell a story of a time when we were queens and goddesses, witches, warriors and wordsmiths.”


Full discloser: I started reading this book in December 2019, super excited, expecting that I would love it and be buying my Scottish born Grandmother and Mother a copy each for Christmas. I stopped reading in January at the 50% mark as I was having trouble investing in the characters, and my reading progress had been quite slow. I would just feel I was getting into the groove of the story, only to be pulled out and dropped in another one. I was getting super frustrated as I really wanted to love this book, but the chapter swapping out each time, it really felt like I was reading three books at once – something that some people really enjoy doing! But not me in the last few years. I like to start a book then devour it in as few reading sessions as possible, that is how I find I get the most enjoyment – like binge-watching a season of something on Netflix lol. So just because it’s not my cup of tea, doesn’t mean that it’s isn’t your cup of tea – ya feel me.

I had planned on picking Saga up again earlier this year, as I still wanted to finish the book. I’ve only just got around to picking it back up in late May, but was still having the same issues, so for the last quarter I decided to just read Mia chapters, to find out how the overall story ends and follow the treasure hunt present-day storyline (as I was finding it the most interesting, but only because of the initial Astrid story set up, having known she started it all).

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Grace’s Ghosts: MG Review

49849141Grace’s Ghosts by Stephenie Wilson Peterson
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Publication: April 28th 2020
Publisher: Immortal Works
Source: Review copy from Silver Dagger – Thank You
Rating: ✵✵✵✵
Twelve-year-old Grace and her feline best friend, Midnight, have a secret: Midnight is a ghost. But then again, so are the rest of Graces’ friends.

Since she’s the only person in hundreds of years with the ability to see them, the many ghosts of Tansy have flocked to Grace since birth. She doesn’t mind. She prefers the company of the dead to that of the cliquey kids at school.

Grace is happy with her strange life, until one day, the ghosts tell her about the secret her town has hidden for centuries. There’s a reason there are more ghosts than living people in Tansy. Three-hundred years ago, a lonely witch cast a spell that mistakenly trapped the soul of every person to ever set foot in the tiny town. So when the spirits beg her to find a way to break the curse, Grace is eager to help.

As she searches for answers, Grace makes discoveries about the secret her family hid for generations and a world of magic hidden in her own backyard.

Grace soon realizes that if she succeeds in breaking the curse, she’ll lose Midnight and all of her ghost friends, but if she fails, everyone living in Tansy will face the same fate. Can Grace break the curse before it’s too late?


Set in the tiny mountain town of Tansy, this story follows Grace’s adventures with the town’s ghost population, magic curses, the class bully, and magical family secrets.

As the reader, I found 12-yr-old Grace to be easily likable. She is an outcast relentlessly bullied, with her only friends being members of the strangely large ghost population of Tansy.

Once we’ve gotten to know Grace a little bit, we find out that her ghost friends are in trouble, then it is a race against the clock to uncover the truth, save their souls and break the curse on Tansy. Along the way, Grace discovers she comes from a long line of female Mages and that she too possesses great power (which explains the whole talking to ghost’s thing), her mother and grandmother join in to help break the curse and Grace even makes some human friends and stands up to her bully!

By the end of the book, the main plot is resolved giving the reader enough closure for a satisfying ending and all over satisfying reading experience, yet leaving the thread of Grace’s great-great-aunt, a white mage who went dark, open for exploring in a follow-up book. *Finger crossed*, as I’d read it!

Grace’s Ghosts is a fast-paced and fun middle-grade urban fantasy. A beautiful story of self-discovery, family secrets, and lost magic. A story filled with adventure and magical mayhem. A story for the whole family to enjoy.


Book Trailer
About the Author: Semi-nomadic, Stephenie and her family currently live near Raleigh, North Carolina. Her kids are Texans at heart and Stephenie and her husband grew up just outside of Seattle. Stephenie writes, creates art, and homeschools her three amazing kids. Stephenie loves to hike with her family and drink lots and lots of coffee.
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As Fast As I Can: #LoveOzMG Review

Today is my tour stop on the UQP and #AusYABloggers review tour celebrating the release of Australian Author Penny Tangey’s new book As Fas As I Can.

As Fast As I Can by Penny Tangey
Genre: Contemporary, #LoveOzMG
Publication: March 31st, 2020
Publisher: UQP
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

From CBCA-shortlisted author Penny Tangey comes this funny, heartfelt novel about ten-year-old Vivian and her quest to one day become an Olympic middle-distance runner. Dealing with themes around chronic illness, persistence and acceptance.

One girl. One dream. A few hurdles.

Ten-year-old Vivian is determined to win a medal at the Olympic Games one day. Problem is, she hasn’t found a sport she’s any good at yet. But everyone says if you work hard enough you can achieve anything, right? So when Vivian discovers she has a talent for cross country running, finally, her Olympic dream might actually come true.

But then a family illness is uncovered and all of Vivian’s plans begin to unravel. Can she keep her dream alive? Or will she be stopped in her tracks?

A funny, heartfelt novel about resilience, acceptance and dreaming big.

Oh wow, this book brought back memories of primary school athletes’ carnivals, Heathy Harold visits, and the excitement of learning about the Olympics for the first time. But don’t worry, you do not need to be into sports or follow the Olympics to enjoy this story. Even though I’m not a big sports fan in general and being that the only sports I will actually sit down and watch involve motors, wheels, and insane speeds – I still really enjoyed this book.

As Fast As I Can is the tale of Vivian Hassler, a young girl whose Olympic dreams are shattered by a life-altering doctor’s diagnosis. We follow the POV character Vivian through the ups of finally feeling like her dreams are achievable, to the downs of having to learn to deal and live with chronic illness.
Even though sad things happen, this is not a sad book – It is a heartwarming book. Vivian Hassler is a bright, charismatic, and energetic girl, who was easy to like and easy to connect with.

I do wish this book would have had an epilogue. I am not a big fan of open endings, they feel unfinished to me, but hey, some people love them. The ending points in the direction of Vivian accepting her illness. But I would have loved an epilogue showing her enjoying new hobbies and just generally being happy.  Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed the book, 4/5 stars, and I intend to look into Penny’s other books. I just would have liked to see her finding a new passion, not just realizing she needs to, as she is only just starting to come to terms with her diagnosis when the story ends.

I love the variety of Aussie Middle-Grade titles coming out these days! For the intended audience, this book will teach kids empathy, family and friendship dynamics, how to handle disappointment, the importance of hobbies, and how there is more than one way to live out your dreams. For me as an adult, I may not have learned anything new, but it was still a captivating read that I am so happy to see exists and one that I intend to share with my boys.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Penny Tangey writes humorous books for young people. Penny studied Arts/Science at Melbourne University majoring in Chemistry and Indonesian. While at university Penny performed stand-up comedy, including in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Penny now works as a researcher for television quiz shows Hard Quiz and The Chase, but is still terrible at trivia.

Penny’s latest book As fast As I Can, is her fourth book published by University of Queensland Press. Her three previous novels being; Loving Richard Feynman, Clara in Washington, and Stay Well Soon.

You can find Penny at her website HERE and on Twitter HERE.

Follow along on the tour HERE.

Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

The Year the Maps Changed: Review

The Year the Maps Changed by Rachel Hennessy
Genre: Contemporary #LoveOzMG
Publication: April 28th 2020
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Source: Review copy from publisher as part of #AusYABloggers tour – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

I was eleven when everything started and twelve by the end. But that’s another way maps lie, because it felt like the distance travelled was a whole lot further than that.

Sorrento, Victoria – 1999
Fred’s family is a mess. Fred’s mother died when she was six and she’s been raised by her Pop and adoptive father, Luca, ever since. But now Pop is at the Rye Rehabilitation Centre recovering from a fall; Luca’s girlfriend, Anika, has moved in; and Fred’s just found out that Anika and Luca are having a baby of their own. More and more it feels like a land-grab for family and Fred is the one being left off the map.

But even as the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, a crisis from the other side of it comes crashing in. When 400 Kosovar-Albanian refugees arrive in the middle of the night to be housed at one of Australia’s ‘safe havens’ on an isolated headland not far from Sorrento, their fate becomes intertwined with the lives of Fred and her family, as she navigates one extraordinary year that will change them all.


The Year The Maps Changed is a story of love and family, a story of grief and finding home.

Winifred (Fred, Freddo, Winnie) lost her mum when she was only Six and since then it is always just been Fred, Her Pop and her adoptive father Luca – Until Luca’s new girlfriend and her ten-year-old son Sam comes to live with them. Fred does not cope with the change very well but keeps all her emotions bottled inside. When Luca & Anika announce they are having a baby, it makes Fred feel left out and lost – it makes her feel that there is no room left for her.

The story follows POV character Fred as she comes to terms with her new family and learns about the refugees coming to her little part of the world and how unfair life can be. The story starts with Fred being 11 years old, but by the end she has turned 12, with the story being set out over the year of 1999. I was 12 in 1999! and have vague memories of the Kosovo Albanians being taken to Point Nepean and other places in Australia. It gave the story this extreme depth, the true events mixed in with Danielle Binks fantastic story telling.

The whole way through while Fred is coming to terms with her new family, there is the refugee storyline unfolding – which I do not want to talk too much about and spoil the story. BUT I will say that two people Fred knows very well end up in trouble for helping an escaped refugee that Fred develops a special friendship with.

POV Fred is a smart, kind and caring girl who gets a little lost but manages to emotionally find her way home to the people she loves and embrace her new bigger family life. It is impossible not to fall for Fred and her family. I loved seeing, or rather feeling, Fred mature and grow into a beautiful little lady throughout the course of this story. It was really touching watching Sam and Fred slowly growing closer and developing a real brother and sister bond. But my favourite part of the story had me crying! When Fred comes to the realisation that Anika loves her and that is okay to love Anika back, that loving Anika like a mum, was not going to mean she would forget her mum or love her mum any less. Oh how my heart exploded with love.

This was a truly touching story that will stay with me and one I intend to share with my boys when they are a little older. Bravo Binks!!!!!


About The Author: Danielle Binks is a Mornington Peninsula-based author and literary agent. Her debut book ‘The Year the Maps Changed’ is out with Hachette on April 28 – a historic-fiction novel for 10-14 year-olds, set in 1999 it deals with the events of ‘Operation Safe Haven’ and Australia’s biggest humanitarian exercise to-date.

Connect with Danielle: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂