I’ve read some #LoveOzYA books recently – what a surprise! I’ve been so pleased with the amount of YA that’s been published by local Aussie authors this year and how many I’ve been able to get through so far this year. Not only have I read the most recent releases from some of my favourite #LoveOzYA authors, but I’ve also read some really unique ones and will definitely be picking up more books by these authors in future.
As usual, click on the book title for the Goodreads synopsis and to add it to your Want-To-Read list! And without further ado, let’s get into my thoughts on the six #LoveOzYA books I’ve read recently…
This is a tough one to review, because while it’s probably my least favourite book Fleur has written, it was such a fast-paced read that was difficult to put down. It sounds contradictory, but I simultaneously didn’t care about the characters but I wanted to find out what happened? Yes, I’m weird like that. But on the whole, I got exactly what I expected from a Fleur Ferris novel. I was gripped from the very first page. It was a book I could race through, needing to know what was going to happen in the end. However, unlike the emotional connections I formed with the characters of her previous books, I didn’t care about the characters as much in this one.
My main issue with Found was that it launched into the action far too fast for me to comprehend. I prefer to get to know the characters a bit before everything happens and they’re left fighting for their lives, but I wasn’t given that opportunity this time. I was trying to get to know the characters while also understanding what was going on with the little information I was given… it was just a chaotic few chapters that I had to endure before I could settle back and race through the pages.
Kudos to Fleur however, because this would make a really good film. It was action-packed and fast-paced, and felt like something I could have easily read in one sitting. But I far prefer simmering mystery novels that give me time to appreciate the atmosphere and get to know the characters more that I did in Found. It was no Black, but I still did enjoy it, despite my few critiques. If you’re a fan of fast-paced YA thrillers, this is definitely one you can’t go past.
Thanks to Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Stone Girl is a book I’ve been trying to read for months, but every time I finished reading something and was searching my TBR for a new book, I was always hesitant to pick it up. But a couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge and finally sat down to read it. The main reason why I’d been putting off reading it for so long was because it was just so heavy and so confronting. I initially thought this was a book primarily about homeless youths, but potential readers need to be aware of the trigger warnings for self-harm, suicide, sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug use, domestic violence and racism that this novel contains. It certainly wasn’t an easy read.
My struggle in reviewing Stone Girl lies in my knowing that this is such an important novel and it’s necessary to show the devastating reality of the lives of these parentless kids, but I just found it so hard to read and didn’t enjoy it. I honestly don’t think this is a book you can sit down and binge, or even read a few chapters of before bed. You really have to be in the right mindset while reading it because it definitely has the potential to trigger readers. So I’d definitely advise being cautious if you decide to pick this one up.
What I did like about this book was how authentic and raw it felt. It was a really harrowing read and I totally wasn’t prepared for just how dark it would be. I’m glad it didn’t shy away from the darker aspects and brought these confronting issues to the forefront, but that doesn’t mean it was enjoyable. I definitely have to try and keep the confronting, dark books I read to a minimum because the world is already such a terrible place and reading is my escape. As reading is escapism for me, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to pick up fluffier books that will take me away from the reality of the world we live in. I do recommend this book if you’re able to deal with the heavy subject matter, but I personally couldn’t at this stage. Perhaps I’ll enjoy it more if I decide to reread it in future.
Thanks to Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
I’m sorry to report that unfortunately, I Had Such Friends really wasn’t a book for me! I did like some aspects of it, but on the whole, I just wasn’t a fan. I always love supporting #LoveOzYA and I’m glad I read it (and got to admire that stunning cover), but I just didn’t connect with this book in the way that I wished I could have. What I liked most about this book was the slow pace of it and how it explored the quotidian aspects of teen life that was a lot more character-driven than plot-driven. But that’s kind of the extent of my enjoyment with this book.
I know this is definitely a personal critique and not something that will put all readers off, but I just couldn’t get past the homophobia that was prevalent throughout the narrative. I understand why the author chose to write about homophobia and why it was important to expose the gritty, raw aspects of teen life, especially the hardships and prejudice experienced by those who are queer, but I just couldn’t enjoy I Had Such Friends because of that. I felt physically ill reading some scenes. I really think my days of reading books where queer characters encounter blatant homophobia are over. I’m just not here for that.
Perhaps I just wasn’t in the right headspace to appreciate this novel, but I didn’t like the way this novel ended on such a dark note. Huge trigger warnings for suicide and homophobia here, folks. Most of the books I choose to read about mental health leave me feeling as though there’s hope and support out there, but I Had Such Friends instead left me feeling like I needed to binge on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and chai tea. Maybe I would have enjoyed this book if I read it at a different time, so do give it a go if you’re interested and you think you can handle the dark subject matter!
Thanks to Pantera Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
I can’t believe how shook I still am after this book. Mercy Point is one of those novels that will keep you up at night, thinking about how that twist got you good. Every time I eye my bookshelves, Mercy Point catches my eye and seems to taunt me because I know it’ll be about a year until I get to find out if all my precious characters are okay and what their world looks like now. The thought terrifies me, and it’s only been on a few previous occasions that I’ve been so desperate to read the following book in the series. I just can’t wait.
My favourite thing about this novel was definitely all the characters and how emotionally attached to them I became. I’m usually not a massive fan of alternating perspectives when it’s for more than two people, but the slow pace of this novel for the first half gave me time to get to know them before SHTF. In particular, Fabian is a person I’d take a bullet for. I’m going to have to reread Mercy Point soon just so I can check in on my son and make sure everything’s okay.
It’s so difficult to talk about Mercy Point without giving too much away, but just be warned that the final quarter of this book will blow your mind—you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. I went into this novel expecting it to be a mystery / thriller set in a small Aussie town, but it ended up being so much more than that and I just wasn’t prepared. Nothing is as it seems in Mercy Point, and I absolutely adored that aspect of it. I can’t wait to see where the rest of this series will go! I need that in my life right now.
Thanks to HarperCollins Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
I can’t even begin to express how much I loved this book. I mean, it’s Lili Wilkinson! After the Lights Go Out had me on the edge of my seat, racing through the pages to find out what was going to happen. I honestly couldn’t bare to put this novel down, even for a second. It was engrossing from the very first sentence and kept me captivated until the very end, leaving my mind still reeling after I’d turned the final page. It was simply a masterpiece.
What I loved most about Lili Wilkinson’s latest release was definitely the character dynamics—the relationships between the siblings, the friendship between Pru and Mateo, and perhaps most importantly, the uneasy alliances between Pru and the rest of the town. There was that constant question of morality and what you’d do to survive and protect your family, and seeing how that took a toll on Pru was really fascinating. This book was just everything I had hoped for and more.
As you might have guessed a book about the end of the world would be, After the Lights Go Out was delightfully creepy in parts. It was dark and twisted, especially towards the end, and I just loved it. I loved how I was taken on this emotional journey with Pru, seeing how she coped with everything that was going on while also slowly coming to the realisation that everything she once suspected might not be true. And holy heck, this was a rollercoaster of a ride. There’s so much I loved about this novel—far too much for a short review—so you’re just going to have to trust me and pick up a copy of After the Lights Go Out for yourself. You won’t regret it.
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
This was such a unique book! I didn’t know anything about it before opening it up, but when I did, I was happily surprised to find that it was in fact a novel written in verse. And I love books like that. I’ve only read a few others—primarily Ellen Hopkins’s books—but I was eager to read a #LoveOzYA one that I knew so many people had been talking about. And wow, this book was amazing! It’s not one that I would have expected to love as much as I did, because as the title suggests, it is about taxidermy, but it was also so much more than that. The Art of Taxidermy is a poignant story about grief, loss, and family.
What I was most surprised by was how one aspect of the narrative is about members of the family who were imprisoned in the Loveday Internment Camp during the war, and that there became a large German population in South Australia after the Second World War. I knew absolutely nothing about this particular aspect of history, and I felt like it was a really fascinating part of the novel. As Lottie is an outsider, she really connects with a First Nations boy named Jeffrey, who also feels like he doesn’t belong. In that way, The Art of Taxidermy also touches on the Stolen Generation, which was done both sensitively and in a way that worked really well in illustrating the loneliness and isolation that these two young people were both experiencing.
Another thing I loved about The Art of Taxidermy was how it explored the concept of taxidermy itself and also portrayed the protagonist to have a somewhat grim interest in this art form. I’d never read anything about taxidermy before either, but what I loved most about it was how it was used to explore Lottie’s grief and the loneliness she was feeling, and how she channeled this into her taxidermy. It was just superbly done. The Art of Taxidermy is a novel I recommend for fans of verse novels, and those who are looking to read a #LoveOzYA novel unlike any other I’ve read this year. What a masterpiece.
Thanks to Text Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? What’s been your favourite #LoveOzYA novel of the year so far? Are any of these on your TBR? I’d love to hear your thoughts!