Friday 17 May 2024

The Cave Book Review


Book Review

The Cave by Victor Kelleher 
Eagle Books
ISBN: 9790645378863 
RRP $19.99

After a disastrous encounter with the Beast, Irian and Ulana find themselves fighting for survival in a prehistoric world. Along the way they meet an unusual woman, Trug. The three form an unlikely team as they fight to survive every day against the elements, and ferocious prey that hunt them.

As the three characters continue their journey, we meet new characters who are just as important to the storyline. Pivotal in fact, so that Irian, Ulana and even Trug can find their way in the harsh world in which they live. The journey each makes takes them on a path to a new world, a new existence, and new future.

Kelleher creates a prehistoric world in a way that is both familiar and unfathomable. He leads the characters on a journey where the descriptive writing is detailed enough that the reader can easily imagine being on the journey with them. The characters he has created are so unique, so individual and so enjoyable that they will each stay with the reader long after the final page has been read. Trug is like the grumpy grandma that everyone loves, even with her spiky comments. A perfect addition of wise and witty to young and serious personalities.

There are some topical, as well as hard-hitting themes within this novel that could be unpacked with the right target audience. Trauma and grief is one such heavy theme that could easily be discussed through Kelleher’s sensitive approach to writing Irian. Another discussion could be around kin verse community: what really makes a family? This could be discussed at length with many examples offered throughout the novel.

This book has a great blend of action, adventure, tension, and humour. The Cave is suitable for a 12+ year readership.

Monday 13 May 2024

Deep Is The Fen Book Review

Book Review

Deep Is the Fen by Lili Wilkinson
Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781761066863 
RRP $24.99

Merriweather Morgan is happy living in Candlecott with her Da and two best friends, Teddy and Sol. That is until Teddy decides he wants to join a secret society of Toadman. Merry will do everything in her power to stop him, even if that means joining forces with her academic nemesis, the arrogant snob, Caraway Boswell. But what seems a simple agreement to help each other soon turns into a life and death battle of higher powers for everyone she loves.

Merry is a feisty, smart, independent, and determined girl on the cusp of adulthood with a university scholarship to look forward to. She lives in a world where magical powers are illegal, except for a few pre-approved spells. So, with a gift like Merry’s that allows her to read the mettle (life being) of others, she must be careful.

Caraway comes from wealth, prestige and a world far removed from Merry’s. Yet she finds herself drawn further and further into his world. One that becomes darker and more dangerous the deeper she goes. In his world she must determine truth from lies, magic from reality, loyalty from deception and love from lust.

Wilkinson’s ability to build a world of magical realism is extraordinary. She weaves a completely new language into a world of supernatural lives and traditions, but one that is easy to follow and understand. Wilkinson also provides the description of the characters, surrounds and events with such detail, it is easy to imagine Merry’s world of ancient Toadmen, mystical Deeping Fen and the glamours used to disguise the real world and what unfolds in it. The world building in this novel is exquisite!

This novel has themes of family, friendship, loss, loyalty, humour, romance, and magical realism that complement each one completely. The story will be devoured in its entirety because once you start reading, you will not stop until the final and dramatic conclusion. Deep Is the Fen is suitable for a 13+ years readership.


Friday 3 May 2024

Outlaw Girls Book Review


Book Review

Outlaw Girls by Emily Gale & Nova Weetman 
Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 978192279023 
RRP $16.99

Ruby and Kate live two very different lives over140 years apart. One day Kate finds herself transported through time from 1878 to 2022 where she meets Ruby. Before long the two girls find themselves on the ride of their lives with only one outcome for certain. Neither belong in the other girl’s world, especially when the history books have already been written.

Ruby lives with her mum in 2022 who is busy working to make ends meet. Her friends are fun, but don’t always make great choices which leads to Ruby being in trouble regularly. After one particularly bad choice she finds herself sent to her uncle’s farm which has one bonus. She gets to ride the beautiful horse, Queenie.

In 1878 Kate lives with her family who are known relatives of the Kelly gang. In fact, the infamous Ned Kelly is her brother. He’s on the run and it is her job to elude police and safely drop off food to him. This suits Kate because it means she gets to ride her horse, Oliver.

When the two worlds collide, the action is non-stop as Ruby becomes part of the Kelly family. With just the right number of historical facts sprinkled into this time slip tale, Outlaw Girls gallops along keeping the pages turning with fun, humour, and adventure.

Gale and Weetman’s writing styles are so seamless, so in sync, it is difficult to believe it was not just one person who wrote this book. The story includes brilliant horse-riding skills and with attention to detail about the setting in the high country, the reader can easily imagine being in the saddle with Ruby and Kate.

This book is such a great Aussie read and even though most will know the history of Ned Kelly, few will know about his brave and fearless younger sister Kate Kelly, until now. Outlaw Girls is suitable for a 10+ years readership.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Smoke and Mirrors Book Review

Book Review

Smoke and Mirrors by Barry Jonsberg 
Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781761180750 
RRP $19.99

Unlike most teenagers, Grace only cares about two things, and they don’t include social media and friends. Grace lives for magic tricks and her grandmother. A repertoire of magic tricks she can master, but her cantankerous yet charming grandmother is a whole other act.

Grace lives with her alcoholic mother and avoids any kind of relationship with her at all costs. Instead, she visits her grandmother whose unpleasant and forthright attitude is almost as predictable to Grace as it is startling. Gran’s character is a ripper! There are many laugh out loud moments with Gran’s quick retorts and embellished truths. Jonsberg has created such a fabulous portrayal of this feisty, rude but loveable woman that this reader would happily visit and enjoy a cup of tea with a wagon wheel with Gran anytime.

Grace’s magician career begins to take off with the help of a patient and purely platonic friend called Simon. He invests in Grace’s career and stands by her even when she repeatedly lets him down. Grace’s career of performing magic tricks begins to disappear as she grapples with the terminal illness diagnosis given to Gran. However, she is saving the best trick for last.

This book deals with terminal illness and tough conversations in a manner that is considered, open, heartfelt and at times, light-hearted- “May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.” It also addresses family trauma through the tragic loss of Grace’s father many years before. A driving force for Grace’s self-imposed isolation and trust issues.

This book is such an entertaining read. The hardest part will be putting it down once you begin. Smoke and Mirrors is suitable for a 14+ readership.

Monday 8 January 2024

Buzz Words Reviewer

Buzz Words Reviewer!

Thrilled to have just joined the Buzz Words review team! Looking forward to discovering new authors and great reads. ❤️📚

Friday 1 December 2023

Exciting New Contract Deal

New Contract!

On the first day of Christmas, Wombat Books gave me more …
a book deal for twenty twenty-four! 

Thrilled to share the news that my FOURTH book will be published by the fabulous team at Wombat Books

This will be my first middle grade fiction inspired by some very intriguing folklore about the seaside town of Queenscliff, Victoria.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Summer Change Launched!

 Summer Change Launched at the Leopold library!

A few pictures from the wonderful launch of Summer Change! Thank you to Geelong Regional Libraries (Leopold library) for hosting.

A special shout out to Sarah Cole Books for doing the Q&A and a huge thanks all those who sent messages or came along for the event. I was blown away by the support from all the corners of my world. Thank you!

Last but not least, thank you to my publisher Wombat Books Rhiza Edge and editor Rochelle Stephens for believing in this story enough to publish it.