Sunday, 19 November 2017

MIRROR, MIRROR by Cara Delevingne

Friend. Lover. Victim. Traitor.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Sixteen-year-old friends Red, Leo, Rose, and Naomi are misfits; still figuring out who they are and who they want to be. Life isn't perfect, but music brings them together, and they are excited about what the future holds for their band, Mirror, Mirror. That is until Naomi vanishes before being pulled unconscious out of the river.

She's left fighting for her life in a coma. The police claim it was a failed suicide attempt, but her friends aren't convinced. Will Naomi ever wake up? What - or perhaps who - led her to that hospital bed? And how did Red, the self-styled protector of the group, fail to spot the warning signs?

While Rose turns to wild partying and Leo is shrouded by black moods, Red sets out to uncover the truth. It's a journey that will cause Red's world to crack, exposing the group's darkest secrets. Nothing will ever be the same again, because once a mirror is shattered, it can't be fixed. convinced. Will Naomi ever wake up? What - or perhaps who - led her to that hospital bed? And how did Red, the self-styled protector of the group, fail to spot the warning signs?

After I DNFd two books this weekend and started another I thought I would love but disappointed me enough to put it aside... I started this book. And couldn't put it down.

Red, Naomi, Rose and Leo are in a school band, but even more than that they're really close friends. During the last year these four kids have gotten past their differences to become a solid group that sticks together while making awesome music and having fun.

When Naomi goes missing, everything starts to unravel around them. And when she's found unconscious in the river and ends up in a coma, the group totally falls apart. The mystery of what really happened to their friend will either draw them closer than ever before, or tear them apart forever...

This is one super awesome book!

The writing style was intimate in a way that wrapped itself around me until it felt like I was part of their world. Red's voice was raw and often confused or lost, yet so strong that I enjoyed every moment she shared with the reader. Her thoughts aren't linear or even clear sometimes, which made her an amazing and realistic narrator.

This is quite a dark book that deals with some pretty heavy teenage and adult issues. It doesn't shy away from showing and revealing some awful truths about what it's really like to grow up in some very intense environments.  But it's dealt with in such an honest way that it's hard not to get wrapped up in everything--whether good or bad--that's going on. Because these characters are awesome!

Red is the drummer. She's into girls and has a really messed up family life. Her mother's an alcoholic, her father's never home, so the emotional neglect is deep. Leo is a troubled kid who's trying to be good, but his criminal brother tries to ruin that for him. Rose is a strong, beautiful rich girl who outwardly has everything, but inwardly suffers deeply. Ash is Naomi's sister, she's a tech-whiz and wants to find out what really happened to her younger sister. Leckraj was an easygoing and really cool addition to the band. And Naomi, well, she's a great musician and a girl who tried so hard to hide herself that somewhere along the way, she gets so lost it nearly kills her.

Together, these kids are amazing. With all the crap they put up with at home, everything they struggle with while trying to discover themselves, the pressures of school, and even the really shitty things they put each other through, they form a very strong foundation to Mirror, Mirror. I'm talking about the band, not the book. :P

Mirror, Mirror is an addictive book that hooked me in from the very first sentence and kept me turning the pages, because I needed to know how and where this tragic tale was going to take me. More than that, Red's engaging voice and the mystery at the heart of the story swept me away until it's shocking revelation.

I seriously LOVED this book, and can't say enough good things about it. I honestly didn't know what to expect, but certainly didn't expect such raw awesomeness.

BTW, the cover's really cool too. It wasn't until I took a closer look that I noticed the hidden details in the squiggles.

Mirror, Mirror, October 2017, ISBN 9781409172758, Trapeze

Saturday, 18 November 2017


What I hope you take away from this book: good Mexican food deserves to go viral; good underwear never features the word 'string'; good mental health is the single most important thing you need to live a happy life.

I don't have a psychology degree - in fact, I once tried to throw a typewriter at a child psychiatrist (this was in the days before MacBook pros) - but I do have experience, understanding and coping mechanisms to help you get your sh*t together. From anxiety and eating disorders to OCD and psychosis, I want to help break down taboos surrounding mental health conditions (which directly affect 1 in 4 of us each year - you are NOT alone) and help you come out the other side happier and healthier. I'd also like to gift you with a deeper understanding of what's going on in your head, and how to navigate through life without feeling overwhelmed or isolated. 

Where my lack of medical background becomes an issue, Dr Radha swoops in to the rescue. As a GP, mental-health expert and co-host of BBC Radio 1's The Surgery, I've worked with her to make sure all the information and advice is spot-on. She's clever, she's kind and she GETS it. I wish my teenage brain had had access to Dr Radha.

This was a surprise title I received from Hachette Australia. A book I hadn't expected and didn't know anything about, but it sounded interesting. So I decided to check it out and found myself squeezing in a bit here and there, between some of the other books I've read during the last month.

I wanted to take my time, and finished it tonight.

Rae Earl might not have a degree in psychology, but she's been through enough mental health issues and situations to know a thing or two. And that's why she wrote this book, which is a great way of presenting serious issues such as anxiety, OCD, depression, psychosis, and so much more in a way readers of all ages can both understand and relate to. 

This might be one person's account of a life full of mental health experiences, but there's a lot of familiar issues mentioned throughout, and even some very helpful coping mechanisms. It's also a book that engages the reader and talks to them on a level that feels more like a conversation. There's no judgement, preaching or pushing an agenda, which is essential when dealing with such delicate and sometimes taboo situations.

There were some things that had me nodding my head because I could totally relate, and others I've never experienced/seen. It's quite an eye-opener.

I thought the addition of an actual mental-health expert was a great idea, because it helps support all the things Rae Earl discusses.

The layout is very cool. The illustrations by Jo Harrison are excellent and totally capture so much of the important stuff. It even helps to break everything down so the information doesn't become overwhelming.

Every single person, for a variety of different reasons, will be affected by a certain degree of mental health issues during their life. Or at least know someone who is. So it's important to realise we're not alone, and that there are ways to make it out from under the dark cloud.

It's All In Your Head is a very cool book that deals with some very serious topics, yet is presented in such a fun, interesting and visual pleasing way that the reader is quickly drawn into a comfortable and safe environment. The familiarity in a lot of the experiences will also keep readers stuck to the page.

I'll be passing this over to my teenage daughter so she can check it out too.

It's All In Your Head: A Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together, September 2017, ISBN 978, Wren & Rook 

Friday, 17 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Week Three

The third week of NaNoWriMo is over.

Well, it's over for me because it's Friday in Oz and I spent the day adding new words to my WIP. 

This was a busy week because asides from adding a bunch of words, hubby and daughter were home for a few days (sick leave), we went to the DAB YA Blogger night on Wednesday (which was a LOT of fun!) and I even read an awesome book.

Yeah. Lots of stuff going on. No wonder I'm tired. LOL.

Anyway, here's this week's w/c: 
  • Monday: 36,329 (added 3285w)
  • Tuesday: 40,936 (added 4607w)
  • Wednesday: 43,554 (added 2608w)
  • Thursday: 46,575 (added 3031w)
  • Friday: 51,725 (added 5150w)

Why is the Friday word count amount in bold? Well, that would be because I reached the NaNoWriMo 50k goal AND also finished the first draft. Why is this a big deal? I finished NaNo and the story I was writing. Yay. That rarely happens. Actually, I can't remember the last time I did this because all my other drafts usually go way past 50,000 words.

I had a great time writing this story and enjoyed the hell out of seeing a simple idea--consisting of several inspirational pics--becoming a Sci-Fi adventure, then turning into a very emotional, tense and mysterious story.  There's still adventure. There's still strange hidden things. There's still a love story. Just not the one I expected. 💕

And that's a cool thing.

Although I reached The End of the story, as well as the challenge, I'm not calling this WIP (officially) finished until I take care of my page of notes. (Yes, there's always a page of scribbled notes.) That might include some additions, a bunch of notes to add to my Story Notebook, and possibly reading the last few chapters again.

That's for Monday, because I'm taking the weekend off. I need a breather, but man I LOVE this story. The characters, what happens to them and especially their love story.

Right now I'm very happy with how it turned out. That'll probably change during the revision process, but today I'm in love with this story. 😍

Have a good weekend

Thursday, 16 November 2017

DREAMLAND BURNING by Jennifer Latham

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family's property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past... and the present.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what's right the night Tulsa burns.

One of the deadliest race riots in US history happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on a hot 1921 night when the economically and culturally thriving black community of Greenwood was burned to the ground. Dreamland Burning gives voice to this little-known moment in history, crossing historical fiction with a cold case mystery in a story that makes bold statements about how racial tensions have changed --- or haven't --- in nearly 100 years. 

This is a book I've been looking forward to reading for a while, so I'd like to thank Hachette Australia for sending me a lovely hardback copy.

When Rowan finds a skeleton on her property because a construction team disturbed the servants' quarters on her family's property, she's drawn into the mysterious death of someone who was clearly murdered almost 100 years before. 

William lives in Tulsa during 1921, when tensions between whites and blacks reached a dangerous level. One stupid, selfish and very thoughtless act on a drunken night sets off a horrible chain of events that echo long into the future.

These two teenagers might have almost a century between them, but what happened in the past echoes into present day...

Wow. This book is SO damn good. 

It's amazing, in a very confronting and brutal way, because it presents two fictional stories and one is set during a very intense time in American history. It made me uncomfortable, angry, sad, and even proud. Because where there is hate for no real reason but to push a pathetic agenda, there will always be people who understand right from wrong and will follow the correct path. People who take the time to get to know others and offer the hand of friendship, no matter what the cost.

I really liked Rowan and her friend, James.  They have a strong friendship that's realistic but not without its problems. She's a kid caught between two worlds, but has lived most of hers in one more than the other. But when she finds the skeleton and gets a job in a clinic and is exposed to the ugly side of what society still does to people with dark-coloured skin, she starts to realise just how cruel and unjust the world really is. This pushes her forward into the investigation. While her life takes her down a dark path of guilt and grief, the past leads her to some very surprising places. And even more fascinating people.

As for Will. I didn't like him at the beginning because he came across like just another white boy who thought he was owed things. In this case it was a girl. So while what happened to the innocent guy involved upset me, I was glad it made Will see what a bad thing he'd done. And as I found out more about his mixed heritage, it was a relief to see his attitude change and watch him become a better and stronger person.

As for the historical event at the centre of this story--the Tulsa Race Riots--that part made me really sad. And so angry. But it's part of the history of this violent and cruel world, so I'm glad this book shines a spotlight on it.

Sometimes, when I see the news and see what's going on in the U.S. I feel as if we're still in that awful place of division, and wish humanity would move past the absurdity that feeds racism. Because at the end of the day, that's what it is. Systematic hate fed to impressionable young minds is an offense that needs to stop. It should've stopped years ago. No one is better than anyone else, and no one has the right to tell others how to live their lives. 

Dreamland Burning is a powerful, well-written and thought-provoking book that doesn't hide from the shameful racist truth of America's past, or how it's unfortunately still there. It made me uncomfortable and so very sad, but there's so much heart in the words that I couldn't help but love it. The way the story is told works brilliantly because it's a contemporary tale with a historical plot expertly interwoven through its core.

I was hooked by the premise, and the kids who told their own interconnected but separate stories kept me glued to the page. 

Dreamland Burning, July 2017, ISBN 9780316384933, Little, Brown Young Readers US

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