Review: AVERY Wolf Rage Book 1 by A.M MARTIN

“My gaze stays out the window, “I was happy. So, happy.” A small smile forms on my face, “So full of life. When I came home that day. I cracked into a million pieces. Mind. Body. Soul.” 

After witnessing the aftermath of her father’s gruesome murder, fifteen-year-old Avery was forever changed. Her inner sight once dormant, swelled like a cresting wave, sending her into a tailspin and eventually landing her in the care of a psychiatric institution. “Cured” and released from Green Brier two years later, she finds herself in her uncle’s custody. Only then does she begin to question her diagnosis and discover what she dismissed as madness may be something else entirely.
Dark, broody Kayden has become reckless with the Rage constantly snapping at his heels. His only goal is to find an Empath to form the em-bond or risk being stuck in the Rage. A wild animal forevermore.
After a five-year, long war against his Mother’s Empath. Dean disbanded the Court of Wolves and let the Rage consume him centuries ago. The only thing he’s ever known is to hunt, run and sleep. That was till he smelled winter in summer. Till Avery.
Three different people. Three different lives. What happens when they meet?
Their world explodes.

giphy4

This story is unique and engaging, though in need of a good editor.

We are introduced to Avery briefly as she returns to her out of the way family home that she shares with her father. On returning home she is presented with her father’s dead body, blood all around, and she breaks. Her mind snaps and she awakens in a mental hospital many months later. The story then jumps to two years later and she is being released to her uncle. I would have loved to see how her transformation while in the hospital developed. We are told she learned to block her emotions, her feelings. But we are robbed of the how. This is a huge aspect of who the character is and without this I was left feeling disconnected from Avery as she entered her new world with the family she hardly remembers.

giphy5

A multi POV novel, this story is not only told from the POV of Avery the MC, but also Kayden the main love interest and then later Dean briefly, also a love interest. I am not usually a fan of multi POV, but am finding it being used more and more. When done well, the reader follows the story easily, and in the last third of the book, Martin achieves a smooth transition. However early on she doubles up on the content, showing us Avery as she goes through a situation only to then show us Kayden as he saw it. This is not needed or wanted by the reader. As an author, know which side is more important to tell and then when the other POV takes over have it be because what they are now seeing/feeling/doing is more important.

The other issue I have is a narrator. If you have your MC and secondary characters telling us the story in first person, it is then very disconnecting to have a third person omnipresent narration of what they are doing mixed in with the story.

The main plot and characters develop beautifully over the course of the book and by the last third I was very much invested in the story as the characters and conflicts built. However I was left wanting at the end. The story doesn’t resolve any of the conflicts and leaves you with more questions than answers.

***Spoiler alert***

I thought the story would sort of follow like this; finding her father dead, losing her mind and her emotions, discovering her wolf/empath heritage, opening herself to feeling again, uncovering the truth of who she is and ultimately who killed her father. But no, she is left still unsure of herself, and mated to two wolves at fifteen. She doesn’t know who killed her father and at the end of the book it is like she doesn’t even care who did. She has let it go apparently. So the event that sparked her mind break and was the reason for everything is now not important at all?

giphy6

I know it might sound harsh, but this story could be so much more than it is if it had the help of a good editor who could have pointed out these plot holes and general structure issues.

With readers having TBR lists as long as our arms, having spelling and grammar issues in a book can and will usually prevent them from picking up anything else from that author as it makes the story a struggle to read. I do not know if I will be reading book two, unless it has had the eyes of an editor before release.

giphy7

Overall I give it 3 stars. It is a fantastic idea. I love the connections between the characters and the path the story could take. Losing one and a half stars for the spelling, grammar, and structure issues. And another half star off for the cover. Though not horrible, I actually really like the placement of the moon, the girl and the grass. But the tag line is hard to read and isn’t really a ‘grab you’ kind of line. The shadow around the girl is weird – if the moon is lighting her from the back and side, then there would be no shadow behind her.

3-stars

I think Martin could develop this into a fantastic series, given the right support team and a good editor by her side. I look forward to seeing what she offers us in the future as she develops her craft.

 

 

 

 

Review: Drafted, Homeworld Trilogy Book One by Holly Hook

Five hundred years in the future, the Earth is dying, overrun with pollution that the Great Council refuses to stop. 16-year-old Tess is a proud Earther who wants to save the planet, but the government says that shipping all humans to Mars must happen for humankind to survive. Tess fears the day she gets drafted because no one ever hears back from the Red Planet.

When Tess’s turn comes to board a one-way ship, she discovers a horrible truth: an alien race has taken over the government and wants Earth for themselves. But Tess’s horror has only begun. The settlements on Mars are harsh, where colonists struggle to survive. All Tess wants is to get back to her rightful home, but by running into Matthew, a fellow colonist with some secrets of his own, she gets wrapped up in a dangerous plan to do so: Mars must invade Earth. Tess has no choice but to face war, and perhaps even to question the identity she holds dear.

This War of the Worlds retelling offers readers a unique and gripping story.

***Minimal Spoilers***

Tess is a likable ‘earther’ who prides herself on her status and her place with her parents in Woking park, one of the few green spaces left on earth. Tess is drafted, chased down and gassed, not exactly the school excursion she thought it would be. But after her escape, the betrayal of those closest to her send her into a spin and it is Matt who offers her stability and purpose, even if that purpose is to join a war.

giphy8

Holly Hook tells a fast paced story that shoots you almost immediately into the action and keeps pushing you forwards along with Tess and Matt as they reveal the truth of the Mars settlements and the plan to topple the alien power.

giphy12

 

As with many fiction stories the reader can be asking ‘why didn’t they just do this, or why wouldn’t they just do that? This is the problem with giving your characters powers or in the case of Drafted, weapons that could end the battle before there is even a war – It needs to be explained why they don’t use those at particular moments to save themselves, or even the world.

giphy10

The primary weapon used by Matt and Tess is a heat gun that kills the alien on contact but does nothing to humans, animals etc. So if you can develop this tech into a gun, and then into a larger cannon attached to a ‘walker’ (really cool tripod machines that are built by nanotechnology). Then why didn’t they create missiles that explode in the air and cover larger areas thus removing the world of the alien species in a few days at most? This was my only real question as I read Drafted. But it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of it.

Drafted is book one of a trilogy, and with book two being released mid November, I won’t have to wait long to find out what happens next in the Homeworld series. I am a fan of series and trilogies, however I believe that there needs to be a main story line that is resolved at the end of each book so that the reader is left satisfied but excited to continue the story. Drafted was left a little too open for my usual tastes, but because book two will be available so soon I am willing to overlook it. J

giphy11

I am a self-confessed cover snob – as you are all aware I usually base my purchases on the cover first, blurb second. Drafted is not a cover I would usually be drawn to, however you can grasp from the cover elements of the story and this is something I do like. I love more than just the pretty girl in a dress covers that seem to be overpopulating the market right now. They usually tell you nothing about the story you are about to read and for that reason I often avoid them.

4_stars5

Overall I give Drafted 4 stars and look forward to book two’s release on November 15th.

 

 

Review: Heartshire High by Charlotte Leonetti

Alice in Wonderland goes to a new high school…..

Heartshire High is a modern-day retelling of Alice in Wonderland, and debut novel by up-and-coming young author Charlotte Leonetti.

Heartshire High takes the reader through Celia’s move to a new town in her senior year, living with a less than caring dad, dealing with a new school and having to make new friends. While Celia is focused on just surviving her last school year, and counting down the days until graduation, Bunni befriends her and leads her into the woods, and into a world of drugs, parties, and death.

Once Celia discovers the mysterious death of Tim, she can’t help but dig into what happened. While the whole town tries to ignore what happened, Celia starts to ask questions which lead to her having even more questions. What really happened to Tim? Was it murder? Is somebody not telling the truth? Or is she prying into something she shouldn’t be?

I adore retellings. I love Alice in Wonderland. I really liked this book, but I would call it more a YA murder mystery, or even a YA crime novel. Sure there are some similarities to Alice in Wonderland, but they can be easily overlooked by someone not obsessed by the original story as the mystery of what really happened to the towns happy go lucky golden boy, Tim, unfolds.

giphy

Charlotte Leonetti does a fantastic job developing the story, and we are given just the right amount of insight into the supporting characters to care not just about Celia, the MC, but them as well. I felt like some of the story could have been further developed, in particular the interaction between Celia and her father. As a present but absent father you don’t expect much interaction, but developing the short spurts they did have would have helped when uncovering his betrayal as well.

giphy1

Betrayal is a common theme throughout the story, not just in relation to Celia’s plot, but to the surrounding plots as well. Not to give too much away, but it is a betrayal that Celia uncovers to be the real cause of Tim’s death. I actually did not pick the right person when reading this story and so was surprised to uncover the truth right along side Celia.

giphy2

The voice is clear and perfectly written for the YA audience – though being a teenager herself might have helped a little with that, Charlotte is only seventeen after all. This is a fantastic first novel by an up and coming author.

I loved the little notes made throughout the story by Celia in her journal, Weather, Song, mood, overheard. These were lovely insights into the MC’s head that helped me connect to her.

3-5-stars3

I rate Heartshire High 3.5 stars, taking away 1.5 stars for a few reasons. Firstly, there are some editing issues that should have been picked up by a professional editor. I know, I know, Charlotte is only seventeen, but if you are going to start your writing career, you want to do it as best you can. For example, changing the spelling of Celia’s dad’s girlfriend (Lorena and Lorina) should have been spotted by a proofreader.

Another small note which will not apply to future readers (they have been removed) is that there is a fair amount of song lyrics in this book. I did enjoy the inside these lyrics gave me into Celia’s state of mind, but research would tell you as an author, you cannot introduce lyrics lest they be in public domain. I quickly messaged the author’s mentor and this was rectified. It is a common mistake that people assume if you reference where something comes from then it is all okay. This is completely untrue. Make sure you can use what you want to before you hit publish.

The last little note is the cover. I am a cover snob. Really. I usually choose books based on the cover and expect them to tell me something about the story I am going to be reading. This book I would not have picked up in a shop or clicked on online. Nor would I have guessed any of the plot from it other than it is teen. This cover would suit a Heartbreak High kind of story, not the dark teen mystery that lays inside these pages.

giphy3

I really did enjoy Heartshire High and would recommend it to those wanting to read a quick and surprising teen mystery. I look forward to seeing what Charlotte publishes next, and will likely be one of the first to hit buy now.

 

 

Halloween Reads for Cowards

halloween-1746354_1920

Image via Pixabay

October means ghosts, ghouls and all things ghastly for those who enjoy Halloween. So this month on Aussie Owned and Read we thought we’d tackle the frightening and scary in all its different manifestations.

I confess, I’m not a fan of scary. I won’t be lining up to see the new remake of Stephen King’s IT. Ever. I’m more of a Ghostbusters kinda girl. You know, where the ghosts and ghouls are tempered down with quirk or humour (and a dose of Chris Hemsworth). So here’s a list of Halloween ‘horror’ novels for scaredy Kats like me:

  1. The Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher by Doug MacLeod (Penguin)

Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher Cover

Thomas Timewell is sixteen and a gentleman. When he meets a body-snatcher called Plenitude, his whole life changes. He is pursued by cutthroats, a gypsy with a meat cleaver, and even the Grim Reaper. More disturbing still, Thomas has to spend an evening with the worst novelist in the world.
A very black comedy set in England in 1828, The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher shows what terrible events can occur when you try to do the right thing. ‘Never a good idea,’ as Thomas’s mother would say.

I read this wacky Aussie historical when it was first published seven years ago. It’s got its share of the macabre but it’s not exactly scary. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as well as gross bits. Not one for the squeamish, but heaps of fun.

2. The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner (Allen & Unwin)

The Dead I Know Cover

You wake in the middle of the night, your arms and feet pinned by strong hands. As you thrash your way to consciousness, a calm voice says, ‘Steady. We’re here to help.’ Your mind registers a paramedic, a policeman, an ambulance. You are lying on the lookout at Keeper’s Point, the lookout Amanda Creen supposedly threw herself off. And you have absolutely no idea how you got there.

Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep. He has dreams he can’t explain, and memories he can’t recover. Death doesn’t scare him – his new job with a funeral director may even be his salvation. But if he doesn’t discover the truth about his hidden past soon, he may fall asleep one night and never wake up.

The Dead I Know is an intense psychological thriller, but it also fits a Halloween theme nicely because the protagonist Aaron works in a morgue. Interestingly, it’s not the dead people who he needs to be afraid of most.

  1. The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinx (Allen & Unwin)

The Reformed Vampire Support Group

Nina became a vampire in 1973 when she was fifteen, and she hasn’t aged a day since then. But she hasn’t had any fun either, because her life is so sickly and boring.

It becomes even worse when one of the other vampires in her therapy group is staked by a mysterious slayer. Threatened with extinction, she and her fellow vampires set out to hunt down the culprit. Trouble is, they soon find themselves up against some gun-toting werewolf traffickers who’ll stop at nothing.

Can a bunch of feeble couch potatoes win a fight like this? Is there more to being a vampire than meets the eye?

I love me a good vampire spoof and this book delivers. Not only does it provide a hilarious alternative addition to the vampire genre, it’s got romance and action to boot!

  1. Gap Year in Ghost Town (Allen & Unwin)

Gap Year in Ghost Town

The Marin family run a two-man operation in inner-city Melbourne. Anton has the ghost-sight, but his father does not. Theirs is a gentle approach to ghost hunting. Rani Cross, combat-skilled ghost hunter from the Company of the Righteous, is all about the slashing.

Anton and Rani don’t see eye to eye – but with a massive spike in violent ghost manifestations, they must find a way to work together.

And what with all the blindingly terrifying brushes with death, Anton must use his gap year to decide if he really wants in on the whole ghost-hunting biz . . .

I am yet to read this, but it looks PERFECT for horror-cowards like me. According to the publisher it’s smart, snappy and funny. And scary. It DOES say it’s scary. Still, the cover alone might be worth the risk.

What are some of your favourite scary – or not so scary – Halloween reads?

 


Kat Colmer AuthorKat Colmer is a Young Adult author and high-school teacher librarian who writes coming-of-age stories with humour and heart. She lives with her husband and two children in Sydney, Australia. Her debut YA The Third Kiss is out now with ENTANGLED TEEN and is definitely more swoony than scary. Learn more on her website, or come say hi on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 10.48.26 AM.png

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

 

I feel like I’m way behind the times, but this is the first time I’ve heard about Swoon Reads. It’s a pretty great concept, and if you’re an author looking to be published you should check it out.

Queens of Geek is told in alternating POVs. Charlie is a big-time vlogger turned movie star who is at SupaCon for the promo of her break-out movie The Rising. She’s openly bi, fierce, and trying to establish herself on an international level. Taylor is her BFF who’s tagged along to the convention in the hopes of meeting her fav author. She’s a full on fangirl, completely in love with their other best friend, Jaime, and is determined to get through the weekend without her anxiety holding her back.

This book is all kinds of sweet. The friendships are cute, the storyline is fun, and I love all things fandom which really helped moved the book along.

Charlie and Taylor were both completely separate and easily identifiable, their storylines were interesting and I had fun reading.

Taylor’s anxiety was another high point. It was well researched and I was able to relate to a lot of what Taylor went through from having social anxiety for a lot of my younger years. Every time Taylor stopped herself from doing something for fear of it drawing attention to her, I hugged the book a little tighter.

That said, after recently reading Geekerella, this book lacked the extra depth to make me fall in love. The writing was straightforward and easy to speed through, but I would have liked to see it go into further detail and really make me feel what the characters were feeling. Charlie’s relationship with big time vlogger Alyssa (who was a great character) fell short, and I wasn’t swept off my feet like I expect from a romance.

SupaCon was great, but the fandom aspect wasn’t well developed and I feel like extra details that would have made this book shine were cut down to accommodate the two storylines. Reese (Charlie’s ex) was also very two dimensional and had zero character development. Instead of making this a multi-POV book, I would have liked to see both storylines made into their own separate books so Wilde could give the world building the richness it needed.

Overall, it was a fun book and great if you’re looking for something light and fluffy.

 

AOaR_3star (3)

(and a half)

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 9.59.49 PM

Heather is rep’d by Carrie Howland of Empire Literary

 

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.28.05 AM

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

 

This, for me, is a hard review to write. Which is why I need to write it.

What Thomas has created with this book is talking point, a highlight to the divide in society and the racism that still exists. This is what ‘own voices’ books are all about.

Starr is a brilliant character who accurately portrays the struggle to find your place in the world. She’s an easy character to relate to and to cheer on. I loved her voice, I loved watching her grow, and I loved seeing how she faced up to the challenges in her life.

In case you have somehow missed hearing about this book, THUG is about a girl of colour who is raised in the ‘ghetto’ yet attends school with a predominately white population and tries to hide her ‘blackness’ in order to fit in. This book was written by a woman of colour, about a woman of colour, and there is no whitewashing to the story.

Because of this, the book is confronting to someone who usually reads stories through a white lens.

The quiet thought-provoking narrative really makes you question your own bias. It shows how racism isn’t just the intent behind your words, but also how society has conditioned you to subconsciously think. Thomas did such a great job introducing us to Khalil that when he is shot and killed by a police officer you feel it. It’s horrible.

And then the news reports start. Reports we’ve all seen following the shooting of a person of colour. Maybe they were a drug dealer, or had a concealed weapon. Maybe they were portrayed as being a threat. THUG then goes on to show the other side. The caring person who was doing whatever he could to support his family, who was sorely missed by the people left behind.

This mix of real world events and relatable characters force you to question which reaction you would have had under the circumstances.

As amazing as I found THUG, I did feel the beginning ran a little slow. It felt like a long book (I’m used to quick reads I think) up until the grand jury’s decision, but from there I couldn’t put the book down. The ending was so beautifully written I needed a moment to check out of real life once it was finished.

If you haven’t read THUG yet, I suggest getting it on your TBR pile. It’s no surprise it debuted on the NYT Bestseller List.

AOaR_4star (3)

(and a half)

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 9.59.49 PM

Heather is rep’d by Carrie Howland of Empire Literary and is on a mad dash to edit the crap out of MS 2

The Best Aussie (YA/NA) Romance Reads

We’re talking about romancing the reader this month and today I want to mention some swoonworthy Aussie books that well and truely romanced me.

Summer Skins (Kirsty Eager) — the best traditionally published aussie NA I’ve read. Set on campus at an aussie uni, it’s a boys vs girls prank-fest and so much fun.  Get on it!

Words in Deep Blue (Cath Cowley) — so much more than a YA romance. This book is emotion and feeling and friendship and grief all rolled into a ball that isn’t contained nor repaired by love. Just beautiful.

Pieces of Sky (Trinity Doyle) — another book about grief and friendship and love and loss. This book is an amazing aussie YA with a gorgeous aussie beach setting.

On the Jellicoe Road (Melina Marcetta) — My goodness. Perfect is one word I’d use to describe this read. It moved me in ways that no other book has. It’s a romance and a mystery and so well written I had writer-envy.

Grafitti Moon (Cath Crowley) — It’s quirky, it’s gritty, it all takes place in one single night. And it’s home to amazingly unique characters that I just want to befriend.

 

The AO&R crew have also written some Aussie romance. Check out the Our Books tab or Goodreads list for more details. I’d suggest Lauren’s Emerald Cove Series, Stacey’s Oxley College Saga, Beck’s Fake, Kaz’s Reluctant Jillaroo, Sharon’s Open Heart Series, Cass’s Lucid Dreaming, or Katie’s Cadence. All are vastly different, yet common in that they hold a romance and an Aussie setting. The rest of the crew have their debut books releasing soon!

What’s your favourite Aussie YA/NA romance read?


Stacey Nash writes aussie YA / NA. Her Oxley College Saga is a series of romances based in the fictional Oxley College on a university campus.To find out more about Stacey’s books or to connect with her on social media (where she tries not to only romance), check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.

Save

Save