Kurtagich-dead houseBest of 2015 Teen Titles

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich-
includes several different forms of media to tell the story. It’s pretty dark and psychological.

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
-come on, the man is a genius. Absolutely loved this story, dark, Gothic and scary

Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz
-the story of a young girl doing everything in her power to bring her mother back from her psychotic break.

Mindwalker by AJ Steiger-
 I loved the concept of being able to go inside memories and delete or change them.

The Secrets of Lake Road by Karen Katchur
Small town, drowning of a child in the lake and it brings up a whole lot of town secrets from the past.

What I am looking forward to in 2016 Teen

Harmony House by Nic Sheff

“Harmony House is more than just a creepy old estate. It’s got a chilling past—and the more Jen discovers its secrets, the more the house awakens.”

Laila’s Flight by Laura Williams McCaffrey

“Sixteen-year-old Lyla lives in a bleak, controlling society where only the brightest and most favored students succeed. When she is caught buying cheats in an underground shadow market, she is tattooed-marked-as a criminal.”
The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier

For fans of Shadow and Bone “Now the father she barely knew—the Lord of Nimmira—has died, and ancient magic has decreed that she will take his place as the new Lady.”

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
“It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments…Emma has dedicated her life to to discovering exactly what it was that killed her parents and getting her revenge.”

Night Study by Maria V Snyder

Because she is on my Auto-buy list. I love her books

de Bodard_house of shatteredFavorites of 2016 -Adult

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

There is never a dull moment in the story, and the world building was amazingly detailed and hauntingly post-apocalyptic.

Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston

For me, this was one of those books that truly deserves the line “I couldn’t put it down.” I haven’t found myself so immersed into a story since The Da Vinci Code. This is a very well written suspense thriller that I enjoyed immensely and can see why these authors are so popular. Deservedly so.

Mythmaker by Marianne de Pierres

I highly enjoyed Mythmaker, it kept me hooked and constantly surprised with the twists. In Peacemaker I was introduced to Virgin Jackson, now in Mythmaker I never wanted to let her go. What a fun ride.

Lie in Wait by Eric Rickstad

The author weaves several storylines together, what’s described as a “quiet” Vermont town is currently in uproar over a court case that is ongoing. Politics, ethics, equal rights, community and strong religious views all take part in the plot to find the killer.

Three Days in April by Edward Ashton
A techno-thriller set in the near future with a focus on mixing of cyborgs, natural humans and those that had alterations done

bec2012_TNBec Stafford interviews Alison and Nicholas Lochel, authors of the Fyrelit Tragedy.




locehl_zakoraZarkora, Book 1 of your Fyrelit Tragedy, is a huge hit with readers (and you have books 2, 3, & 4 set for release from this November through to October of 2016). Can you tell us about the series and how you first developed your wonderful characters, Neleik, Ervine, and Skye?

Zarkora is the tale of two orphaned brothers on an epic quest to save their little sister after she is kidnapped by a mysterious stranger. The brothers swiftly gain the companionship of a half-giant, a runaway princess and a mysterious hermit, who help them in their quest.

But in the process of tracking down the kidnapper, the farm boys discover a huge secret their late parents had been keeping. It’s a fast paced, four-book fantasy series that would appeal to fans of the Ranger’s Apprentice and Deltora Quest.

We grew up very close with our two brothers, and our bond was really the inspiration behind the Zarkora books. The characters Neleik, Ervine, Skye were loosely based on us and Justin, our larrikin of a brother. Our older brother Chris inspired the character of T’shink. Over the years, we developed the characters further to better suit the story, but there’s certainly hints of us in them.

Lochel-profileHow fantastic to be able to write as a brother/sister team! When did you first develop your love for writing and when did you realise you’d make a good writing duo? What are the best and also the most challenging aspects of writing with a sibling?

Nicholas – While I was still in high school, I was studying Stage and Screen Acting. I learnt a lot about the structure of a story, character development and script writing. When I graduated, I moved to Sydney with the seed of an idea for Zarkora, and started writing it as a movie script.

But when I moved back to Brisbane in 2006, I found Alison a huge bookworm and writing short stories. We loved the same sorts of books, movies and games, so I pitched her the basic idea for Zarkora and we started developing it as a series of novels. It took us roughly 6 years to plot out the four books and finish the first book in the series, The Fyrelit Tragedy. We’ve always got along really well, but I think it’s really just our shared love of stories that makes us a good writing team.

Alison – The best aspect of writing with a sibling is you always have someone to discuss the story with. We find it’s easier to create and problem solve when you’re voicing ideas and issues out loud. The most challenging aspect would be when we disagree on something. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can be a little frustrating. But like any good working relationship, we talk it out and come to a mutual agreement. We’ve been writing together for 10 years now, and we certainly don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

locehl-zakora 2Who are your creative heroes and what are you both reading at the moment?

Nicholas – We have heaps of authors we look up to, but my creative heroes would have to be J.K. Rowling, Emily Rodda and Roderick Gordon. I am currently reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Helix & the Arrival by Damean Posner and illustrated by our mate, Jules Faber.

Alison – I absolutely love J.K. Rowling, Emily Rodda and Isobelle Carmody (I’m dying to read The Red Queen, the final book in the Obernewtyn series). I recently finished Jinx by Sage Blackwood and Star of Deltora by Emily Rodda, and am currently reading The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

Which of your fictional characters Burns Brightest in your mind and why?

Nicholas – I love all of our characters, but it’s T’shink, the mysterious warrior-hermit in our story who burns brightest in my mind. He’s the strong, silent type, but he is also a very complex character.

Alison – I’d have to say Devyn, the main dragon in the story. I’ve always loved dragons, but I have a real soft spot for Devyn. He is a rebellious and savage character a lot of the time, but always comes through for the companions when it truly counts.



Nicholas Lochel grew up in Brisbane, Australia, along with his two brothers and sister, Alison, with whom he is co-writing the ZARKORA series. It was the close bond he shared with his siblings that first inspired the story. He has held a wide variety of jobs over the years, including work as an actor, a bartender and a postie, but his love for stories, and the pursuit of a career as an author, has remained constant throughout. He devotes most of his time to writing, and when he is not seen with a pen and paper or a good book, he can usually be found riding his Triumph motorcycle about town or on some grand adventure.

Alison Lochel, for as long as she can remember, aspired to be an author. At the age of fourteen, she began writing the first book in the ZARKORA series, THE FYRELIT TRAGEDY, along with her brother, Nicholas. Her passion for writing continues to this day as the four-book series nears its completion. She has a cupboard full of dragons, and has been known to read for long periods of time – so long, in fact, that she is often coated by a thin layer of dust. Achoo!


griffiths_the-65-storey-treehouseSpending an evening in the company of a group of people who are as passionate as they are knowledgeable about books is about as close as it gets to paradise on Earth. Add a sinfully creamy crème brûlée with the barest sliver of a caramelised crust and it’s closer to heaven.

This pretty much sums up my night on Monday when I went to the 2015 Pan Macmillan Roadshow. Claire Craig, the company’s Children’s Publisher, kindly spent some of her very much in-demand time talking YA, children’s books, and the industry in Australia with me. She had a great deal of insight into all of those topics. Books are constantly variable, and the shift that’s happening in YA right now favours local Australian authors. Not for patriotic reasons. Readers – younger ones especially – don’t care where their books come from. They just want an enthralling read. Increasingly, it seems, Aussie authors are stepping up to fill that demand.

On that note, one of Claire’s personal favourites for the year is local author Fiona Wood’s Cloudwish. A relatively new author, Fiona Wood has never-the-less managed to amass a slew of awards and nominations for her first two novels. Claire was so passionate about this author that I’ve requested her novel and will be bumping it to the top of my TBR pile the moment I have it. Cloudwish follows Vietnamese-Australian Vân Uoc Phan as she tries to maintain a low profile and navigate high school. Unfortunately the best laid plans all too often collapse… Fitting in, standing out; a clash of cultures, and surviving high school; everything about this book makes me want to curl up with a copy of it and lock out the world.

To no one’s surprise, the 65-Storey Treehouse is doing amazing things for the book industry. Released in August, it is the fastest selling Australian title in history moving 70, 000 copies in its first week.

Rainbow Rowell has a new book out in October. Carry On is Rowell’s first foray into all-out fantasy. It’s linked to Fangirl in as much as it’s the story of Simon Snow, the fictional character who is the basis for Cath and Wren’s fanfic, and sounds fantastic. And the question on everyone’s lips – okay, okay, the question on my lips – is will there be slash?

With these amazing titles, I can see that my 2016 reading list is going to balloon this Christmas. Now I just have to decide what to read first…



Alison MatherI had the pleasure of attending the Hachette Roadshow last week, alongside fellow MDPWeb staffer, Joelene Pynnonen. The Roadshow is an annual event for those in the book trade and stops at major centres in Australia. It’s great fun and showcases the breadth of Hachette’s new and upcoming releases for Christmas and beyond.

It was easy to become giddy over the glittering array of food, bubbles, books and, yes, goodie bags. The mood was chatty and festive, the new releases tantalising, and the asparagus spears to die for!

For YA readers, there is much to look forward to in the coming months. Included in the gift bag was a copy of ‘Only Ever Yours’, by Louise O’Neill, a dark piece of hard-hitting fiction that has garnered international attention. It offers a view into a world in which girls are groomed to become ‘companions’ for the elite. Taught that their only value is in their perfection, the pressure becomes too much for two best friends. Everything starts to unravel in their final year of school, on the cusp of being chosen as brides, when the future is all that matters.

This one promises to be riveting and I can’t wait to read and review it.

untitledAnother to look out for is ‘The World According to Anna’, by Jostein Gaarder (of ‘Sophie’s World’ fame). Sixteen year old Anna starts having visions of a future time; a bleak world where she witnesses her own descendants sifting through the ashes that are left. She begins to believe that it is her destiny to change the future, or disaster will ensue.

Anyone who loved Lemony Snicket will want to catch ‘Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head’ by Lauren Oliver and HC Chester, for an overload of freaks, wonders and oddities. Fans of a good series can look forward to the VERY LAST EVER instalment of How to Train Your Dragon, ‘How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury’; the third in The Mapmaker Chronicles, ‘Breath of the Dragon’; and Book Two of Zarkora, ‘The Lost Kingdom’, by Nicholas and Alison Lochel.

I managed to exchange a few words with Nicholas and Alison, who were present on the night to promote their Zarkora series. The Brisbane-grown siblings have worked hard over the years as self-publishers, and it is wonderful to see it paying off so successfully. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with the Lochels on burnbright.com, and for my own review of the first book of the series, ‘The Fyrelit Tragedy’.

The reading landscape is looking good for YA enthusiasts, thanks to the team at Hachette Australia. Make room on your bookshelves, folks, they’re all coming soon.

Chris GlabbChristopher Glabb

Even though he’s only 15, Chris has not only run 2 blogs, but also creates videos on YouTube, at www.youtube.com/ChristopherGlabb.He currently blogs at www.teenonscene.com.

The only things he loves more than creating online content are cats, and coffee.


How long have you been writing for MDPWeb, why did you join the group, and what do you like about being part of it?

I think I’ve been working with Marianne for about a year now. I joined because they were in need of a proper Fashion Blogger. What I love about the amazing group is the close knit relationship between all of us!

What creative piece are you working on, and what author would you liken your work too?

Recently, I’ve been focusing on a lot of video content on YouTube. Other than videos, I’ve been branching out my writing to more genres of writing, including an teen advice column.

What book have you most enjoyed reviewing for MDPWeb?

I don’t do a lot of book reviewing, but I have reviewed one book, and it was an amazing book about the incredible fashion in Shanghai.

What’s your favourite thing to do in your downtime?

When I have extra time, I enjoy playing with cats, and creating online  all kinds of content.

Is there somewhere else online/in bookstores we can find your work?

If you want to see my writing, you can visit my blog, www.teenonscene.com. If you’re more into video content, you can find me at www.youtube.com/ChristopherGlabb

What’s your favourite TV series?

I adore the show Americas Next Top Model because I’ve really developed a liking for Tyra Banks!

Who or what is your current crush?

Currently, I have a huge fashion crush on septum piercings. I don’t know why, but I think they’re so in right now.

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