Book Review: Uprooted

Uprooted – Naomi Novik – Pan Macmillan – Published 12 May 2016 (first pub 2015)

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Synopsis

Agnieszka loves her village, set in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. A young woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all she values behind. 

Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she is everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he takes.

My thoughts

Loosely based around a Beauty and the Beast retelling, Uprooted is gloriously imagined, with intricate storytelling and a world where witches and wizards must fight against the ever encroaching and corruptive powers of the Woods.

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Book List: Road Trips in Young Adult Fiction

Road Trips in Young Adult Fiction

I do love a good road trip. Wind in your hair, volume turned up loud and either a journey in mind or mindless wandering. From the sunshine-filled and delightful to the soul-searching (or maybe even one long crime spree, as in Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry), this little list of YA road trip novels will have something for all readers.

Hello Girls – Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 6 August 2019

Hello Girls is an epic road trip novel slash crime novel slash ode to friendship slash feminist piece de resistance. With razor-sharp wit and punchy action, this book swings from hilarious to what the hell to hell yeah and back again.  Read full review.


 The Geography of Lost Things – Jessica Brody – Simon Pulse – Published 2 October 2018

The Geography of Lost Things is a fun road trip novel about learning to forgive and starting over. Jessica Brody weaves together a compelling story of second-chance romance and father-daughter relationships, family financial difficulties and learning to see again the value in little things.  Read full review.


A Heart in a Body in the World – Deb Caletti – Simon Pulse – Published 18 September 2018

Achingly poignant and beautifully written, A Heart in a Body in the World is a book that everyone, man, woman and teen, must read. It’s a road trip – but one where the character runs the entire journey. Read full review.


 Autonomous – Andy Marino – Disney-Hyperion – Published 3 April 2018

Autonomous is an examination of the true nature of humanity, where buried secrets are laid bare and the harsh truths of reality are posed against the speculation of how technology might evolve and how it might reflect those truths. When William wins a state-of-the-art car in a competition, he plans to take his three best friends on an epic road trip. Read full review.


Good and Gone – Megan Frazer Blakemore – HarperTeen – Published 14 November 2017

When Lexi’s brother Charlie suggests a road trip to locate missing pop star, Adrian Wildes, Lexi is shocked. Charlie hasn’t moved from the couch since he broke up with his girlfriend and dropped out of college. So despite Lexi’s scepticism, despite the hurt she has been feeling, she agrees. Along for the ride (and actually providing the means of transport for this road trip) is their neighbour, Zack. As Lexi, Charlie, and Zack hunt for the elusive pop star, they begin to work through the emotions, hurt, and actions of the past year.  Read full review.

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Book Review: Hungry Hearts

Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food and Love – Elsie Chapman (ed.) – Simon Pulse – Published 18 June 2019

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Synopsis

A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the confections she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that could cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.

Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one and the same.

Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.

My thoughts

Hungry Heart is a collection of short stories that celebrate food, culture, diversity and family. From romance to horror stories, ghosts to superheroes, Hungry Hearts will have something for everyone.

Rain by Sandy Mandanna
Anna and her father are visiting Hungry Hearts Row after the death of their mother and wife. Not sure how to talk about their grief they find an opening when they attempt to make Anna’s mother’s Coorg pandhi curry.

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Book Review: Everything I’ve Never Said

Everything I’ve Never Said – Samantha Wheeler – University of Queensland Press – Published 1 October 2018

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Synopsis

Ava would like nothing more than to tell her family she loves them, particularly her big sister, Nic. But Ava has Rett syndrome – she can’t talk, can’t nod her head, can’t even point at a communication card. She understands everything, but no one understands her.

When tragedy strikes her family, Ava becomes even more determined to talk. But it’s not until she meets occupational therapist Kieran and new friend Aimee that she is hopeful for change – and to find her voice at last.

My thoughts

Everything I’ve Never Said is beautifully written and so very easily captured my heart. I loved the idea – giving voice to the voiceless, and the honest, heartfelt truth and reality behind the words is undeniable.

Ava would love to talk to her family. She’d love to tell them she likes pink not purple. She’d love to say that she would rather watch teen movies than kid shows. And she’d really love to tell them that she loves them. But Ava has Rett syndrome and so Ava can’t move her body the way she would like to, can’t nod, blink, wave and certainly can’t talk. When tragedy strikes her family and throws life into chaos, Ava knows she must talk, must help save her family. With the help of new friends, Kieran and Aimee, Ava just might have the chance to find her voice and tell the world, tell her family, everything she’s always wanted to say.

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Book Review: The Way To Treasure Island

The Way To Treasure Island – Lizzy Stewart – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books – Published 6 June 2019

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Synopsis

Matilda and her dad are very different. Matilda is fast and Dad is slow. Matilda is tidy and Dad is messy, and Matilda is quiet and Dad is very, very loud. They’re off to find treasure, but Dad keeps getting distracted. Soon, they’re lost and Matilda is getting crosser and crosser… 

Will they ever find the way to treasure island?

My thoughts

The Way To Treasure Island is a bright and colourful picture book about accepting differences in personalities and enjoying the company of family. It is an adventure story full of wonder and unexpected discoveries.

Matilda is neat, quiet and likes to follow instructions. Matilda’s dad is messy, noisy, often distracted and makes things up as he goes. They love to spend time together, even through they are very different. When Matilda and her dad set out on a treasure hunt, Matilda wants to follow her map, while her dad gets them lost and keeps getting distracted. Matilda’s not sure they’ll ever find the treasure. But as they journey, Matilda and her dad will find they can learn a lot from each other.

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Book Review: Knox

Knox – Susan May Warren – The Montana Marshalls #1 – Stonewater Books – Published 12 March 2019

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Synopsis

Montana rancher Knox Marshall’s danger years are behind him. A former bull-rider, he now runs the Marshall family ranch, raising champion bucking bulls for the National Professional Bullrider’s Expo (NBR-X). Wealth and success are his, but life is stable, expected, and…ordinary.  But he wants more from life… 

Kelsey Jones just wants a safe life, a family, a home. Onstage, the beautiful rising star of the Yankee Belles becomes the person she longs to be – vivacious and confident – burying the brokenness she carries from a violent assault. Becoming NBR-X’s next country act is key to outrunning her past and achieving the success and security she craves. 

Knox and Kelsey’s paths collide when an explosion at an NBR-X event traps them in the rubble and leaves them reeling. Kelsey’s crippling nightmares return, but for Knox, an obsession to find the bomber is ignited. 

My thoughts

Don’t you just love it when one of your favourite authors launches a new series? Well I do, so I was very excited to start Knox, book one in the Montana Marshalls series. Readers of Warren’s other titles, might have already met the eldest Marshal family sibling, Reuben, in the Montana Rescue series. Knox is the second eldest Marshall, and this is his story.

Knox loves his family home and ranch, loves working the land and building up the security of the family business, even if it wasn’t his first choice. Branching out into breeding and loaning bucking bulls for the bull riding circuit seems to be paying off. When a bomb goes off at one of the bull riding events, Knox is drawn into the action and is concerned that Kelsey Jones, lead singer of the Yankee Belles, is the target. On stage, Kelsey finds her confidence and escapes the memories of a violent attack that stole her family and her security. She’s not sure why Knox offers her his concern and protection, but she’s glad he does, especially when he’s the first guy in a long time she feels safe around. But when the threat follows them to the Marshall ranch, Kelsey and Knox will have to decide what to risk for their future.

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Book Review: This Time Will Be Different

This Time Will Be Different – Misa Sugiura – Harper Teen – Published 4 June 2019

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Synopsis

Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop — to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

My thoughts

This Time Will Be Different is an endearing novel about family and family history, flowers and the magic of the language of flowers, and friendship, crushes and romance. It’s about growing up, discovering more about the world and yourself and your place in it. It’s about standing up for what’s right and learning to move on. It’s fun, cute and romantic and sure to please YA contemporary fiction readers.

CJ Katusyma likes working in her family’s florist. It’s perhaps the one thing she hasn’t yet messed up and while it doesn’t exactly make her mother proud of her at least she’s not a disappointment in her Aunt Hannah’s eyes. But when CJ’s mother threatens to sell the shop to none other than the man who stole it from CJ’s ancestors, CJ, Hannah and their new assistant, Oliver (dorky history geek and, ok, yes, slightly cute), plan to turn things around and prevent the sale. But life gets even more complicated with her best friend starts crushing on the sworn enemy, CJ is torn between geeky-cute Oliver and her long-term crush who is finally showing her some interest, and her relationship with her mother deteriorates.

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Book Review: Cross My Heart

Cross My Heart – Robin Lee Hatcher – Legacy of Faith #2 – Thomas Nelson – Published 28 June 2019

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Synopsis

Ashley Showalter and Ben Henning have so much in common. Both were raised by single moms. Both want to help where they see a need. And both work with horses in the Boise valley. Ashley runs a horse rescue operation, while Ben has started an equine therapy barn on his great-great grandfather’s farm—and both Ashley and Ben have the feeling that there could be something more between them.

But they share something else that may drive them apart if the truth is ever revealed. Ben is a recovering alcoholic with ten years of sobriety behind him, while Ashley’s brother, Dylan, is an opioid addict, currently residing in court-ordered rehab. Ashley has promised herself she would never walk knowingly into the chaos created by addiction—because in her mind, addicts can never be fully cured. But with God, all things are possible. Will Ashley find it within herself to give love a chance, or will her brother’s mistakes jeopardize her future with Ben?

My thoughts

Cross My Heart is a beautiful story. The second book in the Legacy Of Faith series, Cross My Heart follows two new main characters but also continues the historical story of the Henning family. This modern-day story is woven together by threads of the past and the history and faith of a family across multiple generations. Cross My Heart is a relaxing and restorative read.

Ben Hennings is starting a horse farm, hoping he can help others through equine therapy, just as he was once helped. When looking for horses, he is directed to Ashley Showalter, who helps rescue horses. They both have a love of horses and helping others in common. What they don’t know is that they also share a history touched by addictions, Ben personally and Ashley through her brother’s addictions. When this is revealed, Ben and Ashley must decide if their pasts and fears should determine if they have a future together.

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Book Review: Sorry For Your Loss

Sorry For Your Loss – Jessie Ann Foley – HarperTeen – Published 4 June 2019

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Synopsis

As the youngest of eight, painfully average Pup Flanagan is used to flying under the radar. He’s barely passing his classes. He lets his longtime crush walk all over him. And he’s in no hurry to decide on a college path. The only person who ever made him think he could be more was his older brother Patrick, the family’s golden child. But that was before Patrick died suddenly, leaving Pup with a family who won’t talk about it and acquaintances who just keep saying, “sorry for your loss.”

But when Pup excels at a photography assignment he thought he’d bomb, things start to come into focus. His dream girl shows her true colors. An unexpected friend exposes Pup to a whole new world, right under his nose. And the photograph that was supposed to show Pup a way out of his grief ultimately reveals someone else who is still stuck in their own. Someone with a secret regret Pup never could have imagined.

My thoughts

Gritty and deeply emotional, Sorry For Your Loss is, unsurprisingly, about grief. But it’s also about love, brothers, big drive-you-crazy families, finding your voice and learning to remember while also letting go. With an honest and realistic teen male protagonist, Sorry For Your Loss will appeal to older teen readers who enjoy moving books.

Pup is the youngest of eight. His family has been floundering, silently, since the death of one of his older brothers. Parents and siblings who won’t speak about Patrick, a brother who is losing himself to alcohol and Pup himself who is sinking – in his classes, his relationships and in the deafening silence at home. When his art teacher hands him a camera in the desperate hopes he can redeem his failing art grade, Pup is presented with a whole new lens with which to view the world, and maybe even the chance to bring his family together again.

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Book Review: Wooing Cadie McCaffrey

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey – Bethany Turner – Revell – Published 21 May 2019

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Synopsis

After four years with her boyfriend, Cadie McCaffrey is thinking of ending things. Convinced Will doesn’t love her in the “forever” way she loves him, Cadie believes it’s time for her to let him go before life passes her by. When a misunderstanding leads to a mistake, leaving her hurt, disappointed, and full of regret, she finally sends him packing.

But for Will, the end of their relationship is only the beginning of his quest to figure out how to be the man Cadie wanted him to be. With the dubious guidance of his former pro-athlete work friends and tactics drawn from Cadie’s favorite romantic comedies, Will attempts to win her back. It’s a foolproof plan. What could possibly go wrong?

My thoughts

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey is a humorous and refreshing novel – it’s also a lesson in miscommunication and how to complicate a relationship by NOT TALKING! So if you like rom-coms, epic romantic moments or enjoy reading a book from between your fingers due to agony from misunderstandings, then this is the book for you.

Cadie McCaffrey has been waiting for her boyfriend, Will, to propose for years. Every time she thinks he has finally decided to get down on bended knee, she is tragically disappointed. When another misunderstanding leads Will and Cadie to take their physical relationship further than either of them planned, Cadie decides it’s time to break up from Will and keep moving on with her life. Will is devastated and is determined to win Cadie back, even if that means he has to sit through dozens of romantic movies and plan romantic moments to woo Cadie into giving them another chance.

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