The Plastic Throne: Children’s Picture Book Review

The Plastic Throne by Amani Uduman & Kera Bruton
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Publication: 1st March 2021
Publisher: MidnightSun Publishing
Source: Review copy from the publisher – Thank You
Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

Denver flushes all kinds of things down the toilet but never stops to think about what happens to them once they are gone. One night, while he sleeps, the ocean begins to stir, no longer able to suppress its fury over how it is being treated. Can Denver and his sister Maisy make things right before it is too late?

This engaging story touches on the concepts of sustainability and the protection of our natural environment all while keeping a tongue placed firmly in its cheek.

LINKS: GoodreadsBooktopiaAngus & RobertsonDymocksBoomerang Books.

When a four-year-old asks you to read a book three times in a row you know you are onto a winner, especially if it is one aiming for environmental education, and this was the case when I read The Plastic Throne from children’s author and primary school teacher Amani Udman and debut illustrator Kera Bruton with my boys.

The story follows a little boy named Denver as he flushes the veggies, he does not want to eat down the toilet. When this works well for him, he starts flushing broken toys, the cat, his sisters’ bike – anything he does not like or wants to hide. Obviously, this back-fires, comedically so, and the ocean swells with rubbish engulfing his town in rubbish, water, and ocean creatures. Denver realises the error of his ways with the help of his sister Maisy, and they try to rectify his mistakes.

The Plastic Throne is a bright and colorful picture book with an engaging story and artwork. The ending of the story opens the opportunity for deeper conversations with children about the responsible conservation of the earth’s environment and how to dispose of rubbish responsibly. And it is a read I highly recommend.

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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.

Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
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.

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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Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

Odd Voices: Review

Odd Voices: An Anthology of Not So Normal Narrators
Genre: Multiple – Queer YA
Publication: February 21st 2020
Publisher: Odd Voice Out
Review copy provided as part of Review Tour – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

In every new story we pick up, we’re seeking an exciting original voice. So why are there still voices we don’t hear from nearly enough? Why are there characters that so rarely take centre stage? In this collection from Odd Voice Out press, we discover the stories of twelve teenagers who stand out from the crowd and who’ll not easily be forgotten.

With settings that range from Scotland to Syria, Mexico to Mauritius, Africa to Russia, these stories take us to all corners of the globe and into the lives of young people with their own unique circumstances and perspectives. Characters dealing with issues of culture and class, exploring their sexuality and gender identity, or letting us into their experiences with illness, disability or neurodiversity. Their tales span all genres and can’t be reduced to labels. These are stories about bending the rules and breaking the law. Stories of fighting for survival and finding your place in the world. Stories of family solidarity, unlikely friendships and aching first love told by teenagers who don’t always fit in and aren’t often heard.

With a foreword by award winning YA author Catherine Johnson, this anthology brings together the top ten stories of Odd Voice Out’s 2019 Not So Normal Narrators contest, as well as bonus stories from in-house authors Kell Cowley and K.C. Finn.


How can you not be keen to read this anthology after a synopsis like that! Odd Voices is a brilliant and inclusive feeling anthology. There are stories with narrators that we do not get to see much of in mainstream YA, and the stories span multiple genres. Obviously, as with any anthology, I preferred some stories to others. But all the stories were of a high caliber.

Breathe by Eddie House. Dystopian, with F/F rep. A Great story to kick start the anthology with and one of my favourites. Captivating from start to finish, I would love to see this turned into a full-length novel. I need to know what happens next for Emmaline & Arabella, underdog teens rebelling against a corrupt health system together. 5/5 Stars.
“the thought of losing her makes my stomach shrivel. Em is my everything. My sun, sky, stars. Loving her feels like my body is a bonfire of salt and skin and blood built human.”

For Hugo by Tonia Markou. Contemporary, autistic rep. The mummy in me just wanted to hug Xander, so damn adorable! I loved this heart-warming story of a sweet boy looking for his lost pet lizard and struggling to behave the way he feels others expect him to. 5/5 Stars.
The Silence Rock by Mary Bill Howkins. Contemporary. A day in the life type story following an eleven-year-old Nigerian boy as his eyes are opened to the struggles of the women of his village community. This is a beautiful story about a thoughtful and caring young boy. 5/5 Stars.

Anchor by Colby Wren Fierek. Contemporary, non-binary rep. An achingly beautiful story about a 13-yr-old in the process of coming out. While the style of the writing caught me up a bit in some parts, I loved the relationship between dad Todd and child Viv (previously Victoria). 4/5 Stars.
“It’s hard sometimes, remembering that the way you are isn’t something that can be summed up all neat by phrases that belong to everyone else.”

Imago by Jack Bumby. Magical realism, M/M rep. The story follows Charlie as he explores his sexuality while battling memory and motor function loss. A deeply tormenting but gripping and beautiful tale. 5.5 Stars.

Love Makes Everyone (Into Poets) by Oceania Chee. Magical realism, F/F rep. The story of a teen so lovesick for her friend that she has flowers growing in her lungs that threaten to suffocate her. While I understand and appreciate the symbolism, I did struggle with the magical realism elements a little bit. 3/5 stars.

Oblivisci by A.Rose. Dystopian, with visually impaired rep. Set in a world were memories are currency, a young girl uses her extra abilities to try and save her sister and ends up overwriting the computer system that controls the memory trade. 3/5 stars.

Piano Wire by Rowan Curtis. Contemporary. The story of a Syrian girl’s life from having a peaceful and happy family life to hiding out alone in war ravaged ruins to overcrowded refugee camps to starting a new life in the UK. A Heart breaking but absolutely beautiful story. I’d love to see this story explained on and turned into a full-length novel. 5/5 Stars.

Shoplifting by Frances Copeland. Contemporary, wheelchair user rep. A day in the life style story about an orphaned teenager who uses her wheelchair invisibility to steal merchandise that she later has a friend sell. Her plan, to save up enough money to get her own apartment. Super sad, but beautiful. I’m telling myself that she gets her wish for her own place. 5/5 Stars.

Size of Rice by Sabah Carrim. Contemporary. The synopsis for this story being “A Muslim girl who finds her growing pains at odds with her religious doctrine.” Teenager, she’s just a normal teenager, being a teenager and coming to question the world around her. I think we can all relate to that. 3/5 Stars.

A last meal of magic by Kell Cowley. Urban fantasy, Albinism rep. A starving teen sets off to try and bargain for some food for his family with a woman who may or may not be a witch. Spoiler, she’s a witch. Also, cats can see ghosts – you’ll have to read it to understand why it’s so upsetting when we, the reader, find that out. 4/5 Stars.

Sixty-Five Days of Night by K.C. Finn. Cli-Fi (No not Sci-Fi, Cli-FI* – This is the first time I’ve ever come across the term. How about you?)
A gripping tale set on a future post-climate change catastrophe earth, where humans must take shifts in being in hibernation chambers as the earth can no longer support the whole population awake at once. This story has a super dark ending, but I still really liked it. 4/5 Stars.

*Definition of cli-fi in English: cli-fi. noun. mass noun. A genre of fiction that deals with the impacts of climate change and global warming. ‘cli-fi, like the science behind it, often presents bleak visions of the future’. – Google.

I’m feeling blessed to be on this tour. Odd Voices was even better than I’d hoped for!

It seems this anthology is to be an annual competition and publication process. So I will definitely be keeping an eye on this publishing house’s future releases. For more info on Odd Voice Out publishing house contest see HERE.

“If you look out of your window, wherever you live, even if you live in a tiny village, there will be different sorts of people out there. People of different races, gender identities, abilities and social classes. If your books are not reflecting that then, as a writer, you’re not truly reflecting society. And obviously stories are fiction and fiction is lies. But you should be aiming to tell the truth with your lies.” – Taken from the anthology forward by Catherine Johnson.

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

Sea of Gratitude: #LoveOzYA Review

Sea of Gratitude (The Bikini Collective #3)
by Kate McMahon
Genre: Contemporary #LoveOzYa
Publication: March 1st 2020
Review copy from Author – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

Three friends discover, surfing just got serious.

Book three in the Bikini Collective series sees the girls preparing for another action-packed surfing adventure, but one of them is burdened with secrets. With all of her scholarship funds exhausted, Carolyn has no choice: she’ll have to drop off the World Junior Tour. Just as all seems lost, the Bikini Collective – along with a mysterious donor – save the day. Next stop: Brazil! The lush South American tropics are dreamy; playful waves, everyday fiestas and beautiful, smooth-talking Brazilians. But can Carolyn find what it means to truly be happy? Just like a calm ocean with a deceiving undercurrent, things aren’t always what they seem.


In the first book we saw the three friends – Jaspa, Mel and Carolyn – competing in Australia while learning how to navigate staying friends and competing against each other. The second book sees the girls head to Malibu to attend their first World Junior Tour event as part of the Australian team, and their first-time leaving Oz. The first book focuses more on Jaspa, her awkward adorableness and her relationship with her brother. The second book was all up in Mel’s head as she learns how to tell who her real friends are, how not to get lost in the glitz and glamour and how to appreciate the things/people she has in her life. In this the third book the girls head to Brazil with the Australian World Junior Tour team and we follow along with Carolyn as she struggles with feeling like she does not belong.

15-year-old Carolyn does not feel like she fits, anywhere. Certainly not with her more well to do besties and classmates. She has very little faith in her own abilities as a competitive surfer and feels like a fraud on the team.

Carolyn’s qualified for the World Junior Tour but she doesn’t have the money to make it to Brazil. All her scholarship funds have been used up on surf school fees and the Malibu trip. She has been trying to save money from her part time job, but with having to help her mum make rent, she can’t get the funds together. Her friends find out about Carolyn not having the funds and they get together to host a fundraising event, and thus the Brazil trip begins.

Carolyn tries to keep everything locked up inside. She spends a lot of the book stressing about her mum back home, money, her mystery father and later, her sexuality. While all her problems are not resolved by the end of the book, she does learn that she is good enough, that she’s not alone and that her friends and family have her back. She also manages to score the best wave of her life and have a stellar competition run.

Sea of Gratitude is full of all the things I loved from the first two books. The surfing action scenes are written so descriptively that you feel like you are out on the wave. And the story is cute and quick-paced, full of heart and Girl Power!

I think that Sea of Gratitude could probably be read as a standalone, but then you would be depriving yourself of the fun of the first two books and building a deeper connection to the characters.

Who would like this book: While it’s listed as YA, this is a clean book that’d I’d recommend for ages 10 and up. Water and surf lovers. #LoveOZYA aficionados. And lovers of friendship filled tales. I applauded Kate for managing to create an exciting series that doesn’t use sex, violence, or OTT romance to make it captivating.

Kate McMahon: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

View my review of book one HERE & book two HERE.

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

Old Enough to Save the Planet: Review

Old Enough to Save the Planet by Loll Kirby (author) & Adelina Lirius (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s Picture Book, Climate Change
Publication: April 1, 2020
Publisher: Imprint – Magic Cat Publishing, Distributor – Walker Australia
Source: Review copy from the publisher – Thank You
View @ Walker Books & Goodreads
Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

An inspiring look at young climate change activists who are changing the world.

The world is facing a climate crisis like we’ve never seen before. And kids around the world are stepping up to raise awareness and try to save the planet. As people saw in the youth climate strike in September 2019, kids will not stay silent about this subject—they’re going to make a change. Meet 12 young activists from around the world who are speaking out and taking action against climate change. Learn about the work they do and the challenges they face, and discover how the future of our planet starts with each and every one of us.


A conversation with my 6-year-old son, upon finishing reading Old Enough to Save the Planet:

Riley: Is this real
Me: Yes buddy, these are all real stories, the kids really did these things. Did you enjoy the stories?
Riley: Yes.
Me: Did you learn anything?
Riley: Yes.
Me: What did you learn?
Riley: That we need bees.
Me: Okay. Did this book make you want to do anything differently?
Riley: Yes.
Me: What do you want to do?
Riley: Save the planet, just like the people in the book.
Me: What do you want to do first to save the world.
Riley: *staring at me as he realised I was typing what he was saying* Why are you typing it down.
Me: Don’t worry about that. Is there anything in the book you want to try to do?
Riley: Save the bees, save the plants.
Me: Yeah buddy, but is there anything specific they did in the book that you want to do?
Riley: Save the bees.
Me: Yeah buddy, but how.
Riley: Flowers.
Me: You want to plant a bunch of flowers for the bees.
Riley: Yeah.
Me: Well that’s a start.

Both my 6-yr-old Riley and 3-yr-old Ethan sat through the entire book. Yes, my 3yr-old was mainly interested in the beautiful pictures, but my 6-yr-old appeared to be paying attention to the words. As we read each child’s story I tried to expand on the topics e.g. discussing with Riley why bees were so important, why plastic in the ocean was so bad and how his school also has a compost plan in place just like the school in the book.

Old Enough to Save the Planet is physically beautiful, a real feast for the eyes. Each child’s story takes up a full colour extremely detailed double page spread. After we read the story and discussed it for a bit, to keep younger Ethan entrained we counted how many rhinos, or bees, or butterflies, or watering cans etc. were on the page and just admired the artwork a little longer before turning to the next story.

I think this book is a fantastic way to open up important discussions with children about simple things we can all do to look after our planet. At the end of the book are suggestions for things we can all do at home and a list of websites with resources for doing so and continuing on the discussion of ideas covered in this book. I’ll definitely be reading it with My boys again.

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Esme’s Gift: #LoveOzYA Review

51631189. sx318 sy475 Esme’s Gift (Esme Series #2) by Elizabeth Foster
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication: November 30th 2019
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Source: Review copy from Author – Thank you Elizabeth
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver is faced with her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift – the power to observe the past – and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends – old and new – travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must confront their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places. Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is an enthralling fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

Elizabeth’s Links: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 


Esme’s Gift follows 16-year-old Esme as she and her friends travel around Aeolia tracking down ingredients for a magical elixir to try and save her mother. We see Esme’s gift (magical ability) develop further and she her learn to control it just in time. Esme and her friends all must use their varied gifts to figure out the correct ingredients for the elixir, collect them and outsmart the bad guy.
There was even more dragon riding in this the second book and who doesn’t love a story that involves dragons and the characters getting to ride them!!

The founders of Aeolia were refugees from Ancient Greece and the stories architectural backdrop reflects this bit of Foster’s world-building. The world of Aeolia is familiar enough for the reader to feel at home, yet unique enough to keep you entertained. As with the first book, the writing followed well, was well-paced and easy to read.

I thoroughly enjoyed journeying with Esme and her friends again. I found this book to be like a good long hug from an old friend. It lifted my spirits immensely.

Esme’s Gift is a well-rounded fantasy tale with a satisfying ending, and yet enough is left untold to keep you looking forward to the next installment. – We still need to catch Mare and find out what happened to Seth!

Esme’s Gift is a story of friendship, a story of love, a story of never giving up and never losing hope.

I would recommend the Esme series to any #LoveOzYA aficionados and lovers of YA fantasy like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and The Medoran Chronicles.

Click HERE for my review of the first book in the Esme’s Series, Esme’s Wish.

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The Veiled Threat: Review

48196544. sy475 The Veiled Threat (The Veiled Duchess #1) by Sophia Menesini
Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, New Adult, Romance
Publication: June 30th 2019
Source: Review copy from Xpresso Tours – Thank You
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵

Captain Shea Lara is the current leader of The Veiled Duchess. The most feared pirate ship in all of Neried. And now, after completing her former mentor’s final score, she’s retiring. Everything seems to be coming to an end… Until a mysterious stranger drags her back into the fold with an offer for a score she can’t refuse. All she has to do is kidnap the crowned princess of the northern Queendom, Princess Joana of Arethusa.

The prize is just within reach. But sparks fly as the two women collide. And an obscured threat that could upturn Shea’s entire world storms on the horizon. She’ll face it alone unless she can allow herself the support she needs from old and new allies alike. Something’s coming and Shea is at the center of it.


The Veiled Threat is the first book in the action-packed New Adult romantic fantasy series, The Veiled Duchess.

The story kicks off with The Veiled Duchess captain, Shea Lara, and her crew taking down an imperial navy ship. Straight into the pirate action, oh yeah! I was immediately captivated by captain Shae and her swashbuckling crew.

The POV swaps between two Characters – Captain Shae, a 23-yr-old red headed Elven beauty, a vixen and pirate supreme. – And Jo, Crown Princess Joana of Arethusa, a 25 yr-old blond bombshell who is much more than just a pretty face. We travel with Shea for the first six chapters, setting up plot lines and background. We then meet Joana (Jo) at chapter seven.

As the synopsis says Shae is offered a job with a pay day that she cannot refuse. A pay day that she could use to bring an end to the Elven slave trade.

The kidnapping goes off without a hitch, seeming too good to be true, but the kidnapping is only the begging of the adventures that Shae and Jo have. Double crosses, dirty dealings and insider Royal betrayal. Oh and there’s the pesky little problem of Shae and Jo starting to fall in love with each other. The Veiled Duchess’s captain and crew find not only trouble, but love and unlikely allies along the way.

This book is full of evil rulers, slavery, pirates, princesses, passion, power plays, mutiny, girl power and lady on lady love. And has an Epilogue so epic it that makes me not only want to read the next book, but NEEEEED to!

Book two, The Veiled Descendants, BRING IT ON Sophia Menesini!


AUTHOR BIO:

Sophia Menesini lives in Martinez, CA with her husband, and their two small Chihuahuas, Ziggy and Zeppelin. The Veiled Threat is her first novel and the first book in The Veiled Duchess Series. Sophia is an avid tea connoisseur and lover of Scotland with an unconventional memory for obscure Disney and Broadway song lyrics.

Author links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

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