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.

Book Blitz: Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Dating the It Guy
Krysten Lindsay Hager
Publication date: March 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren, seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

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EXCERPT:

“By the way, did you hear Lauren got into Senator Agretti’s old school?”

“Seriously? I wonder if she applied there because Brendon did,” I said.

Margaux snorted. “Duh, of course. Seriously, she might as well just pee on him to mark her territory.”

“Margaux, shut up,” Kylie said.

“Whatever. Anyway, the important thing is if Brendon knew she was applying there,” Margaux said. “Em, do you think he knew?”

I hoped Lauren was just trying to follow Brendon, but what if they had planned this whole thing while they were dating? What if he convinced her to apply there so they could go to college together, wear matching American flag sweaters with big scarves while drinking hot chocolate, and jump into leaf piles just like a preppy clothing catalog. At least now I didn’t have to worry about them reciting poetry to one another in South Bend, but still, what if they had made plans to go to school together?

“Don’t worry about it,” Kylie said. “She was probably trying to follow him—like she always does. She’s so pathetic.”

Kylie was trying to make me feel better, but Lauren was far from pathetic. After all, she was pretty much the “Most Likely to Succeed” poster girl. While she was out overachieving and saving the world without messing up her perfect, bouncy hair, I was trying to get through each day. I tried to push away the image of Lauren and Brendon holding hands and drinking hot chocolate under a stadium blanket.

Author Bio:

Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest / YouTube


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Cover Reveal: The First Year by Genevieve Gannon

The First Year
Genevieve Gannon
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication date: April 24th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

The first year of marriage is hard no matter what. Throw in jealous exes, high-pressure careers and two wildly different families, and the degree of difficulty goes up a few more notches. Determined to beat the odds, one couple comes up with a plan to keep their romance alive – but life has other ideas.

Saskia is an up-and-coming jewellery designer, waiting tables at a trendy cafe to keep her fledgling company afloat. Andrew is a corporate lawyer who wants to be known for more than his family’s money. They’re passionate about their work and each other, but with Andy’s job in jeopardy and Saskia’s jewellery label taking off, the pressure is taking its toll.

As life pulls them in different directions, the two of them are forced to decide: Just how important is their marriage? And how hard are they willing to work to protect it?

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Author Bio:

Genevieve Gannon is a Melbourne-based journalist and author. Her writing was first published in the St Monica’s Primary School newspaper, The Monical, in the form of a mince pie recipe she completely made up. She lifted her standards of journalistic integrity and wrote stories for music and fashion street press magazines while at university before moving to Canberra to do a journalism cadetship. In 2011 she joined the national news wire, Australian Associated Press, where she covered crime, politics and entertainment. Her work has appeared in most major Australian newspapers including The Age, The Australian and The Daily Telegraph.

Genevieve apologises unequivocally to any of her fellow students and their parents who tried to bake mince pies using the recipe she wrote when she was 10. But if you’re putting four cups of plain flour and four cups of self-raising flour into pasty that doesn’t call for butter, you’ve only got yourself to blame. She currently lives in Melbourne where she is a court reporter. At night time she writes romantic comedies. Husband Hunters is her first novel.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

 

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The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

25248094The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes 

Published: 22nd June 2015 by Harper Collins

Thank you to the author and publisher for giving me an ARC and the opportunity to read and review this book.Synopsis mk3

With a harrowing poetic voice, this contemporary page-turner is perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Julie Berry’s All The Truth That’s in Me, and the works of Ellen Hopkins.

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow By is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself. +Goodreads buttonMy Thoughts mk3

This book has received so many raving reviews and so many “loved it” reviews from fellow book bloggers that I follow. I can understand how someone could be so WOW’d by this book. The writing is beautiful, easy to read /understand and flows at a perfect pace. The action arches and curves to keep you tearing through the pages till the end.

It’s hard to believe that this is Stephanie Oakes Debut! It is her debut people and in my eyes it is flawless. I’ve already added her next book to my TBR even though it won’t be out until next year.

Cults disgust me. Anyone who hides behind religion and lies degusts me. In fact any person who can hurt another living thing and enjoy it, degusts me. Even so I think this book is brilliant. It made me keep reading even though I hated the topic matter. I either wanted to slap sense into the characters or see them run them over with an army tank. Ok, I wanted the Prophet to be run over by an Army tank, the rest I wanted them to wake up to themselves, stupid sheep.

I liked Minnow from the start, but I loved her once she woke up and started to rebel.

My only complaint is that I wanted more closure at the end. I wanted to know that the innocent got a happy ending and the others got what they deserved – even if that is unrealistic.

I generally read books to escape the horrible world we live in. This book spotlights the horrible world we live it, but I am glad I read it. I think anyone 13+ could read this and get something out of it.

I’m going to share what I am sure is going to become one of my favorite book quotes. I’ll give you a little lead in so it makes sense. Warning the work fuck is used, but there is very little swearing in the book considering she ends up in juvenile hall.

* * * * * * *

“FUUUUUCK!” She screams.

“A MILLION TIMES FUCK!” I scream with her.

“What on God’s sacred green Earth is going on?” Benny calls from the skyway. She approaches the bars, her arms crossed.

“Nothing,” Angel and I sat in unison…

“Fuck,” I Whisper.

“Fuck,” she whispers back, a smile creeping onto her face. And, inside that smile is the knowledge that some things are just too sad, too screwed up. Sometimes there’s nothing for it but shouting “Fuck” with your best friend at the top of your lungs.

* * * * * * *

I think that sums up life; something’s are just too sad, too screwed up. I’ve been known to scream profanities at the sky, sometimes there is nothing else we can do to release the pain.

4sAuthor’s Links mk3Stephanie Oakes is a teacher and YA author from Washington State.

THE ARSONIST, her second YA mystery is scheduled for publication in fall 2016.

Website – http://www.stephanieoakesbooks.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/stephanieeoakes

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/543716.Stephanie_Oakes

Tumblr – http://stephanieoakes.tumblr.com/

Paradise City by CJ Duggan

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Paradise City (Paradise #1) by CJ Duggan

Pub Date 28th April 2015 (Hachette Australia)

I received an eBook ARC from Net Galley in return for an honest review – So Thank You CJ Duggan and Hachette Australia.

Synopsis mk3

From the author of the bestselling Summer series, comes the first book in a seriously sexy New Adult series you won’t want to miss. For fans of Abbi Glines, Sarah Dessen and Colleen Hoover.

There’s bound to be trouble in Paradise . . .

When her parents decide a change will be good for her, seventeen-year-old Lexie Atkinson never expected they’d send her all the way to Paradise City. Coming from a predictable life of home-schooling on a rural Australian property, she just knows that Paradise will be amazing. But when she’s thrust into a public school without a friendly face in sight, and forced to share a room with her insipid, hateful cousin Amanda, Lexie’s not so sure.

Hanging out with the self-proclaimed beach bums of the city, sneaking out, late-night parties and parking with boys are all things Lexie’s never experienced, but all that’s about to change. It’s new, terrifying . . . and exciting.

And when Lexie meets Luke Ballantine, the swoon-worthy, bad-boy leader of the group, the chemistry between them is electric. Trouble with a capital T, Luke is impulsive, charming and answers to no one, and he’s sexier than any guy Lexie has ever known. Lexie begins to wonder if Luke is going to be good for her . . . or very, very bad?

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My Thoughts mk3

Raise your left hand if you ever made an ass of yourself in high school. Now raise your right hand if you ever tortured yourself over a boy (or girl). Now give yourself a high five because you survived, maybe not unscathed, but you survived.

Oh how this book took me back. Duggan perfectly captures the – he likes me, he likes me not – torture teenage girls put themselves thought. Perfectly captures the hormone induced hysteria that growing up causes.

I loved how real Lexie felt. I wanted to be her friend, I wanted her to flourish and succeed. At some points it was if I was reading my own but better written teenage diary. I wanted to jump into the pages; slap Amanda, kick Ballantine up the bum and hug Lexie while offering her a big bowl of cookies and cream ice cream.

I love bad boys with soft and cuddly centers, love seeing their masks slip, love seeing them let their guards down. Every teenage girls dream is a bad boy that’ll be good just for her. A naughty, cheeky, hot mess. A bad boy who’s really not a bad guy – Boom! it’s Ballantine.

A likable, relatable sheltered country girl. A grade A student who’s been cooped up and restricted – and now, damn the consequences, she’s going to find out what it’s like to live – Boom! it’s Lexie.

There are twist and turns and lessons to be learned. Family tensions, school detentions and late night rendezvous. A boy named Luke Ballantine and girl named Lexie Atkinson – Boom! an exciting, endearing and entertaining story.

Duggan’s writing is beautiful; fresh, humorous, full of heartache and yet full of hope – A damn nice surprise in what can be a rather unbelievable, excessive and skanky genre.

I am internally chucking a full blown teenage tantrum that I have to wait until September to find out what happens next in the world of Lexie. Five Stars.

Aesomeness

Author’s Links mk3

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/CJDuggan

Website – http://www.cjdugganbooks.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/CJ_Duggan

REV GIRL by Leigh Hutton

REV GIRL (The Go Girls Chronicles, #1) by Leigh Hutton

Wow I truly loved this book. Flat out Five stars. Now I’ve got the hard task of explaining to you all how truly awesome this book is and making you fall in love with it so you’ll go out and buy it.

Here it goes >>

rev girl

 

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Inspired by a true story

It’s hard to be the new girl, but it’s even harder being the new girl who races dirt bikes . . .

Ever since her parents forced her to move from Canada to Silvertown, Colorado, Clover Kassedy hasn’t fit in. So how do you deal when everyone hates you?

Focusing all her energy on racing her motorcycle did it for a while, but now that Clover’s managed to find a bestie and a boyfriend, the pressure on the sixteen-year-old is worse than ever.

She’s determined to get to the World Championships, where she could finally meet her idol – an Australian, the World Champion – and have a shot at becoming a professional dirt bike racer. But with her super- competitive dad, workaholic mother and relentless bullies at races and at high school, Clover is struggling to make her dreams a reality.

Will it be her scheming ex-best-friend who shatters her world? Or will she let her ‘perfect’ boyfriend – the guy who has finally made her feel like she belongs in their school and their town – stop her from becoming an international racing star?

My Thoughts:          

I loved it. The way Leigh explains the thoughts and feelings Clover goes through during races you can tell that she has been there and done it. It feels real. The story is full of passion and excitement, a real page turner. You can’t help but fall in love with Clover and want her to succeed on her journey.

There are laugh out loud lines throughout the book.

Ernie and Shazza’s dad, John Watson, hit it off like a pair of escaped convicts who just stumbled upon a burlesque bar.

Girls all around her were dropping like Louis Vuitton handbags at a ‘$50 for Everything Sale’.

And there are some truly beautiful inspiring lines as well.

Being dead isn’t just lying in the dirt, your eyes rolled back in your head. You die inside when you give up on what you truly love. On yourself. Find who you are and hold onto it.

I love the in-depth speech Clover gave in the story. It was heartfelt and true. It resonated with me down to my core. I wish that at seventeen I’d known myself as well as Clover comes to. It took me twenty six years and postnatal depression after the birth of my son for me to find myself, to love myself, to have the courage to start working towards my dreams, as I am now.

I think it should be mandatory for teenage girls to read this story. There is something every one of them can relate to, regardless if they’re not into Motor Bikes or Extreme Sports. Being a teenager is hard and it sucks, but unless you can learn to love yourself life just gets harder.

This book has everything; Romance, Action Adventure and tones of Girl Power.

I love that Leigh has managed through this book to teach us a lesson about pride, power, love, loss, peer pressure, friendship, bullying and life changing decisions and have us ENJOY IT!

A brilliant start to what I’m sure will be a brilliant series.

And now from Leigh’s website www.leighuttonbooks.com a bit about the Go Girl Chronicles:go girls

 

The Go Girls Chronicles

An exciting new blockbuster series for the reader craving action, adventure and romance, these empowering coming of age novels will entertain, inspire and tug at the heartstrings. Stories are set among the worlds of horse show jumping, motocross, surfing, racing cars, snowboarding, skateboarding, BMX, rodeo riding and more . . .

REV GIRL, out May 24th, 2014!

JUMP GIRL, coming early-2015!

SURF GIRL, to follow . . .