Blog Tour: ‘Scars Like Wings’ by Erin Stewart

Title: Scars Like Wings
Author: Erin Stewart
Genre: Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 384 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Simon & Schuster on October 1st, 2019
RRP: $17.99 AUD (paperback)

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Everyone has scars. Some are just easier to see…

16-year-old Ava Gardener is heading back to school one year after a house fire left her severely disfigured. She’s used to the names, the stares, the discomfort, but there’s one name she hates most of all: Survivor. What do you call someone who didn’t mean to survive? Who sometimes wishes she hadn’t?

When she meets a fellow survivor named Piper at therapy, Ava begins to feel like she’s not facing the nightmare alone. Piper helps Ava reclaim the pieces of Ava Before the Fire, a normal girl who kissed boys and sang on stage. But Piper is fighting her own battle for survival, and when Ava almost loses her best friend, she must decide if the new normal she’s chasing has more to do with the girl in the glass—or the people by her side.

The beautiful, life-affirming debut from Erin Stewart that’s being called the YA answer to Wonder. Perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Nicola Yoon and John Green.

The first thing that you should know about this book is that you WILL need tissues. My eyes were perpetually brimming over with tears throughout and I don’t normally consider myself a watering pot! However the story itself isn’t morose and angst-ridden (thank goodness), it’s life-affirming, heartwarming and, as much as our protagonist would hate me saying this, inspirational. But the fact remains that seeing the world through Ava’s eyes in the aftermath of suffering horrific burns from the fire that killed her family is no walk in the park.

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Review – ‘Emmie and the Tudor King’

Title: Emmie and the Tudor King
Author: Natalie Murray
Genre: YA, Historical Fantasy
Word/Page Count: 304 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Literary Crush Publishing on June 11th, 2019
Available from: Dymocks | Book Depository

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

One moment, Emmie is writing her high school history paper; the next, she’s sitting with a gorgeous 16th century king who vacillates from kissing her to ordering her execution.

Able to travel back to her own time, but intensely drawn to King Nick and the mysterious death of his sister, Emmie finds herself solving the murder of a young princess and unraveling court secrets while trying to keep her head on her shoulders, literally.

With everything to lose, Emmie finds herself facing her biggest battle of all: How to cheat the path of history and keep her irresistible king, or lose him—and her heart—forever.

The elevator pitch for Emmie and the Tudor King is Doctor Who meets Outlander as it revolves around a modern day girl who finds herself back in the 16th century where she is embroiled in court intrigue, royal flirtations and thwarting an impending murder. This is a fun fast-paced YA historical novel that’s perfect wish fulfillment material for any reader who’s dreamed of a whirlwind romance with someone rich, powerful and fabulously attractive! ⁣

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ARC Review – ‘Becoming Dinah’ by Kit de Waal

Title: Becoming Dinah
Author:  Kit de Waal
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 288 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Hachette Australia on July 23rd, 2019
RRP: $16.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

A YA coming-of-age road trip novel about obsession, self-discovery, female power, and the people we meet along the way – by Costa Award shortlisted author Kit de Waal. The perfect read for anyone who’s ever wondered where they came from and where they might be going next.

In her first YA novel, Costa-shortlisted Kit de Waal responds to classic Moby Dick by tearing the power away from obsessive Captain Ahab and giving it to a teenage girl.

Dinah’s whole world is upside down, dead things and angry men and cuts all over her head that are beginning to sting….

Seventeen-year-old Dinah needs to leave her home, the weird commune where she grew up. She needs a whole new identity, starting with how she looks, starting with shaving off her hair, her ‘crowning glory’. She has to do it quickly, because she has to go now.

Dinah was going to go alone and hitch a ride down south. Except, she ends up being persuaded to illegally drive a VW campervan for hundreds of miles, accompanied by a grumpy man with one leg. This wasn’t the plan.

But while she’s driving, Dinah will be forced to confront everything that led her here, everything that will finally show her which direction to turn…

In her first YA novel, Costa-shortlisted author Kit de Waal responds to the classic Moby Dick with entirely new characters, a VW campervan, and by tearing the power away from obsessive Captain Ahab and giving it to a teenage girl who’s determined to find a new life, far away from her unconventional upbringing.

Becoming Dinah‘ is the first in the Bellatrix collection of YA books recently launched by Hachette Children’s Group which is focused on bringing attention to a diverse range of women’s stories written by leading female voices. Kit de Waal reimagines the classic 1851 novel ‘Moby Dick‘ by Herman Melville via our present-day society with the male sailor Ishmael going from a minor player in Captain Ahab’s quest for revenge to a young woman important in her own right at the center of her coming-of-age story.

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ARC Review – ‘Call It What You Want’ by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Call It What You Want
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 384 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Bloomsbury Australia on July 1st, 2019
RRP: $16.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

I adored Brigid Kemmerer’s YA fantasy novel, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, so I was happy to receive an early copy of her new contemporary for review. I had a bit of anxiety hoping that I would enjoy this genre from her as much as I had with fantasy, but that concern turned out to be completely unwarranted, this was a fabulous read!

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ARC Review & Blog Tour – ‘All That Impossible Space’ by Anna Morgan

Title: All That Impossible Space
Author: Anna Morgan
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 288 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Hachette Australia on June 25th, 2019
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Amelia Westlake meets My Favorite Murder in this debut from a terrific new voice in Australian YA. Combines a realistic story about high school drama and toxic friendship with true crime – the endlessly fascinating Somerton Man or Taman Shud mystery.

15-year-old Lara Laylor feels like supporting character in her own life. She’s Ashley’s best friend, she’s Hannah’s sister-she’s never just Lara.

When new history teacher Mr. Grant gives her an unusual assignment: investigating the mystery of the Somerton Man. Found dead in on an Adelaide beach in 1948, a half-smoked cigarette still in his mouth and the labels cut out of his clothes, the Somerton Man has intrigued people for years. Was he a spy? A criminal? Year 10 has plenty of mysteries of its own: boys, drama queen friends, and enigmatic new students. When they seem just as unsolvable as a 60-year-old cold case, Lara finds herself spending more and more time on the assignment. But Mr Grant himself may be the biggest mystery of all…

Interspersed with fictionalised snapshots of the Somerton Man investigation, All That Impossible Space is a coming of age novel exploring toxic friendships and the balance of power between teacher and student, perfect for fans of Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood.

My personal measure of a book’s quality is whether a) I read it in one sitting, or b) if it compelled me to stay up ridiculously late to finish reading it. All That Impossible Space achieved BOTH. I wouldn’t have started it at 9pm at night if I had any idea it would keep me up past midnight, but I have no regrets!

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ARC Review – ‘Keep This To Yourself’ by Tom Ryan

Title: Keep This To Yourself
Author: Tom Ryan
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Publication Date: May 21st, 2019
Word/Page Count: 320 pages (hardcover)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

It’s been a year since the Catalog Killer terrorized the sleepy seaside town of Camera Cove, killing four people before disappearing without a trace.

Like everyone else in town, eighteen-year-old Mac Bell is trying to put that horrible summer behind him—easier said than done since Mac’s best friend Connor was the murderer’s final victim. But when he finds a cryptic message from Connor, he’s drawn back into the search for the killer—who might not have been a random drifter after all. Now nobody—friends, neighbors, or even the sexy stranger with his own connection to the case—is beyond suspicion. Sensing that someone is following his every move, Mac struggles to come to terms with his true feelings towards Connor while scrambling to uncover the truth.

I had such a good time reading this! I found it really engaging and raced through it, completely hooked by the twists and turns, and legitimately shocked and impressed by the end. YA mysteries can be hit-and-miss, but I thought this was very satisfying and tightly plotted.

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Book Review – ‘Watch Us Rise’ by Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan

Title: Watch Us Rise
Authors: Renee Watson, Ellen Hagan
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 368 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Bloomsbury Australia on March 4th, 2019
RRP: $15.99 AUD

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women’s Rights Club. They post everything online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine’s response to the racial macroaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral. But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by online trolls. When things escalate, the principal shuts the club down. Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices—and those of other young women—to be heard.

Watch Us Rise has two protagonists who narrate in alternating chapters – there’s Jasmine, a plus-size black girl who is an actress and writer, and her best friend Chelsea, who is an average-size Caucasian girl that writes poetry. Their other two best friends are Nadine, a Japanese Lebanese singer, and Isaac, a Puerto Rican artist.

First of all, massive props to this book for its commitment to diversity and representation, because this is more true to life than books that focus on predominantly white casts. I also really appreciate its dedication to female friendship and the way that Jasmine and Chelsea constantly support and raise each other up throughout the story. Sometimes this would be a set-up for them to have a falling out, followed by a period of bitterness before the reconciliation, but thankfully Watch Us Rise was more interested in the girls being there for each other, which was fantastic. Plus it was great to see Isaac as a feminist ally instead of excluding boys from the narrative altogether, and that he had interactions with both the main girls, instead of just his crush, which made the friendship dynamics more real and lived-in.

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ARC Review – ‘All The Invisible Things’ by Orlagh Collins

Title: All The Invisible Things
Author: Orlagh Collins
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Publication Details: by Bloomsbury Australia on 7th March, 2019
Word/Page Count: 320 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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A warm, witty, important story about being a young woman today, and what it’s like to find a real connection amid all the noise. Perfect for fans of Holly Bourne and Laura Steven’s The Exact Opposite of Okay.

Vetty’s family is moving back to London, and all she can think about is seeing Pez again. They were inseparable when they were small – roaming the city in the long summers, sharing everything. But everyone’s telling her it’ll be different now. After all, a boy and a girl can’t really be friends without feelings getting in the way, can they?

Vetty thinks differently … until Pez tells her she’s ‘not like other girls’. But what does that even mean? Is it a good thing or not? Suddenly she’s wondering whether she wants him to see her like the others – like the ultra-glamorous March, who’s worked some sort of spell on Pez, or the girls in the videos that Pez has hidden on his laptop.

How can she measure up to them? And who says that’s what a girl is supposed to be like anyway?

I really appreciate the themes running through this novel and I think it’s going to resonate with a lot of readers because of the focus on being true to oneself, finding out who you are to begin with, navigating the complex maze of teenage relationships as well as forging new friendships and trying to maintain old ones. These are universal experiences and Vetty’s journey is very relatable as a result, even if you haven’t faced exactly the same set of circumstances.

From the blurb, I made the assumption that the central romance would focus on Vetty and Pez, and I’m so glad that it wasn’t as cliche and obvious as that! Instead Vetty explores a relationship with one of Pez’s friends plus develops a crush on another girl in their group, which throws a spanner in the works! I feel like this is going to be such an important book for bisexual teens in real life because Vetty’s insecurity over her ‘greedy heart’, fretting over whether her peers can tell and agonizing over how to come out (including an aborted attempt with a well-meaning lesbian aunt who inadvertently stifles Vetty) will offer a lot of validation and comfort.

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ARC Review – ‘A Danger To Herself And Others’ by Alyssa Sheinmel

Title: A Danger To Herself And Others
Author: Alyssa Sheinmel
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Publication Details: by Hachette Australia on 12th February, 2019
Word/Page Count: 352 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape… 

Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there’s been a mistake. She didn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.

Well, this didn’t last long on my February TBR, I ended up devouring this overnight in one sitting! I had a feeling from the blurb that this book would feature an unreliable narrator and it looked like a suspenseful read – boy, did it deliver! I found myself so engrossed in the drama and intrigue that I couldn’t put it down until I reached the end!

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Book Review – ‘What You Hide’ by Natalie D Richards

Title: What You Hide
Author: Natalie D Richards
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Date of Publication: 4th December, 2018
Word/Page Count: 384 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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A new pulse-pounding romantic thriller from the author of We All Fall Down and Six Months Later

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service, but he likes his work. Especially if it means getting to see Mallory.

Mallory spends a lot of time keeping her head down. When you’re sixteen and homeless, nothing matters more than being anonymous. But Spencer’s charm makes her want to be noticed.

Then sinister things start happening at the library. Mysterious symbols and terrifying warnings begin to appear, and management grows suspicious. Spencer and Mallory know a homeless teenager makes an easy target, and if they can’t find the real culprit soon, they could lose more than just their safe haven…

Well. This is awkward. I had a whole post planned about the issues of marketing a book correctly and outlining what this book SHOULD be promoted under, but when I went to link up to Goodreads, it appears that’s been updated! So, kudos to the publishing team for clarifying the synopsis and genre category for the public, it’s just unfortunate that my reading experience was rather different. I realize things are subject to change in the publication process, so I genuinely appreciate that the publisher obviously took feedback on board and made some changes because going in with a particular set of expectations and being met with something different is usually going to disappoint.

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