Upside Down by N. R. Walker

Published: 21st March 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Blueheart Press
Pages: 258
Format: ebook
Genre: Contemporary romance
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Jordan O’Neill isn’t a fan of labels, considering he has a few. Gay, geek, a librarian, socially awkward, a nervous rambler, an introvert, an outsider. The last thing he needs is one more. But when he realises adding the label ‘asexual’ might explain a lot, it turns his world upside down.

Hennessy Lang moved to Surry Hills after splitting with his boyfriend. His being asexual had seen the end of a lot of his romances, but he’s determined to stay true to himself. Leaving his North Shore support group behind, he starts his own in Surry Hills, where he meets first-time-attendee Jordan.

A little bewildered and scared, but completely adorable, Hennessy is struck by this guy who’s trying to find where he belongs. Maybe Hennessy can convince Jordan that his world hasn’t been turned upside down at all, but maybe it’s now—for the first time in his life—the right way up.

There is a certain delightful charm about this book. It is slightly rough around the edges in terms of style and story but it has heart. There are unique and diverse characters and Walker has managed to show the joy of friendship groups and the adventures of people in their mid-twenties: able to enjoy the freedom of being an adult while allowed to still be young and not have any major responsibilities.

Walker has captured the two differences voices perfectly. Jordon is very excitable but this has its charm at times. You can see Jordan’s mind working a mile a minute and his talkative nature is juxtaposed against Hennessy’s subdued, calmer nature. This may not be the full asexual story that people are looking for, but it does show the actions and mindset of a man trying to work out where he fits in the world. It is also a great introduction to this type of relationship and life that people may be unfamiliar with.

Jordon is definitely someone I think is an acquired taste. He swears a lot, he rambles and is very talkative but this is the character choice Walker has made and it brings some uniqueness to the character. One that also helps understand why he is so reluctant for this added development. Hennessy is the opposite and seeing the two of them together can be quite sweet because Hennessy doesn’t see Jordon’s personality as a flaw.

There are a few dialogue bumps and it isn’t always the most perfect writing but the story comes from a strong start and seeing the boys get to know one another and grow is actually quite endearing. Seeing them get flustered around each other in their own way is joyful and there are many adorable moments of the boys being adorable together. If you know the Surry Hills area there are great Australian references and locations as well.

Sometimes in an effort to cover the fact there is no offer of sex or sexual attraction there are a few misunderstandings that aren’t actual misunderstandings which I think Walker is trying to add some drama where communication would have solved all of the problems. There is admittedly a cheesiness to the story but it is sweet and if you don’t mind slightly sappy, daggy boys and their enthusiastic friends.

The things I loved though was the complexity of the relationship and identity. Seeing Jordon trying to work out who he is and where he fits is wonderful once you get further into the story. There are light hearted moments, cringy moments, but there are also complicated moments that show that trying to find out who you are can be tough and something that takes time and a lot of support.

You can purchase Upside Down via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

It’s a Long Way to the Shop by Heidi McKinnon

Published: 1st November 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Heidi McKinnon
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

They cant run, swim, fly or jump… so how will these two little rocks get to the shop? 
Find out in this hilarious tale of adventure and persistence, to reach a snack thats totally worth it.

There’s so much to love about this book. Not only are the two characters simply called Rock, but they are optimistic, hilarious, and practical.

McKinnon uses dialogue for the entire story but instead of using quotations and padding it out, she uses differentiating colours to show who is speaking. Pink rock and green rock work out the issues they have in trying to get to the shop and seeing their deliberations is an absolute delight. Pink rock is definitely the more optimistic, while green is the practical one of the two, but even so they manage to climb and float and fly their way to the shop.

There are puns and the simple humour is divine. McKinnon uses a washed out tone for the backgrounds but sticks with the green, grey colouring which makes the bright pink and green of the two rocks stand out.

I love the ending of this because it was exactly what I wanted and I had an absolute blast getting there. What is even better though is McKinnon takes it one extra step further and it becomes even more hilarious.

You can purchase It’s A Long Way to the Shop via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Amazon Aust

#LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge

Image result for loveozya logo

October has arrived which means I am starting a new reading challenge! If you’re not aware, Australia has its very own Young Adult book community which is celebrated through the hashtag #LoveOzYA. This October the #LoveOzYA team is running their very first Bingo Card, this is a chance to spread the love for Australian young adult books and maybe even tick off some more from your TBR pile.

I am so excited to get started on this challenge, not only to finally catch up on books I’ve had on my shelf for ages wanting to read, but getting to find some new stories and authors to fall in love with that I may not have discovered.

The bingo squares are truly epic. They have easy ones like 2019 releases, outback, contemporary etc, but there’s also awesome ones like wanderlust, 90s, Australian flora and fauna, and mental health. I cannot wait to see what books fall under these categories.

The rules are simple:

“Just like a normal game of bingo, you’re looking to get five squares in a row: horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. You can mark a square off whenever you read a book that matches the criteria in the square, so long as it’s considered an OzYA book. There’s a “free” space in the middle of the board to make it a little easier if you can’t find five books you’d like to read.”

The challenge runs from 1st October until the 31st October but this is a great challenge if you wanted to keep going after October and aim for more than a single line and fill the card by years end. You can download your own bingo sheet here.

If you are new to the Australian YA scene or not sure which books count, never fear, the team have created a handy spreadsheet containing some book recommendations to get you started. They have even included which categories they fall under to make it even easier for you to find the right books and there are over 100 titles already for you to choose from to aide your bingo journey.  Another great place to get started would be to look at the #LoveOzYA October new releases or the #LoveOzYA hashtag can connect you with some amazing books on all the social media platforms. Who knows, you may even find some new authors to fall in love with.

For more information about the #LoveOzYA team, the challenge, or awesome Aussie YA books follow the links below.

#LoveOzYA Website

#LoveOzYA Book Bingo

The One by Kaneana May

Published: 17th June 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins
Pages: 352
Format: ebook
Genre: Romance
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Fall in love like nobody’s watching…

On the wrong side of thirty, Bonnie Yates wants a happily ever after. Problem is, she keeps choosing the wrong guys. When an ex returns to town with a fiancée in tow, history and temptation collide. Unable to shake her inappropriate feelings Bonnie flees, becoming an unlikely contestant on popular dating show The One. Will she find what she’s looking for?

Working behind the scenes, Darcy Reed is a driven young producer, dealing with a tyrant of a boss. Despite being surrounded by love at work, her own love-life with long-term boyfriend Drew is floundering. Producing a flawless season is her best chance at a promotion. But with the unrelenting demands of the show, how will she save their relationship while making that shot?

Penelope Baker has relocated to a small seaside town to hide away with her secrets and nurse a broken heart. But with The One beaming across the nation’s televisions, she can’t seem to quite escape the life she left behind…

Before cameras roll on the final ceremony, all three women will discover just what they’re willing to do in pursuit of the one…

Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley

This a wonderful story about the different types of love and the unexpected ways you find someone. I loved the different characters and their journeys. Their voices were honest and while they certainly were foolish at times, there is a great human flaw to them. There’s a strange mix of predictability, but also the uncertainty that the story would go in that direction.

There are multiple character perspectives and May seamlessly transitions between them within the same chapter. I was never confused about who the focus was on and it shifted like a camera focus remarkably well. Bonnie is a great character because while she is hopeful and idealistic in her search for love, she is flawed as a result. I wouldn’t call her naïve, but she is idealistic maybe which then affects her actions.

Darcy was an interesting contrast because while I could see where her story was going, I enjoyed the journey we took to get there. May teases it out so that you have all the information and the history without any of the drama involved. I liked this method because it didn’t rely on the dramatics or the conflict, it made it real based on her story and experiences.

Penelope’s role is slightly smaller but I enjoyed her narrative. She brings a great mystery into this love story and following her secretive life allows for a lot of theories to swirl through your mind. The secondary characters were just as well developed as the key players and May knows when to bring a shift to character personalities which make you see them differently. It was amazing to see my own perspectives of them shift within a few key sentences and how the same actions could be reinterpreted.

There are a lot of different romantic relationships happening through this story and while some are inevitable, others are a nice mixture of complexity and realistic development. I really enjoyed all the different relationships and friendships May explores. I wasn’t expecting this story to have as much depth as it does. It isn’t as light-hearted as one would expected but that also doesn’t mean there isn’t wonderful romantic and heartfelt moments. For a book centred around a reality show about finding the love of your life, there is a great exploration of the different types of love and discovering which one works best for you. Even if you aren’t a fan of The Bachelor or those types of shows you will still love this behind the scenes look about what happens to those looking for love. A great read.

The expected publication for The One is 17th June 2019. You can pre-order via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson |  Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Thanks, Mum by Matt Cosgrove

Published: 1st April 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Scholastic Australia
Illustrator: Matt Cosgrove
Pages: 23
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Snuggling up for a bedtime story. Kissing a sore knee to make it better. Pushing the swing as high as the sky. 
There are a million different reasons to say… thanks, mum!

This Sunday is Mother’s Day here in Australia and to celebrate I am looking at Matt Cosgrove’s new book all about the wonderful things mum’s do for us.

What I love about this story is it goes a bit beyond the simple “I Love You Mum” kind of stories you see around Mother’s Day. I love this one because it is funny, relatable, and one that shows off just how much mum does for you all with humour, rhyme, and adorable illustrations. It is sweet without getting sappy and shows appreciation without being too serious.

In true Cosgrove style the illustrations are bright and colourful, with absolutely adorable characters. There is a mix of Australian and other animals and there is even a sneaky cameo of our friend Macca the Alpaca.

The story is lyrical with fantastic and creative rhymes and whether reading out loud or to yourself it’s hard not to get swept up in the melodic tone.

This is a must for all Macca and Cosgrove fans and it is an ideal book for everyone because it’s a great story and one that is easily read and appreciated every day of the year but especially around Mother’s Day.

You can purchase Thanks, Mum! via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon Aust

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