Tag Archives: Australian Authors

Begin, End, Begin edited by Danielle Binks

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: Begin, End, Begin
Author: Danielle Binks, Amie Kaufman, Will Kostakis, Alice Pung, Michael Pryor, Melissa Keil, Ellie Marney, Lili Wilkinson, Gabrielle Tozer & Jaclyn Moriarty
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, Short story collections, Young adult
Dates read: 30th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: I couldn’t imagine what they’d think of Diamond Rose Fashions.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Bestsellers. Award-winners. Superstars. This anthology has them all.

With brilliantly entertaining short stories from beloved young adult authors Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson and Danielle Binks, this all-new collection will show the world eactly how much there is to love about Aussie YA.

Thoughts

This is a fantastic collection, one that I wish was around when I was finishing high school. It’s all about those moments on the cusp of adulthood when the world is stretched before you and you’re suddenly responsible for yourself. It’s kind of a huge, pivotal point in someone’s life, so a collection on this was completely fantastic. And although I’m not exactly that young anymore, this was still a great journey that reminded me of the decisions we make in life.

I love that #LoveOzYA has come up with a collection of Aussie YA authors. This, and Kindred have introduced me to so many new and wonderful authors to fill my shelves with. Something that I’m always looking for. And the fact that they’re homegrown and often write about the areas that I’m more familiar with? It’s very, very much appreciated. I hope that they come out with a new collection soon!

I didn’t know any of the authors in this collection, other than Melissa Keil when I bought it. Now I have a handful of amazing new Australian authors to add to my wish list. Some that will challenge me, some to enthral, and some just to leave a giant smile on my face.

<- Competition Entry #349One Small Step… –>

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

Competition Entry #349 by Jaclyn Moriarty

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: Competition Entry #349
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, Young adult
Dates read: 26th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Well done, she said to me.

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Synopsis

It’s a competition to win five time travel trips of ten minutes each. Explain why you should win in 25 words or less…

Thoughts

This is an incredibly meandering and very funny short story. It honestly sounds exactly like a teenager refusing to get to the point and basically telling their life story. Actually, it reminded me a lot of my sister when she was a preteen… she’d start the story at a. Then take about a thousand detours and end up at 10. I was never entirely sure where we were going with a story, or what the point was, but it was always fun.

The format for Competition Entry #349 was completely unique. I have never read a story that is supposed to be a competition entry. It was kind of amazing how Moriarty managed to tell a whole story in a piece that was a competition entry. She got so much history and detail into just a few short pages. You also got to know the character very well in an incredibly short space of time.

Just thinking about this story, the day after I read it to write this review has left a huge smile on my face. It was so light, funny and just downright cute. I am completely intrigued to see if I can find anymore books / stories by Jaclyn Moriarty now…

<- Last Night at the Mount Solemn ObservatoryBegin, End, Begin ->

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory by Danielle Binks

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory
Author: Danielle Binks
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, Young adult
Dates read: 22nd November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Tonight is no different; Em’s legs are in Adelaide’s lap and she’s sitting up to talk to her, their faces so close together that Ravi has to lean round the back to hear, one hand on Em’s shoulder for balance.

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Synopsis

It’s her big brothers last night in town, and she doesn’t know when he’ll be back. Sometimes it’s important to say goodbye.

Thoughts

As an older sister, I’ve never considered what it was like for my younger sister when I left home. And I didn’t move that far away. This was a great story that actually made me stop and think about what that moment was like for her. I can’t imagine that it would have been easy, and I almost wish we had’ve done something special together in that last night that we lived together.

Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory sparked all kinds of nostalgia for me. It was a great ode to sibling relationships and the love you can feel for people. It was also a fantastic way to highlight the feeling of loss, but empowerment when you finally leave the place that you know is pulling you down. It’s most definitely a difficult feeling. But it’s also one that we must all go through.

Lastly, the thing that I probably loved most about this story was that it featured someone who has a disability. In the case of this tale, the older brother is deaf. I would personally love to learn Australian Sign Language and this was really a reminder why. It’s always great when a story, any kind of story, features somebody from a diverse background.

<- The Feeling From Over HereCompetition Entry #349 ->

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

The Feeling From Over Here by Gabrielle Tozer

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: The Feeling From Over Here
Author: Gabrielle Tozer
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, Young adult
Dates read: 18th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: That night he’d drafted a text, scribbled a letter, started Facebook message, but he didn’t follow through with any of them.

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Synopsis

Lucy Faris is stuck on a bus to Melbourne. Which would be bad enough, if it wasn’t for the fact that the boy she thought she liked, and then decided she hated didn’t just get on and sit down next to her…

Thoughts

This short story has an amazing pace to it. It’s not necessarily quick, and it’s most certainly not all that typical. But it worked. I love that each little segment was split into the time at which it happened. Sometimes large gaps of time, sometimes smaller. It was an absolute pleasure to proceed through this journey, one step at a time.

I love that Lucy is a completely kick ass year twelve. She has definitely got a bit of attitude, and plenty of gumption to herself. She’s fun and a little bit quirky. The messages that she is constantly sending to her friends just help to top off her great characterization. Then, flipping her point of view with Cam’s to show why he has acted in certain ways… well, it helped me to bond with both characters in a very short amount of time.

I imagine that a year from the ending of this story, Lucy and Cam totally got together. And had some kind of happily ever after. Because I’m a sap who totally believes in love stories.

<- Oona UndergroundLast Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory ->

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

Oona Underground by Lili Wilkinson

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: Oona Underground
Author: Lili Wilkinson
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, LGBTQI
Dates read: 14th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: I desperately want to know what Oona is thinking, how she feels about what happened.

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Synopsis

She’ll follow Oona anywhere. Including underground to the Witch’s Ball and the answers that they may or may not find there.

Thoughts

What a cute, adorable and beautiful love story. Two girls who are best friends and both want something more, journeying to a Witch to find out their fate. It’s a little teenager-y and in some moments, frustrating. But it’s also really well written and interesting. Plus, it’s incredibly sweet and left me with a happy, content smile on my lips after I turned the final page.

I honestly don’t know if I could love like the girl who follows Oona in this story. I mean, I feel like I would follow my SO anywhere, but I really can’t guarantee that that would be the case. And it’s a depth of faith and commitment that just seems unfathomable. A terrifying depth of faith and commitment that I just can’t quite fathom…

This whole short story felt very fae and dreamlike. It had this incredibly ethereal quality that left me drifting along with the words. Content and happy to experience Oona Underground.

<- Missing PersonsThe Feeling From Over Here ->

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

Missing Persons by Ellie Marney

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: Missing Persons
Author: Ellie Marney
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, Young adult
Dates read: 9th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘I don’t think you should – ‘

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Synopsis

Rachel is about to start high school in Melbourne, the Big Smoke, for the first time. It’s very different from the rolling plains and open spaces of her family’s farm. It’ll take a little bit of getting used to…

Thoughts

I can completely, totally, and utterly understand the feeling of not quite fitting into a city. That hatred of living in an area where you struggle to see the wide, open skies. I know it’s why I chose to live in the country as soon as I was able to realistically do so. Although, to be fair, my version of country is nowhere near as open as Rachel’s.

This is a typical fish-out-of-water story. But it’s also a great coming of age tale. After all, Rachel is not only trying to figure out how to fit in with a whole new, terrifying world, but she’s also a teenager who has a whole slew of other issues to contend with. And I love that the Mad Scientist, Mycroft, seems to be the main person who is likely to help her do so. He’s completely off kilter and odd. The perfect person to help you try to figure out your way in a new world.

Although Rachel feels like a “missing person” in this story and still hasn’t quite come to terms with her new life, there is still a ray of hope at the end. This feeling that things will all turn out for the best, and eventually Rachel will find her own place in this new world she’s been thrust into.

<- SundaysOona Underground ->

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

First Casualty by Michael Pryor

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: First Casualty
Author: Michael Pryor
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Space, Young adult
Dates read: 1st November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: We didn’t get a chance to answer.

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Synopsis

It’s a Space Gap Year. One that has some unexpected consequences and occurrences. But this will be amazing.

Thoughts

For starters, this short story is a great reminder to stop the “us versus them” crap. After all, it does nothing but damage everyone and everything involved. Something that we constantly need to be reminded of in my humble opinion. After all, we all have feelings, and that’s the important thing.

The space setting and Gap Year feeling throughout this story is fun. I never took a Gap Year, so the idea of one in space and the adventure that the lead characters go on… it was a lot of fun. There is so much future potential to this story! After all, their Gap Year is just beginning when this story ends.

Not only is this a fun little science fiction, coming-of-age story, but it’s also a wonderful story full of hints of romance. I love how Pryor is able to place out hints of the relationship that is developing, without bashing you over the head with it.

<- In a HeartbeatSundays ->

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

The Stone Mage and the Sea by Sean Williams

Overview
THE STONE MAGE AND THE SEA: First Book of the Change eBook: Williams, Sean:  Amazon.com.au: Kindle Store

Title: The Stone Mage and the Sea
Author: Sean Williams
Series: The Change #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Elements, Fantasy
Dates read: 29th – 31st October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Fantastica
Year: 2002
5th sentence, 74th page: “But my dad -“

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Synopsis

In a world…
where the huge, red-sanded deserts are ruled by Stone Mages and the vast coastlines by Sky Wardens, any child with magic ability is taken away to the Haunted City to be trained in the Change.

Fundelry is a small town much like any other in the Strand. The people have little tolerance for anyone who stands out, and Sal and his father are strangers, running from someone… or something. Sal is rescued from the local bully by Shilly and her teacher Lodo, a mysterious tattooed man who seems to know more about Sal than Sal himself. And, strangely, Sal’s father seems to want to stay put for a while.

But soon the Sky Wardens will come to Fundelry – before then Sal must uncover the connection between Lodo and the mother he never met, in order to escape a fate that seems to have been chosen for him before he was even born…

Thoughts

This has everything that a traditional fantasy novel should have. The fantasy novels that I grew up with and first introduced me to the genre had this same kind of amazing mystical feel to it. From the very first page, I was swept into Williams’ world and really, seriously didn’t want to leave. I could imagine this small town, the confused Sal and the immensity of the sea from the very beginning. Even now, when I close my eyes, I can picture it all in my mind’s eye.

The characters in this story are really strong and well thought out. Sometimes it can take me a little while to get attached to characters and find the rhythm of the story. Or, as the case may be, the world building that has constructed the story and characters. That’s not the case with The Stone Mage and the Sea. From that very first scene with Sal and his father driving into a town, you are there. Right in the moment. Pulled in, whether you like it or not.

Lodo is everything that a mysterious teacher should be. I’m hoping that he doesn’t just disappear off the face of the earth after this book. He is tattooed, enigmatic and completely impossible to predict. Partnered with his apprentice, Shilly, they are great duo that help to build Sal up and help him start on a new path in life. Which, considering how this novel ended, I think is incredibly and wonderfully important. Sal grows so much in this first novel, I can’t wait to see how he’ll grow in the next two novels.

The Stone Mage and the Sea is everything I haven’t realised I’ve been missing in fantasy novels. I have been reading a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal fantasy and all such. So picking up a novel that bought me back to the fantasy novels that first got me enthralled in the genre… well, I’m glad that I have the rest of the trilogy sitting on my shelves, ready to go.

<- More Sean WilliamsThe Sky Warden and the Sun ->

Image source: Amazon

In a Heartbeat by Alice Pung

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: In a Heartbeat
Author: Alice Pung
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, Young adult
Dates read: 20th October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘I’m going to vom,’ I croaked to Nancy, and she dashed me to the bathroom, and for the first time in this pregnancy, I had a big, long vomit and cry.

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Synopsis

She has two heartbeats, and a life that is about to change drastically. But it’s alright, because she has a plan.

Thoughts

I really liked this short story. It took all of about thirty seconds to realise that the narrator was talking to their unborn baby, which was good otherwise this would have made zero sense. Not only is it a great way to show the future mother’s love for her child, but it’s also a good way to sshow the change in thought processes that the future mother is going through.

This short story is all about that moment where you say goodbye to childhood and hello to reality / adulthood. It’s admittedly kind of intense since it does deal with teenage pregnancy. But I thought it was also ridiculously, wonderfully realistic. Particularly when you mix in the fact that this story is also about Asian immigrants and the cultural practices they carry with them. Or at least, that’s why I got out of this.

I had such a great time reading this story, and I could actually hear the narrator’s voice in my head. Her voice was laced with attitude, sarcasm, love and a little fear. It left me smiling and happy when I finished it and wondering if I should find myself some more Alice Pung stories to fill my shelves…

<- I Can See the EndingFirst Casualty ->

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

Bluebird by Malcolm Knox

Overview
Bluebird - Malcolm Knox - 9781760877422 - Allen & Unwin - Australia

Title: Bluebird
Author: Malcolm Knox
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary
Dates read: 9th – 18th September 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: Sam let this pass, out of respect for the awkwardness of Gordon’s situation or because he saw a wave.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

A stunning new novel about longing, regret, redemption and the terrible legacy of decades of secrets buried in an Australian beachside suburb.

A house perched impossibly on a cliff overlooking the stunning, iconic Bluebird Beach. Prime real estate, yet somehow not real estate at all, The Lodge is, like those who live in it, falling apart.

Gordon Grimes has become the accidental keeper of this last relic of an endangered world. He lives in The Lodge with his wife Kelly who is trying to leave him, their son Ben who will do anything to save him, his goddaughter Lou who is hiding from her own troubles, and Leonie, the family matriarch who has trapped them here for their own good.

But Gordon has no money and is running out of time to conserve his homeland. His love for this way of life will drive him, and everyone around him, to increasingly desperate risks. In the end, what will it cost them to hang onto their past?

Acclaimed writer Malcolm Knox has written a classic Australian novel about the myths that come to define families and communities, and the lies that uphold them. It’s about a certain kind of Australia that we all recognise, and a certain kind of Australian whose currency is running out. Change is coming to Bluebird, whether they like it or not. And the secrets they’ve been keeping and the lies they’ve been telling can’t save them now.

Savage, funny, revelatory and brilliant, Bluebird exposes the hollowness of the stories told to glorify a dying culture and shows how those who seek to preserve these myths end up being crushed by them.

Thoughts

It took me a little while to truly get into this novel. To be honest, at first I didn’t think that I’d enjoy it all. I found the lead character, Gordon, a little difficult to feel sympathy for or bond with. But about two chapters in, that all changed. Somehow all of those little moments that made it difficult to feel bonded with Gordon suddenly became the very reasons why I wanted him to find his own happiness and bliss. It was completely unexpected and kind of exciting. Definitely a talented way to make you seriously feel for a character, whilst also highlighting all of their flaws (and who doesn’t love a flawed protagonist?)

Even though I did eventually feel somewhat attached to Gordon, he was still a fairly wishy washy and somewhat whinney feeling protagonist. Personally, I generally prefer my leads to have a bit of a backbone. And even though he does finally manage to do so, it’s still not the backbone that I would have liked to see. Yet, having said that. There is not a thing I would change about him – I feel like that’s a truly wonderful talent – creating a protagonist that I would normally kind of hate, and making me think that he was ultimately perfect.

The part of this story that I enjoyed the most was the constant familiarity throughout the story. There were so many scenes, moments and characters that felt like the people and places that I know in my everyday life. A small town that is stuck in its ways and impossible to forget. Difficult to let go of and hard to move on from? It was definitely the kind of story that plucked all of my nostalgic, Aussie heart strings. I’m not really sure how someone not from Australia would feel about all of this nostalgia, but I’ll certainly be recommending this to my overseas friends as well as my local friends!

This is a great and very intense story that focuses on the things we do for love – whether that’s staying or leaving. Keeping secrets or telling the truth. Love definitely governs all in this story, with a dash of secret keeping and the ties that bind us to family. It was intense and gorgeous. Definitely a book well worth reading!

<- More Malcolm KnoxMore Australian authors ->

Image source: Allen & Unwin