Review: Jenny McLachlan – Stargazing for Beginners

Stargazing for Beginners
Jenny McLachlan

Meg has wanted to be an astronaut her whole life, and it seems like she is finally going to get the chance to see the NASA headquarters. Only problem is, Meg’s mum is heading off to an importance cause, and is leaving Meg’s little sister in Meg’s nervous hands. Will Meg be able to band together with her support team to survive?

I feel like this novel is just another in a series trying to encourage girls into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. The last I read, The Square Root of Summer gets more points from me for including more science! That being said, there are plenty of areas of science that need more exploring. Both of the protagonists are hard workers, and each faces their challenges bravely.

There was lots of lovely variety in the characters provided in the text, and even non-scientists should find someone they connect with! Ok, so it’s a little bit of a comedy of errors for the mix-up of the ‘mentoring group’, and that made the interactions feel slightly forced, but it does warm up to the task of giving them all some air-time to be individuals (as much as you can with a first-person perspective narrator).

What is it with parents going off and leaving their kids alone these days? And not just alone, but with younger siblings to look after? I’m looking at you, Raging Light and Beautiful Liar? There is an element of what could be suspense in this novel, but the end seems foretold anyway as the tone of the rest of the novel points in that direction.

I’m not sure this has anything particularly new to offer the genre, but it’s en enjoyable read nevertheless. 4 stars because it’s going to stay at home with me on my bookshelf, rather than roaming the wider worlds.

Bloomsbury | 1st June 2017 | AU $14.99 | Paperback

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Interview with Guy Singer

An Interview with Guy Singer, author of Starboy

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite? 

I think my favourite novel was one called “The Tea Room: The Buddha’s Eye. This is a very light-hearted story about a pair of gay socialites, who decide to open a Tea Room in Siem Reap, Cambodia, with the aim of curing Cambodia’s famine problems.

‘Follow the adventures of the Baroness Aster Moffat of Woolfardisworthy (that is pronounced Woolsery, darling. Dontcha know your Devonshire place names?) and Miss Dorothy Gwendoline Hunton-Blather as they travel from their home in Devon to Siem Reap, on the doorstep of the magnificent temples of Angkor. Aster’s mission, to save the children of Cambodia from starving by opening a real Devon tea room in the tropics where the impoverished youngsters can receive succour. Dorothy’s mission, to stop Aster from disgracing herself too badly.’

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external hard-drive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

My first novel was published. It desperately needs reworking and re-releasing as a second edition, but time and other projects preclude that for now. I do have other works I wrote along the way that languish on hard drives. Maybe one day they will be resurrected!

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I tend to write three novels a year. One, ‘The White Building: A Broken Utopian Dream’, was written in 22 days. The book was based on research work carried out by a great friend of mine. Set in Phnom Penh, the White Building is known as ‘the last slum in the City’. Jo wrote a short article for a news station and showed me her notes. I told her that her research was worthy of more than a 2,000 word editorial, and would make a fantastic novel. I challenged her to write the book. A month later, she told me she could never write a novel, and offered the task to me. Armed with her notes, the pair of us went to Phnom Penh to visit the Building for a long weekend. I was so moved by the place, that the story flooded to me. On the journey back on the bus, I was reciting the plot to Jo. By the time we arrived home, the entire story was flowing.

Working 18 hours a day, the book was written in 22 days, including proof reading.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I like to write in coffee shops. I have used several over the years, and find I don’t have a favourite. Now I live in England, rather than Cambodia, and I’m writing more and more at home. So far, I’ve found few problems.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have great friends who proof my novels and beta read them. They don’t mind giving me critical comments. One of my friends was a professional proof reader before he retired. For Starboy, I hired a professional editor who I found on facebook. I decided to read one of the works Gemma had edited previously, and I was glad I did. It filled my with confidence of her skills.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I’m an e-reader. I read on my phone. As I mentioned before, I used to live in Cambodia, and there is a definite dearth of good bookshops there.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from various stages of your life?

From childhood, I loved Arthur Ransome and in particularly his ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series. In adolescence, I moved to fantasy novels, becoming a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien. I also read a lot of horror novels, mainly by Dean R Koontz and Steven King. As a young adult, I read very little due to pressure of school work and later jobs. Now, I read sporadically. I have just finished both of the major series by Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus – I tend to read young adult or fantasy books now.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. How do you feel about it?

I mainly use facebook as my foray into social media. When I have time, I make regular posts. However, recently I’ve not had so much time and find I make fewer posts than I should. I asked a friend to take care of Twitter for me, but I’ve found the return there is minimal. I have just stopped using Twitter altogether. I have my own blog, which again gets busy in spurts!

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

I always answer each set of questions afresh. I’d hate to think I can’t spend the time on promoting myself when someone is kind enough to feature my works.

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Review: Vikki Wakefield – Ballad for a Mad Girl

 

Grace has always been the funny, daring girl who leads her pack of friends. After she experiences what feels like a near-death experience while performing a dare, her life rapidly degrades and she no longer seems to be herself. No-one knows what to do with her…

And how does everyone not notice anything wrong with her? If she looks like a junkie, why is she not being sent more sternly to a hospital? To a counsellor? Even if she refuses to go, the fact that her self-preservation is completely out of whack doesn’t explain why people are blind, deaf and dumb.

OK, so it might be considered ‘creepy and thrilling’, but I’m not buying it was ‘brilliant’ or ‘poignant’. The author dragged me along, thinking that there was some fantastical supernatural something at work, but instead… And it was all a dream. Or actually, all a hallucinogenic/schizophrenic mess. Or maybe not. Who even knows? Grace doesn’t, and neither does the reader.

The is nothing wrong with the writing, the characterisation or the style of this novel. Unfortunately the storyline became more and more confused (both for the reader and Grace) and just ended up making me feel unsatisfied. And why on earth does she forgive Amber? Like hello, didn’t she just get you into that prank where you thought you were going to die?

I feel like I have read something similar before, with someone having hallucinations that could be explained away rationally, but I cannot remember the name of the novel at all. Anyone have any suggestions?

2 stars from me. I finished reading it, but I felt cheated. Towards the end, I started getting bad feelings and then the conclusion sealed the nail in its coffin. I’m not going to be recommending this novel.

Text Publishing | 29th May 2017 | AU$19.99 | paperback

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Interview with Kristi Saare Duarte

An Interview with Kristi Saare Duarte, author of Transmigrant

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen years old. The year was 1983, and I hammered it out on a manual typewriter. When my parents realized I was serious about it, they brought home an oh! so luxurious electrical typewriter. The novel was called “Low,” and each chapter was based on one track of David Bowie’s album of the same name. The main character was a young boy who ran away from his foster home in Sweden and traveled to the Isle of Wight in England. The only one who ever read the manuscript was my dad. I never edited it, never tried to publish it. But I still those typed up pages and, who knows, perhaps one day I will look at it again and force in some kind of a plot structure? Then again, it might be absolutely useless. I also have another novel somewhere in my drawers, but that one has been laid to rest forever.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

The Transmigrant took six years from start to finish. I assume my next novel will take less time. But I’m a perfectionist with a full time job, so I doubt that one book a year will ever be my style. But kudos to those who can do it!

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I like to write on trains. There’s just something about the humming motion that inspires me. But, honestly, I could write anywhere, as long as I have a laptop. Or a napkin. Or the back of a receipt. When the inspiration attacks, I have to write it down.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

With The Transmigrant, a handful of friends and one stranger volunteered as beta-readers. They were all either writers, or had specific knowledge about the religions I cover in my novel. I’m not religious myself, which is kind of strange, because I spent so many years writing about Jesus, so their feedback was critical to get the details right. I found my first editor by searching online, and the subsequent editors through the Editorial Freelancers Association. I always ask for a sample and a quote, and have been lucky to find excellent editors.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

Yes, I definitely love bookshops. There’s a Barnes & Noble a few blocks from my office, and when I am stressed out, I go there to look at books and recharge. Most of the books I read are hard copy, but ebooks are very convenient for travel or late night reading. I often read 2-3 books at the same time. One by my bedside, one on the way to work, and sometimes also a non-fiction book when I need to study something, like book marketing or religions.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from?
1. childhood?  My favorite author was Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read all the Little House on the Prairie books and even made paper dolls of the sisters and acted out my own scenes.
2. adolescence? Anything romance. Kissing and touching was very exciting. I also read lots of books by Indian, Chinese, and African authors, for some reason.
3. young adult? I went through a phase where I only read memoirs and biographies and didn’t like anything made up. I loved Audrey Hepburn’s and Lord Byron’s biographies.
4. adult? I read any genre except fantasy and romance. Some of my favorite authors include Haruki Murakami, Andre Dubus III, Khaled Hosseini, Rohinton Mistry, John Steinbeck. I’m still attracted to foreign authors.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do? Have you chosen someone to manage your profile?

No, I do everything myself, which I probably don’t do as well as I should. I’m trying to learn to be more efficient and post more regularly. I spend perhaps an hour a day on social media, mostly on Facebook and Twitter. I like Pinterest, too. Instagram is still difficult for me as I keep forgetting about it. I don’t really enjoy scrolling down other people’s posts, so it never crosses my mind that I should take a photo and post it. Do I like social media? I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it, either.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

You get better, more honest and natural, with every interview. I think it would do me a great disservice to recycle the responses. But I might recycle ideas.

 

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Interview with Gregory Grayson

An Interview with Gregory Grayson, author of Fireflight

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Neither, actually. That beast – which has existed in one form or another for the past twenty years – currently sits, ugly and unusable, in a dark corner of my files. I do have plans to try and resurrect it at some point, though I know the effort will involve scrapping 90% of what’s there and starting over. So, I’m going to procrastinate on that one for a good long while.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

I am all about the percolating, whether it be my coffee, or my stories. All my ideas start rather small, just a single character, place, or event, nothing that would take up more than a couple sentences in my notebook. It sits there, waiting for me to be ready to hear what it has to say.

I wish I could easily pump out a novel a year (as I’m sure many of us do), but I need to exist in the space of my idea for a while, get a feel for everything going on. Then I can try and express it most effectively.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

Well, as far as medium goes, I’m primarily a Scrivener user, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop. I’m not as much locked to one specific tool or environment, though. If I’m feeling the inspiration, or the opportunity for a good bit of writing comes up, and I’ve got nothing more than a crayon and napkin, I’ll make it work.

As for place, when I write, I’m in my head. I’m seeing what I’m thinking about; the desk space where I happen to be sitting doesn’t really register. I used to do a lot of writing on the bus, so I’ve gotten pretty good at tuning out the world. If distractions are a problem, headphones and an appropriate musical track do wonders.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I am extremely lucky to have an observant, astute, and upfront reader very close to me. Using family can be a tricky business; there’s often way much more emotion tied to the process than should be. Try picking a family member you have good arguments with.

I’ve used fellow writers in various groups I’ve belonged to over the years, and I can’t stress the importance of that, as well. You need to get to know the person helping you out before you can know if they’ll be truly helpful in your process. You need someone like you, but different.

It needs to be someone you can trust, someone who thinks as you do, at least on a level or two. Someone who can read your words and grasp what you were trying to express, or maybe even see things from a different perspective and interpretation. This is always a good thing; any element in your writing that sparks a conversation has hit the mark.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

The term “dusty old tome” is, to me, a beautiful one. The idea of an old book, wooden or leather-bound, with thick but brittle, yellowed pages, covered in intricate black calligraphy, likely scrawled by the gnarled hand of a wise old wizard, is intoxicating. I don’t have a favorite bookstore, though I am drawn more to the indie shops than a more traditional retail outlet.

That being said, I am an admitted eBook reader out of necessity. I’m usually flipping between at least a couple books for my current read, and of course I have to have the entire Wheel of Time series available 24×7 (you never know when you’ll need to dive back in there, am I right WOTers?). It gets nigh-impossible to cart all that around with you in print form, even paperback.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

Anyone who’s checked out my background knows I am a die-hard Robert Jordan fan. I started the series a year or two after Eye of the World came out, when I was around 15 or 16, and I haven’t looked back since. I love reading any kind of speculative fiction, the more unique perspective or imagination, the better. Both fantasy and sci fi are par for the course, but I’ll read any great story, no matter the medium. Gone Girl was a fantastic novel, for example.

Other authors I read rather heavily are Gaiman, King, Rice, Barker, Rowling, Collins, Butcher, and Salvatore.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What have you chosen to do?

I’m pretty much a one-man show, so all the social media content is a product of my brain. I don’t think anyone else is better equipped to represent me, so I take all the responsibility (and the blame).

I’m primarily on Facebook in terms of platform, though I do have my own site as well, and I do all my blog posts there. What I like about Facebook is, for good or ill, it gives you great immediate feedback. The tools and analytics available when you run a page are very good at scratching the itch of needing to know how you’re doing, what your exposure and reach are. We live in an age where authors and readers have an always-on, direct pipeline to each other, and it’s a wonderful thing.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

It’s a real challenge to come up with unique answers every time, and of course the temptation is always there to copy and paste. I do my best to express myself genuinely and as “in-the moment” as I can, channeling my current mental state into my words, and giving as much diverse info as I can.

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Reviews: Unfinished Novels Released to Book Crossing #1

I have a series of novels that I have never finished reading and in some cases, couldn’t face reading at all. In the interests of freeing up space on my bookshelves, and letting other people have a chance to read them, I have released these novels on Book Crossing.

The Second Coming: A Love Story
Scott Pinsker

I received this book for review, but the cover, the story, the everything put me off reading. It has been sitting on my shelf to be read for at least 3 years, so it is time for it to go.

 

NIGHT PEOPLE, Book 1 – Things We Lost in the Night: A Memoir of Love and Music in the 60s with Stark Naked and the Car Thieves (Volume 1)
Larry J Dunlap

I received this book for review, but the cover put me off reading. Then when I attempted to read it, I couldn’t get through the dry text of the first chapter. It has been sitting on my shelf to be read for at least 2 years, so it is time for it to go.

 

Delivering the Phantom Moon
Niro Raine

I received this book for review. When I attempted to read it several times, I couldn’t get through the first chapter due to a number of factors. The character names seemed forced, the humour was just odd and I didn’t love the text formatting (funny how the small things can add up). It has been sitting on my shelf to be read for at least 2 years, so it is time for it to go.

 

 

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Review: Barbara Bourland – I’ll Eat when I’m Dead

I’ll Eat when I’m Dead
Barbara Bourland

Cat’s boss has died in a locked storeroom with a huge slab of ribbon next to her. Deemed to have stemmed from an eating disorder, it was just a heart attack. That locked door prompts a investigation by a cop looking for promotion, and bam! Cat is suckered in to doing her own research.

This was like eating a really bad, stale peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I chewed my way patiently through the first 1/4 of the book, sitting through honestly a quite boring backstory and the party lives of Cat, Bess and some random other person they went to school with. Then, I got some tasty jelly, where we got into the crux of the investigations into the murder and a bit of development of a on-again off-again relationship between Cat and the detective. AND THEN, someone forgot to put the peanut butter in. The next 1/4 was simply Cat and Bess being swaddled around with Cat hating the experience and Bess being pretty happy about it. Then there’s another bit of bread of nothing even really happening until the end. I didn’t care about Cat or Bess enough for it to matter at that point.

Maybe part of the problem with this novel was this promised to be a bit of an expose on the women’s fashion industry which promotes thin women that buy expensive clothes. Instead, I found a main character that professed to follow these views, then failed to follow any of them. Sure, the magazine promotes American made fashion, then promotes ecologically and ethically sound wares, but to an extent it is all lip service.

A story of socialites that could have potentially had their comeuppance. If you’re doing lines of cocaine, smoking pot on a regular basis and having a flirting affair with heroin, I can’t feel that sorry for you. I appreciated that Cat insisted on using condoms when having wild, random sex, and was pretty vocal about the fact, but it couldn’t redeem the novel.

What’s with the title? They don’t have a problem with eating as far as I can see, there is a different Problem with a capital P. In fact, I recently stated my opinion on a new YA novel that I think has the same title, which promises to be much more exciting. Honestly, when this one came in the mail, I thought it was that book and got excited. That was enough for me to start reading it anyway, and I shouldn’t have wasted my time.

Women’s fiction with a hint of crime? I think it was sold to me as a bit more attractive than that, otherwise I never would have touched it in the first place. Don’t waste your time on this one. 2 stars because I finished it in the hopes of it improving.

Hachette Australia | 16th May 2017 | AU$29.99 | paperback

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Review: Henry Marsh – Admissions

Admissions
Henry Marsh

Dr. Henry Marsh was a Political Studies student before wagging college for a year. Eventually, he ended up studying medicine and becoming a celebrated neurosurgeon. This novel is a memoir of his experiences in remote hospitals in places such as Nepal and Pakistan, where he offers his services as surgeon and teacher to those in need.

I honestly expected more juicy stories and less reflection, but perhaps that was a hallmark of this being his second novel – perhaps they were all exhausted by his first novel, ‘Do No Harm’. For me then, there was too much memoir and reflection on aging rather than substance about the joys and upsets of being a neuroscientist. I can accept a certain level of introspection, but I’m not certain what regular readers would pull from this novel.

Although I enjoyed the scientific discussion because I’m a scientist and know something about the brain’s morphology, it would have been very useful to have diagrams of what the incisions and brain areas looked like. Nothing too gastly, I’m certain it would be difficult to get permissions to print images of patients, but just dry diagrams could have been useful.

The brief discussions about how Henry could apply his knowledge to neuroscience about how personality probably does [not] exist after death could not save the novel for me. Neither could the discussions on his renovation project in his retirement. Additionally, I wasn’t actually sure what family he had left, which made me wonder at his sanity! Also, he is obsessed with getting dementia which derails a lot of the chapters.

If you are looking for more ways of living mindfully, shaped by what others dying has done so far (The Five Invitations) or are looking for a provocative discussion of the implications of a ‘Good Death’ (The Easy Way Out), this is not the novel for you. It wasn’t really the novel for me, but others might enjoy it. Thankfully it is non-fiction, so I don’t have to assign a star rating to something I didn’t particularly enjoy.

Hachette Australia | 16th May 2017 | AU$32.99 | paperback

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Spotlight with Jose Patterson

Jose Patterson on the origins of her newest novel, My Aunt Manya

I live in the university city of Oxford which, by its very nature, always has a ‘floating’ population of visiting scholars. It was always the custom for my late husband and I to invite guests to share Friday night – the beginning of the Sabbath day – with us. During one never to be forgotten Friday night dinner when the conversation was buzzing, our American friend Susie told us about her grandmother, Sarah who was 11 years old in 1891 and lived near the Russian town of Bialystok. Her father had gone to New York to stay with his sister while he looked for work, leaving Sarah behind with her hated stepmother. Her young life changed forever when she heard from her Aunt the sad news of her father’s sudden death. Her Aunt sent her a boat ticket, some money and the offer of a home. Sarah fled the pogroms and set off alone on the long hazardous journey to Ellis Island. When she finally arrived she learned that her Aunt had died the week before. She was saved from the threat of deportation by her aunt’s two close friends.

These are the few treasured facts on which I based the story of My Aunt Manya which some reviewers – including Clare Morpurgo – have likened to the plight of modern immigrants. As I have mentioned it is indeed a fascinating story and I do hope you will enjoy reading it.

Release notes of My Aunt Manya

José Patterson’s latest children’s story details the journey of Sarah a ten-year old immigrant making her way to America (Based on a true story)

From acclaimed children’s author José Patterson comes a new story that will hit home.

Set in Russia at the end of the 19th century, My Aunt Manya is a period novel featuring heroine Sarah, who lives unhappily with her much-hated stepmother. Sarah’s father has gone to live in New York with his sister Manya while he looks for a job.  Sarah’s life changes overnight when Aunt Manya writes with news that her father has been killed in an accident. She sends her a boat ticket, some money and an offer of a home.

Sarah’s family and friends are poor, Yiddish-speaking Russian Jews. When Sarah’s friends get word that a group of Cossacks is planning a pogrom attack, they lose no time in helping her to set out alone on the longest journey of her young life. 

My Aunt Manya is a heart-warming story of Sarah’s journey to America on the ‘other side of the world.’ She becomes an immigrant with just one goal – to live with her Aunt Manya in a free country. Sarah faces difficulties and dangers of the unknown with great courage and determination which, together with the ‘hand of fate,’ combine to make this an unforgettable story.  Released during a time where immigration is a hotly-debated topic in the UK,  My Aunt Manya will show young readers what it is truly like to be an immigrant.  

José’s first novel, No Buts, Becky! was a runner up in the People’s Book Prize Award Competition and finalist in the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards 2013.

Website: http://www.josepatterson.com/

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Review: Bren MacDibble – How to Bee

How to Bee
Bren MacDibble

The bees have been killed and now only the bravest children pollinate the fruit trees by hand. It’s hard work, and only a select few are chosen. Peony’s mother thinks that the way forward is in the city, Peony knows that her place is with the other Bees.

In a future fiction, it’s possible this is going to become common place. Bees are dying out, and despite things such as the somewhat ill informed flower planting schemes by ?cereal? companies, unless we pick up our game with killing bees with pesticides and so forth. A world without fruit would be pretty miserable.

I liked the ending a lot. I liked the whole novel, but truely, the ending was fantastic. I loved how Peony stuck to her beliefs and her family. That girl knows what is important! It’s something that more people in the world could afford to learn…

I’m not going to suggest that this is a YA novel. There’s just not enough depth for that, and it’s not a reread so that’s why it’s not getting 5 stars from me. But it carries a very important message, it improves the current knowledge of young people. I could see it as an early highschool novel, and I’d love it a lot more than some other ‘Australian classics’ they stick teenagers with.

Allen & Unwin | 26th April 2017 | AU$16.99 | paperback

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