The Quiet at the End of the World: YA Review

32716442The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Publication: March 7th 2019
Publisher: Walker Books
Source: Review copy from Publisher – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion.

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice . . .


Oh, Lauren James you’ve done it again. “A boy and a girl, living on the outskirts of a collapsed civilization, watching their species go extinct.”

The Quiet at the End of the World is a YA Sci-Fi mystery that follows Lowrie and Shen, the last teenagers on earth, as they live in the aftermath of a virus that caused global infertility.

I love that Lauren’s leading ladies are always strong, smart and sciencey. Lowire is an adventurous and spirited young lady with her engineering mind always whirling and a backpack full of tools always ready to go. Lowire identifies as bisexual and there are also Bisexual and Transgender side characters, so yay for representation. Ultimately Lowire ends up with her childhood bestie, a boy and the only other teen, the intelligent and thoughtful Shen. It’s more than a romance of convenience though, as the two complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses magnificently.

A highlight for me was the interlaced life of Maya in the past with Lowrie’s present, via Lowrie reading Maya’s posts on old social media servers – It really created a depth, relatability and realness to the story. AND Mitch the robot was awesome! a handy pal and he made for a little humorous relief at times.

The Quiet at the End of the World has plenty of twists and turns, plenty of moments that make you ponder life, the future of the human race and what it means to be alive, what it means to truly live!

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Bravo Lauren James.

 

Lauren’s links: Web | Twitter | Amazon | Booktopia | Bookdepository | Walker Books

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Clackety Track, Poems about Trains: Review

41110368Clackety Track: Poems about Trains by Skila Brown (Author) & Jamey Christoph (Illustrator)

Genre: Children’s picture book, Poetry

Publication: March 12th 2019
Publisher: Walker Books (Candlewick imprint)

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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

Source: Review copy from publisher, THANK YOU.

Queue up for a whistle-stop tour of trains of all kinds, narrated in lively verse and featuring dynamic retro artwork.

Rows of grooves, cables, and bars.
Graffiti rockin’ out the cars.
A badge of rust. A proud oil stain.
There’s nothin’ plain about a train.

Trains of all shapes and sizes are coming down the track — bullet train, sleeper train, underground train, zoo train, and more. All aboard! Skila Brown’s first-class poems, as varied as the trains themselves, reflect the excitement of train travel, while Jamey Christoph’s vintage-style illustrations provide a wealth of authentic detail to pore over.


The five-year-old: Riley sat through a read through with me, and was even asking questions while I was reading the train facts at the end of the book.

Once we’d finished the first read though I asked him if he liked the book. He replied Yes, then immediately ran off and dragged out some train toys and started playing with them.

The two-year-old: Upon seeing the book for first the first time Ethan stated that it was “my Thomas, my train” and his grabby little hands snatched the book up. Ethan was wowed by the images on the pages and sat rather mesmerised in my lap through the first read thought with his brother, then a second on his own. After the second read through Ethan ran off to joined his brother playing with their trains.

I’ve had the book sitting on my desk for about a week, the time between reading it the boys for the first time and sitting down to write this review. Multiple times I’ve found Ethan sitting at my desk thumbing through the book, just looking at the pictures of the trains, waiting for someone to come along and read it to him.

My thoughts:

The artwork is beautifully drawn and the images are eye-catching, yet soft and romantic in a way.

The words are rhythmic and flowing and a pleasure to read.

Clackety Track: Poems about Trains is a must read for any train loving littlies and train/poetry enthusiasts of all ages – so yeah, the perfect book for my boys and me. And one I can see us reading many more times, for many years to come.

LINKS: Skila’s Website | Jamey’s Website | Walker Books
Goodreads | Booktopia | Bookdepository

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February 2019 Bookish Summary

Total books read in February: 8

Comics/ Graphic Novels = 2  |  #LoveOzYA / #LoveNzYA = 3 |  the remainder = 3

I Had Such Friends by Meg Gatland-Veness #LoveOzYa [Full Review Here].
The story follows Hamish during his last year of high school. We journey with him as he discovers his sexuality and self-identity. This story is filled with grief, hate, and heartbreaking sadness.
Published August 1st 2018 by Pantera Press [View on Goodreads].

Songs That Sound Like Blood by Jared Thomas #LoveOzYa [Full Review Here].
A beautiful coming of age tale about a young aboriginal girl coming out and discovering herself. This story is filled with courage, love and music. A heartfelt yarn that I highly recommend you read.
Published August 1st 2016 by Magabala Books [View on Goodreads].

Aurealis #99 by Michael Pryor, Alan Baxter, Michael Earp, Aaron Emmel, Gillian Polack, Chris Large & Russell Kirkpatrick.
I’d never read an issue of Aussie Sci-fi zine Aurealis before and I picked this one up because I wanted to read Michael Earp’s short story. I’m glad I did. Michael’s short story was brilliant, and I enjoyed the other shorts & articles.
Published April 9th, 2017 by Chimaera Publications [View on Goodreads].

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath [Full Review Here].
Should I be worried about how much I saw of myself in Esther Greenwood, a character that Plath based on herself?
This was one of the darkest and most beautiful things I’ve ever read. It was compulsive reading. The story, the writing, the words, the girl, it sucked me in.
Published 2006 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published January 1963) [View on Goodreads].

Defensive Play (Boys on the Brink) by Jamie Deacon [Full Review Here].
A boy meets boy tale. We follow Davey as he gets his first boyfriend and comes out to his family and friends. It was a quick and cute read that I really enjoyed.
Published November 30th, 2018 by Beaten Track Publishing [View on Goodreads].

Runaways, Vol. 2: Teenage Wasteland by Brian K. Vaughan & Adrian Alphona.
Collects Runaways vol. 1, issues #7-12.
All the things I loved about Pride and Joy (issues #1-6) continue in this engrossing teen tale.
Published July 19th, 2006 by Marvel Comics [View on Goodreads].

Runaways, Vol. 3: The Good Die Young by Brian K. Vaughan & Adrian Alphona.
Collects Runaways vol. 1, issues #13-18.
And so the first story arc ends, but we are left with an opening for another and set up for the rest of the series – which I’m looking forward to reading 😊
Published June 7th, 2006 by Marvel Comics [View on Goodreads].

Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim #LoveOzYa.
Based on the real-life events of the authors father and set in 1960’s China, Freedom Swimmer is a story of oppression, survival, friendship, hope and freedom. It is beautiful and powerful, and I implore you to read it.
I was in the water with Ming, willing him to keep moving forward.
Published September 1st, 2016 by Allen & Unwin [View on Goodreads].

Conclusion: How the heck is it march already? Where did February go?!
I had to DNF a book in february, my first for 2019 and my first in years! I’m still bummed about it, but life’s too short and my time’s too valuable (obviously this book does not appear above). While I enjoyed all my completed reads this month, Defensive Play was a highlight for me – it was a super cute and quick queer read.

Past Monthly Summaries: Oct 18Nov 18Dec 18Jan 19

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Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

The Bell Jar: Review

6514The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Genre: Classics, Feminist Fiction
Publication: 2006 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published January 1963)
Source: Purchased
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity.

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.


Oh, shit balls! should I be worried about how much I saw of myself in Esther Greenwood? a character that Plath based on herself.

Farrrrrrrrrk, this was one of the darkest and most beautiful things I’ve ever read. At one point I chuckled out loud and thought to myself “I f***ing love her” (the main character), but for the most part it was all too real and even a little disturbing.

I picked this book up, just looking at it as I was rearranging my collection. It’s one of those classic must reads that’s been on my TBR list forever. I hadn’t meant to start reading. I was just reading the introduction about its publication journey (which was fascinating) and then the next thing I know I’m sitting on the lounge and had devoured the first two chapters. I was captivated. I’ve never read any of Plath’s poetry before. I own a collection, same thing, been on my TBR list forever. So her writing was a whole new world to me.

Sometimes while reading this book a feeling of dread would wash over me. Other times I would scoff to myself and think “she’s f***ing hilarious”. Damn it was compulsive reading. The story, the writing, the words, the girl, sucked me in. What a roller-coaster.

I found myself thinking: I am this woman. She is darkness and she rages and reveals in it. I saw so much of myself in Esther Greenwood. The only other time I’ve ever really seen myself in a character was Clancy, from Clancy of The Undertow by Christopher Currie – which is a very different book to this one.

A lot of people might find this book disturbing/depressing. But I found a powerful dark beauty to it and it made me feel less alone. It justified the fears and disdain I felt while pregnant with my first born and that I continue to feel in this world as a modern woman.

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Defensive Play: YA Review

42646792Defensive Play by Jamie Deacon
Genre: M/M Contemporary YA Romance
Publication: November 30th 2018
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Source: Review copy from Author
Thank you Jamie
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

One glance is all it takes to bring his defences crashing down…

Seventeen-year-old Davey has never made friends easily. Shy, geeky, crippled with social anxiety, he feels isolated from his peers, and only his position as defender for the school football team fills the void of loneliness. On the pitch, his deft footwork has earned him the respect and acceptance of his squad, though at a price. Desperate to hold onto this camaraderie, Davey conceals the truth from everyone, even his own family.

Then, during the annual Brookshire football tournament, his eyes meet those of a rival player across the field and a spark flares between them, one neither boy can deny. Adam is everything Davey longs to be—confident, popular, comfortable with his sexuality. Davey aches to explore their connection, to discover where it might lead, but how can he follow his heart and risk rejection by his teammates, the closest thing to friends he has ever known?


Davey is still trying to hide his sexually and Adam is out and owning it. Their eyes meet across the footy pitch and right from the start there is chemistry between them.

Adam invites Davey around to his place where they bond over football, video games and their love of Doctor Who. Yes that’s right, both boys are Whovians! I loved that little touch.

Davey’s favourite doctor is Matt Smith and Adam’s is David Tennant, but they move past this for a steamy yet sweet first make out session.

Davey holds off coming out from fear of how his team mates will react and because of this he nearly loses Adam, who was burnt by a past secret relationship. Davey comes out and while he and Adam do face some hate, for the most part the friends and family around them are supportive of their relationship – so a big YAY for that. I love a seeing positive examples.

Conclusion: Defensive Play was a quick and cute read that follows Davey as he gets his first boyfriend and comes out to his family and friends. I really enjoyed it and can see myself reading more from Jamie Deacon.

Jamie: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon AU | Amazon US

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Vardaesia: #LoveOzYA Review

39808670Vardaesia (The Medoran Chronicles #5) by Lynette Noni
Genre: Fantasy YA
Publication: February 18th 2019
Publisher: Pantera Press
Source: Review copy from Pantera – Thank You
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Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

“When Day and Night combine and fight against one Enemy,
then Dark and Light shall meet mid-strike and set the Captives free.”

In the wake of loss and devastation, Alex must cast aside her grief to seek aid from those who banished the Meyarins long ago. But the proud Tia Aurans care little for the woes of mortals and demand that Alex—and her friends—undergo the Gates of Testing to prove their world is worth saving.

With an ancient prophecy looming, Alex must confront the secrets of her past if she is to survive long enough to see the future. For if she returns to Medora without the Tia Aurans by her side, all hope will be lost.

In this explosive conclusion to The Medoran Chronicles, the fate of Medora hangs in the balance as Alex readies herself to face Aven one final time.

Who will survive, and who will fall?

“If, however, darkness wins, there is no strategy
to keep from all that will be lost, and so will always be.”


The final instalment of the Medoran chronicles was as heart-wrenching and heart-warming as I expected. I sure had some high expectations of this books awesomeness, and rest assured that I wasn’t disappointed.

My problem now is trying figure out how to write a review without spoiling it for all.

I could tell you about Alex and…
Oh no I can’t, spoilers!

I could tell you about Alex being…
Oh no I can’t, spoilers!

Damn!

Look! You already know Alex is going to come out on top, once she’s gone through a whole lot of struggles and only with her friends by her side. So I think I’m safe in saying that other than Niyx coming back from the dead, all my other dreams for Alex came true.

One of the best things about Lynette Noni’s Medoran Chronicles is the strength of her friendships. Alex and her loyal companions: human, immortal and animal alike – It is a truly beautiful thing to read and be apart of. Through all the trials and tribulations that Noni has put her characters through, the messages of the importance of being there for your friends, trying your hardest, never giving up and believing in yourself, always shines through.

Two of the other best things about Noni’s Medoran Chronicles is all the atmospheric world building and pulse quickening action. So, so many best things!! Oh, how I didn’t want this series to end. There is some hope at the end for a spin off/companion series, so fingers crossed!!!!

Summary: Alex’s friendships, loves, loyalties, physical abilities and sheer force of will, are all tested in the action packed and epic conclusion to one of my all-time favourite series.

Who would like this series: Fantasy lovers of all ages over 10. #LoveOzYA aficionados. YA literature lovers. Anyone after a heart capturing cast of characters on a whirlwind adventure to save their world.

Lynette Noni’s Links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pantera | Goodreads

Booktopia | Bookdepository | Amazon AU | Amazon US

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Songs that sound like blood: Review & Playlist

27803898Songs That Sound Like Blood
by Jared Thomas
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publication: August 1st 2016
Publisher: Magabala Books
Source: Own Purchase
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵

Roxy May Redding’s got music in her soul and songs in her blood. She lives in a hot dusty town and is dreaming big. She survives run-ins with the mean girls at high school, sings in her dad’s band and babysits for her wayward aunt. But Roxy wants a new start. When she gets the chance to study music in the big city, she takes it. Roxy’s new life, her new friends and her music collide in a way she could never have imagined. Being a poor student sucks… navigating her way through the pressure of a national music competition has knobs on it… singing for her dinner is soul destroying… but nothing prepares Roxy for her biggest challenge. Her crush on Ana, the local music journo, forces her to steer her way through a complex maze of emotions alien to this small town girl. Family and friends watch closely as Roxy takes a confronting journey to find out who the hell she is.


Songs that sound like blood is a beautiful coming of age tale about a young aboriginal girl coming out and discovering herself. This story is filled with courage, love and music. It is a heartfelt yarn that I highly recommend you read.

This wonderful story features a same-sex-attracted aboriginal protagonist – Roxy. We follow Roxy as she finishes up high school in her small town and heads to the big smoke (Adelaide) to study music and follow her dreams of making it as a singer. 

Throughout the pages of this book there are fantastic examples of loving and supportive relationships, which I found delightful and heart warming.

This story also serves to highlight some of the many issues affecting Indigenous Australians. The writing is so good and the issues so intertwined and connected to the character Roxy’s life that you never feel like the author is trying to educate you, you just feel as if you are Roxy and you are living her truth with her.

Music plays a big part in Roxy life, so obviously it plays a big role in this story. I love music that you feel deep down in your soul and this book was full of it, with the likes of Bob Marley, Courtney Barnett, Yothu Yindi, Midnight Oil, The Pixies, Frank Yamma, Kev Carmondy, Paul Kelly, Coloured Stones, Warumpi Band, Dusty Springfield, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave and Johnny Cash’s names gracing the pages.

Below I’ve listed and included a link to an apple music playlist I made of the songs performed in the book.


SONGS THAT SOUND LIKE BLOOD: A PLAYLIST

Songs Roxy performs on Starbright:
1) My Island Home by Neil Murray and performed by the Warumpi Band.
2) We Have Survived by No Fixed Address.

Songs “Soul Band” performs:
1) Soul Man by Sam and Dave.
2) I’m Coming by Sam and Dave.
3) Valerie by The Zutons (the book doesn’t state who Valerie is by, so I’m assuming that it is Valerie by The Zutons, later covered by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson).
4) Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett.

Song Roxy sings at the protest rally:
From Little Things Big Things Grow by Kev Carmondy and Paul Kelly.

Song Roxy sings at the Survival Day concert:
Dancing in the Moonlight by Coloured Stones

“When the applause died down Justin and I started playing Coloured Stones’s Dancing in the Moonlight – the blackest of black songs I knew.”

Songs of note: She Cried by Frank Yamma (the song Roxy mentions Frank signing while watching him perform to write her article for Stage).

[ SONGS THAT SOUND LIKE BLOOD PLAYLIST – listen to on apple music ]

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Player’s Game: YA Review

37704117Player’s Game by Desirae Clark
Genre: YA Romance
Publication: December 25th 2017
Publisher: BLVNP Incorporated
Source: Review copy from Publisher – Thank You
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵

And when I turned around, I expected to see my annoying little sisters but was instead greeted by a familiar face. In the threshold stood Parker Brady with a devious smirk on his face and the looks of a god. 

Samantha Valentine’s life turns upside down when she finds out her family is returning to her old town, Scottsdale. It took her a while to make the city her home, and now all of that is for naught, as she has to learn to settle in a quiet town again.

Parker Brady is perfectly happy to make a mess of his life after his best friend, Samantha, left him. He felt betrayed by his most trusted friend, and now he doesn’t care about anyone anymore. The only thing that matters to him is getting girls.

The two are not so thrilled when they meet after years of being away. Old grudges resurface from the past.

Will Samantha and Parker restore their broken friendship? Or will something else rise from its ruins?

Player’s Game is a funny and heartwarming story about young adults learning to come into terms with their past. If you’re up for a light read that will leave you smiling, grab your copy now!


Player’s Game is a short and sweet read that I devoured in one sitting. It was a story on Wattpad before being published by BLVNP Inc. I think it’s pretty cool when books gain enough popularity to get picked up by a publisher. I’m sure it brings hope to all the other Wattpad (and other such sites) users who are actively trying to get published.

Samantha is a spunkie, no holds barred young woman, and she made for an easily likable protagonist. This light and fluffy romance follows her as she deals with moving back to a town she left as a child – this means facing her old best friend and all the heartache their friendship ending caused her.

There’s all the angst and drama you’d expect from a fluffy YA romance including; a mean girl, school yard drama, ex-boyfriend popping up and a school field trip. Ultimately Samantha doesnt have too much trouble transitioning to a new school, this is in part to Parker, the ex-bestie turn love interest, who’s friends take Samantha into their group immediately.

Even though the story was predictable – you knew going into it that they were going to end up together – it was still an enjoyable read and I would happily read more books by Desirae Clark.

LINKS: Twitter | Instagram | Amazon AU | Amazon US

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I Had Such Friends: #LoveOzYA Review

40530953I Had Such Friends by Meg Gatland-Veness #LoveOzYA
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publication: August 1st 2018
Publisher: Pantera Press
Source: Copy for review from publisher – Thank You.
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵

When Charlie Parker dies, it affects everyone who knew him. Everyone, that is, except for seventeen-year-old Hamish Day, the boy who lives on a cabbage farm and only has one friend. But Hamish soon finds himself pulled into the complicated lives of the people left behind. Among them is Annie Bower, the prettiest girl in school. As he uncovers startling truths about his peers, his perspectives on friendship, love, grief and the tragic power of silence are forever altered.

Meg’s own teaching experience has enabled her to delve deeper into the true nature of a universal high school experience. I Had Such Friends will speak to high school students/teenagers on a personal level, and foster important conversations among Australian youth, school and family culture on issues including abuse, failure and neglect.

With hard-hitting themes including unrequited love, abuse, neglect, sexuality, bullying, prejudice, death and suicide, I Had Such Friends is a poignant journey of self-discovery, grief and the tragic power of silence. A gripping look at adolescent pain with a narrative maturity that accurately reflects its YA milieu, I Had Such Friends resonates with young adult audiences and pushes them to reflect on their own ‘sliding doors’ moment.


Damn, I’ve been struggling with how to review this one.
While I loved parts of it, it also made so super sad.

The story follows Hamish, a self described scrawny farm kid loser who hates farming, during his last year of high school. We journey with Hamish as he discovers his sexuality, self-identity and true friendship. This story is filled with grief, hate, and heartbreaking sadness.

Things I liked:

♥ Going on Hamish’s journey with him.
♥ Hamish’s self confidence and self-worth growing as the story progressed.
♥ Hamish learning how to let people into his heart again.
♥ Hamish figuring out the whole friendship thing and making a lifelong meaningful and healing friend in Annie.
♥ Peter finding comfort, friendship, and someone he could confide in with Hamish.

Things I disliked / made me sad:

I feel Peter should have been able to end up in the flat with Hamish and Annie. He could have done labouring work, while Hamish and Annie attended Uni. The story would have still carried valuable messages, but have left your heart warmed in the end.

I had such friends was a beautiful story and I did really enjoy it, I just feel it doesn’t offer any kind of hope to a person in Peter’s situation. Peter was without a doubt my favourite character in the story. I liked Hamish and Annie. But I loved peter. Even in our much more progressive modern society people in Peter’s situation still do not make it out, that’s why in my mind his character should have.

Who would like this story: Anyone who wants to read something ‘real’ feeling. Anyone wanting a glimpse into queer teenage australia. #LoveOZYA aficionados. #AusQueerYA aficionados. Anyone into ‘day in the life’ style contemporary reads.

Trigger Warnings: child abuse, homophobia, bullying, death and suicide.

I will be keeping an eye out for more books by Meg Gatland-Veness and am keen to read what she writes next.

[ LINKS: Facebook | Goodreads | Pantera | Booktopia | Amazon AU | Amazon US ]

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