As sweet as a Gub and as nerve-wracking as being tracked through the vents of a Freighter Class C – ‘In the Dark Spaces’

ITDS.jpgIf you want world-building of awesome and relatable characters and a super voice, then ‘In the Dark Spaces’ by Cally Black is for you.

It’s SciFi with added ethical conundrums and a dash of Stockholm syndrome. Prepare to cry. And grin. And be absorbed.

My library wants my copy back, stat, and I’m that working-my-shift-button-stuck kind of busy ATM. Plus I just spilt tea on my keyboard…

So I’ll keep this quick.

Fabulously Awesome Book.

Read it.

It won the Ampersand Prize and it’s so obvious why. Be prepared to get 3/4 of the way through and have one of those existential crises where you question why you ever bother to write because Black does it so well…

… Of course, we write because we can’t imagine life without writing, and we read because sometimes they’re as perfect as this book! 🙂

Take care everyone. Don’t spill your tea.

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3 Awesome Series for Kids Who Thrive on Learning

If you, like me, have a voracious young reader who loves learning, then you probably also love it when you find a series you can trust to entertain your child and feed their love of knowledge. Educational books don’t need to be non-fiction, sometimes when the facts are hidden by the fun children learn even more!

Here are three of my favourite Junior Fiction series for making those synapses spark…

  • The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta
  • Juliet Nearly a Vet
  • Sage Cookson Continue reading

Encouraging life into your garden: planting for black cockatoos

I just had one of those awesome moments, as I watched a black cockatoo drink from my new birdbath for the first time. And I thought I’d share some big tips for getting these wonderful and rare birds into your garden…

First pageHelp save an entire species, and get free help in the garden in exchange? That’s a deal that’s hard to refuse!

We’re talking about the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris). Of the three black cockatoo species in the South-West of Western Australia, Carnaby’s is the most threatened, listed as ‘Endangered’ under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. These cheeky birds, punctuating Perth skies with their raucous ‘wee-lar’ calls during the first half of each year, are up against tough odds. They breed in the wheatbelt, using hollows in mature trees as nests to raise their chicks. In some areas more than 90% of the native vegetation has been cleared. After breeding they return to the coastal plain, where widespread clearing for urban areas and agriculture has caused a dramatic loss of feed habitat.

Numbers of this iconic species have halved since the 1960s, they have vanished from one-third of their former range, and it is thought that most of the birds we see today are too old to breed. Will our children or grandchildren farewell the last of these beautiful birds? Continue reading

Refreshing like a home-grown yellow watermelon – ‘White Night’

WhiteNightAnd my award for the most awesome male character in YA goes to… Bo Mitchell!!

Seriously. From the very first sentence of ‘White Night’ by Ellie Marney, Bo’s voice captured me. He drives this book. If you’re looking for positive, realistic male role models, look no further.

I loved ‘White Night’. I read a sneak-peak online and then had to wait – yes – WAIT – until it became available from my library. Excruciating.

There are a lot of things to like in ‘White Night’, but if I had to pick three, this’d be them:

  • Character arcs of awesome
  • Level-headed enviro representation
  • General air of stereotype-smashing.

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As loaded with surprises as a Superintendent’s scrapyard – ‘Yellow’

Yellow.jpgIf you’re looking for spooky and surprising and generous and sweet, then I solemnly swear you should pick up ‘Yellow’ by Megan Jacobson.

Because it’s all of these things.

Dead dude on the end of a phone. Suspense and suspects and twists. And a seriously awesome friendship. A girl who learns how to be happy. And CBCA Shortlisted too, judging by the sticker on my library edition 🙂

I think the book works so well because of how much is happening in it, everything intertwined. (Beware the occasional weeny eeny spoiler as you read on…) I work on the belief that every book needs a central idea that is DROP-DEAD GREAT.

And then, like, three more FAB ideas added to it in order to make it IMMENSELY AWESOME.

Publishable. Continue reading

Inspiring the feels, like a doll freed from the basement – ‘A Semi-definitive List of Worst Nightmares’

ASDLOWN.jpg

I’ve been writing and editing these last few months, but now I’ve freed up some time to cover some of the awesome reads I’ve enjoyed recently.

Let’s start with ‘A Semi-definitive List of Worst Nightmares’ by Krystal Sutherland, which has such a fab cover and takes out my personal award for one of the best titles EVER, as well as picking up a CBCA Notables sticker.

This is clever writing, FUNNY writing – I absolutely devour books with humour! I love laughing to myself in the middle of the night. I love finishing a book and feeling empowered and happy and like I want to read the whole thing again.

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Tying up all the strings like a Cherry putting on his ATLAS – ‘Obsidio’

Obsidio.jpgOk, people. Hands up who totally loves The Illuminae Files?

<Earth shudders on its axis as billions of hands are raised>

It’s no secret I really dig this series. I love the way it’s written. I love the way you have to work to read it. I love the way it makes you question good and bad and ethics and whether we all should have a murderous AI watching our backs.

I jumped at the opportunity to read ‘Obsidio’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff as soon as it turned up shiny (literally) bright and new at my library.

I was not disappointed 🙂

Questions are answered. Body counts are added to. There are laughs. There is panic.

There is AIDAN…

 

Right. So, what are a few aspects I loved?

  • That dash of you-can-do-this-too
  • The distinct VOICES

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The spiky issue of positive relationship role models in YA – the clever ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’

acotar.jpgMan, I had fun with this series! I wanted to read ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ by Sarah J. Maas because firstly I love her writing, but mainly because I was intrigued as to how a series with a blatant love triangle could garner such positive reviews of said triangle… a love triangle is like a death knell to most books.

So how did this one not only keep readers happy, but have them cheering for the new guy?

I had to read ACOTAR and find out.

I didn’t expect to then have to read the next one. And the one after that.

I didn’t expect to not just enjoy the series, but to be impressed with the messages it was sending.

I want to talk about two things here.

  1. How Maas sets the scene at the start of ACOTAR
  2. How the love triangle totally redeemed itself in my eyes.

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A dream come true, with a side-serve of toilet gnomes – ‘Carousel’

Carousel.jpgI loved this spooky, quirky, thoughtful book! ‘Carousel’ by Brendan Ritchie has been on my TBR list for simply ages (please don’t ask me how long my very-long-list is!) so I jumped at the opportunity to grab it from my library.

Why?

Firstly, because it’s set in my closest too-enormous shopping centre, one of my least favourite places to be. Imagine being stuck in there <comical grimace>. I was intrigued how the book would play out.

Secondly, and most superly importantly, I wanted to read it because of a dream I used to have when I was a kid. All. The. Time. I was the only one locked up in a shop after hours. And it used to start out as such an awesome dream, with me finding all the lollies. Until it would always, without fail, turn spooky. Something else would be in there with me. 

Cue the ‘Carousel’ toilet gnomes, people. When I read about them, I came to the realisation I might never ever shop at Carousel again… 🙂 Seriously, if I could choose ANYTHING to try and make huge empty toilet blocks less scary, it would not be garden gnomes with their little faces watching out of the shadows… <shudder>  Continue reading

My CBCA Notables book binge!

My last library visit I had an aim – grab three CBCA Notables YA books.

And then read them. (Of course.)

At home, I mean. Not the library. (Of course.)

Not only did I manage that with flying colours, I also managed to find a Scribblers Fest feather in one! Not the gold… but still… I felt like I’d just opened a Wonka bar and found a golden ticket!

Here is my quick take on the three books. Beware spoilers, people…

‘A Shadow’s Breath’ by Nicole Hayes

AShadowsBreath.jpgSuspense. What went wrong? How did they get there? Will they survive?

I loved the structure of this book, very cleverly interweaving now and then to ensure we only discover what we need to, when we need to. And then, when we think we know what the bad thing is that she saw, that’s when the real bad thing that she doesn’t want to remember comes out. 

I really loved the Australian setting. The heat, the fire, then the rain. Some readers, unfamiliar with an Aussie summer, might think Hayes went over the top with the changeable weather. But I could smell the heat and feel the brooding clouds of a summer thunderstorm. Super.

Continue reading