SLAY: YA Review

Hachette Australia, together with the #AusYABloggers are celebrating the release of SLAY by Brittney Morris. On tour, you will find Aussie bloggers, reviewers and Instagrammers sharing their thoughts on SLAY, beginning on October 28th and running until November 1st 2019. AND TODAY IS MY STOP ON THE TOUR.

SLAY by Brittney Morris
Published by Hachette Australia
ISBN 9781444951721
Published October 9th 2019
Add to Goodreads
RRP $17.99 AUD

We are different ages, genders, tribes, tongues, and traditions… But tonight we all SLAY.

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is a college student, and one of the only black kids at Jefferson Academy. By night, she joins hundreds of thousands of black gamers who duel worldwide in the secret online role-playing card game, SLAY.

No one knows Kiera is the game developer – not even her boyfriend, Malcolm. But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, the media labels it an exclusionist, racist hub for thugs.

With threats coming from both inside and outside the game, Kiera must fight to save the safe space she’s created. But can she protect SLAY without losing herself?


I loved SLAY. It is the kind of book that’s so engrossing you can’t put it down. The placing and the plot are phenomenal.

This is a book celebrating Black power and Black pride. This is a book about finding a safe space to be 100% yourself. This is a book about the good and the bad of online gaming. This is a book of a girl growing into a proud, brave and strong black women despite our modern society.

I loved the celebration of black history in this book. I loved the incite it will give non-gamers into what it feels like to immerse yourself fully into an online world. I loved being on this sometimes-nerve-racking journey with Kiera and Claire.

The POV alternates between game developer Kiera, game moderator Claire, with a few chapters sprinkled in from SLAY players. I loved the chapters from game players, but especially Jaylen’s, it really built out the whole SLAY experience. I wanted to jump into the pages and hug Jaylen, then give her a safe place to live were she could be a her and be the Queen she is in on the inside.

For three years Kiera has made and maintained a safe online space for Black gamers, but she has kept it a secret from the people in her life, each for different reasons. The secret catches up with her when everything she’s created comes under fire after a tragic event causes the mass population (white assholes) find out about the game and their exclusion. Nothing is over exaggerated in this book, as a white person I read it and thought, yep that’s how all those white males who never had to want for anything in their life would react and F*** you they deserve a safe place away from you assholes.

The dedication for this book reads “To everyone who has ever had to minimize who you are to be palatable to those who aren’t like you”. And the last line in the author’s acknowledges reads “To the Black gamers out there hungry for more heroes who look like us, I wrote this for you. #SLAY” I think these two sentences tell you all you really need to know about this fantastic read.

I say it all the time when I’m talking about queer books, everybody deserves to see themselves represented on the page, and that goes for on the screen also. I think this book perfectly gets that message across from an inside perspective. This book is never preachy, but it is real, and the message comes through loud and clear.

I loved this book and I think everybody should read it.

Side note: The whole time I was reading this book I was thinking what a fantastic movie this would make, fingers crossed it makes the jump like THUG and the world gets an equally awesome movie adaptation.

“Kings and queens, you know the drill. We are here first and foremost to celebrate Black excellence in all its forms, from all parts of the globe. We are different ages, genders, tribes, tongues, and traditions. But tonight, we are all Black. And tonight, we all SLAY.”

To follow along on the tour head on over to the AusYABloggers blog tour master post HERE, it has all the links to all the tour hosts.

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

The Peacock Detectives: #LoveOZMG Review

39092329. sy475 The Peacock Detectives by Carly Nugent
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, #LoveOzMG
Publication: 1st of June 2018
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Publisher – Thank You
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ✵✵✵✵

The last time William Shakespeare and Virginia went missing Cassie found them sitting on a coiled hose behind the fire station, and Dad called her ‘Cassie Andersen, Peacock Detective’. So this time she knows what to do—she’ll look for clues and track them down. But the clues lead her in an unexpected direction and Cassie finds herself investigating a confusing mystery about her family.


Enter the lovely Star who read and reviewed The Peacock Detectives on my behalf.

Cassie Anderson is a writer. She is also a Peacock Detective. The first time her neighbour’s peacocks went missing, she was the one to find them. So when they went missing again, naturally, her neighbours sought out her help to find them again.

While doing Very Important Detective Work, Cassie also is writing a story for her Dad, who is also a writer, and he teaches English Literature at the high school portion of their local school.

Because Cassie’s Dad is a writer, she knows lots of things about writing, words, how to tell stories, and just what is needed in them to make them interesting.

Throughout the book, there are descriptions and definitions of facts about stories, and writing, and what a good story needs. Though she still doesn’t know about Themes in books (and can’t seem to find them herself), Cassie writes an incredible story, to be gifted to her dad for Christmas.

Cassie has her Notebook for Noticing on her at all times, and she writes down everything she notices. She notices that her dad has been having more of Those Days – the days where he can’t do anything except stare at a blank wall. And she notices that her Mum is different to. From stopping working at the library, to moving out entirely, Cassie has to adjust to all of these rapid life changes.

Her sister, Diana, is also changing a lot. She’s fourteen going on fifteen, and doesn’t seem to have a lot of time for Cassie, and would much rather spend her time learning about Buddhism and meditating. Cassie makes it a goal to find out exactly what Buddhism is so she can understand it, and her sister better.

And then there is her beloved Grandpa, who is suddenly hospitalised and she isn’t allowed to see him Like That, but also she wants to do is make sure that he hasn’t changed into a monster, or vampire, or any other horrible thing that her brain has conjured up.

This book is rather sweet, but it definitely pulled on my heartstrings. I felt for Cassie, who is eleven going on twelve, being told that she’s too young to understand what is going on with the adults in her life, and why she is being kept in the dark.

Cassie notices a lot of things going on with a lot of people. Cassie’s plate is rather full with things – from her friend Jonas, to her enemy Rhea, and continually searching for the peacocks. She finds herself navigating life as an eleven year old kept in the dark from Adult Things, and just what it means to be a writer.

This story was poignant, and had me wishing I could reach into the book and give Cassie a massive hug and give her some much deserved love.

Because this is a middle grade story, I think those around the 10 and 11 year age mark will really benefit from it. There are lots of definitions for words in here, some that reminded me exactly what they were, too, and it will probably be very relatable to other children whose parents may have split up, or maybe have a grandparent who has needed to go into hospital for a long period of time.

Even if you are an adult, like me, I still recommend this completely heart-warming book.

You can find Star at her Book Blog, Twitter and Instagram.
Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

77saturday – Beneath the Night

#77saturday is a blog feature / meme the #AusYABloggers do every Saturday.

The Rules:

  1. Pick up a Book (your current read, or the closest book to you, or your next read, etc.)
  2. Turn to page 77 (or 77% if you are using an e-reader)
  3. Find a Snippet, Sentence or Paragraph you like.
  4. Share it on your blog or Twitter or Instagram and link back to the @AusYABloggers and use the hashtag #77Saturday

 

Today’s Book

31328041. sy475 Beneath the Night (The Cities Below #3) by Jen Colly
Released: April 25th 2017 by Lyrical Press
View on Goodreads

Sometimes survival means surrendering everything . . .

Lord Navarre Casteel wakes from a long sleep to find the vampire city he rules forever changed and his future in the hands of a mysterious beauty who offers her life for his. Fiery-haired Cat survives his feeding, fueling Navarre’s body and mind—as well as his suspicion that she is one of the Forbidden—a lethal mix of vampire and human blood. Yet that doesn’t stop the throb of Navarre’s desire, the feeling that she is destined to be his mate, to hell with consequences. . . .

A solitary fighter sworn to protect the children in her charge, Cat never expects to feel so much for Navarre in the face of his savage feeding. Which is why his offer of protection is nearly her undoing. For how can she let down her guard when she has always walked alone? But Cat has never faced an enemy like the one she faces now, never felt such a powerful need to surrender to the force of love.

The 77: “It Felt good to let her legs stretch, her arms pump. Her lungs burned, the cold air kissing her cheeks and cooling her fevered skin. The exertion and change in temperature cleared her mind, helped her focus.”

My Thoughts

Beneath the Night – I first got this book as a review copy a few years ago. At the time I couldn’t get into it, so I put it into the try again later pile. Most of the time when I can’t get into a read, it’s because of things I’ve got on and not the read itself. So this is me FINALLLLLLY getting back to trying again AND i’m enjoying it this time around! So stay turned for a review..


The #AusYABloggers Seventy-Seven Saturday was inspired by The Friday 56 by Freda’s Voice.

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

Magic Harbor: Review & Giveaway

Magic Harbor
Kristen L. Jackson
(Keeper of the Watch, #2)
Publication date: October 10th 2019
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

When Alyx Eris convinced him to become a keeper of the watch, Chase Walker knew he gained the ability to traverse the twelve dimensions.

He knew there were others—the hunters—who would do anything to put an end to the watches’ existence.

He knew his status as a keeper was completely binding until his nineteenth birthday.

Most importantly, he knew he’d be spending the year by Alyx’s side.

What he didn’t know was that in this dimension resides a ruling mage that poses more of a threat than the hunters ever could.

He didn’t know that magic-born hybrid beasts lurk in every corner of the surrounding forests.

And he didn’t know that nothing—and no one—is what it seems in the mystical world of Dimension 8.

Magic Harbor kicks of with a really strong start that had me hooked. The book was action packed and fast paced throughout – never was their a dull moment, but never did anything seem too rushed. I certainly didn’t feel that starting at book two hindered my enjoyment or understanding in anyway.

I loved the premise – Twelve parallel worlds, the existence of which remained hidden from most people within those dimensions. The keepers being granted the ability to jump to a new dimension each month of their eighteenth year, visiting all twelve by the end of it. Of course they have tasks their are suppose to carry out in each dimension, defeat the hunters and find the last Keeper. But after their year is complete, so long as they survive it, they can then pick a dimension to live out the rest of their lives in.

This book is set in the 8th dimension, with the previous book being set in the 7th dimension. Early on in the story the keepers, Chase and Alyx, get separated. The story bonces around between Chase and Alyz, and later on the POV’s of some other characters that we meet along the way. Sometimes swapping multiple POV’s can get confusing, but this story and the writing flowed well and I never once found myself muddled. I especially liked getting visit the past through Liz’s memories as it rounded out the characters and the world building.

This book is filled with action, adventure, magical beasts and waring dark mages. The story is about consequences, dimension jumping magic, the bonds of family and friendship and doing what you feel is right.

I really enjoyed reading this book and am keen to see what happens in book three and the 9th dimension.


Author Bio: Kristen L. Jackson been a teacher for over twenty years, and lives in Reading, Pennsylvania with her husband, two grown sons, and three large-breed dogs. Books inspire her. From children’s picture books to adult literature in all genres, she has loved reading all her life. Becoming a published author has been her dream come true, and she loves to share her stories with readers of all ages. Sign up on her website to follow her blog to stay up to date on what she’s working on now! Kristen loves writing, reading, and spending time with her family and dogs at their cabin in the Poconos…her favorite place to escape and write!

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon / Instagram / Pinterest


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77saturday – Magic Harbor

#77saturday is a blog feature / meme the #AusYABloggers do every Saturday.

The Rules:

  1. Pick up a Book (your current read, or the closest book to you, or your next read, etc.)
  2. Turn to page 77 (or 77% if you are using an e-reader)
  3. Find a Snippet, Sentence or Paragraph you like.
  4. Share it on your blog or Twitter or Instagram and link back to the @AusYABloggers and use the hashtag #77Saturday

 

Today’s Book

46141781Magic Harbor (Keeper of the Watch #2) by Kristen L. Jackson
Released: October 10th 2019 by Black Rose Writing
View on Goodreads

When Alyx Eris convinced him to become a keeper of the watch, Chase Walker knew he gained the ability to traverse the twelve dimensions.
He knew there were others—the hunters—who would do anything to put an end to the watches’ existence.
He knew his status as a keeper was completely binding until his nineteenth birthday.
Most importantly, he knew he’d be spending the year by Alyx’s side.
What he didn’t know was that in this dimension resides a ruling mage that poses more of a threat than the hunters ever could.
He didn’t know that magic-born hybrid beasts lurk in every corner of the surrounding forests.
And he didn’t know that nothing—and no one—is what it seems in the mystical world of Dimension 8.

The 77: “I wonder what that thing was? Not a wolf, exactly. I was thinking coyote because of its size, but its features were wrong. The snout was too blocky. Maybe some kind of a dog?”

“It doesn’t matter, its gone. Now, we can get on with finding our way out of here.”

Chase nodded. “We ought to find shelter before night fall.” His eyes scanned the area. “You hear anything?” She shook her head.

My Thoughts

I’m reading Magic Harbor as I’m part of a Blog Tour for it on Wednesday (16/10). My plan is to get it read and have my review drafted up by the end of the weekend. The book had a really strong beginning and I’m into the jumping between dimensions. I’m keen to get back into it – so bye for now.


The #AusYABloggers Seventy-Seven Saturday was inspired by The Friday 56 by Freda’s Voice.

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

Small Spaces: #LoveOZYA Review

36242050. sy475 Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein
Genre: Thriller, #LoveOzYa
Publication: August 1st, 2019
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Source: Publisher – Thank You
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ✵✵✵✵✵

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing.

As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?


Enter the lovely Star who read and reviewed Small Spaces on my behalf.

Small Spaces is a book that I found would stay with me for a long time after I finished reading it. If I had to do something, I found myself thinking about when I could pick it up again. I thought about it constantly, and wondered what was going to happen next in the story.

The book had me hooked from the start. I was intrigued about Sparrow and just exactly what was going on with them.

Tash Carmody, the main character, was an interesting character to read about. She has had obvious childhood trauma when she witnesses her friend Mallory Fisher be lured away by her imaginary friend, Sparrow. But surely that can’t be? An imaginary friend can’t actually lure away a little girl from a carnival. After the incident, and after Mallory is found, the Fishers move away to never be heard from again.

Tash spends years trying to get past the memory, but it all comes rushing back when the Fishers move back to town several years later.
At the same time, Tash starts seeing Sparrow again.

She’s understandably confused, and all of the old memories of Sparrow, and no one believing her that he was real, comes back to her. She has no idea what to do, or how to begin to process it, but one thing she does know is that Mallory, who is mute, is the key to finding out exactly what went on that night Mallory was abducted.

Small Spaces had me on the edge of my seat, and not only did I doubt Tash, but I doubted everyone around her.

This book was thrilling, a bit creepy, and explored having an imaginary friend in ways that I had never thought of, or experienced, before.

This was an absolutely enthralling read for me.

You can find Star at her Book Blog, Twitter and Instagram.
Thanks for visiting sarahfairbairn.com 🙂
Until next time, enjoy your shelves 🙂

The Memory Thief: Author Q&A & Giveaway

The Memory Thief
Lauren Mansy
Published by: Blink
Publication date: October 1st 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Q&A with Lauren Mansy:

  • What was it like to write your first book and have it published?

Incredible! It’s been such a wonderful journey filled with many sweet moments. I began writing over seven years ago, and it’s definitely surreal that The Memory Thief is now on shelves! As of late, there have been quite a few teary moments—and I’m totally not a crier! I’m truly overwhelmed by every kind word, the support, and the willingness to walk alongside me as The Memory Thief has gone from something imagined to a real book. I couldn’t be more excited to share this story with readers!

  • What was your inspiration behind TMT?

When I was a teenager, my mom was diagnosed with a heart condition, which led to an unexpected heart surgery. On the way to the operating room, her heart stopped six times, and the doctors warned my family that it was unlikely she’d survive. And if she did, she may not remember us due to the trauma she’d experienced throughout the entire ordeal.

I was sitting at her bedside when she first began to stir after her surgery, and I slipped my hand into hers and told her that it was me. Then she began to squeeze my hand three times, our signal for I love you! That’s my most favorite memory because I’d never felt such fear suddenly overcome by the most incredible joy. That collision of emotions was the moment which first sparked the idea for The Memory Thief.

Ever since then, I always struck by how memories make up so much of our identity and influence our relationships with others. It terrified me that my mom wouldn’t remember me, but I’m so thankful to say that she made a full-recovery. Though it was long and difficult process, she never gave up hope that things would one day get better. Her unwavering courage inspired me to want to share this story.

  • What kind of impact did writing TMT have on you personally?

Writing TMT has had a huge impact on me. I first began writing after completing treatments for Hodgkin’s Disease, a form of lymphatic cancer. It was a very difficult time in my life, and writing fiction helped me express myself in ways that I’d never done before. It helped me process through some of my most difficult memories.

When I first began drafting The Memory Thief, I realized there were still some emotions about being faced with the possibility of losing my mom that I’d yet to express out loud. Writing this book proved to be a source of healing, and a wonderful platform for exploring truth in my own life through a backdrop of fiction.

This story is very dear to my heart, and reflecting back on the process of writing this book is what made the moment of holding it in my hands so amazing.

  • What is your favorite part about TMT?

I think my favorite part is the relationship that Etta has with her mother.

Gwendolyn was one of my favorite characters to write because she’s full of opposites. Because of her coma, she hasn’t spoken a word in four years yet that entire time, she’s been teaching Etta how important it is never to give up, even when all the odds are stacked against you.

On her journey to save her mother, Etta discovers that Gwendolyn’s story is intertwined with Etta’s in ways that she never imagined. Writing this aspect of the plot was so much fun, and definitely one of my favorite parts of the drafting process, as well!

  • What do you hope readers take away from TMT?

The main thing I hope readers take away is that it isn’t the hardships of the past which define us but the strength we find in overcoming them. Etta has been through a lot of difficult things, and she struggles with trusting others because she has a hard time trusting herself. At the beginning of the story, Etta has spent four years hiding from both the people and events which haunt her, but to save her mother, she’ll have to come face-to-face with the past. I hope her journey will inspire readers to never lose hope, even in the midst of impossible odds.

  • How are you reflected in TMT (or, how much of you is reflected in the book)?

Because this story is based on my own journey with my mother, many of Etta’s worries, doubts, and fears are things I also experienced when faced with the possibility of losing my mom. The questions that Etta asks about how to deal with a situation like this are questions that I often pondered myself.

So when I first began writing TMT, I thought, “What if I wasn’t the only one who faced this fear? What if there was an entire society that feared their loved ones no longer remembering them?” It was these kinds of thoughts which ultimately let me to want to explore a world where memories reign over everything. Then writing Etta’s emotional journey also helped me process through a lot of my own memories, as well.

That’s one reason that I love not only writing but reading fantasy novels. Even though these characters live in worlds that are vastly different than our own, what they love, hate, and fear can often be so relatable. That often sticks with me long after I read the last page, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share this journey with readers.

  • What is your favorite thing to do to promote your book?

My favorite thing has been getting to know readers. I had the privilege of attending BEA and ALA this past summer, and I loved meeting librarians, educators, fellow writers, bloggers, and industry professionals. Writing can often be a solitary venture, but the publishing process has been filled with creating some wonderful relationships. I couldn’t be more grateful for this community!

  • Why should readers be sure to place TMT on their TBR list?

The Memory Thief is a book full of secrets, lies, and betrayal. It’s set in a world where memories are currency, people are struggling to hold onto their true identity, and nothing is quite what it seems. And Etta is a very flawed character. She has a lot of regret and has made many mistakes, yet she never stops fighting to save her loved ones. If any these things appeal to you, I hope you’ll consider adding TMT to your TBR!

  • What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned while being a writer?

I think the biggest lesson being a writer has taught me is the importance of the “story behind the story”. Though the publication journey is filled with exciting moments (like seeing the cover for the first time and holding the final copy!), the journey of getting here has changed me for forever. There have been highs and lows, moments of uncertainty coupled with unexpected encouragement, and wonderful support from family, friends, and even strangers! Writing fiction gave me a voice when I was still struggling to find mine, and I’ll be forever grateful that even as the last page of The Memory Thief ends, my own life story is still being written

  • Additional thoughts?

If you’re interested in learning more about The Memory Thief, I have more information of my website, and I also LOVE connecting with readers!

Author Bio:

Lauren lives in the Chicago area, where she’s spent years working with youth, from young children to high schoolers. When she’s not writing, Lauren is usually with her family or exploring the city to find the best deep dish pizza. The Memory Thief, which was inspired by Lauren’s own journey with her mother, is her first novel. You can visit her online at http://www.laurenmansy.com.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Instagram

 

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