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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#LoveOZYA release blitz

Title: Reign of Secrets
Author: L.L. Hunter 
Genre: YA Fantasy
Cover Designer: Stephanie Sew of Sevenstar Book Covers
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
At the Midnight Ball, leave your inhibitions at the door and be who you were born to be…
In the magical kingdom of Sydlandia, 17 year old Grace is hiding a secret.
You see, she’s the heir to the Sydlandian throne. But according to hundreds of years of tradition and history, those with her particular secret are not allowed to be Queen.
Grace is torn between two worlds: the one where she is queen, reigning over her people with strength and authority.
Then there’s the other world: the one where she doesn’t have to pretend. Where she can be herself. Where magic and secrets come out to play.
The Midnight Ball gives her the freedom to be someone else for the night.
But for Grace, that is not so easy.
When a devasting event upends Grace’s world, it will force her to rethink everything she’s ever known.
And question everyone around her.
After all, she’s not the only one hiding secrets.
From the bestselling author of The Dragon Heart series and the Legend of the Archangel series, comes the first book in an all new YA fantasy series.
L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Garden of Eden. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author. She has been writing since her teens – everything from fan fiction to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.” Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @llhunterbooks, and her blog.
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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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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.

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Taking Down Evelyn Tait: #LoveOzYA Review

Taking Down Evelyn Tait by Poppy Nwosu
Genre: Contemporary #LoveOzYa
Publication: April 1st 2020
Publisher: Wakefield Press
Source: Review copy from Wakefield & the #AusYABloggers – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵

The door creaks open and standing in the entrance is my absolute worst nightmare.
Perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect brain.
Perfect sneer.
Evelyn Tait.

Impulsive Lottie – heavy-metal fan, expert tomato-grower and frequent visitor to the principal’s office – is in even more trouble than usual.

Her best friend Grace has dropped an unlikely bombshell: she’s dating Lottie’s mortal enemy, good-girl Evelyn Tait.

Studious Jude, the boy next door, has the perfect war plan. Lottie will beat Evelyn at her own good-girl game, unveiling Miss Perfect’s sinister side in the process.

Taking life more seriously starts as fun, but soon offers its own rewards . . . so long as Lottie can manage gorgeous Sebastian’s sudden interest, Jude acting weird, and the discovery that she might actually be good at something.

Taking Down Evelyn Tait is a story about family, friends and embracing who you are. Even if that person is kind of weird.

Today is my tour stop on the #AusYABloggers and Wakefield Press Taking Down Evelyn Tait review tour.
I absolutely adored Poppy’s first book, Making Friends with Alice Dyson, so I went into this read with extremely high hopes and while I didn’t love Lottie as much as I loved Alice, it was still a fantastic read.

Why was it a fantastic Sarah? Well, I’m glad you asked, thank you bob goblin!
What the synopsis doesn’t tell you is that Evelyn Tait is Lottie’s stepsister, and she has it in for Lottie too. There are deep forced family issues dealt with in a humours and entertaining way.

Lottie, oh sweet yet mischievous Lottie. The POV character Lottie goes through a lot of emotional developing and maturing throughout the course of the story, shown in entertaining and heartfelt ways.

At its core, this is a story about getting revenge but finding something better in the process – teaching the younger reader a valuable lesson. The story, to different degrees, deals with everything from grief, divorce, second marriages, stepparents, absentee parents, and step-siblings, to friendship, first loves, revenge, learning empathy, discovering what your good at, the reward of hard work, being your most authentic and best self. Oh, and there are queer side characters, always a plus for me. – See that sounds like a lot squished in, but Poppy has managed to keep this a light, warm and entertaining story.

I highly recommend you get your hands on both of Poppy’s #loveozya novels, you won’t be disappointed.


About the Author:

Poppy Nwosu is an author of YA fiction. Her debut novel, Making Friends with Alice Dyson, was shortlisted for the 2018 Adelaide Festival Unpublished Manuscript Award, and the 2019 Readings Young Adult Book Prize, and will be published by Walker Books US in America in 2020. She was also awarded the 2019 Writers SA Varuna the Writers’ House Fellowship for Young Writers.

Growing up in central North Queensland, Poppy enjoyed a thoroughly wild childhood surrounded by rainforest and cane fields. After studying music at university, she moved overseas to Ireland, where she spent two years visiting stunning Europe. These days Poppy and her husband still love to travel, but they also like to come home again to their house in Adelaide near the sea.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Follow the tour HERE.

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Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

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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Weapon: #LoveOzYA Review

45880884. sy475 Weapon (Whisper #2) by Lynette Noni
Genre: YA, Sci-FI, #LoveOzYa
Publication: November 4th 2019
Publisher: Pantera Press
Source: Review copy from publisher – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

The #1 bestselling WHISPER series concludes with WEAPON:

I already knew he was a psychopath. But now?
He’s more dangerous than ever.
And I have less than twenty-four hours to stop him.

After escaping Lengard and finding sanctuary with the Remnants, Alyssa Scott is desperate to save those she left behind ─ and the rest of the world ─ from the power-hungry scientist, Kendall Vanik. But secrets and lies block her at every turn, and soon Lyss is left questioning everything she has ever believed.

When long-lost memories begin to surface and the mysteries of her past continue to grow, Lyss battles to retain her hard-won control. Allies become enemies and enemies become allies, leaving her certain about only two things: when it comes to Speakers, nothing is ever as it seems… and the only person she can trust is herself.

I love Lynette Noni’s writing – That won’t come as a shock to any of you. I loved her Medoran Chronicles and I love this Whisper duology. If you’ve never dived headfirst into a world created by Ms Noni you are doing yourself a disservice.

Noni’s The Medoran Chronicles consists of six books set in a fantastical parallel world (the world building is epic) and are all about friendship and finding inner strength. The Whisper Series is also about friendship, learning how to trust others and yourself and discovering who you really are – well, who Subject 6-8-4 really is and what she’s made of.

The Medoran Chronicles is epic YA fantasy. The Whisper Series is modern day Urban YA sci-fi. Most of The Whisper Series is set in a secret underground facility, but we do get glimpse of real-world Sydney city, the city in which this secret facility lies beneath.

Whisper and Weapon follow the story of Subject 6-8-4, let’s call her Chip for the purpose of this review. We learn about Chip’s past with her and her real name isn’t revealed into really the end of book one.

In Weapon we see Chip away from the secret facility that kept her locked up and tortured her for two and a half years. We see her discover the immense power she can wield. From the start of Whisper I immediately felt drawn to Chip and was rooting for her all the way to the end of Weapon.
Weapon kicks off right where Whisper finished. If you thought Whisper was edge of your seat intense, Weapon is more so. I tore through the pages, needing to discover what happened next! Needing to know what was going to become of Chip and her friends! At one point I was so stressed I almost skipped to the end just to make sure everything was going to end up okay (see I still haven’t forgiven Noni for Niyx in the Medoran Chronicles). But I didn’t sneak a peek and rode the intense roller coaster right to the magnificent end. Thankfully I didn’t lose any favourite characters in this series and I was satisfied with their hope filled endings.

Who would like The Whisper Series: People who love stories about secrets hiding right under their noises, conspiracies and mysterious government testing, side effects causing special abilities to develop in the test subjects children, hidden facilities, power corrupted leaders, and the strength of friendship. Any #LoveOzYa aficionados and Sci-Fi lovers of all ages.

You’ve done it again Lynette Noni, five out of five stars from me for the thrilling conclusion that is Weapon, I can’t wait to see what you write next!

Check out the hashtags #whisperseries #weapon and #speakup to follow along with Pantera Press’s blog tour for Weapon, taking place between November 1 and November 15.

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Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

Beautiful Mess: #LoveOZYA Review

35157846. sy475 Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian
Genre: Contemporary, Heterosexual romance, Mental Health, #LoveOzYA
Publication: 28th of August 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Publisher – Thank You
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ✵✵✵

Since Ava lost Kelly, things haven’t been going so well. Even before she gets thrown out of school for shouting at the principal, there’s the simmering rage and all the weird destructive choices. The only thing going right for Ava is her job at Magic Kebab.

Which is where she meets Gideon. Skinny, shy, anxious Gideon. A mad poet and collector of vinyl records with an aversion to social media. He lives in his head. She lives in her grief. The only people who can help them move on with their lives are each other.

Enter the lovely Star who read and reviewed Beautiful Mess on my behalf.

Beautiful Mess is a messy book. It deals with heavy topics such as suicide, self-harm, and mental health. It is by no means a completely sad book, but it definitely has its sad parts.

One of the two main characters, Ava, has just recently lost her best friend, Kelly, to suicide. Life has been hard for her ever since. She’s angry, she’s sad, she’s hurting, and everyone around her keeps telling her that she’ll be able to ‘move on’ after time. But right now, it doesn’t feel like she’ll ever stop hurting.

The second main character, Gideon, is a poet, and also an anxious person by nature. He has a fair amount of anxiety, and depression, and has been on medication since he stopped self-harming at 13 years old. He still has his ups and down, as any person does, but he feels like he’s got a proper handle on things.

Ava and Gideon meet via Ava’s job at Magic Kebab, when Gideon is hired after his therapist helping him find a job.

The pair are unlikely – Gideon too nervous to talk to Ava, who told the entire school to “get fucked” during an assembly after Kelly’s death. And Ava has no idea who Gideon is, as they had never interacted before his first shift.

Ava finds Gideon interesting, and Gideon is fascinated with Ava. But because they have no way to chat outside of work as Gideon has a self-imposed no phone/internet thing going on, they start to write each other letters to get to know each other more.

As time goes on, their feelings develop into romantic, and sexual ones, and they become closer than ever.

But all of that aside, both of them know that they can’t “fix” each other, that there needs to be work on both of their parts if they’re ever going to be able to function properly as people in the wake of their overwhelming grief.

My thoughts:

I liked that this book didn’t shy away from the heavier side of mental health issues. From Kelly’s suicide, and how she just needed to “end her pain” to Gideon’s self-harming and what led him to start.

These are the things that teenagers will think about, and hopefully, coupled with the resources in the back of the book, anyone who reads this book, can know that they are not alone, and they can seek help.

There were parts of the story I didn’t like, but that was a me thing, and there were parts that hit really close to home for me, but I do think that anyone who has any mental health issues, or who knows of anyone who does, will probably find this book helpful in knowing that they’re not alone.

And I think the most important take from this book is that you can’t just fix someone else’s issues and problems. It has to be something they want to do, but it also has to be done with professional help and support.

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The Peacock Detectives: #LoveOZMG Review

39092329. sy475 The Peacock Detectives by Carly Nugent
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, #LoveOzMG
Publication: 1st of June 2018
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Publisher – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵

The last time William Shakespeare and Virginia went missing Cassie found them sitting on a coiled hose behind the fire station, and Dad called her ‘Cassie Andersen, Peacock Detective’. So this time she knows what to do—she’ll look for clues and track them down. But the clues lead her in an unexpected direction and Cassie finds herself investigating a confusing mystery about her family.

Enter the lovely Star who read and reviewed The Peacock Detectives on my behalf.

Cassie Anderson is a writer. She is also a Peacock Detective. The first time her neighbour’s peacocks went missing, she was the one to find them. So when they went missing again, naturally, her neighbours sought out her help to find them again.

While doing Very Important Detective Work, Cassie also is writing a story for her Dad, who is also a writer, and he teaches English Literature at the high school portion of their local school.

Because Cassie’s Dad is a writer, she knows lots of things about writing, words, how to tell stories, and just what is needed in them to make them interesting.

Throughout the book, there are descriptions and definitions of facts about stories, and writing, and what a good story needs. Though she still doesn’t know about Themes in books (and can’t seem to find them herself), Cassie writes an incredible story, to be gifted to her dad for Christmas.

Cassie has her Notebook for Noticing on her at all times, and she writes down everything she notices. She notices that her dad has been having more of Those Days – the days where he can’t do anything except stare at a blank wall. And she notices that her Mum is different to. From stopping working at the library, to moving out entirely, Cassie has to adjust to all of these rapid life changes.

Her sister, Diana, is also changing a lot. She’s fourteen going on fifteen, and doesn’t seem to have a lot of time for Cassie, and would much rather spend her time learning about Buddhism and meditating. Cassie makes it a goal to find out exactly what Buddhism is so she can understand it, and her sister better.

And then there is her beloved Grandpa, who is suddenly hospitalised and she isn’t allowed to see him Like That, but also she wants to do is make sure that he hasn’t changed into a monster, or vampire, or any other horrible thing that her brain has conjured up.

This book is rather sweet, but it definitely pulled on my heartstrings. I felt for Cassie, who is eleven going on twelve, being told that she’s too young to understand what is going on with the adults in her life, and why she is being kept in the dark.

Cassie notices a lot of things going on with a lot of people. Cassie’s plate is rather full with things – from her friend Jonas, to her enemy Rhea, and continually searching for the peacocks. She finds herself navigating life as an eleven year old kept in the dark from Adult Things, and just what it means to be a writer.

This story was poignant, and had me wishing I could reach into the book and give Cassie a massive hug and give her some much deserved love.

Because this is a middle grade story, I think those around the 10 and 11 year age mark will really benefit from it. There are lots of definitions for words in here, some that reminded me exactly what they were, too, and it will probably be very relatable to other children whose parents may have split up, or maybe have a grandparent who has needed to go into hospital for a long period of time.

Even if you are an adult, like me, I still recommend this completely heart-warming book.

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Thanks for visiting 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

Small Spaces: #LoveOZYA Review

36242050. sy475 Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein
Genre: Thriller, #LoveOzYa
Publication: August 1st, 2019
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Source: Publisher – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing.

As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?

Enter the lovely Star who read and reviewed Small Spaces on my behalf.

Small Spaces is a book that I found would stay with me for a long time after I finished reading it. If I had to do something, I found myself thinking about when I could pick it up again. I thought about it constantly, and wondered what was going to happen next in the story.

The book had me hooked from the start. I was intrigued about Sparrow and just exactly what was going on with them.

Tash Carmody, the main character, was an interesting character to read about. She has had obvious childhood trauma when she witnesses her friend Mallory Fisher be lured away by her imaginary friend, Sparrow. But surely that can’t be? An imaginary friend can’t actually lure away a little girl from a carnival. After the incident, and after Mallory is found, the Fishers move away to never be heard from again.

Tash spends years trying to get past the memory, but it all comes rushing back when the Fishers move back to town several years later.
At the same time, Tash starts seeing Sparrow again.

She’s understandably confused, and all of the old memories of Sparrow, and no one believing her that he was real, comes back to her. She has no idea what to do, or how to begin to process it, but one thing she does know is that Mallory, who is mute, is the key to finding out exactly what went on that night Mallory was abducted.

Small Spaces had me on the edge of my seat, and not only did I doubt Tash, but I doubted everyone around her.

This book was thrilling, a bit creepy, and explored having an imaginary friend in ways that I had never thought of, or experienced, before.

This was an absolutely enthralling read for me.

You can find Star at her Book Blog, Twitter and Instagram.
Thanks for visiting 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂