Review: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

33791316The Cruelty is the first book from a groundbreaking new YA voice: an utterly compelling thriller.

When Gwendolyn Bloom realizes that her father has been kidnapped, she has to take matters into her own hands. She traces him from New York City across the dark underbelly of Europe, taking on a new identity to survive in a world of brutal criminal masterminds. As she slowly leaves behind her schoolgirl self, she realizes that she must learn the terrifying truth about herself. To overcome the cruelty she encounters, she must also embrace it.

Paperback, 448 pages
Published February 9th 2017 by Walker Books. Goodreads.

 Amazon AU | Amazon US | Booktopia | Bookdepository


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review >>

“A woman who seeks to rise in this world must be crueller than even men.”

Yes! Kill them, kill them all Gwendolyn. Oops sorry, that wasn’t me, it was The Cruelty inside me.

We (the reader) follow 17-year-old Gwendolyn Bloom as she goes through the process of; finding out her dad is missing, finding out what her father did for work wasn’t what she thought it was, finding out who she can and cannot trust, and finding out what she is truly capable of.

We watch Gwendolyn harden and evolve as she unearths and follows clues about the whereabouts of her father and the real reason behind his disappearance. Her journey takes her from New York, to Paris, to Berlin, to Prague, to her own personal Hell and back again.

I really enjoyed this book. I am confident I could give this book to my 78-year-old crime thriller loving grandfather and he’d devourer it. I confident that even in my early teens I would have enjoyed this book. Scott Bergstrom has written a captivating story that I think teens and adults alike will eat up greedily.

I loved that Gwendolyn wasn’t instantly a super spy /ninja assassin extraordinaire. She wasn’t a natural born killer, she made mistakes, had regrets, got herself in and out of trouble, needed help and knew when and when not to use the help offered – but ultimately, I loved that she got the job done like a boss, like a badass bitch.

 “…if no one else is going to act for me, then I have a choice: remain a child and do nothing, or become an adult and do it myself. That, it seems to me, is the difference between the child and the adult, the difference between the girl hunted by wolves and the woman who hunts them.”

By the last page of the story Gwendolyn Bloom is dead and a force to be reckoned with lives on in her hard-won skin.

There is a sequel, The Greed, coming out in 2018 and I am interested to see what becomes of Gwendolyn, her crash course mentor Yael and what goes down with the organisation that now, as I see it, “owns” Gwendolyn and her father.

Four “I really Liked It” Stars.

The above is what I drafted before I went onto Goodreads to see what the masses thought. It is, what after much deliberation I ended up posting. I almost altered it, I started to, because of all that I ended up reading online started to sway me (reviews from people I respect, news articles about the author and tweets about the text).

People are calling the author out for comments made in the book by the protagonist. I remember that while reading the particular part of the book they refer to, that I just thought he was trying to make her come across a bit up herself, you know, as if she thought she was above it all. Then after reading all the banter online I thought, damn maybe I got it wrong, maybe he really believed what he was writing. Maybe I’m stupid.

Calling the author out for the story being too farfetched and a protagonist being to superficial in her transformation. Hello you’re reading the YA book version of a mission impossible action movie, of course it’s farfetched and shallow. Isn’t that the point. Again, maybe I’m stupid.

Calling the author out for some belittling comments he and his people made. To me they just came off as idiots not knowing what they were talking about. I’m sure their intention wasn’t to offend. I’m sure that they are just ignorant of the wonderfully diverse and complex world that is young adult literature. Again, maybe I’m stupid.

Once I realised that other people’s views were swaying me I stopped and went back to the copy that I had drafted immediately after finishing it. My honest review. Yes, it is a happy rah rah review where I only mention the good points, but that’s how I try to write all my reviews. There is enough negativity in the world without me adding to it and I want my reviews to make people read more books, not turn them off them.

Sorry, I had to say something. It really upset me how quickly I started to think my thoughts were wrong. Damn you internet.I really enjoyed reading this book. You blew my after book buzz.

Review: The Limbo Tree by T.N. Suarez

32452755An accident. A secret. The truth.

Something is wrong with Samantha McCallister. Her baby brother is dead, and she has only one memory of the accident: the canned version her parents impressed upon her. But piece by piece, Sam struggles to make sense of it.

Cast aside by her self-involved family, Sam seeks out a friendship with the next-door neighbor, Hazel, until Hazel inexplicably goes missing, leaving nothing but a note and a jar of jam.

Determined to uncover the truth about Hazel’s disappearance, Sam finds out more than she bargained for. Bizarre episodes and nightmares consume her, vicious and unstoppable.

Meanwhile, an adolescent muse moves into Hazel’s abandoned home. Sam is immediately drawn to him—discovering the beginnings of true love—when the unthinkable occurs. Sam is alienated to a world in which she no longer feels she belongs. Try as she might, Sam cannot escape these nightmares or the truth behind them—the truth that lies in the Limbo Tree.

Brilliantly crafted, shimmering with uncertainty, The Limbo Tree is as mystical as it is moving.

Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

My Thoughts: This book was nothing like I expected. It was spooky and made my skin crawl a little bit at times. If I had to sum the book up in one word I would say it was HAUNTING.

The first half of the book frustrated me. It all felt very creepy and I kept expecting something bad to happen. Early on I was confused as to whether Sam (Samantha, the fourteen-year-old main character) was dropping in and out of alternate realities or if she was hallucinating. The story irritated me and yet I couldn’t stop reading. With so much confusion and many unanswered questions I had to keep reading. I felt compelled to find out the truth behind Sam’s life.

I assumed early on that the story was set in the 1980’s with all the references to Madonna headbands, The Lost Boy’s, The Go-Go’s, KISS and The Cure. Indiana Jones the Last Crusade playing at a movie theatre later in the story verified it. I was born in the late 80’s and understood all the references, but I do worry that today’s teenagers won’t.

Sam spends nearly the entirety of the book not being able to remember what happened to her baby brother, just that her parents said his death was a tragic accident. Early in the story on one page she says she misses him and then the next she calls him a little beast. I found it very confusing and rather disturbing. Later, Sam even starts to suspect her mother of murdering her baby brother! We do finally learn the truth and the detail in which T.N. Suarez goes into is heart wrenching. I was internally screaming at the characters for the whole last chapter. Once I finished reading I went in and checked on both my boys, making sure they were both sleeping safe and sound.

Sam is an unreliable narrator and even she can’t trust her own version of events. You think you may have figured out what is going on and then everything twists again and you’re flailing around confused right alongside Sam.

The truth of Sam’s life and the ending of the book are rather sad and I think will continue to frustrate and haunt me for quite some time.star.3

Review: Mer by Joelle Sellner

33825562After the death of her beloved mother, Aryn’s father has moved her family to a new town hoping for a fresh start. At first things seem to be going well—Aryn is making friends and has even caught the eye of one of the hottest guys in school. But there are dark forces moving under the surface that Aryn cannot see; and her new crush may not be … human.

Twilight meets the legend of Atlantis in this gripping graphic novel from writer Joelle Sellner and artist Abby Boeh.

Expected publication: April 19th 2017 by Diamond Book Distributors. GOODREADS.

My Review is based on an uncorrected proof via Netgalley – Thank you Joelle Sellner and Diamond Book Distributors for the ARC.

My Thoughts mk3

I decided to read this comic because the synopsis caught my attention. I found the art work to be bright, colourful, clear and visually quite pleasant. Putting aside the cringe worthy insta-love between the two main characters I enjoyed reading this comic. I found the villain amusing and her demise was entertaining.

I think girls between 11-13 would eat this comic up. What tween doesn’t want a sexy teenage Mer-person to instantly fall in love with them and offer them a new magical home and the chance to be a Mer. 11-year-old me would have loved the idea of running away and becoming a mermaid! Hell, 30-year-old me still thinks It might be kind of fantastic.

We follow Aryn as she navigates a new school, new friends, new love and gets herself caught in the villain’s clutches, then back out again, with help.

Aryn bugged me early on in the story and I can’t decide whether I felt she was immature or unhinged. I felt quite detached from the story as she was going berserk at strangers in the school hall and at her father. Actually, her treatment of her father grated on me, but that’s the adult and parent in me. I don’t think the intended audience would feel this way and the younger teens would be siding with her.

Under the cheesy romance and friendship drama there was a deeper story with Aryn realising she loves and needs her family – so that was nice. The comic is only 66 pages long, so all in all it was a light and quick read.

2.5 Stars. It was a bit better than just OKAY, but just too cringey for me to be able to say I liked it as a whole. This one for the young teens only.

Review: Fallen & Story Shorts by Lauren Kate

6487308What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours?

17-year-old Lucinda falls in love with a gorgeous, intelligent boy, Daniel, at her new school, the grim, foreboding Sword & Cross . . . only to find out that Daniel is a fallen angel, and that they have spent lifetimes finding and losing one another as good & evil forces plot to keep them apart.

Get ready to fall . . .

My Thoughts: Fallen Angels masquerading as teenagers oh my. 

Reading from Luce’s POV I struggled to connect with any of the characters or buy into her and Daniel’s love connection.

While I quite enjoyed that last few chapters, which were more action packed, I nearly gave up at the half way mark of this book. I read the story shorts at that point and it gave me an inside into Daniel’s side of the story, which led me to bother to read the rest of the book. Nothing really happens until later in the book when Luce, with the help of her new friend Penn, start to piece together who/what Daniel really is. Seriously so much nothing. The synopsis pretty much tells you everything that is going to happen in this book, other than an age old good Vs evil war flaring up again at the end.

Daniel’s First Sighting (Fallen Shorts 0.1) by Lauren Kate Four ‘I really liked it Stars (GOODREADS). In this short we get to see Daniel and Luce’s meeting for the first time (in Luce’s current life time) through Daniel’s eyes. It was actually quite amusing and It made me warm to Daniel.

Daniel in L.A. (Fallen Shorts 0.4) by Lauren Kate Three ‘I liked it’ Stars (GOODREADS). In this short we get to see what Daniel was doing with himself before he ended up at Sword & Cross.

Daniel and Gabbe’s Fight (Fallen Shorts 0.6) by Lauren Kate Three ‘I liked it’ Stars (GOODREADS). In this short we get to find out what was really being said in the conversation between Gabbe and Daniel that Luce partly over heard in the dorm room hallway.

Fallen (Fallen #1) by Lauren Kate Two ‘It was okay’ Stars (GOODREADS). I just didn’t connect with this story and that saddens me ’cause forbidden love is my thang’.

I enjoyed the shorts more then the actual Fallen novel. I think that maybe if Fallen had been told in duel POV with Daniel or maybe if it had just been Daniel telling it, it could have been a real winner for me. I went hunting for spoilers and read a bunch of reviews on the other books to find out how the rest of the series plays out and i’m satisfied with that. I’m not sorry I read Fallen, but I do not intend to read the rest of the series.

Mini Reviews: The Duff & Lucy’s Chance

25076514The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone. GOODREADS.

My Thoughts:  This book impressed me. I was expecting the overused and abused trope of the ugly nobody gets the hot jerk etc. And OK it was there, but there were some truly beautiful girl power, love thy self, don’t judge others moments in this book.
The main character of Bianca was easily likable as were her two besties. Experiencing them navigate boys, high school hierarchy and family drama was actually quite entertaining and heart warming.
Keplinger’s writing flowed smoothly and I can actually see myself re-reading this book again if i’m ever in need of a quick fun feel good pick me up. I gave it FOUR what a pleasant surprise STARS.

Also: I watched the movie adaptation straight after the finishing the book, in which they changed so much the story was barely recognizable. Sadly I felt that they left out all the girl power friendship moments that actually made the book worthwhile! 😦

21969488Lucy’s Chance (Red Rock Ranch #1) by Brittney Joy

Sixteen year old Lucy Rose is spending her first summer away from home and she has two things on her mind: an abandoned, violent horse and a blue-eyed cowboy. Only neither is hers. Lucy has never attracted much attention from boys, but she can’t seem to ignore her blue-eyed co-worker, Casey Parker. A true cowboy, Lucy is fascinated by his gentle way with the horses at Red Rock Ranch. However, she is very aware that Taylor Johnson, rodeo queen extraordinaire, already has her spurs in him. And, there’s no crossing Taylor. . . . Not until a mysterious horse appears on the ranch and pushes Lucy and Casey together. The two are willing to do anything to save the black gelding that doesn’t want a thing to do with them or the human race. But, every step forward with the broken animal makes Lucy fall harder – for him and for Casey. GOODREADS.
 
My Thoughts: An enjoyable read filled with wonderful horsey goodness 🙂 Perfect for any young horse lover. The writing was sweet and easy to read. The story had a nice balance of action riding scenes, a young girl out to prove herself, developing young love and an adorable horse getting a second chance at a better life. I gave it FOUR warm and fuzzy STARS.

Review: A Toaster on Mars by Darrell Pitt

28237538For fans of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett comes a hilarious new space and time adventure.

Teenagers on skateboards jumped off walkways, dropped a dozen floors and activated rockets to safely land walkways below.
Blake took a deep breath, inhaling something that smelt like a cross between burnt plastic and toffee apple.
Neo City, Blake thought. Home, sweet home.

NEO City, 2509.
After a series of operational bungles, as well as
the accidental death of his partner, special agent Blake Carter’s career at the Planetary Bureau of Investigation is in trouble.
To make matters worse, he’s just been assigned a new partner—and the beautiful and brilliant Nicki Steel happens to be a cyborg.
When universe-famous criminal Bartholomew Badde steals a weapon capable of destroying whole planets at a time, Blake and Nicki must work together to recover it—an investigation that takes them to all corners of the weird and wonderful galaxy.
But things get serious when Badde kidnaps Blake’s teenage daughter, Lisa. Can Blake prove he’s still a first-rate agent—not to mention father—and save Lisa in time?

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Facebook

Thank You Netgalley, Darrell Pitt and Text Publishing for allowing me a copy to read and review.

My Thoughts: So straight up the synopsis has offered up some high expectation for this book to meet and as an Adam’s fan I was like “Bring it on Pitt”. While I did grow to kinda like the lead character Blake Carter, he was in no way the adorable Arthur Dent – but that’s ok because he wasn’t supposed to be.

We follow Blake Carter a middle-aged agent with the Planetary Bureau of Investigation as he gets kicked off his current long running case, assigned a Cyborg as a new partner and having to deal with his ex-wife after their daughter is kidnapped. And of course, *spoiler alert* getting the bad guy – with a lot of help from the Cyborg, the ex-wife, some Elvis’s and an odd pirate-like space captain.

The “Zeeb Says” sections throughout the story while humorous at times and very ‘Hitchhikers’ in the style of narration, which I should have loved, I found a nuisance. I’d just be getting into the rhythm of the story and they’d distract me from it. Why was this so? I really don’t know! Did they feel like a poor Adam’s imitations? No that wasn’t it. Was it just because I was trying to hurry and finish the book because it wasn’t floating my boat and they were slowing me down? Yeah, I think that was more it.

I thought this book was going to be right up my ally; sci-fi with silly humour etc. But no, while I liked the book and can see its merits, unfortunately we didn’t click. I had to force myself to stay focused and read on. This book is listed as Middle Grade, so I’m not the target audience. But I can’t quite get my head around this book’s listing.

I’m trying to figure out who on earth would be the right audience for this book, because it is by no means a bad story. I think it’s a good story despite my personal enjoyment issues. If it was a Friday night telemovie I could totally see my father chuckling while watching it on the couch with a beer in his hand as he’s sprawled out with only his green and gold footy shorts on unwinding after another week of working hard in the Aussie heat.

I would say it’s definitely not for Teens, those self-absorbed self-torturing darlings wouldn’t give two hoots about this middle-aged law enforcement officer from the future. I’m thinking 8/12-year-olds who have a love of sci-fi for sci-fi sake and don’t care too much about who the hero is if there is lots of action and adventure – yeah, it’d suit them. MAYBE even a “daggy dad” type who wants to switch off his brain after a long day at work and read something that’s simple and amusing – I totally thought I fell into this category, but apparently not.

I do intend to check out Pitt’s The Firebird Mystery and Diary of a Teenage Superhero and see how I go with them, because I think Pitt’s a good writer, just that this book wasn’t for me. THREE ‘I Liked It’ STARS.

Mini Reviews: a Summer Anthology + My Lady Jane + Fangirl

28817799Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins, Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev GrossmanNina LaCour, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, Jennifer E. Smith

Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love. Goodreads View. 
My Thoughts: Of course I found some stories more enjoyable than others, but that is to be expected in an anthology. Over all this book has a good mix of contemporary and paranormal stories, with a pleasantly diverse range of characters.
I would have to say that my favorite story was A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith and on it’s merit (and that fact that I didn’t dislike any of the stories) that I’m giving the anthology a FIVE STAR rating as a whole – yes it was that frigging adorable (and also the majority of the stories ranked high with me).

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo – 4/5 Stars. The End of Love by Nina LaCour – 4/5 Stars. Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray – 2/5 Stars. Sick Pleasure for A and U by Francesca Lia Block – 2/5 Stars. In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins – 4/5 Stars. Souvenirs by Tim Federle – 3/5 Stars. Inertia by Veronica Roth – 5/5 Stars. Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron – 3/5 Stars. Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert – 5/5 Stars. Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare – 3/5 Stars. A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith – 5/5 Stars. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman – 3/5 Stars.

22840421

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England. Goodreads View. 

My Thoughts: This was a super fun romp, rewriting a much more enjoyable life story for some rather famous historic figures e.g. Edward VI of England and Lady Jane Grey. I’ve watched documentaries on Henry VIII of England, Edwards father, so I knew who he was, but I actually had to look up Lady Jane Grey. And yes I much prefer the life Hand, Ashton and Meadows have written for her.
I loved the whole the “Verities” verses “Edians” thing, filling the void for the ever present religious drama that’s always in the background of historic stories. Having the Edians (shapeshifters) added a comic element to this romantic romp that really made the story shine for me. FOUR I really liked it STARS.

16068905

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? Goodreads View.

My Thoughts: Oh how cute this was! Falling in love with Levi was a lovely distraction 😛 I was absorbed by Cath’s world and got to take a break from my life for a day. Reading this was like getting a soul warming hug. FOUR I really liked it STARS. Nawww book hugs!

Review: Immortal Writers by Jill Bowers

30423330Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she’s kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book’s antagonist, she thinks that she’s fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans… until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her. Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it’s brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

Ebook, 296 pages. Expected publication: November 5th 2016 by Blue Moon Publishers
Thank You Netgalley and Blue Moon Publishers for allowing me a copy to read and review.

immortal-writers My Thoughts: The plot for this story is awesome. Writers who become immortal because of the power of their words. Sounds awesome, right?

As this is labelled as a young adult fantasy I was expecting a light-hearted humorous fantastical romp with William Shakespeare and Jane Austin riding off into the sunset on unicorns. Ok well not actually Shakespeare and Austen, but you catch my drift.

The story started strong and I was super excited, but as I got further into the book that excitement started to dwindle.

I found the lead character Liz’s serious and tortured back story detracted from what could have been a ridiculous light-hearted simple and fun read. And I mean ridiculous in a good way! Because the story was never going to be believable with Shakespeare, Tolkien, Austen, Plath, Hemingway, Twain, Poe and Wells hanging about a castle that’s being attacked by dragons in modern day America.

I found myself rolling my eyes at the romance. I mean it was so frigging cheesy at some points I could have used it to make a grilled sandwich. Yet Liz had this dark and abusive back story, which would be perfect for a modern contemporary, but was sending up red flags and contradicting everything in my mind. Liz the writer and Curtis the hero of her story get all loved up. She hooks up with her fictional creation. This isn’t sane or healthy. Hence why I think the story needed to stay light and funny so that it could pull it off. But that dark and abusive back story! Why Jill Bowers, why?

I don’t think the issue’s I had with this story would affect a younger audience, say 13-15. I think it would go over their heads and they would just see a young woman coming to terms with her past, standing up for herself and winning the battle over her inner and outer demons, while picking up a dragon battling hottie/spunk/fine-male-specimen along the way – which is what I think Bowers was going for.

All things considered the story ended quite strong with an action packed final showdown with the bad guy.

Conclusion: There were parts of the story I enjoyed but over all I’m feeling disappointed. As for a star rating, hmm somewhere between Two and Three stars.

Review: Clancy of the Undertow by Christopher Currie

26802671We’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.

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fullsizerenderMy Thoughts: Where do I start with Clancy? The only negative thing I can say about this book is that it ended! I would have happily kept on reading and reading.

I loved following Clancy discover who she is and how she fits into the world. I loved the supporting characters of Nancy, Reeves and Angus. Actually all the characters, I saw bits of people I know in all of them. It was a believable and beautiful coming of age while coming out story.

I love that Clancy’s dad named her after Banjo Paterson’s Clancy of the Overflow. Banjo’s Clancy is one of my all-time favourite characters and I quite often find myself quoting lines of the poem in my head, like while writing this review – In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy, Gone a-droving ‘down the Cooper’ where the Western drovers go – Banjo’s 1889 Drover and Christopher Currie’s 2015 lovable self-loathing teen have nothing in common, other than my eternal love and a semi-unusual name.

I highly commend Mr Currie for managing to capture the pure hell and internal conflict of being a teen. The abusive conversations Clancy has with herself were so familiar – as in I had them with myself repeatedly when I was Clancy’s age. I don’t think there is anyone that hasn’t at some stage felt about themselves the way Clancy feels. She is relate-able, even if you don’t identify as homosexual or even admit to ever having desires for the same sex, we’ve all been teens AND being a teenager sucks. Teenage-suck-ism transcends generational and racial gaps. I think Clancy of the Undertow will go down in history as a teen classic along with the time capsule likes of Puberty Blues and The Outsiders.

FIVE another brilliant #LoveOzYA story STARS.
Five Stars

Review: Weregirl by C. D. Bell

30090014Eager to escape the small town of Tether, Michigan, once home to 90s corporate polluter Dutch Chemical, high school junior Nessa Kurland is focused on winning a college scholarship for cross-country running. Motivated to improve her times, she fits running into her busy schedule between school, helping out at home, and a weekend job at a vet’s office. One night she is out on a stealth training run when she comes across a trapped wolf. Trusting her animal skills from working for the vet, Nessa tries to free the animal but is bitten badly instead. The first clue that something has changed is her freakishly quick recovery. A wound that should take weeks to heal is gone in days. Other changes, both powerful and frightening, begin to emerge. She can hear conversations a quarter of a mile away and smell the cold weather coming. Finally, one day, she is transformed into a full werewolf. In this state, she begins to see and understand things about Tether that powerful people want to keep hidden. What is a Nobel laureate doing working one day per week in a small-town medical clinic? Is the interest from some top college track scouts genuine or a ruse to get her off the scent? Managing her power drastically alters the course of her daily life. The question is what will Nessa do with the secrets she learns, and what will others do once they realize what she knows? Now Nessa must navigate the social, romantic, and academic challenges of junior year while coming face to face with true human darkness, all while she tries to make peace with her new, wild nature.

Weregirl by C.D. Bell is a contemporary YA thriller filled with humor, romance, adventure, and a real-world relevant storyline. This fall’s must-read, set for release on November 1, 2016, Weregirl is a breathtakingly fun, not-to-be-missed addition to one of today’s most exciting literary genres – crafted by a truly feminist team of authors who passionately believe that teen girls deserve a better teen girl protagonist.

Created by a talented group of six female writers and inspired by the working tradition of television team writing, C. D. Bell is a Chooseco author pseudonym developed with teen author Cathleen Davitt Bell, who has written I Remember You, among other novels for young adults.

Expected publication: November 1st 2016 by Chooseco. TEEN ages 12+.

Book Links = Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

img_7448 My Thoughts: Firstly, thank You NetGalley and Chooseco for allowing me a review copy to read.

“All stories are about wolves. All worth repeating, that is. Anything else is sentimental drivel.” – Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin. This was the quote at the start of the copy I read. Now I might not totally agree Wolves are the only thing worth writing about, but I do love stories about wolves and I liked this quote.

The Basics: The story follows Nessa as she struggles and strives to reach her dreams of earning a college scholarship through hard work and dedication. Nessa’s world is turned upside down by a run in with two wolves in her local woods and some revelations about her towns so called saviours, a malevolent corporation by the name of Paravida.

The Good: The supportive friendship between Nessa and Bree and the way the two girls interacted kept the book feeling warm and inviting even as some rather nasty goings on within the town setting were being discovered. Nessa & Bree were both easily likable characters. Actually other than the Paravida employees all the other characters were likable, so the good / bad set up was simple, but strong.

I liked the way it felt being with Nessa in wolf form and I enjoyed the way this book did the whole ”werewolf thing”. The wolf pack Nessa enters into is beautiful and they were easy to connect with. Their mission was more about keeping balance in the natural world then any kind of solo personal agenda. I would even have to list Paravida’s genetically modified ”bad” wolves as a positive because their plight at the end of the book is what I think will get people to read the second book, wanting to find out what becomes of them.

The Bad: I really enjoyed the first 80% of this book and was thinking it was going to be a solid Four Star read, but the last 20% felt wrong somehow and kind of lost me. I’ve spent the last week trying to rationalise why I felt this way.

There is a werewolf “The Grey Wolf” and as the reader you have suspicions very early on as to who he is, but it felt like Nessa never had a big ”oh my god the grey wolf is” moment. I think the story needed her to have it. Nessa is supposed to be this strong, smart and capable young woman and I felt It made Nessa look stupid that she doesn’t figure it out sooner. I feel like if it had happened after her first trek into the Paravida’s compound it would have made the two characters’ connection stronger and the ending more solid. I didn’t need her to confront the Grey Wolf on his human identity, but just to have her identify him.

Conclusion: I would have liked to have found out more about all the wolves and I will be interested to see what becomes of the Paravida pack in the next book. All in all, I’m happy I read this book, it was well worth it and over all I did enjoy it. I want to rate this at 3.8 stars, that’s how I’m feeling.