Night Swimming: YA Review

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Night Swimming by Steph Bowe
Paperback, 311 pages
Publication: April 3rd 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review copy from publisher
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Steph Bowe is back. Night Swimming is a love story with a twist, and a whole lot of heart.

Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…


“In real life, there’s no such thing as happily ever after, there’s just life passing day by day. After you ride off into the sunset, then you’re just in the middle of nowhere on a horse at night, aren’t you?” – Oh Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, how I adored your Internal monologue.

The story follows 17-year-old Kirby Arrow, her bestie Clancy Lee and her pet goat Stanley as they navigate day to day life in the small town of Alberton. I read this book in one day! and that’s not the norm for me. It was delightful and easy to read. An adorable feel good romp about growing up, finding your inner strength and place in the world.

Kirby wants to stay in Alberton, much to her mother’s dismay. She is determined that nothing in her life will change. Kirby’s mother wants her to go off and explore the world, as she never had the opportunity to do so. Clancy wants to leave Alberton to pursue musical theatre, while his parents want him to work in the family restaurant. The besties may seem to be on different paths at first, but they are both just trying to balance their dreams with family expectations.

The arrival of Iris and her family, rising flood waters and the inevitability of growing up, all threaten Kirby and Clancy’s friendship. I really enjoyed the whole Kirby+Clancy+Iris dynamic. You know someone is going to get hurt, you know the ball is going to drop sooner or later, that the goat poo is going to hit the fan etc. etc.

There are plenty of high jinks between these pages but ultimately this is a heartwarming story about first love, true friendship and finding the courage to move forward.


Steph’s Links: Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Buy Links: Booktopia | Bookdepository | Amazon AU | Amazon US

Night Swimming is a sweet story of coming of age, family and first requited love. There is a genuine-feeling desire in the story to see the good intentions in lightly sketched but complex characters, which gives the book a lot of heart. It will appeal to fans of realistic Australian YA and to readers searching for sweet and hopeful queer love stories.’ – Books + Publishing.

‘This bittersweet comedy of romantic misunderstanding, life management and family relations is poised at the emotional intersection between forgiveness and self-acceptance. Despite its whimsical tone, Night Swimming tackles serious themes of mental health, family upheaval and sexual coming-out with commendable delicacy and humanity.’ – Readings.

“The utterly charming story of two best friends, the small town they live in and the girl they both fall for. It is a tender and humorous tale of family ties, friendship and first love.” – Erin Gough.

“Night Swimming is a love-letter to outsiders, the kooky and complex – it’s an ode to first times and best friends…but above all else, it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to have a writer like Steph Bowe in our midst” – Danielle Binks, Alpha Reader.

2017 Challenges

aww2017-badgeI’m only setting myself a total goal of 60 books to be read for my Goodreads challenge in 2017, which will be half of what I’ve read this year, but with baby number two just arrived it is probably as much or more than I’ll be capable of.

The Australian Women Writers Challenge is all about promoting the wonderful works of our female Aussie authors.

I was going to set myself the goal of 12 AWW books for 2017, as that’s only one a month. But early in the year I think I might struggle to get even one book read a month. I really don’t know how I’m going to handle the two kiddlets and I’ll be returning to work earlier with Ethan than I did with Riley (we were renting the first time around, but we’re home ”owners” now and that costs quite a bit more per month – and there’ll be one more month to feed). So I decided to sign up to read 6 and any I read and review over that amount will be a bonus.

I have purchased a fair few #LoveOzYA books this year most of which are by lovely ladies I’ve seen speak, personally met or connected with online. #AWW2017 is an awesome reason to move them higher up my never-ending To Be Read list.

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.

Cover Reveal: The Price of Magic by K.J. Taylor

You are here because you were born different. Born with a gift … and a curse.”

Big things are expected of Pip. Can he deliver? Magic is all around him and he is expected to be a great mage, but the path before Pip isn’t simple. Will he fulfill his parents’ expectations? Will he fulfill his own?

In Pip’s world, only those born with defects or deformities can wield magic. Struggling to find his place in an institute of talented mages, Pip sets out on a perilous quest to help his master face the suffocating cost of her gift. For every mage has a price; but in return for that price is power. Magic. The ability to shape the world and create wonders. But is it enough? Is the price of magic worth it?front-cover

K.J. Taylor published her first work, The Land of Bad Fantasy, when she was just 18 and went on to publish another six titles in quick succession. Published by the Black Phoenix Publishing Collective, The Price of Magic is a stand-alone fantasy novella encompassing the best of Taylor’s creative appeal.

To celebrate the release of The Price of Magic cover, the Black Phoenix Publishing Collective is running an eBook giveaway competition. Sign up to the Black Phoenix Publishing Collective mailing list, and WIN an eBook copy of The Price of Magic by KJ Taylor. Follow this link to be part of the conversation: http://www.blackphoenixpublishing.com/contact.php.

Competition is open to Australian residents only, and will run until 5PM 13 December 2016. The winner will be announced the very next day on the bPPc Facebook page!!

See the bPPc Facebook page for further details. Terms and conditions can be found here: http://www.blackphoenixpublishing.com/Terms-and-Conditions.php

This beautiful cover was designed and developed by Brisbane-based artist and graphic designer Sabrina Raven. You can view her portfolio HERE.

Links for Aussie K.J. Taylor (#LoveOzYA): Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Review: Disruption & Corruption by Jessica Shirvington

Oh wow, where do I start. I finished the last page of Disruption, made myself a fresh cuppa tea then opened up Corruption and continued Maggie’s journey. It was 833 pages of utterly enthralling action. Let me calm down and try to break this down (without spoilers).

19032994Disruption (Disruption #1) by Jessica Shirvington

What if a microchip could identify your perfect match?
What if it could be used against you and the ones you love?

Eight years ago, Mercer Corporation’s M-Bands became mandatory. An evolution of the smartphone, the bracelets promised an easier life. Instead, they have come to control it.

Two years ago, Maggie Stevens watched helplessly as one of the people she loves most was taken from her, shattering her world as she knew it.

Now, Maggie is ready. And Quentin Mercer – heir to the M-Corp empire – has become key to Maggie’s plan. But as the pieces of her dangerous design fall into place, could Quentin’s involvement destroy everything she’s fought for?

In a world full of broken promises, the ones Maggie must keep could be the most heartbreaking.

Published April 1st 2014 by HarperCollins. Goodreads View.

My Thoughts: Disruption sucked me in hard and fast. I wanted Maggie to succeed in her mission, all the while wishing more for her and her family. This books gives us blackmail, bad guy bullshit and sassy bitch brilliance. Maggie is a strong young woman that is not to be messed with. Maggie has worked hard to build up the skills she needs to succeed and she radiates a powerful darkness, but as the reader we get to see past the mentally disconnecting and physical conditioning she has created as her Armor to the real Maggie underneath, the broken soul who just wants to put things right. This book delivers us all the big game players, even if it doesn’t reveal all their true field positions. There is a big plot twist late on and a cliff-hanger that will have you needing to get your hands on the next book.

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Corruption (Disruption #2) by Jessica Shirvington

How do you live with yourself when you’ve deceived the one you love?

How do you move on when the person you’ve been fighting to save betrays you?

Two years ago, Maggie Stevens began the hunt.

Four weeks ago, Maggie’s world fell apart, when she finally
found what she’d been looking for. And when Quentin,
who had blindly trusted her, unravelled her web of lies.

Now, Maggie lives in the dark. But she’s not about to stay there.
Not when she still has to bring M-Corp down.
Not when there is still a chance she could win him back.

In the exhilarating conclusion to Disruption, Maggie must do
whatever it takes to show the world the truth.
And the price for her quest?

Everything.

Published November 1st 2014 by HarperCollins. Goodreads View.

My Thoughts: Corruption! I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. We really get to know the characters and they feel real, well they did for me. Gus, Maggie, Quin, Travis, Morris and Liam – I loved them all! Actually the character Gus reminded me of a friend of mine. The scary thing with this dystopian is that it really isn’t that far-fetched. I’ve come to realise that the more, oh shit that could totally happen here in the next 10-20 years, a dystopian is the more I enjoy it. Hmmmm yet I love fantasy novels with dragons and trolls, yeah I have issues – ANYWAYS. This book has high stakes, high action, big plot twists, betrayal and forgiveness, world saving, love making (no sex scenes as such), corporate corruption and personal redemption. Maggie’s life tidy’s up nicely at the end, which is probably the most unrealistic part of the whole story, that and Quin’s ability to forgive. But I LOVE HAPPY ENDINGS so it’s all good. Well the ending is only as happy as it can be when a shit loads of innocent people have had to suffer and die along the way, but the bad guys get what’s coming to them, so that’s happy ever after enough for me.Five Stars

The Disruption duology is going on my Recommend-to-everyone-list along with the The Tribe Series, The Medoran Chronicles, The Illuminae Files and anything by the fantastic Will Kotastis. #LoveOzYA people, love that OZ YA!

Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

#SaveOzStories

The Australian government is about to make significant changes to copyright, threatening the future of our Australian stories.

31435501#SaveOzStories by Geraldine Brooks, Isobelle Carmody, Peter FitzSimons, Richard Flanagan, Jackie French, Anna Funder, Nikki Gemmell, Morris Gleitzman , Kate Grenville, Andy Griffiths, Jane Harper, Chloe Hooper, Toni Jordan, Thomas Keneally,David Malouf, Monica McInerney, Alex Miller, Frank Moorhouse, Matthew Reilly, Michael Robotham,Magda Szubanski, Christos Tsiolkas, Tim Winton

#SaveOzStories is a gift to book lovers from Australia’s finest writers and the industry that supports them. Jackie French, David Malouf, Tim Winton and many more of our best writers have come together to issue a clarion call to all Australian citizens to defend writers and writing. If politicians have their way we will be the only nation to give away our right to tell our own stories. If you think a world without the next Richard Flanagan, Andy Griffiths or Monica McInerney will be a poorer one, then read this collection of impassioned arguments from our most esteemed wordsmiths.

‘Australians deserve that their lives, experiences, country and culture be reflected in the literature that they read.’ Thomas Keneally

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 More Info on Books Create Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
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My Thoughts: I managed to grab a copy of #SaveOzStories when I went shopping last weekend. It was an interesting and infuriating read. Interesting reading input from all the different awesome aussie authors and infuriating because, f*** me what a horrid mess this government is making -but I won’t go into that or I’ll be ranting for days. All I will say is; If you at all care about Aussie stories go to http://www.bookscreateaustralia.com.au and get on board with #SaveOzStories
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Review: Raelia (The Medoran Chronicles #2) by Lynette Noni

Bookish Babble: Y16.W14

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Aussie Author Quote Edition:
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I haven’t read Stormdancer yet so I am not sure of the context, so the fact that I used an image of people kissing as the background maybe a lil bit off, BUT when I read this quote I thought in a romantic context “Yep, been there and done that!”

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This is true, but It doesn’t always feel that way.

kady2Yes, yes you do! Run with me people.

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Well yes, as long as you haven’t read the synopsis or any reviews :-P.

This next one is a snippet from The First Third by Will Kostakis. Now i’m not sure how it will translate if your never read the book but I loved this bit. So imagine for me a 17 year old Australian born grandson with his Greek born grandmother >>

“Sti zoei mas, ehome tria… komatia.” Greek for, “In our lives, we have three… pieces.” She must have been in an imparting-wisdom kind of mood. It was obviously important, because she switched to English, not trusting my Greek.

“In first part,” She said, “your family embarrass you. Then-pff-they die.” I couldn’t tell whether she was trying to teach me something or make me feel bad for laughing at her.

She focused hard, like she was having difficulty summoning the correct phrasing. “In number two, you feel agape, you find love, you make baby, you want to have family like before.” I thought of Papou. I thought of Mum.

Yiayia snatched up a polka-dotted piece of fabric and slowly started to stretch it. The elasticity disappointed her. She dropped it back into the heap and rested her hand on the edge of the bin. “Then, one day, you old. You try to give, and your family,” Yiayia shrugged, “they embarrassed. And then-pff-you die.” 

It was the circle of Greek life. “You see, one day,” she added.

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. 

It’s funny because it true and it’s heartbreaking because it is true. I’m in my second third now! I’ve always been blessed with a big, loving and yes sometimes embarrassing family. The older I get the more I long for how connected my family was when I was younger. All my cousins and myself included are off making our own families now. I hope I can give my boys the connections I had and the love I felt in my first third.

Until next time, enjoy your shelves (and your families).

Review: Hero by Belinda Crawford

Review: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

13552764“There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centres. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below. . . . And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me.”

Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose. A man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe — the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured and vulnerable and with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind.And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move.

Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

 * * * * *   MY  THOUGHTS   * * * * *

The last few Dystopian novels I’ve read have been let downs, so I was holding off starting this series as it is labelled a Dystopian. I saw it at my local library when I was there last and my interest in the Author’s Bio caused me to borrow it and boy am I glad I did.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is the first book in The Tribe series by Australian author Ambelin Kwaymullina. Within the first few pages on a coffee fueled Sunday morning this story had reeled me. I didn’t put it down until I finished it later that night! Devouring a book in one sitting doesn’t happen to me very often.

This story felt fresh and exciting. The story is action packed, high danger with just the right about of young romance. Ashala is amazing, in fact so are all the Tribe members and Ashala’s connection to natural world is truly beautiful.

I think the dystopian world, set 300+ years into our future, that Ambelin Kwaymullina has created is brilliant and enthralling. I love the terrifyingly possible way the earth was destroyed by our toxic behaviors and the way humans have evolved because of it. In this future earth there isn’t enough humans left to be concerned with the colour of someone skin, but as we humans are horrible creatures who fear anything different from ourselves, the future government hunts down anyone showing any signs of extraordinary abilities; Ashala and her tribe all have these extraordinary abilities.

Thought-out this story we see the world as Ashala sees it. We meet allies and enemies and experience some vivid dreaming scenes and painful memories as she does.

While I was really enjoying the first half of the book, there was a twist half way though that I didn’t see coming that for me turned the second half of the book into a frenzy. I was running a mad race with myself to find out how the book ended.

Ambelin Kwaymullina writing flows beautifully and is filled with powerful energy. This book was a real pleasure to read. I’m off to get my hands on book number two!star.5

the tribe

Ambelin KwaymullinaAmbelin Kwaymullina loves reading sci-fi/fantasy books, and has wanted to write a novel since she was six years old. She comes from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. When not writing or reading she teaches law, illustrates picture books, and hangs out with her dogs.  Links: Website | Goodreads | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Book Depository