#LoveOzYaBloggers – Feels

#LoveOzYABloggers is hosted by #LoveOzYA, a community led organisation dedicated to promoting Australian young adult literature.

The theme for this fortnight is ‘Feels’.

Keep up to date with all new Aussie YA releases with their monthly newsletter, or find out what’s happening with News and Events, or submit your own!

My brain automatically went; Ok three books. Sidekicks, The simple Gift and Clancy of the Undertow. But as I came to type out this post I realised I’d used The Sidekicks in the first week, so I decided to go with The first Third also by Will Kostakis which I loved just as much. Amusingly in the first week I also used another Steven Herrick book, Slice. Haha can you tell i’m a big fan of both fellas. I just finished Cinnamon Girl (right before I sat down to type this post) and totally adored it, so I’m chucking it in as a fourth 😛 🙂
So in conclusion, below are four Aussie young adult books that I absolutely adored and gave me “feels” to the point that I actually had to just sit and physically hug the book at the end. They are books I can see myself re-reading multiple times down the track.

17185857The First Third by Will Kostakis 

Published July 24th 2013  [Goodreads]

Life is made up of three parts: in the first third, you’re embarrassed by your family; in the second, you make a family of your own; and in the end, you just embarrass the family you’ve made.

That’s how Billy’s grandmother explains it, anyway. She’s given him her bucket list (cue embarrassment), and now, it’s his job to glue their family back together.

No pressure or anything.

Fixing his family’s not going to be easy and Billy’s not ready for change. But as he soon discovers, the first third has to end some time. And then what?

It’s a Greek tragedy waiting to happen.


722292The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick

Published January 4th 2000 [Goodreads]

I’m not proud.
I’m sixteen, and soon
to be homeless.

Weary of his life with his alcoholic, abusive father, sixteen-year-old Billy packs a few belongings and hits the road, hoping for something better than what he left behind. He finds a home in an abandoned freight train outside a small town, where he falls in love with rich, restless Caitlin and befriends a fellow train resident, “Old Bill,” who slowly reveals a tragic past. When Billy is given a gift that changes everything, he learns not only to how forge his own path in life, but the real meaning of family.


26802671Clancy of the Undertow by Christopher Currie 

Published November 16th 2015 [Goodreads]

We’re sitting there with matching milkshakes, Sasha and me, and somehow, things aren’t going like I always thought they would. We’re face to face under 24-hour fluorescents with the thoroughly unromantic buzz of aircon in our ears and endless flabby wedges of seated trucker’s arsecrack as our only visual stimulus.

In a dead-end town like Barwen a girl has only got to be a little different to feel like a freak. And Clancy, a typical sixteen-year-old misfit with a moderately dysfunctional family, a genuine interest in Nature Club and a major crush on the local hot girl, is packing a capital F.

As the summer begins, Clancy’s dad is involved in a road smash that kills two local teenagers. While the family is dealing with the reaction of a hostile town, Clancy meets someone who could possibly—at last—become a friend. Not only that, the unattainable Sasha starts to show what may be a romantic interest.

In short, this is the summer when Clancy has to figure out who the hell she is.


19403811The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil

Published September 2014 [Goodreads]

Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery, and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.

The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details:

Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared.
And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails.
And even her latest comic-book creation is misbehaving.

Also, the world might be ending – which is proving to be awkward.

As Doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.

The Last Gambi: Excerpt

The Last Gambi by Om Swami
Genre: YA Coming of Age
Release Date: February 2017
Harper Element (Harper Collins)

Summary:

Success by design is infinitely better than a win by chance. Vasu Bhatt is fourteen years old when a mysterious old man spots him at a chess tournament and offers to coach him, on two simple but strange conditions: he would not accompany his student to tournaments, and there was to be no digging into his past. Initially resentful, Vasu begins to gradually understand his master’s mettle.

Over eight years, master and student come to love and respect each other, but the two conditions remain unbroken – until Vasu confronts and provokes the old man. Meanwhile, their hard work and strategy pay off: Vasu qualifies for the world chess championship. But can he make it all the way without his master by his side?

Inspiring, moving and mercurial, The Last Gambit is a beautiful coming of age tale in a uniquely Indian context.

Excerpt:

‘Do you know who the finest teacher is?’ he asked.

‘You!’

Ignoring my answer, he continued, ‘Experience is the greatest teacher, Vasu. Always replay your own games to see where you went wrong and what made you play the way you did. People don’t lose because they make mistakes, they do so because they repeat their mistakes. The first time, it’s not a loss but a learning.’

‘So, how do I avoid making mistakes?’

‘Just don’t repeat them,’ he said after coughing and clearing his throat. ‘Be it life or chess, that’s the only difference between a grandmaster and an amateur. An amateur expects to reach a different destination by walking the same path. He hopes for miracles or serendipities. A grandmaster, on the other hand, relies on his own effort and intelligence. He does not commit the same error twice.’

‘But Master,’ I said, curious, ‘I do try my best to not repeat my mistakes. Why do I still lose?’ ‘Because you nourish the body and starve the soul.’ I gave him a blank look because I didn’t have a clue about what he just said.

‘Do you know the soul of chess, Vasu?’

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About the Author:

Om Swami is a monk who lives in a remote place in the Himalayan foothills. He has a bachelor degree in business and an MBA from Sydney, Australia. Swami served in executive roles in large corporations around the world. He founded and led a profitable software company with offices in San Francisco, New York, Toronto, London, Sydney and India.

Om Swami completely renounced his business interests to pursue a more spiritual life. He is the bestselling author of Kundalini: An Untold Story, A Fistful of Love and If Truth Be Told: A Monk’s Memoir.

His blog omswami.com is read by millions all over the world.


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Right Text Wrong Number: YA romance book excerpt

About the Book

Title: Right Text Wrong Number

Author: Natalie Decker

Genre: YA Romance

High school juniors Layla and Tyler are complete opposites. Sure she’s a cheerleader and he’s a football player, but she thinks he’s the biggest jerk in the school and he thinks she is too high on her horse to even be worth of a second glance from him. And when the two of them are near one another, sparks fly in all the wrong directions. They are NOT interested in speaking to one another, let alone date.

But when Layla unknowingly sends Tyler a smack-down text meant for the girl sending naked photos to her then-boyfriend, Adam, Tyler has no idea it’s Layla and decides to play along. After all, Tyler cannot resist messing with the pissed off girl firing off texts about junk pictures, cheating, and girl code.

As the fallout from Adam’s sexting scandal plays out in front of the entire school, Tyler and Layla secretly continue to text one another using fake names. But as days and weeks pass, things take a turn for the serious between them, and suddenly, their texts mean more. They both begin to consider revealing their true identity to the other and taking the relationship from texts to dates, then kissing and maybe more.

They say there’s a thin line between love and hate. Can reality live up to the fantasy, or will Layla and Tyler be forever offsides?

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Author Bio: Natalie Decker is the author of RIVAL LOVE series and the Scandalous Boys series. She loves oceans, sunsets, sand between her toes, and carefree days. Her imagination is always going, which some find odd. But she believes in seeing the world in a different light at all times. Her first passion for writing started at age twelve when she had to write a poem for English class. However, seventh grade wasn’t her favorite time and books were her source of comfort. She took all college prep classes in High school, and attended the University of Akron. Although she studied Mathematics she never lost her passion for writing or her comfort in books. She’s a mean cook in the kitchen, loves her family and friends and her awesome dog infinity times infinity. If she’s not writing, reading, traveling, hanging out with her family and friends, then she’s off having an adventure. Because Natalie believes in a saying: Your life is your own journey, so make it amazing!

Find out more visit: www.authornataliedecker.com

Swoon Romance on Twitter: @SwoonRomance

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 Giveaway: Win a $15 Fandango Gift Card, signed copy of RIVAL LOVE (US only) or signed eBook copy of RIVAL LOVE (International)

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EXCERPT:

A knock prods my door open a smidge. Juliet peeks in, and I want to launch a pillow at her face. “What do you want?”
“Um … can I talk to you about something?”
“No. Especially not if you’ve come to gloat about me getting all your chores.”
She flinches. “I’m sorry … I was mad. I’ll talk to mom. It’s cool. I know you have way more going on than me. You don’t have to do my chores.”
“I’m going to. I don’t need a reminder of all the things you do better than me.”
“Ugh. It’s not like that, and you know it. I get crap all the time for not being more active in school and more social.”
It’s true she does. Sometimes I think our mom likes to pit us against each other so we both try as hard as the other. Juliet is book smart and great at soccer. Me. Well, I’m the more flexible one and good with people. I cheer and do gymnastics, and I’ve got over ten thousand followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Juliet has no social accounts. Even our 80-year-old grandma has Facebook. But Juliet thinks sites like that are just a waste and eats brain cells like crack kills a person. My twin is very unique.
I frown. “I’m tired. Can we talk later?”
“Yeah, sure.”
She closes the door, and I glare at my algebra. The numbers are so jumbled; I have to calm myself and focus. Numbers always look wonky to me. Sevens and ones look the same. Fours and Nines look the same. Threes tend to look like Eights.
Adam sometimes laughs at me when I try texting without using my voice app because it looks like a drunk person typed it. But the wonderful app on my phone can’t help me pass Algebra. It certainly can’t help me muddle my way through English.
A lot of people, especially in our family, believe Juliet got all the brains. Maybe they’re right. Heck, I didn’t even start talking until I was four. By the time I was in first grade, I was just learning to read my own name. I’ve been to tutors and specialists, and not much helps. There is no cure for Dyslexia. I just have to take longer breaks than normal students.
Maybe that’s why I focus better at sports. No one is asking me to find x while flipping in the air. No one is asking me to read when I’m working on the balancing beam.
My phone pings, and I sigh. Great, a text message. I turn on my app and it sounds off in a generic voice. Message from Adam: Hey U. R U grounded?
I use the microphone and say: Not exactly. Have to do extra chores.

Adam: That Sucks. No party Friday?
Me: Not sure. Can we do something else?
Adam: Babe. Srsly? I want 2 prty.
Me: I get that. Trying to get Homework done. TTYL
Adam: Can’t I g2g2 zzz.

That’s bullcrap. He doesn’t go to bed until at least twelve. It’s only seven. At least I think it is. I chew on my lower lip.

Me: Yeah Ok.
Adam: Heart U.

Heart? No love? What the heck?
I don’t bother to acknowledge him. I push my phone aside. He’ll get the hint his lack of typing out “I love you” really ticked me off.
My phone pings again. I don’t look at it immediately. After about four more pings, I can’t ignore it anymore and look. He sends me a pic of him making a kissy face at me. My resolve wanes a little. The next picture is a selfie; with his left-hand he makes the universal sign for “I love you.” I melt a bit but still refuse to answer.

Adam: Sry.
Adam: Luv u.
Me: I’m sorry too. Just stressed.
Adam: We could correct that :-).

I hate when he hints at sex. He’ll put on a whole pouty act because I refuse to go all the way. Why does waiting for a right moment have to feel like a ticking time bomb? What’s with it with guys thinking they’re only awesome if they go all the way with their girlfriends?

Me: I told u. I’m not ready.
Adam: I know. When u r I’m here.

I want to say ‘really, then why keep mentioning every chance you get?’ But this will lead to a fight so I simply take the cowardly way out.

Me: I have to finish this homework. Love you.
Adam: Luv ya too. Sweet dreams.

I set my phone aside and stare at my math. The whole sex thing has me in a way worse mood. We’ve been together for almost a year. I don’t want to be that corny girl who gives it up on prom night. I don’t want to wait until I’m married either, I just … I’m scared.
All my friends who’ve done it said it was super painful the first time and you can’t even enjoy it. They also claim every time afterwards is amazing. Still pain before doesn’t make me want to try it any time soon. If I’m being completely truthful though, pain isn’t the only thing holding me back. What I’m really terrified of is losing Adam afterwards. I already feel like our relationship is on its last thread with his constant pressure. Then with him being so distracted, he can’t even hold a conversation with me anymore. I’d be completely mortified if I did share that experience with him and he just dropped me as easily as the snap of a finger.
Every single one of my friends who gave up the v-card to a guy they were dating said it was like that’s all the guy was after—nailing the virgin—because they broke up quickly after. Some waited a week, some a couple days, others less than twenty-four hours. That is what I’m terrified of: that Adam will go from this wonderful, amazing person to a grade-A douche. And I’ll forever remember him as that guy who took my virginity and left me.
I stare mindlessly at my homework. I’m never going to get this done if I keep letting myself get distracted with texts and worrying about sex. Around nine, I finally finish my homework and then I turn in.

The Unexpected Hero: a Guest post by Emma Brady

The Unexpected Hero

                When writing, I almost always start with the hero. I like to find a man who inspires me to build a story around him. I often find it easier to create the conflict from who he is and the type of people he would surround himself. It’ always fun to figure out what kind of woman would challenge him and interest him. That doesn’t mean I want the hero to be perfect, but it’s actually the imperfections that give me a hero worth writing about.

                The first idea I got for Trolling came from a picture I saw of a body builder covered in green make up. It didn’t say what he was supposed to be, but in my mind, he looked like a troll, only a sexy troll. That seemed to amuse everyone I told, because people don’t think of trolls in a very attractive light. They are almost always described as being ugly and grow. This presented me with the challenge of creating a troll that was still similar to what we remember from fairy tales, but without being gross.

                I liked the idea of an unexpected hero. I always have. My first love in a book was Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. I’m all about supporting the anti- hero. That was part of the reason I wanted Theno to not remember what type of character he was. I wanted Lily and the reader to question if he was a hero or a villain. You want to believe he’s good, because his love of her is good, but our assumptions of his type of creature is negative. The idea of a person going against what people assume about them deeply resonates with me. It’s the bigger idea that anyone can be a hero if they want to that appeals to most people.

                I’m hoping to show other unlikely leading men in the following books in the series. There won’t be any typical prince charming in these fairy tales.


 

About Emma

Emma graduated with both an English degree and a library sciences degree. She has always been an avid reader of romance, since she first fell in love with Wuthering Heights.  After college she decided she didn’t want to just read books and started writing them. She has already started in both urban fantasy and historical romance, but doesn’t rule out other projects in the future. Living in Kansas with her tiny lapdog and a couple rambunctious nephews, she spends most of her time reading, writing and enjoying a good cup of coffee.

About Emma’s Book

Title: Trolling

Author: Emma Brady

Genre: Romance / Urban Fantasy

Lily Faye-Richardson thought her bad luck was ending when she and her sisters inherited her uncle’s house. Finding a green man chained in the basement changed that. Now she must trust this sexy troll to take her into a magical kingdom and rescue the only family she has.
Theno woke up with missing pieces to his memory but an angel saving him. When her sisters are kidnapped, he is willing to do anything to help her in return. The problem is, if he can’t remember who he is, how can he trust himself not to hurt her?
Together, the two of them will go to the land of Tammara to bring back the other Faye girls. They will have to face an Evil Queen, who wants to find the door and cross over into the human world. There is also the matter of an intense sexual attraction between them and the need for Theno to discover his identity. Does a troll get to have a happy ending?

 

Links: Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon |

#LoveOzYaBloggers – Fantasy

#LoveOzYABloggers is hosted by #LoveOzYA, a community led organisation dedicated to promoting Australian young adult literature.

The theme for this fortnight is ‘Fantasy’.

Keep up to date with all new Aussie YA releases with their monthly newsletter, or find out what’s happening with News and Events, or submit your own!


Today I’ve posted my entry for the Fantasy theme on the #AusYABloggers site. So if you want to find out a little bit more about the books I picked, just click HERE.

Or if you want to check out my entry to the last prompt, High School, click HERE.

#LoveOzYaBloggers – High School

#LoveOzYABloggers is hosted by #LoveOzYA, a community led organisation dedicated to promoting Australian young adult literature.

The theme for this fortnight is ‘High School’.

Keep up to date with all new Aussie YA releases with their monthly newsletter, or find out what’s happening with News and Events, or submit your own!

I’ve picked three Aussie young adult books that I absolutely adored where large chunks of the story take place in or around school.

25574212The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis 

Published February 29th 2016 [Goodreads]

The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd.

All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac’s gone, what does that make them?

Will Kostakis, award-winning author of The First Third, perfectly depicts the pain and pleasure of this teenage world, piecing together three points of view with intricate splendour.

I’ve decided if Will Kostakis’s name is on it, you can bet it’s going to be good. The Sidekicks is a story of love, loss, friendship, sexuality, homophobia and just wanting to fit in. It is so much more than just good. 

SliceSlice by Steven Herrick

Published: June 1st 2010 [Goodreads]

A funny, refreshing look at the most awkward time in any young boy’s life from school, girls, and parties to parents, friends, and the dreaded “sex talk”.

Darcy Walker is a normal 16-year-old boy but he can handle that. He can even cope with parents, deal with parties, and soldier through the occasional fight. He’s certainly got his infatuation with the beautiful Audrey under control, is clearly the best at spending quality chess-time with his nerdy best friend, Noah, and doesn’t blink an eye at the misadventures that can occur when kayaking on a school excursion. He’s a teenage boy – he can handle anything. That is, if only he’d learn to keep his mouth closed first.

I have been devouring everything I can get my hands on by Steven Herrick lately and loving it. I found Slice to be a relatable story of life’s ups and downs, of being a good friend and being true to yourself.

25808675Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson

Published August 1st 2015 [Goodreads]

When Astrid and Hiro meet they give each other superhero names. She’s Lobster Girl and he’s Shopping Trolley Boy. Not an auspicious beginning. But it gets better. Then it gets worse. Much worse. Classic romantic comedy: girl-meets-boy, love blossoms, and is derailed. Incredibly engaging, upbeat, funny and smart.

Astrid Katy Smythe is beautiful, smart and popular. She’s a straight-A student and a committed environmental activist. She’s basically perfect.

Hiro is the opposite of perfect. He’s slouchy, rude and resentful. Despite his brains, he doesn’t see the point of school.

But when Astrid meets Hiro at the shopping centre where he’s wrangling shopping trolleys, he doesn’t recognise her because she’s in disguise – as a lobster. And she doesn’t set him straight.

Astrid wants to change the world, Hiro wants to survive it. But ultimately both believe that the world needs to be saved from itself. Can they find enough in common to right all the wrongs between them?

A romantic comedy about life and love and trying to make the planet a better place, with a little heartbreak, and a whole lot of hilarity.

This is the only book i’ve read by Lili Wilkinson, so far! I’ve got more by her on my TBR don’t you worry. This was a super cute romance, with humor, heart and tomatoes. Oh what adorable awkward little eco-warrior darlings the main characters were.

June 2017 Round Up

Things have been a bit slow for me on the reading/blogging front since I went back to work. So, I’ve lumped May and June together in my round up. Only problem with that is, I have to stretch my burned-out brain back to May to think up a few sentence to say. Damn I wish I had thought to pre-write them.

Books Read: 9

Blueback by Tim Winton: This “ecological fable” was absolutely beautiful. I borrowed a copy from my local library, but intend to buy a copy for my sons to read when they are older. Blueback was a joy to read and one I promise you’ll want to re-read. A book with heart and a message that needs to be heard.  [Goodreads]

To Betray My King (The Betrayal Legacy #1) by Kayla Lavan: I enjoyed stepping into Ms Lavan’s medieval world of Sol and meeting the magic weavers she has filled it with. I read a review copy that I found to be a little rough around the edges at times, but never the less a light and fluffy read.  [Goodreads]  [Review]

The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick: The Simple Gift was beautiful. I actually hugged the book at the end. I borrowed a copy from my local library and am now thinking that I need to try and buy Steven’s whole back catalog for myself and the boys when they are older, as the three borrowed books of Steven’s I have read I have adored. The Simple Gift is a story of friendship and second chances, of healing and new love.  [Goodreads]

Homies by David Gonzales & Elliott Serrano: Homies is a collection of four separate stories featuring (for the most part) the same key characters. I read a review copy and once I warmed up to the characters I found this comic to be a quick and enjoyable read. The later two stories being my favorites.  [Goodreads]  [Review]

Play by Jez Alborough: Seriously, I have read this book to Riley every night since it arrived and he is still in love with it 6+ weeks on. We read a review copy and found it to be a fantastic story told mainly through the art. The images are magnificent, coming off colourful and clear on the high quality paper used. [Goodreads]  [Review]

Night Swimming by Steph Bowe: An adorable feel good romp about first love, true friendship, growing up, finding your inner strength and a place in the world. [Goodreads]  [Review]

Counting to D by Kate Scott: While the story is rather light and fluffy it touches on a lot of extremely important topics beautifully; peer pressure, social acceptance, learning disabilities and self-worth. It is a heart-warming, fun and fast read.  [Goodreads]  [Review]

Last Rites (Paranormal Detectives, #5) by Lily Luchesi: In book five we get to delve deeper into Harriet’s past, see Danny and Angelica get married, meet the first ever Vampire and experience the epic end of an era.  [Goodreads]  [Review]

Saga #43 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples: After a short break SAGA is back with a new a new story Arc and it didn’t disappoint.  Bring on issue 44!!!   [Goodreads]

* * *
I’m back at work full time, Riley’s just turned Four years and Ethan Six months. We are starting to figure out a routine. We’ll get there and hopefully that’ll mean more read time for me. I knowingly didn’t give myself a big target this year, so i’m still ahead in my Goodreads challenge LOL.

Until next time, enjoy your shelves