#LoveOzYA I’ve Read Recently

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…

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Memorable Reads Around the World

“I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.” — Emily Dickinson

I didn’t realise it at first, but the title for one of the #LoveOzYA books I read recently—I Am Out With Lanterns—is in fact an Emily Dickinson quote which sums up the story (and teenage life) pretty accurately. I Am Out With Lanterns is a beautifully-written, honest portrayal of teenage life and the struggles and the triumphs of high schoolers. Being a teen is a time where so many of us are searching for who we really are and what meaning our lives hold. And so many of us are still out there with a lantern, looking for ourselves. Maybe that’s a lifelong process.

So in celebration of the release of I Am Out With Lanterns and the conversations about searching for yourself that have arisen, I thought I’d share five novels I’ve read that have tied me to different places and different times in my life. I think there’s something so magical about reading a book and having those feelings and the atmosphere in which you read the book stay with you long after you’ve read the final page. Here are my most memorable ones…

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ARC = Actually Reviewers Crying

ARCs are often referred to as “unicorns” – a title which conjures up images of magical things that are capable of solving all the world’s problems (yes, the world would 100% be fixed by the existence of these mythical creatures). But as much as unicorns seem like glorious creatures that could do no evil, sometimes they just can’t help it. What’s that horn used for, if it’s not for stabbing its enemies – and our feels? I don’t know where exactly I’m going with this metaphor but the point is – ARCS AREN’T ALWAYS ALL RAINBOWS AND SUNSHINE.

Don’t even get me started on the way some people are willing to sell their souls for ARCs of particular books (Exhibit A: a strange girl from Melbourne that relies too heavily on coffee and bad jokes). I’ve “sold my soul” so many times I’m not sure how I’m still alive and functioning. Wait… emotions are actual THINGS? Things that I should have? OOPS. Guess those got taken away along with my soul sometime in the past ten years.

So today I’m going to share all the reasons why ARCs don’t really stand for “Advance Reading Copy” – instead, it stands for “Actually Reviewers Crying”. AND HERE’S WHY…

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Why I Love Pop Culture References

Pop culture references in books has been something that’s been on my mind for quite a while now, and it’s something I’m starting to pay a lot more attention to than I used to. As contemporary is my favourite genre, most of the books I read have at least some references to things in popular culture, whether that be TV shows, music, or social media. What I love most about these references is that it so clearly ties a book to a time period, and I think that’s a good thing. However, some people don’t feel the same.

I was recently on Goodreads, looking at reviews for a book I can’t even remember now. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Goodreads is often regarded as the cesspool of bloggers and reviewers, where people are hated on for disliking books, liking books, and even just thinking they were average. You can’t have your own opinion on Goodreads, apparently.

But anyway, I saw that one reader disliked a book because it had pop culture references. And that reason for disliking something puzzled me. I can understand that sometimes these references aren’t seamlessly inserted into the narrative or they feel forced, like the author’s trying to appear ‘cool’ in the eyes of teens. But most of the references I’ve come across felt authentic and definitely improved the novel in my eyes, giving it a depth in ways that books devoid of any links to specific time periods don’t have.Read More »

Cafe Chat with Kate O’Donnell

Untidy TownsSeventeen-year-old Adelaide is sick of being expected to succeed on other people’s terms. She knows she just has to stick it out at school for one more year and then she’ll be free. Instead, she runs away from her fancy boarding school back to her sleepy hometown to read and dream.

But there are no free rides. When Addie’s grandad gets her a job at the local historical society, she soon finds out that it’s dusty and dull, just like her new life. Things change when she starts hanging out with Jarrod, a boy who seems full of possibilities. But it turns out he’s as stuck as she is. And Addie realises that when you want something in life, you’ve actually got to do something about it.

Wow. I’d been excited to read Untidy Towns for quite some time, mainly because it’s #LoveOzYA and it has a gorgeous cover. (Yes, I’m superficial. Deal with it.) But when I finally got the chance to read it, I loved it even more than I expected. So much so that I’d consider it to be in my top five #LoveOzYA books of the year. The characters were just so authentic and the story itself was beautifully written and one that I could connect to on such a personal level. Kate O’Donnell absolutely blew me away with her debut novel, and I’m so excited to read whatever she releases next.

Adelaide felt like such a genuine character, and I know that so many high school students will be able to relate to her. She posed some of the same questions as I did, and I’m sure so many other teens do when at high school. How does regurgitating everything the teacher says in an essay make you ‘smart’? Why do our scores at the end of high school have to define where we can go to university and what we can study? Does high school really prepare you for the real world? Like Adelaide, it was really in my last year of high school that I became more aware of the restricting nature of that kind of a learning environment, and realised that I had to just play the game.Read More »

The Obligation to Like Books

The obligation to like books is a very real thing in the blogging community: whether those books be written by authors you know personally, or novels by authors from your home country, or because they’ve been hyped up by other prominent readers in the bookish community. But you shouldn’t have to feel obliged to like a particular book.

If there’s one thing I dislike about the bookish community it’s the idea that if you like a certain book, you’re a terrible person, and if you dislike a certain book, you’re also a terrible person. I understand that there are some books that shouldn’t be supported because of their problematic elements, but it’s also not okay to attack those for what they choose to read or not read — like or dislike.

But one of the most challenging aspects of being a reviewer, for me, is writing a negative review for a book I’ve felt obliged to like. I always try to share my honest opinion, even when I feel judged or like writing my thoughts out on my laptop crushes my soul slowly, but that doesn’t mean writing a “bad” review for a book I disliked has gotten any easier over the few years I’ve been blogging.

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A Chat with Claire Christian

When Claire was down for the Melbourne Writer’s Festival not too long ago, I was lucky enough to catch up with her at a little cafe in the city and have a chat. If you know me at all, there’s nothing I love more than coffee and books – so this was the perfect combination of the two. We went to a cute cafe outside the Melbourne City Library that I’d been meaning to visit for ages, called The Journal Cafe, and it was simply delightful.

I’d only met Claire briefly before at a writing event for the Emerging Writers Festival, and it was brilliant to be able to sit down and just have a chilled conversation, surrounded by the bookish decor and the smell of freshly ground coffee beans. Being the lovely person she is, Claire kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me to share with y’all!

I adored hearing more about how her novel, Beautiful Mess, made it into this world, what she’s working on now, and what influenced the writing of this sensational novel. She’s such a genuine, inspirational person and it was an honour to be able to spend some time with her.

“It’s okay to not be okay.” – Claire Christian, author of BEAUTIFUL MESS

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The Great Hierarchy of Books & Authors

One of the things that annoys me most about the bookish community, both online and off, is the way that some authors look down upon others. From what I’ve seen and heard, this can happen for a variety of reasons, some of which being the genre or readership for which an author writes, or because of the gender of the writer—most of the time, female writers are looked down upon when writing in certain genres, which is really disappointing to see. But what I want to discuss today is something different. I want to talk about the supposed hierarchy of authors, and why those who self-publish their novels shouldn’t be looked down upon.

It angers me that any author should be looked down upon because of what they write, or how they get published. Whether they have an agent or one of the biggest publishing houses representing them, or whether they chose to self-publish is irrelevant to me, and to most readers. But most of all, I hate the idea that some people have that those who self-publish do so because they ‘wouldn’t have gotten published any other way’ or because it was a ‘last-resort’, due to their writing quality being sub-standard. This isn’t true at all, and if you read Heart of Mist and some of the other awesome self-published novels out there, you’ll come to see just how wrong those people are.

 

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Beautiful Mess – book review

35157846Since 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.

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