The Plastic Throne by Amani Uduman & Kera Bruton
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Publication: 1st March 2021
Publisher: MidnightSun Publishing
Source: Review copy from the publisher – Thank You
Denver flushes all kinds of things down the toilet but never stops to think about what happens to them once they are gone. One night, while he sleeps, the ocean begins to stir, no longer able to suppress its fury over how it is being treated. Can Denver and his sister Maisy make things right before it is too late?
This engaging story touches on the concepts of sustainability and the protection of our natural environment all while keeping a tongue placed firmly in its cheek.
When a four-year-old asks you to read a book three times in a row you know you are onto a winner, especially if it is one aiming for environmental education, and this was the case when I read The Plastic Throne from children’s author and primary school teacher Amani Udman and debut illustrator Kera Bruton with my boys.
The story follows a little boy named Denver as he flushes the veggies, he does not want to eat down the toilet. When this works well for him, he starts flushing broken toys, the cat, his sisters’ bike – anything he does not like or wants to hide. Obviously, this back-fires, comedically so, and the ocean swells with rubbish engulfing his town in rubbish, water, and ocean creatures. Denver realises the error of his ways with the help of his sister Maisy, and they try to rectify his mistakes.
The Plastic Throne is a bright and colorful picture book with an engaging story and artwork. The ending of the story opens the opportunity for deeper conversations with children about the responsible conservation of the earth’s environment and how to dispose of rubbish responsibly. And it is a read I highly recommend.
Footprints On The Moon by Lorraine Marwood
Genre: Historical Verse novel, #LoveOzYA/MG
Publication: February 2nd, 2021
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Source: @AusYaBloggers Tour
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Humans are about to leave footprints on the moon, but what sort of mark can one girl make here on earth?
It’s 1969 and life is changing fast. Sharnie Burley is starting high school and finding it tough to make new friends. As the world waits to see if humans will land on the moon, the Vietnam War rages overseas. While her little cousin, Lewis, makes pretend moon boots, young men are being called up to fight, sometimes without having any choice in the matter. Sometimes without ever coming home.
Dad thinks serving your country in a war is honourable, but when Sharnie’s older sister, Cas, meets a returned soldier and starts getting involved in anti-war protests, a rift in their family begins to show. Sharnie would usually turn to her grandma for support, but lately Gran’s been forgetting things.
Can she find her own way in this brave new world?
About The Author: Lorraine Marwood was born and raised in rural Victoria and has lived for most of her married life on a dairy farm with her husband and their six children. Lorraine is an award-winning poet who has been widely published in literary magazines across Australia, as well as magazines in the UK, USA, New Zealand and Canada. She has also published several children’s novels and collections of poetry.
Set in 1969 this verse novel by award-winning Aussie poet Lorraine Marwood follows the life of Sharnie as she navigates the first year of high school. Not only is Sharnie dealing with everything that happens when you start growing up – Friendships changing, making new friends and losing old, learning how to navigate bullies and the rules of high school – she can also tell her Grandma mind is starting to slip, that’s already so much to deal with emotionally, and I haven’t even touched on the War and Moon landings.
At the start of the book, Sharnie and her sister Cas are starting to drift apart. I loved seeing them coming back together by the end of the book, it was one of the highlights for me. As was Sharnie growing as a person and coming to realize how complicated life and the big and wild world is. Another highlight was Sharnie embracing Gail, whose brother was killed Vietnam War, and the beautiful and meaningful friendship they develop.
The moon landing plot was always in the background, and with the addiction of Sharnie’s space-obsessed little cousin, it provided relief from what is actually a very sad story. I will be honest and say that I cried A LOT reading this book, every time their Grandma was mentioned it ripped me apart.
The War, conscription, and anti-war protests also feature heavily, but nothing is ever so descriptive that this book would be unsuitable for young audiences. I actually think this book is a magnificent time capsule for 1969 Australia – but this story is also timeless and universal, and one I will be encouraging my boys to read once they are a little older.
For Eternity by Samantha Calcott
Genre: M/M, BDSM, Paranormal, Romance (Queer Novella)
Publication: February 14th, 2021
Source: Review copy from Author – Thank You
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After World War Three, the world is scourged by vampires, and the only hope of stopping them lays in the hands of nineteen-year-old Desi Duponce. He has an idea, but in order for it to come to fruition, he must collaborate with the older wizard Oscar Scott. Desi didn’t expect his new partner to be so alluringly handsome. In addition to fighting the vampires, Oscar teaches him much more than he expected as he shows Desi the true pleasures of being his submissive.
For Eternity was a valentine’s day release, sadly I did not get it read in time. I will say that I think It would make for a fantastic date-night with yourself read, or you could read it to someone – either way 😊.
The romance/sex is male on male, so step away if you are afraid.
The two main characters are the younger Desmond Duponce, who lost both parents to vampire attacks when he was a babe. And the older Oscar Scott, whose reputation as a potion’s master proceeds him. The unlikely duo ends up spending six months together down in Oscar’s Lab developing more than just an airborne weapon to be used in the war on vampires, they also develop a deep and loving Dom and Sub relationship. The romance is cheeky and fun sometimes, and hot and heavy other times.
I really enjoyed this romance novella. It was short, sweet, and sexy – yes, even BDSM can be written into a fast and fun read. I would love to read more from this world Ms. Colcott has created and see more of WW3 and the Nuclear Vampires.
All in all, I found that For Eternity had a good balance of world-building and action (warcraft and sexual). Part paranormal horror, part romance, part BDSM erotica – you might be surprised at how well-rounded this story is, and by the twist at the end.
About the Author: Samantha Calcott is a secret lover of romance when it’s done right, and after years of writing under another pen name in the horror and paranormal genres, she decided to dip her toe into a brand new genre.
She’s a Midwestern girl who spent nearly a decade in the gritty heart of Los Angeles, where sex, drug, and rock n’ roll reign.
When not writing, she’s reading, at a concert, or cooking. She currently lives in Chicago. She also writes horror and paranormal books as USA Today bestselling author Lily Luchesi.
GIRL OF THE SOUTHERN SEA By Michelle Kadarusman
Genre: Middle-Grade Contemporary
Publication: February 2nd, 2021
Publisher: University Queensland Press
Source: Review copy received as part of the @AusYABloggers tour, THANK YOU.
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A gifted student, Nia longs to attend high school so she can follow her dream and become a writer. She has notebooks filled with stories she’s created about the mythological Dewi Kadita, Princess of the Southern Sea. But her family has barely enough money for food, let alone an education, so Nia’s days are spent running their food cart and raising her younger brother.
Following a miraculous escape from a bus accident, Nia is gifted with good-luck magic. Or at least that’s what everyone’s saying. Soon their family business is booming and there might even be enough money to return to school. But how long can her good luck last?
When a secret promise threatens everything she’s hoped for, Nia must find a way to break the mould and write her own future.
About The Author: Michelle’s first middle-grade novel The Theory of Hummingbords was nominated for the OLA Silver Birch Express, MYRCA Sundogs and SYRCA Diamond Willow awards. Her novel Girl of the Southern Sea was a 2019 Governor General’s Award finalist, USBBY Outstanding Book and Freeman Book Award Honorable Mention. Her new novel, Music for Teens, released in 2020.
Michelle grew up in Melbourne, Australia and has also lived in Bali, Surabaya and Jakarta in Indonesia. She currently lives in Toronto, Canada. You can find her @ Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads.
The story opens in the slums of Jakarta Indonesia with POV Nia trying to get her drunken father home. A series of events (no spoilers here) leaves 14-year-old Nia’s father MIA and sees her having to work the Family’s banana cart by herself to feed herself, her 5-year-old brother Rudi, and to pay off their fathers’ debts.
Nia has had to play the role of mother to her little brother since their mother died giving birth to him. Even with this, Nia has no hated or resentment towards Rudi, rather she looks at having him as still having a piece of her mum to hold. She does come to, and rightly so, resent her father’s addiction to alcohol.
Nia is a natural-born storyteller, and she yearns to attend high school, and later become a writer. But sadly, in Nia’s part of the world, the government schools are only free until the end of middle school and Nia does not have enough money for the fees to attend high school. Even though I am trying to be spoiler-free, I will say that I love that Michelle included the stories that Nia writes her little brother and friends, so that the reader can enjoy them too.
At 14 Nia’s character is age-wise on the border of middle grade and young adult, Girl of the Southern Sea has been written for the MG market. The story is quick and engaging, written in a beautifully simple and flowing style. And fear not, the story does have a happy ending. Everything does not end all fairytale and fluffy, but the reader is left with the hope that things will improve for Nia, thanks to her being a hard worker and never giving up on her dreams.
Ultimately Girl of the Southern Sea is a story of never giving up or losing hope. A story of holding onto your dreams and working hard to make them a reality.
I am an Aussie with Scottish and English Heritage.
I am a Bisexual, yes even though I am married to a man, I am still attracted to women – always have been, always will be!
I am a Sci-Fi nut (thanks Mum) and I have a very wide taste in music (also thanks Mum, and my grandmothers). Music and Art in general are my saviour, my church, my release.
I have struggled with depression, social anxiety, body dysmorphia, and thanatophobia my whole life. Arthritis came along in my late-twenties and my overall anxiety gets worse with each passing day. But very few of you would know any of that because I have always kept it to myself. If you come up to me in public I’ll plaster on my biggest and warmest smile, act happy and be friendly (and I am friendly underneath it all, but I should get an Oscar for the performance I’ve been putting on the last 33 years).
I had my first panic attack at the start of October. It landed me in the ER, as Shane thought I was having a stroke/heart attack (something sinister anyways). I have had a few attacks since then and bad days that have left me locked in my head unable to function. I had one last night. It started from just having a down day and ended with me on the bathroom floor rocking back and forth, crying while going through calming exercises to try and drag myself back to reality.
And yes, I have had some professional help over the years. I’ve partaken in therapy, altered my diet, taken drugs from doctors and herbs from naturopaths. I’ve tried and will keep on trying to manage my conditions. I want to be well and I am not a quitter. It’s just not in my DNA to give up, although most times it seems like the easiest option.
I do not tell my friends and family what is going on with me because I do not want to bring them down – but all that has done is made me feel completely alone. I am not telling you this because I want sympathy – fuck no! I am here, holding myself accountable for my own wellbeing. I am here, trying to be my most authentic self.
I decided to post this in the hopes of raising awareness. I want you to CHECK IN ON YOUR MATES. Get in their heads and let them in yours. LIFE IS TOO HARD TO FACE ALONE, and after 33 years, I cannot keep it up. So here we are.
Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m pleased to meet you.
The phone rings and I get a jolt to the guts like someone has kicked me.
I feel like I am going to bring up my lunch.
I answer the phone, ramping up my fake happy mode, asking “how may I help you” and such.
I just want peace and quiet.
I just want to sleep.
I do not want to talk to anybody.
I do not want to speak.
Everyday drags on and feels like a waste.
Yet the years speed by at a blistering pace.
We all know the Sun, the powerhouse of our solar system, but what about Luyten’s Flare, the Rosino-Zwicky Object or Chanal’s variable star? For those whose curiosity takes them far beyond Earth’s atmosphere, The Secret Life of Stars offers a personal and readily understood introduction to some of the Galaxy’s most remarkable stars.
Each chapter connects us to the various different and unusual stars and their amazing characteristics and attributes, from pulsars, blue stragglers and white dwarfs to cannibal stars and explosive supernovae. With chapter illustrations by Eirian Chapman, this book brings to life the remarkable personalities of these stars, reminding readers what a diverse and unpredictable universe we live in and how fortunate we are to live around a stable star, our Sun.
A book on Astrophysics aimed at teens, yes please! Science was one of my favourite classes in high school (that and Art & Drama, yes, yes, strange mix I know).
From the moment Lisa introduced herself at the start, just the vibe I got from reading her introduction, I knew I was going to enjoy this book. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I was going to love this book or the intense pull it would awaken in me to stop, slow down, and gaze up at the stars with a reinvigorating sense of wonder.
Before taking a stroll around the known universe one Star at a time, The Secret Life of Stars kicks off close to home, talking about the bringer of our life, the marvel that is our sun.
“At around 6 billion years old, the sun is in the middle age of her life. And before you ask, yes, the sun is a woman. How do I know? She holds down a steady job (heating and lighting the solar system), provides for a family of eight and hasn’t taken a holiday in 4.6 billion years.”
All hail the sun!!! and a high five and hug to Lisa, a woman showing up for girls in Science!
The pure love and worship of the universe around us and all the infinite number of stars in existence shines through in Lisa’s sometimes humous, always fascinating words.
Lisa has written an informative and interesting delve into the universe around us in an easily accessible way. Ha, maybe if they wrote textbooks like this more kids would be entranced by not only Astrophysics and Astrology, but Sciences as a whole!
I have been in a reading funk lately, struggling to focus on fictional tales and The Secret Life of Stars was a like an invigorating dip in the ocean, or use a different analogy, like a breath of fresh air. It is a perfect conversation starting coffee table book, a perfect read a little here and there book, and it is also engaging enough to read in a cover to cover marathon. I kept finding myself reading passages out loud to my other half Shane. The Secret Life of Stars has rekindled a stargazing passion for us both. And has us intending to save up for a decent telescope and muck around with Astro-Photography to make use of our old SLR in the meantime.
Who would like this book: This book may have been aimed at teens in its conception, but at 33 I can tell you it’s not just for teens. Maybe you know a stargazer, a dreamer, a sci-fi lover, a lover of all things science, or even a lover of travel – maybe it’s you – then The Secret Life of Stars would make a fantastic special treat, birthday or Chrissy gift.
There isn’t much more I can say, so I will leave you with this quote: “Every atom of iron on planet Earth was made inside a star. That goes for every atom of iron in your blood, too… Next time you look at your veins, or use a compass, or don’t die in a shower of lethal cosmic radiation, be grateful to the unnamed relic of a cosmic behemoth who gave its life that we might live. Our ancestor star, our gentle giant of the skies.”
Lisa Harvey-Smith is an award-winning astronomer and Professor at the University of New South Wales. She has a talent for making complicated science seem simple and fun. Lisa is a regular on national tv/radio/media and has appeared in several TV series and documentaries as a guest scientist and is a presenter alongside Prof. Brian Cox on ABC TV’s Stargazing Live.
In 2018 she was appointed as the Australian Government’s Ambassador for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). As an Ambassador Lisa is responsible for increasing the participation of women and girls in STEM studies and careers across Australia. She is also a vocal advocate for building inclusive workplaces for LGBTQI+ scientists.
Find out more about Lisa here > https://lisaharveysmith.com/biography
Follow the Australian Bloggers tour HERE.
At the start of July, I drafted a ridiculously long I quit /goodbye post where I went into detail on all the things I have got going on in my life. I was beyond burnt out but I was attempting to hide it from everyone. My whole life just felt like an endless list of stuff I had to do, not anything I wanted to do, and it was slowly killing my spark. I was getting home from work exhausted and I did not want to do anything other than go to bed and cry. My one escape, reading, had become a chore, just another thing I HAD to do each day. I was finding that I was emotionally becoming more sensitive and easier to set off, be it into anger or tears. And I was sick of it. Someone around me only needed to be a little off to put me in a tailspin. It felt like nothing I did was for myself anymore, everything was for someone else – the kids, other family members, my partner, Authors, other bookish influencers – but nothing for me.
In my big long I quite post I wrote about the toxic money and fame-hungry environment that is brewing in the online bookstagram world. I wrote about blogging and my plans in the reviewer world. I wrote about all the bad luck and ill health my maternal grandmother has been through lately. I wrote about how the older I get the worse my overall anxiety becomes, and not just FOMO. But I just do not care anymore. And I doubt y’all want to hear it. Like, who in the world wants to read my sad-sack post anyways lol everybody has their own stuff going on at the moment and there are few people who are coping well.
The short version. I am not well, physically (long-term life illnesses and new problems) or mentally (fuck you COVID and your isolating restrictions). I am sore, tired, and frustrated all the time! As a full-time working mum, there is a lot of shit I have to do that I can’t not do, and that is draining. Being a parent is all about shit you have to do. They don’t tell you about that beforehand. They just tell you that you’ll love them and it’ll be all worth it. Nar mate! You have to keep them feed, clean, clothed, and HAPPY and it’s fucking hard! It’s 247, never a second off, hard. No one will emotionally abuse you more than your own children. Riley is now 7 and Ethan is 3½ and they just don’t stop. YES, they are adorable little assholes and I love them more than I love anything in the world, even more than chocolate and gin, but sometimes I wonder if they will be the death of me. To get some balance I am attempting to remove as much “have to” stuff as I can from my life, If it isn’t fun or beneficial to me or my family anymore, it’s gone.
Obviously, I will still read when the mood strikes me, as a good book is the best escape there is. But I will only be writing reviews if the book touches me enough that I fell the need to review it. I’ll still be staying on with the #AusYABloggers board, helping with book tours, etc. as I love those girls and I don’t want to turn my back on all the online bookish friends I’ve made.
I felt immediately calmer after making the decision back in July to just drop it all. I was heading to a very dark place that I haven’t been too since I was struggling with postnatal depression after my first baby. Happily with less to do each night my eldest son and I have taken to watching a TV show together each night for the hour between his little brother going to bed and him going to bed. At the moment Riley and I are watching The Masked Singer Australia on Monday and Tuesdays, then Ru Paul’s AJ and the Queen on Netflix every other day. The hour has become a way for us to reconnect and share something special together, as his little brother takes up a lot of my mummy time. I have also implemented a family games night for all four of us.
I am trying to be happy and healthy. I am trying to be more in the moment. I am trying to live. But damn 2020 is making it hard!