Havenfall by Sara Holland

“People can sniff out lies. If you can’t share the whole truth, share whatever little bit of it you can to get people on your side…”

A book that got me out of my reading slump!

Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds—each with its own magic. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic firsthand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.

But this summer, the impossible happens—a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer, Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie—no one can be trusted, and no one is safe…

Starting in the middle of Colorado, “Havenfall” is like the “inn” or “central station” connecting ancient realms however one day, a realm that was sealed off was reopened and the negotiated balance that once was has been called into question – it’s now up to one person, Maddie, to take a stand in her Uncle’s place. I enjoyed how this magical story is set in the real world, as though we are living in a parallel to the magical realms and “Havenfall” is an underground movement. The opening really lured me in, the setting is amazing and the world building was informative yet written in a pace that didn’t lose me as a reader. The characters were also quite interesting too, particularly our protagonist Maddie. I liked how she exhibits strength even when she is not 100% knowledgeable of what’s around her and she feels as thought the weight of the world is resting on her shoulders. Maddie is a likeable character and I admired the way she dealt with her predicament. She was very easy to follow and I enjoyed how she narrated this story.

This book also focused on the world building, the magical system and the mystery – not a lot of romance, which I have to admit, made a pleasant change. I loved the realms one can teleport through and how they interconnected with Havenfall and how a slight mishap such as leaving a door to a portal open when you shouldn’t have can lead to all hell breaking loose. The twists and turns throughout this story really held my attention. I can also see how readers may find this book cut short where there is plenty more to tell – I put this down to the fact that a sequel is coming.

A fast paced contemporary fantasy – I highly recommend to read it.

With many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.

Look out for the sequel: “Phoenix Flame” out March 2021.

 

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Release date: 7 July 2020
Publisher: Newsouth Books

Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.

I loved this book so much and feel very privileged to have read the ARC. There was so much depth, uncertainty, irrational feelings and sweet moments. All of the things that make up love in the real world. Love is terrifying and nobody is perfect which is why this book is extremely important. There were some heart breaking moments but the beautiful moments that followed helped me heal from what I previously read. Such a well rounded book, definitely a favourite of 2020 and I hope we see more of Oliver and Luc in the future.

With special thanks to Newsouth Books for an Advanced Reading Copy of this book.
-Tianna

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Two boys.. Two secrets..

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long

The writing style and characters in this book were both engaging. I found myself flying through the pages and getting lost in the story. It’s written in such a way that I deeply cared for many of the characters and cried a few times. The characters felt authentic and the story is full of heart.

Representation is important. I’m so happy to have read a book that is so rich and is a high quality YA novel.

-Amanda

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

Begin. End. Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology edited by Danielle Binks

Captivating, Diverse, Thoughtful and Witty!
This is the YA Event of 2017!!!

           Instagram: read3rz_revu

The authors who contributed to this great YA anthology:
Amie Kaufman, Will Kostakis, Alice Pung, Michael Pryor, Melissa Keil, Ellie Marney, Lili Wilkinson, Gabrielle Tozer, Danielle Binks and Jaclyn Moriarty.

My immediate thought after reading the anthology is that it’s possibly the most diverse anthology ever compiled. Well done Danielle Binks and the authors! This book is unmistakably Aussie, it contains captivating short stories that make your heart melt. This anthology does not shy away from real topics, it’s loads of fun to read and each story has a unique premise. Themes explored includes love, acceptance, family, politics and coming of age. This anthology covers all the glory of coming of age angst set in interesting settings like bus rides, space, Mars, time travel booths and even tunnels! I particularly enjoyed the relatable and concrete characters. You will find that some of the stories are written with the dry Aussie humour and wit, and some written with great thoughtfulness and consideration. I would love to see the stories become actual novels. This is a great read to get your hands on, it attests to why we love OZ YA novels! Each short story holds its own, with compelling writing and fantastic characters, it’s no doubt a great anthology.
– NJ

This YA Anthology is a brilliant compilation of short stories written by fantastic Aussie YA authors that make you laugh, cry, cringe even ponder on some of the issues that are raised each story. To be honest, it really is difficult to choose a favourite as every story was fantastic in its own way – from the writing style, witty dialogue to even the plot or diverse themes represented. As this was an anthology, I decided to be different and not read this in chronological order. I read each story randomly and “tabbed off” each story until I finished (pictured below). I really enjoyed it as I would reward myself each night with a short story after work. It was easy to immerse myself in each one and also got closure at the end of each short story. Some stories I refused to read at night time (lol) some I could related to the character either due to personality or cultural background. This YA Anthology was such a great idea!! I really did love how unique and diverse the stories are and I highly recommend this to all YA fans.
-Annie

   this is how I ‘tabbed off’ each story

Many thanks to Harper Collins Publishers for sending us a review copies in exchange for our honest reviews.

#LoveOzYA