One by Sarah Crossan

This is a must read for YA fans… I read this book in one sitting!!!

A moving and beautifully crafted story about identity, sisterhood and a love that ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

“One” is a story about Grace and Tippi, who are twins – conjoined twins and it follows their lives in high school as they have to decide whether or not to have the operation which will physical separate them.

I have always struggled to enjoy poetry but this book did the impossible. It made me love the poetry style with which this story is told. This story, and the poetry prose through which it was told, was a raw, personal story which had me feeling every emotion.

I loved this book and could not stop hugging this book after I finished the story.
-Amanda

 

Advertisements

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green

As the founder of a major network of readers, I can say I can relate to this book. When living in a crazy world, going through hardships of your own, finding friendship with avid readers through a bond which is our love for reading truly is refreshing. Personally I’m more of a YA reader however I really enjoyed this book for adult readers given the themes covered in this book and the setting. It’s said to suit those who loved “The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul” and “The Thorn Birds.”

This book is set in the Northern Territory during the 1970’s at a time of calamity – Cyclone Tracy almost wiped Darwin off the map and telecommunications have yet to be revived. A bomb exploded outside of the Hilton Hotel in Sydney killing 3 people and Former Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies dies.

I refer to this book as historical fiction due to the accurate reference to special events that took place in the 70’s. I enjoyed the intricate breakdown of each character that helped us get to know the character: Sybil, Sallyanne, Rita, Kate and Della at my own pace. What also kept me hanging to the end was how each of these women have their own hardships and stories to tell yet in a story of pain, there is the story of hope when friendships are formed over their love of books.

Highly recommended to fans of adult fiction set in Australia – not necessarily for just women. May also be of interest to those who lived in the 70’s.

Special thanks to Hachette Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

Secrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer

“What is really important in this life?”

A wonderful page turner… A story of hope among family, friendship with a hint of romance…
You will laugh, sigh and shed a
tear.. or two..

A story of three best friends who embark on a luxury cruise and long-held secrets that spill in the confines of a cruise ship

 

Release Date: September 2017

Before I read this novel, I read that this is the first time the author had written something that was not a rural romance as it is set in the city and on the coast so I was interested in giving this a go as I’m sure writing this story would have taken the author out of her comfort zone. I also don’t normally read adult contemporary fiction so this book really was a nice change of pace for me.. and I was not disappointed.

This story follows besties Abbie, Jess and Ricki who are about to set sail on a cruise ship as they did when they were still in school and without meaning to, their secrets are exposed while they’re on their voyage. As the story flows, it explores such deep issues that I didn’t expect to see in a story – issues that are common among adults that everyone seems to take for granted – things like domestic violence, terminal illness or on a smaller scale, how adults feel when they are stuck in ruts whether in their jobs or social spheres.

Set in Australia, the story was so beautifully written and for someone who doesn’t normally cry whilst reading fiction, this story felt real – it felt like I was listening to a conversation among my girlfriends. I would recommend this to readers of adult contemporary fiction and if you are a Fiona Palmer fan and are used to her normal style of writing, I am sure you would enjoy this one too.

Special thanks to Hachette Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy + the cute novelty beach chair in exchange for my honest review!

-Annie

 

Fabled Kingdom Volume 1+ Exclusive Q&A with its author/graphic artist Queenie Chan!!

This is a comics-prose story. It contains chapters 1-3 (of 21)*

Fabled Kingdom, Volume 1
What if Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother isn’t her real grandmother? What if her two trueborn grandmothers are both Queens – where one is good, and the other one is evil?

Celsia is a ‘Red Hood,’ a healer-in-training living with her grandmother in a small village deep in the woods. Life was ordinary and uneventful, until the fateful day a shocking truth is uncovered – Celsia’s grandmother isn’t her REAL grandmother. Forced to flee her village, Celsia is soon on a quest to seek her two TRUEBORN grandmothers – both powerful Queens of magical kingdoms.

Accompanied by her childhood friend Quillon and the cheeky faun Pylus, her first destination is the fabled kingdom of Fallinor, which was destroyed over 60 years ago… or was it?

Fabled Kingdom Volume 1 Review
Red Hooded Magic with an Intriguing Plot!!!
Red hooded cloak, a magically inclined basket and a girl on a mission to go to grandma’s house. Sounds like a normal red riding hood story, right? Whelp, stop there because Fabled Kingdom is anything but an ordinary story of red riding hood. Queenie takes the tale of red and weaves in her own twists in the form of werewolves, tricky fawns and magic that entices you to continue reading mixed with wonderful artwork and detail that’s your eyes a glued to the page.The characters are the highlight of the series. Our main character Celsia is a head strong heroine that made for some comedic moments. I enjoyed the secondary characters such as Quillon and the fawn that you meet on Celsia’s journey.I would recommend Fabled Kingdom to anyone who loves fairytale retellings, fantasy and beautifully crafted artwork.If I were to give it a rating, I would go 5/5 stars.
-Maisie

Exclusive Q&A by author/graphic artist: Queenie Chan
1. You have published quite a few graphic novels!! What is the name of your debut graphic novel and what titles have you published?
My first published work was a mystery-horror set in the Australian bush called “The Dreaming”, which was published with LA-based publisher TOKYOPOP in 2005. That got me some illustration work with authors Dean Koontz (Odd Thomas) and Kylie Chan (White Tiger), doing graphic novel prequels to their best-selling series. Apart from those books, I’ve also published my own collections of short ghost stories, webcomics and my fairytale YA fantasy “Fabled Kingdom.” I’m also currently moving into colour comics, so I’ve been doing a lot of short, home-made mini-comics about cute animals. I’m also planning my next graphic novel, which looks to be a standalone YA fantasy in colour.

2. Your publications are not just illustrations – it’s part story part illustrations, what goes into the structure?
Do you illustrate then write or the other way around? I’ve tried it both ways, but I find that starting with a rough outline of a comic book page and then working backwards is a better way of doing “comics-prose” storytelling. Part of the reason is because when you convert comic panels into prose, it becomes embellishment of existing comic panels, and by extension, of the characters and story. The process is like layering a cake, which I find very satisfying. Conversely, when you start with prose and then convert part of it into comics, then the process becomes somewhat reductive. Complexity has to be reduced, and while some may argue that visual presentation brings its own form of complexity (which is true), the fact is that, in some ways, it makes things fuzzy rather than exacting. Editing is also harder when you start with prose, since you need to edit twice—both before AND after you lay down the panels on the page.

3. Do you like reading graphic novels yourself? What would be your favourite?
I consume a lot of media – prose fiction, comics, video games, animation, movies and music. I don’t read as much graphic novels as I used to (mostly because I believe a creater should look for inspiration outside their own industry, lest they start cannabalising what their colleagues are doing), and I mostly read manga these days anyway, due to my love of serialised fiction. I’m currently still reading “One Piece,” which is a manga series that I’ve been reading since my early twenties. I’ve fallen off the bandwagon a bit so I need to catch up, but it still remains an inventive and fun series despite having been running for 20 years. So it’s recommended from me!

4. Who have you collaborated with on your work and what is it like to collaborate, especially when drawing/writing graphic novels? I’ve worked with Dean Koontz and Kylie Chan on their respective series, and my relationship with Kylie is especially close since I was able to talk with her directly about what she envisions for her characters and world. In terms of Dean, he was easy to work with, but communication was difficult since I was only able to talk with him through his agents and editors. I should also count the comic writers (Fred Van Lente, Landry S. Walker) who adapted his stories into comic script format for me to work on, though unfortunately due to the publishing house production line, I wasn’t able to talk to these writers either. However, I still feel I learned a lot from them, which I’m grateful for. On the other hand, working with writers made me realise how sensitive prose authors are to having their writing altered in any way. I was surprised at first – writers can get very sore at having even a SINGLE word altered – but I understand why they get so worked up. I don’t have that feeling myself though, despite being a writer too, probably because words account for only a fraction of what I do.

5. As an author and graphic novel artist, what was the most exciting experience you have had eg: Supanova or Comic Con?
Meeting Dean Koontz at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2008! I was a fan of Dean when I was growing up – the first book I bought with my own money was a Dean Koontz omnibus featuring his earliest horror works. I fell off the book-reading wagon in my early 20s, but his series “Odd Thomas” got me back into reading, so it was great to meet him in person. He was very polite, funny and gracious, which was wonderful. It’s always exciting to meet famous authors who you’ve grown up reading.

6. For the aspiring graphic novel artists, what would be the best piece of advice you could give them?
The arts is a difficult place to earn a living, but I highly recommend comics as a form of creative expression! I think that no matter what you create or why, the most important thing is to ensure that you’re working on something you love and care about, and to FINISH it. A lot of people start drawing a comic but never finishes it, which results in online comic websites looking like a graveyard of unfinished work. This is not a good thing for any creator, because it makes you look unprofessional – like it or not, even when you do comics as a hobby, it reflects poorly on you when you don’t seem to care for your readers (no matter how many readers you have). Most people also only read a story when it’s finished – if you don’t finish your work, people can’t judge your level of writing, and therefore won’t care, or trust you as a creator. You may think this is unfair, but to be honest, in this day and age, people have too much competition for their attention to care about a creator’s unfinished work. That is my 2 cents 🙂

-Interivew compiled by Annie

Many thanks to Queenie Chan for spending this time with us!! We are big fans of your work and we hope we will see you again soon, keep up the awesomeness!!

A Letter from Italy by Pamela Hart

 War is a terrible part of the worlds history but it’s a story that needed to be told. 
A beautiful heartbreaking story about the heroes of the war, the men and women who supported behind the scenes and the brave who reported it.
During a time when women’s rights were still a foreign concept in Italy Rebecca Quinn faced it all and all without her husband (who left her with little to no notice to go off chasing a story). I felt for her and cringed while she faced judgement from the men who still believed that women should just go tend their houses, my heart cried out for Sandro who I loved right until the final pages, my anger at Jack for leaving Rebecca to become so incredibly independent in a world that rejected such independence didn’t sit well with me and his betrayal of her trust was just the last straw. Rebecca showed that despite the fear and rejection she faced that she could still hold it together when it counted and could be courageous in the face of dangers that most women today wouldn’t imagine leaving themselves in a position to experience.
 An incredibly inspiring character and a story that melted my heart and gave me a new opinion of war themed books.
Many thanks to Hachette Publishers for the opportunity to read this Advanced Review Copy.
-Crystal

Night Shift by Debi Gliori (picture book)

An insight into depression that words often struggle to reach

A groundbreaking picture book on depression with stunning illustrations that both Annie and Meredith read together and highly recommend this as one of the most important picture books of the year.

“I have used dragons to represent depression. This is partly because of their legendary ability to turn a once fertile realm into a blackened, smoking ruin and partly because popular mythology shows them as monstrous opponents with a tendency to pick fights with smaller creatures. I’m not particularly brave or resourceful, and after so many years battling my beasts, I have to admit to a certain weariness, but I will arm-wrestle dragons for eternity if it means that I can help anyone going through a similar struggle.”
– Debi Gliori (author of Night Shift)

This is an amazing picture book that depicts the author’s struggle with depression. The author found this picture book was the best way to communicate her condition with others when she felt it difficult to explain in words – with the clever use of dragons that is used as a metaphor because of their common profile in other stories where they tend to be quite monstrous and pick fights with smaller creatures. I admire the author of this book as she doesn’t let depression eat away at her, she acknowledges her condition but puts it into beautiful illustrations and strives to manage it as well as bring understanding to others. I believe this is an important book and recommend it to readers of all ages.
-Annie

A very good take on explaining depression that I have never seen before. Throughout ‘Night Shift’, it shows that there is more then one way to beat depression but sometimes it doesn’t fully disappear which comes across beautifully. The depression is represented as dragons because dragons are always there, either by leaning on your shoulder, head or flying behind you at a distance. I thought this was quite creative. I also found it helpful in understanding depression a little bit more.
-Meredith

Many thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for our honest review.

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

The thrilling sequel to Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club
– 5 Stars –

It is June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen is now disowned by her uncle and now a full member of The Dark Days Club. The stakes are even higher now as Lady Helen struggles to become the warrior she is expected her to be for the club.

 In participating in a read along with a friend, I have to say I wish I was able to finish this sooner!

I found this sequel to be more gripping that the first one – an intricate story full of plot twists you don’t see coming then just as you feel you have closure towards the end, the plot thickens and you will yearn for more.. In book one, we learn all about the status of women and how Lady Helen was quite unique and challenges the status quo. There were times my feminist streak would take over and I wanted to talk to some of the misogynist characters with my fist!!! In discovering the Dark Days Club in book 1, this book takes us through an insight of how the Dark Days Club operated and Lady Helen going into training to become a “Reclaimer” We also find that dark forces are within the Pact and one mystery that kept the story alive was the unsolved issues about Lord Carlston.
Both book 1 and 2 are written extremely well and book 2 really holds you to the end!!
I really need book 3 now!!!

Many thanks to Harper Collins Publishers for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie