Kindred: #AusQueerYA Review

43197387Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories, a #AusQueerYA anthology
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT fiction, Short Stories
Publication: June 1st 2019
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Source: #AusYABloggers #KindredStories tour
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ✵✵✵✵

What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #LoveOzYA collection, twelve of Australia’s finest writers from the LGBTQ+ community explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us.

This inclusive and intersectional #OwnVoices anthology for teen readers features work from writers of diverse genders, sexualities and identities, including writers who identify as First Nations, people of colour or disabled. With short stories by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to young adult fiction including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.

Includes a foreword by anthology editor Michael Earp, resources for queer teens, contributor bios and information about the #LoveOzYA movement.


I was super excited when I first heard about Kindred. It’s always fantastic seeing queer fiction make it’s way out into the world. Even better when it’s a Aussie anthology with a diverse range of #OwnVoices authors. I was over the moon when Micheal Earp and Walker Books excepted our (the other #AusYaBloggers & readers group mods and I) pitch for hosting a queer only tour.

I made my way down to the Sydney Writers Festival’s YA day at Parramatta’s Riverside Theater buzzing with excitement to attend the Kindred panel.  Hearing Micheal talk about how Kindred came to be and hearing some of the authors talk about their writing, only made me more excited to see the book in our tour participants hands. It’s now day five of the tour and it’s my stop.

This is the first anthology I’ve read that swaps genre. Anthology’s always have a theme, be it first kisses, summer holidays, landing on new planet etc. and in Kindred case, being Queer. I’ve only ever read anthologies where the stories are all sci-fi or contemporary romances etc.
When I first heard of Kindred I thought/assumed it was going to be a series of contemporary short stories where the authors fictionalised a positive queer experience for the benefit of teen readers new/struggling with their queerness. You know, to give them hope, and so they could see themselves represented etc. I guess really, this is what I had hoped Kindred would be.
Never the less the moving around of genres didn’t really bother me (most were contemporary anyways) as I do try to read a little of all genres for variety. I LOVED the variety of own voices rep! So ****ing awesome to see! It makes my heart sing!

BUUUUUT, Trigger warnings – homophobia, death of loved one, ableism, depression, racism, transphobia, pedophilia. Yeah it gets heavy folks. But life is heavy. Okay, I get that. But a story can get heavy and hard and dark, then still end up leaving you filled with light and hope and love. As far as positive examples for teens, I think Kindred may have missed the mark – but you’ll have to ask a teens option on that. I wanted happy queer stories to combat the ugly of the real world. But that’s what I wanted. I still think this is a brilliant and much needed collection and I hope it opens the door to more queer collections.

RATS by Marlee Jane Ward. F/F romance. I found this story a little odd. A semi futuristic world. Homeless teens know as rats. Some insta-love with a trouble seeking open air ”babe” and a “rat” tunnel dweller. Mostly I liked it.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, BREAK GLASS by Erin Gough. Questioning protagonist, f/f romance. A sweet and heartwarming contemporary story with a magical realism twist. I found it a delight to read.

BITTER DRAUGHT by Michael Earp. M/M relationship.  Two young men, a sick little sister and a journey to see a witch to get a cure. I enjoyed it for the most part, but it had a sad ending. Why Micheal, why.

I LIKE YOUR ROTATION by Jax Jacki Brown. Lesbian wheelchair-using protagonist and love interest. Super sweet self discovery story focusing on the intersection of disability and identity, exploring friendship and sexuality. I really enjoyed it and would have loved to be able to have kept reading.

SWEET by Claire G. Coleman. POC non-binary protagonist. This one left me feeling really unsettled. It was a swap around story where the oppressed became the oppressors. It just felt harsh and bitter. And I worry it might be harmful to some younger readers.

LIGHT BULB by Nevo Zisin. Non-binary protagonist. Absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Dark and deep. I wholeheartedly loved it. It spoke to the darkness in my soul. My Jam! Maybe you’d class the story as horror? But to me there was nothing horrific about it. Please Nevo write more fiction!!!

WAITING by Jen Wilde. Autistic bisexual protagonist. Contemporary tale dealing with toxic friendships. A story with a happy ending! The protagonist finds people she feels comfortable being herself with. True friends in the making. And brownie points to Jen for the Brooklyn 99, Stephanie Beatriz nods!

LAURA NYRO AT THE WEDDING by Christos Tsiolkas. M/M relationship. No, just no. Totally inappropriate for a teen anthology! – The story is not even YA and the side subject matter (student/teacher relationship). I just…no. No.

EACH CITY by Ellen van Neerven. POC protagonist, f/f relationship. I found the story to have an abrupt unresolved ending. Didn’t feel like the story got to finish, felt like it was only just beginning and I want the rest. This just left me feeling empty and unsettled. Ellen, did she make it home? I need/want to know how it all played out.

AN ARAB WEREWOLF IN LONDON by Omar Sakr. Muslim gay protagonist, Muslim m/m love interest. Without the werewolf element this could have been a smoking hot m/m contemporary. But I really liked it as it was. I’ve got Omar’s These Wild Houses sitting on my shelf to read, but i’d also love to read more fiction like this from Omar!!

STORMLINES by Allison Evans. Non-binary protagonist. A heartwarming story about finding somewhere that feels like home.

QUESTIONS TO ASK STRAIGHT RELATIVES by Benjamin Law. Chinese/Australian gay protagonist, background m/m relationship. More personal essay then short story. But I loved it and felt it was the perfect way to finish of a queer anthology.


 Follow along with the tour here > > The AusYABloggers Tour Schedule

Purchase Links: Angus and RobinsonBooktopiaAmazon AustraliaFishpondThe Book Depository

 

If you purchase the book from The Little Bookroom you can have it signed By Michael Earp. All you have to do is mention in the order notes that you followed the Kindred Tour and would like your copy signed by Michael.

For people looking to find a bookshop near them: Find A Bookshop.

Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

May 2019 Bookish Summary

Total books read in May: 4
Comics/ Graphic Novels = 0  |  #LoveOzYA / #LoveNzYA = 1 |  the remainder = 3

River Stone by Rachel Hennessy #LoveOZYA
River Stone is the first book in a new dystopian trilogy. It has a fresh and unique feel that drew me in right from the start and kept me hooked until the last page. It is a story of survival, of adapting, of friendship, of being human, and of being a teenager living in the shadow of expectation.
Published May 1st 2019 by MidnightSun Publishing [My Full Review] [View on Goodreads]

The Little Wave by Pip Harry #LoveOZMG
The Little is a delightful Middle Grade verse novel, and even though it deals with grief, bullying, navigating new friendships and the struggles of low-SES families, it is an immensely enjoyable read. Regardless of your age it will leave you with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.
Published May 7th 2019 by UQP Books [My Full Review] [View on Goodreads]

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
An adorable YA graphic novel about friendship, family, young love, expectations, identity, fancy fashion and following your dreams.
Published February 13th 2018 by First Second [View on Goodreads]

Concrete Queers – issue 5 (poetry), 8 (music) and 11 (home).
Concrete Queers is a zine made by queer people for queer people, edited by Katherine Back and Alison Evans.
I enjoyed reading all three of the zines, but maybe Poetry and Music slightly more – I’ve always had an affinity for both.
Find out more at the Concrete Queers Website and Alison Evan’s etsy zine store.

Conclusion: It was a bit of a slow reading month unfortunately, but I had a lot of other things going on (non-bookish). Fingers crossed I get to devour more books this month.

I made the trek from Newcastle down to Parramatta for the Sydney Writers Festival all day YA love fest. And It was well worth the effort. I got to catch up with some fellow book bloggers and bookstagrammers and attended some fantastic sessions.

I only managed to post two reviews up on the blog during May BUT….. I published a personal essay I wrote about social expectations, sexuality and realisations that come with age. Titled: Me, myself and the land of self-reflection. You check it out HERE. And I published a post titled: Promises to my sons. Part poem, part letter, written to my sons. Check it out if you dare, HERE.

Past Monthly Summaries:
Jan 19Feb 19Mar 19April 19

Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

Promises to my sons

I will lose my shit and yell at you.
I will lose my cool and fly off the rails. It’s what I do.
I will swear repeatedly, and I don’t fucking care if you swear, as long as you grow up to care about the world and the people around you.
As long as you always try your hardest, I don’t care if you fail.
I don’t care who you love as long as you are happy, and that person isn’t human trash.
I will love you even when you make me angry.
I will love you even when you hate me.
I will show you that women hold the power of life.
I will teach you that you should worship the women in your life.
I will teach you not to force yourself onto anyone; emotionally or sexually.
I will teach you that consent can only be given when someone is sober and of sound mind, that consent cannot be coerced or pressured.

You are white,
and you are male,

and if I ever catch you abusing that privilege I will knock you down.

I will raise you as an equalist.
I will teach you that human is human.
Love is love and blood is blood.
Race, religion, gender, sexuality and bank accounts mean nothing to a bullet, mean nothing as your body decomposes.
I will raise you to see that every living thing has value.
I will raise you to be a hu-man.

 

Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂

Me, myself and the land of self-reflection

You may or may not have noticed that my blog themed changed. After five years I felt like something new. After five years I am not the same person I was when I started The Adventures of SacaKat. So, here we have a new theme and a new name, Sarah Says. But it’s still just me stuffing around on the internet. And this blog will continue to grow as I grow, change as I change, just as it has for the last five and a half years.

At thirty-two I decided I was getting too old too quick to give a shit. I decided that 2019 was going to be the year I did the things I’ve always wanted to but haven’t out of fear. GRAB A CUPPA this post is a long one.

A few months ago, I bleached my hair and dyed it bright pink, because I’ve always wanted hot pink hair but never has the guts to do it. And I intend to keep it pink. BOOM!

I recently entered a piece I wrote about my late grandmother in the Newcastle grieve competition. I’ve always psyched myself out of entering my poems and writing into anything. But I did it (It’ll be months before I know the outcome of that). BOOM!

While volunteering on the Friday of the Newcastle Writers Festival (early April) I wore makeup. I was self-conscious about it the whole time. Kept looking the mirror to check how It was looking and cringing. When I got home that night, I decided I wasn’t going to wear makeup on my next shift. I don’t wear makeup to work. My current social profile is me with no makeup and no filters (still is). I thought, why am I doing this to myself. I went back without makeup and felt better for it. I wasn’t worried about how my makeup looked or how it was holding up. I knew that when someone looked at me, they were seeing me. It was their problem if they didn’t like what they were seeing, not mine. BOOM!

Now don’t get me wrong. I love watching the amazing makeup transformations people do on YouTube. I love looking at IG models and Queens in full glamour makeup. But I suck at. I suck at doing makeup and it always adds this extra layer of anxiety. I always think I end up looking worse when I put it on. The only time I bother to try and do it is when I’m going somewhere and I feel like people would expect a woman to wear makeup, you know, dinner at a restaurant, drinks at the pub etc. But I serve customers five days a week sans-makeup. So why the fuck am I putting it on to volunteer at a writer’s festival. Yes, plenty of the other female volunteers had make up on, but not one of them looked at me judgmentally because I didn’t, just as I didn’t look at them judgmentally because they did. I didn’t wear makeup to my cousins’ concert in Sydney (Late April). Shout out to The Beautiful Monument. And I didn’t wear makeup to the Sydney Writers Festival a fortnight ago. The world kept spinning and I felt fine. BOOM!

I still feel that my sexuality is nobody business but mine, my husbands and a few of my close friends who I choose to share it with. I think that a persons sexually and gender doesn’t make them anymore or any less than anybody else, so it shouldn’t matter! But to raise awareness, and to try and make life easier for the next generation, I will be open about it. I will say that I identify as Queer. Queer being the umbrella term used for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or cisgender. I am a Cis woman. I was lucky enough to be born in a female body and identify as female. When I was younger the only options sexually appeared to be straight or gay. Bisexual didn’t exist, you were just promiscuous and/or slutty and kissing your females friends was just something you did when you were all bored or drunk. Shove your Biphobia, I’m too old to care. BOOM!

I will say that I got married too young. I was twenty and I was trying to fill the void in my soul. Turns out the only way to do that is through loving yourself, not others – TRUE THAT.
I married a man because it was what was expected of me and because it was easier (at the time). But that turned out okay. He knows me and loves me (and he’s seen the darkest ugliest parts of me). With that man I have two devil children, oops I mean adorable children, who I would destroy the world for.

To all you youngsters I say:
Fuck doing what is expected of you, if doesn’t feel right, RUN.
Adulthood and responsibilities are a one-way door, don’t open them until you are at least sure of who you want to be.
Never try to be something you are not to impress someone, or to make someone other than yourself happy – It’ll all turn to shit in the end.

I am old and wise. Listen to mother.

Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com
I wonder how many followers this post will lose me hahahahaha

The Little Wave: #LoveOZMG Review

44282630The Little Wave by Pip Harry
Genre: Middle Grade Verse Novel
Publication: May 7th 2019
Publisher: UQP Books
Source: Review copy from publisher – Thank You
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

When a Manly school sets out to bring a country class to the city for a beach visit, three very different kids find each other and themselves.

Noah is fearless in the surf. Being at the beach makes him feel free. So where does his courage go when his best mate pushes him around?

Lottie loves collecting facts about bugs, but she wishes her dad would stop filling their lonely house with junk. She doesn’t know what to do about it.

Jack wants to be a cricket star, but first he has to get to school and look after his little sister. Especially if he wants to go on the class trip and see the ocean for the first time.


The Little Wave was is a delightful Middle Grade verse novel. The POV switches between there year five students, Noah and Lottie from the beachy inner Sydney suburb of Manly, to Jack from the beach-less more rural town of Mullin.

Three different kids dealing with different things.

Noah is being bullied by the boy who is supposed to be his best friend and he doesn’t know what to do about it.

Lottie is on the outside at school, with no friends other than the insects she spends her time studying. And for the most part Lottie feels she has no father either as he has been emotionally absent since the death of her mother.

Jack’s woes are more socioeconomic and at one point in the story he and his sister are sleeping on the floor at his aunties place.

The Little Wave deals with grief, bullying, navigating new friendships and the struggles of low-SES families. Ultimately it is a book about the healing power of friendship and even though the book deals with some heavy things, it is an immensely enjoyable read.

Pip Harry has done a remarkable job putting so much story and heart into so few words.

The Little wave is well worth the read. Regardless of your age it will leave you with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.

Pip Harry: Goodreads | Twitter | Website | Instagram | Booktopia | Amazon

Find a Bookshop

Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

River Stone: #LoveOZYA Review

44296482River Stone by Rachel Hennessy
Genre: Dystopian #LoveOzYa
Publication: May 1st 2019
Publisher: MidnightSun Publishing
Source: Review copy from publisher – Thank You
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵

We are not special. We are just survivors.

Pandora wants so much more than what her village can provide. When disaster comes to the River People, Pan has the opportunity to become their saviour and escape her inevitable pairing with life-long friend Matthew. She wants to make her own choices. Deep in her soul, she believes there is something more out there, beyond the boundaries, especially since she encountered the hunter of the Mountain People.

A story of confused love, difficult friendships and clumsy attempts at heroism, Pan’s fight for her village’s survival will bring her into contact with a whole new world, where the truth about the past will have terrifying reverberations for her people’s future survival.


River Stone by Aussie author Rachel Hennessy is the first book in a new dystopian trilogy. River Stone has a fresh and unique feel that drew me in right from the start and kept me hooked until the last page.

The protagonist Pan grows up not really knowing anything of the past, as it is too painful for most of the village elders to talk about – her mother especially.

River Stone is set on our earth in what could be our not too distant future. In the years before Pan’s birth Earth has been nearly destroyed; mass animal extinction, land becoming barren and unfarmable, people with wealth turning their backs on the rest of the world and the collapse of modern civilization as we know it.

The story mostly follows Pan as she undertakes a journey. A journey that I can’t really say much about without giving away the plot of the book. Hmmmm. Just know the journey tests Pan’s abilities to adapt and learn fast. It teaches her a lot about the world outside her village and she sees things that she never even knew existed.

The other part of the story is told through letters that Pan’s mum writes to her while she is on her journey. In these letters Pan’s mum writes of all the things she could never bring herself to talk to her daughter about. The letters allow us to gain the backstory of the world Pan is living in. In the letters Zaana tells her daughter who she was before the burning days and how she came to be with the River People. I especially enjoyed the letters, they allowed us to get to know Pan’s mother and understand why the River People behaved the way the did – which is almost cult like at times.

River Stone never becomes preachy, but there is a real lesson in there – one of the dangers of greed and environmental complacency.

River Stone is a story of survival, of adapting, of friendship, of being human, and of being a teenager living in the shadow of expectation.

I really enjoyed River Stone and am excited to see how the River People’s story continues in the next book.


‘A fantastic story for our times. Thilling. Chilling.’ – Seann Williams

‘An intelligent dystopian drama that is as addictive as it is thought provoking.’ – Winnie Salamon

Rachel Hennessy Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Website | MidnightSun Publishing

Booktopia | Amazon AU | Amazon US 

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

April 2019 Bookish Summary

Total books read in April: 6

Comics/ Graphic Novels = 0  |  #LoveOzYA / #LoveNzYA = 2 |  the remainder = 4

Highway Bodies by Alison Evans #LoveOZYA
Highway Bodies is an utterly Australian and brilliantly Queer Zombie Apocalypse story with heart and soul. It is a story of survival and learning how to function in a new world. It is a story of friendship and finding a place with people where you feel you belong.
Published February 1st 2019 by Echo Publishing [View on Goodreads]

Winter Wishes of the Heart by Ashley Uzzell
Winter Wishes of the Heart is a short and sweet read for when you need a quick pick me up. It contains four holiday themed tales of romance that were a delight to read. All the stories centre around protagonists dealing with varying levels of social anxiety, I loved that part!
I commend Ashley for fitting so much heart into so few words.
Published November 30th, 2017 by Ashley Uzzell [View on Goodreads]

Stay With Me by Kira Hawke
I went into this thinking I was going to get a little snap shot romance between two guys. What I got was an intense and bitter sweet story of two strangers lives colliding. A bitter sweet short story that highlights some of the worst and best parts of humanity. Wow, just wow. I was blown away by this one! I need to find more works by Kira Hawke!
Published October 18th, 2014 by Kira Hawke [View on Goodreads]

 

Dig by A.S. King
A skilfully written, intense and at times extremely dark tale of terminal illness, poverty, physical & sexual abuse, parental neglect, racism, white privilege and the danger of family legacy.
If you put in the emotional effort and get to the end of the book, you will be rewarded – the ending if worth the journey.
Published April 2nd, 2019 by Text Publishing [View on Goodreads] [View My Full Review]

Lost in LA (The Bikini Collective #2) by Kate McMahon #LoveOZYA
Back with the three Aussie surfer girls again; Lost in LA is a charming tale of friendship and learning to appreciate the things we have, set to the back drop of the Malibu round of the World Junior Tour. There are surfing scenes that are written so descriptively you feel like you are out on the wave and there are friends sticking up for each other and woman banding together – A fantastic combo.
Published February 28th, 2019 by Kate McMahon [View on Goodreads] [View My Full Review]

Concrete Queers – issue 4 (romance), #6 (smut) and #7 (spec fic).
Concrete Queers is a zine made by queer people for queer people, edited by Katherine Back and Alison Evans.
I enjoyed all three zines very much, but there was a personal essay by Tegan Elizabeth in the romance issue that I really connected with.
Find out more at the Concrete Queers Website and Alison Evan’s etsy zine store.

Conclusion: April, oh April where did you go. You came in a rush and I don’t want to let you go. While I only managed to read 3 actual books this month (with some short stories and zines in between), it was still a fantastic month as the Newcastle Writers Festival took place. This year was my 5th year volunteering at the festival and yet again I had a great time. Friday was the highlight for me as I was ushering as part of the schools program and it was so fantastic to see the kids and authors engaging.

The Newcastle Writers Festival first ran in 2013, I heard about it through the Hunter Writers Centre, of which I was a member at the time, and attended the festival as a patron. I missed 2014 (baby drama), but started Volunteering in 2015 and will continue into the foreseeable future.

 Past Monthly Summaries: Jan 19Feb 19Mar 19

Thanks for visiting The Adventures of SacaKat.
Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).