A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can’t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck. The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them. Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything but she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares. On a random day, Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate and her first crush. It wasn’t enough Jonah pick pockets her, he also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love

This book was interesting. I feel the author has grown since her first novel as like everything else, practice and experience makes perfect. This was a great mix of serious and quirky! The author did very well in writing a novel that confused me in the beginning (lol but in a good way) as I wasn’t sure whether this was a Contemporary YA novel or a Fantasy YA novel but turns out it’s a funky, quirky, contemporary novel that has a uniquely clever way of telling an important story. At the end of reading this novel I read the reviews and it was it was interesting to see how one particular reader interpreted the ‘fantasy element’ as potentially the protagonist’s overactive imagination – I guess I will have to let you as the reader decide. The way the story was told made me feel the author had very important issues she really wanted to raise awareness about but through a story that did not making the reader feel so overwhelmed or heavy hearted in the end. The pace of this book was stable from beginning to end – it wasn’t full action packed or info dumped, it just travelled along nicely but as you continue reading the deep, important issues arise. Issues such as mental illness, facing your fears and even self-harm are covered in this book which, in this day in age I felt to be very important for teens to read. The author really did well in using metaphors to describe these facets which made it all so real, even gave me a better understanding as I know people who suffer anxiety and depression – it painted a clearer picture. I have to say I did enjoy this book, I found it to be a clever story with funny dialogue but a frightening storyline. I believe this is more suitable to older teens and adults.

Many thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

Due for release: end of August 2017
-Annie

Finding Nevo by Nevo Zisin

Girl boy he she him her they them daughter son teacher student friend gay bi lesbian trans homo Jew dyke masculine feminine androgynousqueer

Nevo was not born in the wrong body.
Nevo just wants everyone to catch up with all that Nevo is. 

 

Review
This is not your typical coming of age book but the struggles Nevo introduces are very relatable no matter your gender which is exactly what sets it apart from other coming of age books.

First Nevo takes you through the childhood struggles and explains intimately what gender dysphoria is like while also making references to the resources and services that can help pave the way for any teen going through the same experiences.  

Nevo is a very thought provoking read and raises a lot of questions around what it means to be an activist and how important activists have been in shaping some pivotal moments in history.

With this book Nevo shows it’s ok to be raw and open and I thank Nevo for opening my eyes up to how important it is that I you me they them need to keep paving the way so that others can find their own path much more easily.

Recomendation
All teens, parents of teenagers, anyone identifying or wanting to know more about LGBTQIA+ obstacles and lastly anyone who loves activism and feminism with a dash of masculinity 

Many thanks to Walker Books Publishers for supplying this book in exchange for my honest review.

-Crystal

Exchange of Heart by Darren Groth

“Sometimes, Life takes on a life of its own…”

How does someone in their late teens deal with the sudden death of his younger sister?

This book follows the story of Munro, a boy living in Canada who is struggling with an inner battle to come to terms with the untimely loss of his sister Evie who had down syndrome. He is suffering flashbacks, depression – even anger and he’s dealing with a voice inside his head which is known as “The Coyote”. Upon losing interest in school and life itself, one way Munro finds to deal with this is embarking on a student exchange program to Australia. Once in the land down under, Munro starts a new life, makes new friends and even takes part in a volunteer program, Fair Go which is to help him move past this rough patch in his life and may even help silence “The Coyote”.

A story of tragedy, friendship, dealing with real youth issues. I found the flow of this story quite interesting even if the voice of the coyote creeped me out a little. The dialogue was quite whitty and what I enjoyed most was even though Munro was dealing with a lot in his life, his character did not come across as “whiny” like a lot of YA characters do. Munro was in the dumps but took it upon himself to do something about it – albeit a trip to the other side of the world. I found this story was real – honestly, how does a teenage boy deal with something like this? Especially when there’s a voice in his head that springs to life upon his sister’s death and in taking the steps to deal with this – does he succeed?

Special thanks to Penguin Random House Publishers for providing me with an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
This book is due to hit the shelves by the end of July 2017.

-Annie

The Read3r’z Re-Vu: Eid Special

EID MUBARAK!!! 1 SYAWWAL 1438H

Muslims around the world have just completed their fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan and have immersed themselves in some wonderful celebrations for Eid (Idul Fitri).

As part of the festivities, this blog post is a celebration and recommendation of some of the awesome books I have read that were written by Muslim authors…

Some you may have already seen before…

Have you ever worked with a Muslim colleague or have a Muslim friend who has declined invites to lunch or even social gatherings after work or school during a certain time of the year? They suddenly go missing from the social sphere or they disappear for a power nap during lunch?  It’s certainly not to cause any offence or to avoid anyone, it’s because they are embracing the Holy Month of Ramadan.

So.. What is Ramadan and What is Eid?
Muslims follow the lunar calendar where the phases of the moon are followed closely and upon the citation of a new moon, a new month commences. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, depending on the citation of the new moon it can go for anywhere between 28-30 days. It is a holy month for Muslims as Muslims believe it is when Prophet Muhammad received the divine revelation of the Holy Quran, Islam and the message of One God.

As part of the holy month, Muslims engage in a fast during sunlight hours. The fast is a means of bringing them closer to God, humble themselves as a person and a reminder of those who are less fortunate. During Ramadan, Muslims are either fasting or praying… or sleeping… When it’s time to break the fast (Iftar) it is most likely with family as Ramadan is the time for family then afterwards, they go to their nearest mosque for prayers which go for most of the night. Time is quite consumed with the fasting and prayers during the Holy Month. With it, the fast can get quite exhausting but not from the lack of food and water consumption. Sahur (breakfast) is at approx. 4:30am to eat in time before Fajr (morning prayers) by 5:20am – then it’s off to work or school so when it’s downtime – it’s usually for rest.

The fast is only prescribed to Muslims who are fit and able to engage in the fast – so if a Muslim is sick or has a medical condition that requires regular medication or meals, they are exempt. Same applies to pregnant and lactating women. If one has commenced fasting then during the day has become ill, they are to break their fast immediately. For those who can’t fast, they usually pay a Fidyah (charity) that is paid to the needy and equates to what one normally spends on food in a day. General rule of thumb is approx. $10 per day for a meal.

Ramadan is a peaceful time of the year – it is a time for prayer, family and repentance. You could call it an annual spiritual and physical detox…

To mark the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate a religious holiday called Eid also known as Idul Fitri or Eid ul Fitr. It’s a time when Muslims wear new clothes and first attend prayers in the morning then make up for lost time by visiting friends or family from house to house and eat.. A LOT!!! It’s also a time for charity as a Fitrah (charity paid prior to Eid) that is paid to the poor. It’s also a day to remind Muslims to forgive their fellow Muslims for shortcomings and continue to carry on positive behaviour once they bid the Holy Month farewell.

Recommended reads by some awesome Muslim Authors

Randa Abdel-Fattah’s When Michael Met Mina an important Contemporary YA Novel that I see as the next “Looking for Alibrandi” and Noah’s Law a great Contemporary YA novel that has an element of crime mystery thriller…
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sami Shah’s Fire Boy and Earth Boy epic Urban Fantasy novels that reference the Islamic faith on Jinn.. has you on the edge of your seat!!!
 

Demet Divaroren’s Living on Hope Street – A raw and confronting yet fantastic YA read that’s set in “The Burbs”

Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Light both intense YA page turners that had me on the edge of my seat.. A story that is set in a brutal world that is inspired by Ancient Rome and its ruthless way of ruling with an iron fist..
 

Wishing all our Muslim members a wonderful and blessed Eid Mubarak:
1 Syawwal 1438 H

-Annie

 

Release by Patrick Ness

A book of one day in the life of Adam Thorn, aged 17 and it’s a big day… Things go wrong, it’s intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches..

Annie and Bert team up for a “Release” read along!!!

I thoroughly enjoyed the read along I did with my friend, Bert.. a unique story in the sense that there were 2 storylines, one that follows Adam who is struggling to be true to himself due to his family’s beliefs and the other of a ghost – yet I’m not quite sure of the connection between the two, my theory is it’s somehow a metaphor for Adam’s inner struggle.. I found the book to be very conversational which contributed to how quick I read this book. There are parts of this story that make you laugh and cringe at the same time. I felt mixed emotions for the characters – you know it’s a good book when you have that sort of emotional reaction!!!
-Annie

I am oh so happy to have read this book! I read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and really didn’t like it, I just didn’t get the appeal of it. After having read that I thought that Mr. Ness and his books had no place in my life, this book however, was beautiful. Adam Thorn is one of the most interesting male characters I’ve read in a long time, usually I find books with a male lead character to be tiresome as I like reading books with females as the centre but Adam was really quite charming… Oh and Linus was completely GORGE with his “dancer butt.” The parts dealing with the ghost really confused me, while they are beautifully written I found them to be a little too vague, I don’t really know how they connect to the story of Adam. For me the book has redeemed Patrick Ness as a storyteller, I just might try some of his other books now. A great story, beautifully told that is reminiscent of some of the great 80s teen movies. Shout out to my friend Annie for giving me the reading copy and suggesting we do a read-a-long… Fun fun fun!!!
-Bert

Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending us an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for our Honest Reviews.

Living on Hope Street by Demet Divaroren

A raw, confronting yet important story all Aussies should read…

Living on Hope Street is one confronting story that covers very intense issues that include alcohol fuelled domestic violence and hot topics like immigration and refugees and the hope that stems from breaking down barriers and stereotypes when people unite during challenging times.

We all love someone. We all fear something. Sometimes they live right next door – or even closer..

This story is written from various perspectives of different cultures and ages and each voice is distinguished. Kane will do everything he can to save his mother and little brother Sam from the violence of his father. Kane’s neighbour, Mrs Aslan will protect the boys no matter what – even though her own family is in pieces. Down the road, Ada wants a family she can count on, while she faces new questions about herself. Mr Bailey is afraid of the refugees next door and Gugulethu is just trying to make a life away from terror. This is a diverse neighhourhood where everyone comes from different cultures and different walks of live yet find peace, they need to discover what unites them.

Even with different characters, it was very easy to follow the story, it was quite the page turner.

I found this to be an important story that needed to be told because of the themes covered in this book. It was such a great insight into suburban life today even makes you realize everyone is fighting their own battle in some way. It’s very well written and I would recommend this to fans of Contemporary YA books.

Many thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review. Due for release: June 2017

-Annie

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde BLOG TOUR

TIME TO GET YOUR GEEK ON!!!

Three Friends – Two Love Stories – One Convention
-FUN FUN FUN!!!-

Wow, this book was a lot of fun to read! It was so entertaining from start to finish, I virtually smashed this book in about 2 days! I love reading stories that are set at what I call “geek conventions” as I am big fan of pop culture myself so I really get wrapped up in entertaining reads like this one that follows BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie who go to the SupaCon with expectations of an epic time but what they don’t expect is it will change their lives forever. I found it easy to place myself with the characters and following their journey in this book even though they switched from one character to another throughout the story. What I found unique and quite clever about this book was how the relationships between the characters were beautifully woven into the story and the strong representation of diversity within the characters. A fun, humorous story relating to strong friendships regardless of diversity and covers important themes through a positive story.


Here’s a quick Q&A with the talent behind “Queens of Geek” Jen Wilde!!

What kind of research was involved in writing Queens of Geek?
A lot! I spent hours and hours researching everything from lines at conventions to character stereotypes and tropes to avoid. I watched YouTube videos and read blogs and found twitter chats about writing different characters. I read up on autism and anxiety too, because even though I am autistic and anxious, my experiences are not the only experiences of it. I listened to what other writers and readers were saying about both harmful and positive representation and applied it to my work. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there for writers and I think I must have devoured it all, and still do. 

The book cover for Queens of Geek is GORGEOUS. How much of a say did you have in the final cover?Thank you! I’m obsessed with it! The designer came up with four amazing covers, and then Swoon Reads opened up voting so people could choose their favorite. This cover had my heart from the moment I saw it, so I was secretly hoping it would get the most votes, and it did!

Can you recommend a few LGBT YA novels you’re loving at the moment? 
Oh, it’s so hard to choose! I love Everything Leads to You, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, You Know Me Well, and Juliet Takes a Breath. I’ve also got When The Moon Was Ours, Tash Hearts Tolstoy, and Meg and Linus on my TBR.

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for approaching me to be part of this Blog Tour and for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie