The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – Book Review

Natasha is fighting to keep her family from being deported from the US to Jamaica. Daniel is trying to figure out what his future should be, especially as his older brother who has always been the golden boy is now in disgrace. Their meeting and the day they spend revolving in each other’s orbits changes both of them.

I love this book. I loved the way it is written, sometimes from Natasha’s perspective, sometimes from Daniel’s, sometimes giving us interesting facts, sometimes telling someone else’s story. Oh, so good.

The Old Lie by Clare G Coleman – Book Review

What happens when your country has been colonised, your society has been decimated by the invaders, your culture destroyed, but then generations in, this new country is attacked? Do you fight with those who invaded your lands against the new evil? What if there’s no choice?

Coleman is magnificently clever in the way she uses science fiction to add a whole additional level to the stories of the invasion of Australia and the lives of our first nations people. Heartbreaking but also powerful. I’m definitely keeping an eye on her future novels!

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Celie lives in a small community somewhere in the deep south in the early 1900s. She’s abused by her father and then sent to be the wife of a widower with several children where she is further abused and treated like a servant. Her one ally was her sister, Nellie, who was torn from her and Celie doesn’t know where she is. But she survives, year after year, writing letters to God.

This is one of my favourite books. Celie’s journey is hard and long, and it takes her a long time to figure out who she is. But she survives despite all of the  hardships. I came to this book after loving the film as a teenager, and I’m so glad I was led to it, and to the work of Alice Walker.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

Grace lives on the edge of a forest which has wolves – wolves who tried to kills her as a child. But she’s fascinated by them… and by one in particular. As she learns about the wolves, wolves who are human when it’s warm and wolves when it’s cold, she learns about her own past and the possibilities for her future.

This is not a book for me. It’s fantasy romance, but very pining and brooding. If you like Twilight, this is absolutely a book for you.

See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Violence by Jess Hill – Book Review

With around a woman each week in Australia being killed by a partner or ex-partner, it’s impossible to deny that there’s an issue in this country with domestic abuse. How to tackle it? The first thing is to be educated about it, and this is an excellent book to start. It’s a hard read, of course, especially the anecdotes, but so very important. I think it would be good for every politician to read this, and then anyone who advises them, anyone who works in care, in education, in health… well, really, everyone. We need change.

See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Violence won the Stella Prize in 2020.

Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr – Book Review

Erin is in Year 12 and is looking forward to finishing school and heading to Schoolies to celebrate because that is what you do. However, in her letters to her brother, her truths start to be revealed.

This is an own-voices book, and we need a lot more of these. What we see is Erin, who is autistic, as a central character, not a peripheral character, and she is written by Kerr, who is also autistic. What does that mean? Well, for this book, it means that this is not a book about autism, it’s a book about teenage life with a main character who is autistic. It’s funny and, at times, heartbreaking, and beautiful and I totally loved it. I’m keeping Kerr on my radar for future books.

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Amy lives in the suburbs with her husband, step-daughter and baby, happy in the security of family and friends. But when a new neighbour joins the book club and starts to mess with the order of things, Amy starts to worry that her past may be coming back to haunt her.

I quite enjoyed this as a quick, exciting read. Amy is a bit of an unknown character, and it could probably have benefitted from a lot less fatphobia, but there are some thrilling, exciting scenes.

Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans – Book Review

Babs is made of fire and sometimes goes invisible and Iris grew from a seed and is made of plants, and they become friends, then meet the boy who hasn’t found his name yet. They go searching for the witch who cursed Babs and are helped and hindered by faeries and other mystical creatures.

I both loved and hated this book. I loved that it is about growing up queer and trying to figure out what that means and how the world around you can support and challenge this. And I kind of liked the strange fairy tale nature of the world. But I found it really confusing at times because I struggled with whose story was being told, and the mix between fantasy and reality was unclear at times. I absolutely loved passages and elements, and those are the parts I’ll hold on to.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi – Book Review

Continuing from Children of Blood and Bone, this book follows Zelie and Amari as they try to find a way to keep the magic they battled to bring back and find a way to lead the country. But some things they thought they knew turn out to be untrue and they find it increasingly difficult to know who to trust.

I read the first book over a year ago, and I really struggled to get back into this world. I feel like there was a lot of assumed knowledge which I’d forgotten, and it made it hard for me to follow the plot. I persisted, and it was an exciting story with some pretty awesome battles, but I didn’t necessarily buy into some of the choices made, or perhaps more particularly, the reasons for these choices.

I believe there is a third book to come, and I would be suggesting to those interested to either hold off until all three are published, or to be prepared to do a re-read to get back into the world. Or have a better memory than mine… I can’t help that, I’m afraid!

A Mad Zombie Party by Gena Showalter – Book Review

This is the fourth in the Alice in Zombieland series, the books set in a world where : zombies are creatures who can only be seen by a select few, the slayers; slayers can push their spirit out of their bodies to fight and kill the zombies; there is an evil organisation intent on harnessing the zombies for their own evil purposes and also are trying to kill a heap of the slayers. Also, they are action-romance books.

The first books focussed on Ali (as in Alice in Zombieland), but this book is focussing on Frosty, one of the male slayers whose girlfriend, Kat (also best mate of Ali) has died and now visits him as a kind of ghost… a witness. Ali had a vision that Camilla, another slayer whose actions caused Kat’s death, is going to save Frosty’s life. Confused? It’s definitely worth reading the first three books before this to get the feel of the world and the characters. It’s been some time since I read this and Showalter is great at reminding the reader what came before, so it took me no time to get back into this world.

I don’t love the type of flirting that happens in the book, nor the text messages (though it’s no surprise to many that I write messages with full grammar, so text talk drives me a bit nuts), but I like the characters, and I like me a bit of zombie fighting action. Good fun fantasy romance.