Pirates, Time Travelling, and SO MUCH SASS!

The Girl From EverywhereNix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

After falling in love with V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic series, The Girl From Everywhere is the book I’ve been needing in my life. A Conjuring of Light left a Kell and Lila-sized whole in my heart, but The Girl From Everywhere was the first book since reading Schwab’s series that was able to fill that whole. While my love for this series in no way surpasses my love for A Darker Shade of Magic, it was something that definitely came close. Complete with pirates and time-travelling and thieves, The Girl From Everywhere and The Ship Beyond Time will take you on an adventure that you won’t want to end.Read More »

The Upside of Unrequited – book review

The Upside of UnrequitedSeventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

The Upside of Unrequited was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, which means that I had very high expectations of it. Would it be as amazing as Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda? Would Becky Albertalli be able to pull of another sensational YA novel? All those questions were soon answered. I fell right into the story, falling harder for the characters and the adorable romance and the important, powerful messages. I didn’t think Becky would be able to write something that could compete for my love of Simon vs, but I was wrong. I absolutely loved this book.Read More »

‘Sad’ Queer Stories are Still Important

2017 has already been a great year for new LGBTQIA+ YA novels, and I’d have to guess that at least half the books I’ve read so far have been diverse in terms of sexual orientation and identity. What I’ve discovered from reading so many of these gorgeous books is that they usually fall into one of three categories. They’re either predominantly happy and cute, heart-wrenching and emotional, or a character’s identity isn’t the centre focus. On occasion, they do fall into more than one of these categories. But something I’ve seen a lot of people discussing is whether authors should be writing tragic queer stories, and what that really means.

To the most drastic extent, a ‘tragic queer story’ is one where the a member of the LGBTQIA+ community dies, or is killed. It’s even considered a trope now. Thankfully, I haven’t read many novels that conform to this notion, and I don’t really want to if the person’s identity is a major part in the narrative. Seeing these people have tragic endings isn’t just heartbreaking, but it can be damaging to young queer readers picking up these books. Yes, not all stories should be happy ones, but I think it’s harmful to see yourself represented in a narrative, only to find the character has a tragic ending. I’m not here to read about that.

But does that mean that all the novels with LGBTQIA+ protagonists have to be sunshines and rainbows? I don’t think so. Yes, I adore reading books where a person’s identity or sexual orientation isn’t made a big deal of or where they are able to be who they are unashamedly, but I think it’s important to still have stories where people are struggling to come to terms with who they are, or where others around them are. My experiences as a bisexual young person haven’t all been positive, and we need to see that other people might be struggling with the same things we are. In the end, books help us realise that we aren’t alone, and by erasing all ‘sad’ LGBTQIA+ novels, we could be tilting the scales in the other direction. Read More »

#LoveOzYA Anthology

Recently, ten spectacular Aussie YA authors teamed up to create the first anthology of its kind – the #LoveOzYA Anthology. As a massive supporter of Aussie authors, I presumed this anthology would be something I would adore. And I did, but… I kind of hated it too? So here are my top five reasons why I hated this anthology.

1. I hate how short the stories are.

How could I forgive this anthology for making me fall in love with the characters in each story and then ripping them away just as I felt like I knew them? From the moment I started reading the first story of this anthology, I knew that having to say goodbye to each person after such a short time with them was going to be devastating, but it was even harder than I first thought. Not only was it difficult because I adored the characters from each story and I wanted to spend more time with them, but the ephemeral nature of short stories meant that often there wasn’t a definite conclusion. Things ended in a way that left me mostly satisfied, but I wanted to know more. What was going to happen to these characters now? This anthology broke my heart by snatching away the characters from me too soon, and I hate it for that.Read More »

What Are ‘Problematic’ Books?

Something I’ve been trying to be a lot more aware about, which the bookish community provides for on social media, is knowing what books are considered to be ‘problematic’, and therefore which books I should avoid. Regardless of whether these books are called out for being racist or ableist or homophobic, or whether they trivialise important matters, it’s the bookish community that I have to thank for spreading the word about these novels and promoting diverse and #ownvoices narratives instead.

But what I want to talk about is the fine line between acknowledging a book had problems and banishing it from shelves altogether because it’s been deemed problematic. At what point does a book become problematic? Does one wrongly-worded line equate to evil? Should we destroy the reputations of books and their authors, not matter how diverse, because of a thoughtless joke or an off-handed remark in the narrative? Yes, I do consider myself an advocate for diversity, but no, I won’t stand for the metaphorical burning of books at the stake.

A little while ago, one of my favourite Aussie novels was accused of being racist — a novel that has been loved and embraced by the Aussie YA community for years now, and only when it was published recently in the U.S. did it start getting attacked for so-called ‘racism’. I was horrified to see this beautiful, diverse, f/f novel being attacked because of one line. That book was the first novel I ever read with a queer protagonist and to see people refusing to read it because of one line read out of context broke my heart. Read More »

I Don’t Read Blurbs (#oops)

For a long while, the only books I wanted to read were the ones I knew I would love. I’d inspect the summaries on Goodreads with a close eye, taking the rating and the top review into account, and only when I was sure that I’d like the book, would I go out and grab a copy. That meant that I was reading a lot of the same kinds of books. That was okay, I guess, because I loved contemporaries and I loved dystopians. But it was only when I stopped being so certain of what books I would pick up did I discover that I loved reading so many other genres. Fantasy. Magical realism. And recently, I’ve discovered a new favourite genre of mine. I call it existential contemporary, which can also expand to slight variances in genre. A long name to describe the books that I’m loving reading at the moment.

Now, the way I choose which books I decide to read it vastly different from when I started blogging a few years ago. Most of the books I read are ones that I’ve seen on Twitter, mostly from people recommending it. Sometimes I get recommendations straight from my friends. But instead of meticulously combing through reviews to try and work out whether it would be worth my time, I ask for opinions. I ask people if they liked it, and if so, nine times out of ten I’ll add it to my basket without any thought. It’s rare that I know what a book is going to be about before I start reading it now, and I love that. I love going into a book completely blind because it allows me to be thrust straight into the world without forming any prior thoughts about what to expect. I love the surprise, and everything that comes with it.

And now that I’ve discovered a new favourite genre of mine, the existential contemporary, I’ve been asking people what books I could read that would fit into that category. To give you an idea of what other books I consider to slot into it, and that I’ve loved, here are a few: We Are The Ants, More Happy Than Not, and most recently, Still Life with Tornado. Each of these books share the same element — they all question the meaning of life and our purpose on Earth. They all have that existential element that makes you think about your life and what society has become. As I love learning about the philosophy behind the existential and nihilistic movements, I find books such as these fascinating. But I never would have found them without learning to not be so picky with what I read and trusting recommendations.

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Triggering Books

There has been something on my mind ever since I wrote my discussion about needing trigger warnings in books. Well, it was more of a question I had. Are triggers always bad? Are books that contain triggering material bad? Sometimes, is it those books that can be potentially triggering the ones that are the most important and powerful? Sorry, I guess that was a few questions.

A part of me would have to say yes to the questions I posed. Some of my favourite books are triggering, but that doesn’t make me love them any less. And then again, there are some books that I’ve found really important and powerful, but didn’t ‘enjoy’ because they were quite triggering. And then there are the books that we can all agree are harmful — those that discuss mental illness and other triggering topics in such a hurtful way that it could never be twisted so that we view those novels positively. But those aren’t the books I want to focus on today.

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Biographies are Boring?

I never thought I’d be someone who adored biographies and autobiographies. I mean, who would want to read about someone real when they could be reading about wizards or faeries or aliens? Who would want to read about someone talking about their own boring life like it was different to the rest of ours? Who’d be interested in writing about how they grew up, got a job, and did all the other mundane things which life entails? Certainly not me.

But then I read an autobiography. By read, I mean forced to by my literature teacher in 11th Grade as a part of an assignment. It was Bill Bryson’s memoir entitled The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and I couldn’t have been more annoyed at having to waste my time reading that nonsense when I could have been rereading The Fault in Our Stars or delving deep into Wattpad to read more Drarry fanfic.

It wasn’t until I reluctantly opened up the autobiography (after trying to find a reasonable summary on Sparknotes. Believe me, I tried), did I realise that I might actually enjoy it. If my laughs at the strange and funny situations Bill found himself in as a kid where anything to go by, I actually really loved it. And that was the beginning of a whole new adventure for me.

I realised that reading biographies and autobiographies were not nearly as boring as the name suggested. I thought that reading about someone I didn’t know, and quite frankly, didn’t care to learn about, would be the most boring experience of my life. In fact, it was the opposite. I found that there wasn’t all that much difference between reading about a person in the real world as compared to reading about a fictional character. They both came with backstories and vibrant lives and things that made me connect with them or even be able to relate to them.

After I realised that I liked reading about so-called real people, I investigated some other biographies and autobiographies to pick up. While YA fiction remains my one true love, this whole new genre I found, thanks to my pushy literature teacher, has provided both some really fascinating and empowering reads. I couldn’t have been more thankful for not just opting to read the Wikipedia page on that book I was made to study.

I’ve now read a number of biographies and autobiographies, but I want to discuss who I picked up recently in depth. Those ones are Note to Self by Connor Franta and Finding Nevo by Nevo Zisin. While they’re both vastly different in the topics they discuss and how well they’re both known in general media, I loved reading both of them because they allowed me to do the one thing all great autobiographies and biographies should be able to do — they made me feel as though I knew the author in a more personal way, and it allowed me to not only learn from the experiences they recounted, but think about how I would be left a little different than when I turned the first page.Read More »

So Much CRINGE // “She Says, She Says”

Do you ever look back on the books you used to love and just cringe? Do you ever think about the crushes you used to have on characters – the crushes that you wouldn’t admit to anyone – and wonder why you ever liked those people in the first place? Did you enjoy reading some pretty questionable books when you were younger?

Well today, my friend Casey and I are going to be talking all about the cringe-worthy books we loved as tweens and the characters we swooned over! Find out who was on #TeamEdward and #TeamJacob, whether we shipped Katniss with Peeta or Gale, and what qualities we looked for in a potential bookish crush. Oh, and there’s a pretty horrific story about an infinity tattoo inspired by The Fault in Our Stars

Enjoy laughing at our embarrassment!

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Queens of Geek – book review

Queens of GeekWhen BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

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