#LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge

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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

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories edited by Michael Earp

Published: 1st June 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Walker Books Australia
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Genre: Anthology/ Young Adult
★   ★  ★  ★ – 4 Stars

I love the titles of Anthologies because it is fascinating to see how a theme or concept is explored through so many different voices and narrative styles. For this one, not only are there queer stories, but these stories embody everything that kindred means and stands for.

These stories are not about finding love, or coming out, they are about finding someone who is like you, who knows you and understands you, if there is romance in there, great. But there are many wonderful stories about kids finding another person who understands them, and someone who, whether they know it consciously or not, are supporting them.

Not all characters in this are teens, a couple characters are in their 30s that I can best estimate, others aren’t specified, but their stories are still valid. There are a range of genres and each author has put up a story that encapsulates the theme. Kindred can mean so many things and seeing how each writer has interpreted this is wonderful.

While these are queer stories, they are also #LoveOzYA as well which showcases the great talent our LGBTQIA YA authors have. There are household names and there are new talents I didn’t know and getting some new names added to my #LoveOzYA repertoire is always a bonus. Some of these stories found their own place with me and I particularly loved Waiting by Jen Wilde. I saw myself in that story and it is proof that these stories are for everyone to enjoy.

The range of genres and representation was incredible. There’s representation from so many different cultures and voices and shows why representation matters. The tone across the stories were so different, form light hearted to dystopian, with a few futuristic and fantastic thrown in. There are some tough subjects and harsh realities but I found it refreshing because these authors don’t shy away from the realities of the world but they also treat it with a powerful care and respect.

It was a great decision to include Benjamin Law’s story at the end because while it is a story, it also acts like an essay and it is a thought provoking one that (hopefully) makes people question the things that they may do or say around LGBTQIA people.

With any anthology I am always so in awe of how one theme could be interpreted by so many different genres and approaches. It is a fantastic reminder that no matter what circumstance, no matter what reality, there is a commonality between people and the emotions and desires are universal.

You can purchase Kindred: 12 #LoveOzYA Stories via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | Angus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Long Lost Review: Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology edited by Danielle Binks

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Published: 24th April 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
HarperCollins Australia
Pages: 322
Format: Paperback
Genre: Anthology/ Young Adult
★   ★  ★  ★  ★ – 5 Stars

With Anthology August underway I was fortunate to even have an anthology in my “read but not reviewed” pile. Begin, End, Begin is a fantastic example of Australia’s talent and YA capabilities. I loved all of these stories which is so rare with anthologies and I found some great new authors that I may never have discovered.

With a theme “Begin, End, Begin” there are so many ways it can be interpreted and I was astounded by the creativity of these authors. I think I loved almost every single one of these stories which is so rare with an anthology but with this calibre of talent who can really be surprised. I knew of, but had not read, a lot of these authors when this was first released and it was a great chance to see their writing style in small snippets, with a fabulous and engaging story. I still think about a lot of these stories two years later and is a testament to the quality and imagination of these writers. I’ve definitely read a lot more of their works since and it was a real benefit getting a chance to see their styles and fall in love with them first.

Some of my favourites would have to be ‘One Small Step’ by Amie Kaufman and ‘I Can See the Ending’ by Will Kostakis; both are amazing and certainly ones I have thought about often since. They aren’t the only great ones as there are some beautiful stories in here filled with heart and imagination.

There’s only ten contributors so there is a chance at a longer story from them all, but even so with a few short pages you are brought into these worlds or science fiction, contemporary, romance and diversity. If you are new to the #LoveOzYA phenomenon this is a fantastic way to get introduced to some great authors and see their talent in small, entertaining snippets.

Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

Published: March 23rd 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Penguin Australia
Pages: 314
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Frankie Vega is angry. Just ask the guy whose nose she broke. Or the cop investigating the burglary she witnessed, or her cheating ex-boyfriend or her aunt who’s tired of giving second chances…When a kid shows up claiming to be Frankie’s half brother, it opens the door to a past she doesn’t want to remember. And when that kid goes missing, the only person willing to help is a boy with stupidly blue eyes … and secrets of his own. Frankie’s search for the truth might change her life, or cost her everything. 

There’s so much to love about Frankie. Plozza’s story is filled with rawness, pain, heart warming moments, and soul crushing scenes. From its opening pages until the end we’re taken on an amazing journey, not a very long one time wise, or that grand in the scheme of things, but amazing none the less.

From the start you are invested in these characters and their lives. The ongoing mystery about what Steve Sparrow said to Frankie isn’t the only hook, nor is her newly discovered half brother. Her life with her aunt and her abandonment by her mother is a captivating and painful tale that connects in all the right places. Plozza makes you empathise so much with Frankie and what she deals with.

I’m not entirely sure if it’s healthy, but I got Frankie. I agreed with her philosophies and I admired her, even when she was doing wrong. Her determination is admirable and while your heart pounds and you personally feel the guilt when she disobeys her aunt, I loved her still. I love her attitude and her fierceness, plus her attempt to do the right thing in a world that hasn’t been that kind. Her love and respect for her aunt is beautiful and contrasted perfectly with her desire and urge to do things that aren’t always right. There is a definite emotional tug-of-war that never lets up.

There is a view that Frankie doesn’t accept the chances she’s given; she is provided so many chances to right her wrongs that she doesn’t take for one reason or another. But while it seems like she is her own worst enemy, seeing her decisions and thought process from her point of view, you forgive her. You understand her anger comes from a real place, something that can’t be fixed overnight. You see her desire to find her brother and do something when no one else seems to be. Her uncontrollable temper gets her into trouble and her attitude aggravates others, but seeing it through Frankie’s eyes makes it understandable. The fact that Frankie tries so hard to be good breaks your heart, and seeing her struggle and fight those helping her is torture.

Every single one of Plozza’s characters are divine. She has created such a diverse range of people all mixed up in this one story. They have their own stories to tell, they are cheeky and boorish, innocent and misguided. Their life stories can be sussed out in the simplest comment or in their silence. You fall in love with so many so easily and watching them make mistakes and have victories and turmoil is one of the best parts about reading this.

A lot of love must be focused on Aunt Vinnie, she is incredible. For all the conflict between the two you can tell she loves Frankie fiercely. She grounds her and scolds her but she loves her as well and there are some fabulous scenes that demonstrate that Aunt Vinnie has always been and will always be Frankie’s one defender. Against every crappy thing life has thrown Frankie’s way, Aunt Vinnie will be there.

Plozza tells this fantastic story with heart and style and humour that highlights truths and realities of an imperfect world and brings flawed people to life. It isn’t a story of heightened teen angst or drama, it’s real and it’s honest, and it’s a powerful story about the realities in life and the good and bad it contains. And it will crush your soul in the process. It’s brilliant.

You can purchase Frankie via the following

Booktopia | Amazon Aust

Book Depository | QBD

AmazonDymocks

Readings | Publisher

AWW16