wood-cloudwishHigh school is pretty tough terrain to navigate. For Vân Uoc Phan, the path is even rockier. Living between two worlds, both her school and home lives are delicate balancing acts. Home is the tiny housing commission flat she shares with her Vietnamese parents, while school is the prestigious Crowthorne Grammar. If she can just manage both parts of her life until she graduates, she has a chance at freedom.

It’s the beginning of year eleven and Vân Uoc has the rest of her schooling career all planned out. Keep her head down. Focus on schoolwork – especially art. Keep school and home separate at all costs. Then in English she allows herself one wildly fantastic wish.

With it her carefully constructed world begins to fall apart.

Cloudwish is Fiona Wood’s third book. While it can be read as a stand-alone, it revisits some of the characters from her second novel, Wildlife. It is more of a spin-off than a sequel, so you’re not missing anything if you start here. Cloudwish doesn’t seem to spoil any of the events from Wildlife either.

With the current political climate, this is the perfect time for a book like Cloudwish. As the child of refugees, Vân Uoc can sympathise with the plight of those seeking asylum in modern Australia. Her anxiety about the government’s treatment of asylum seekers as criminal rather than human echoes the thoughts of many Australians. Being told from Vân Uoc’s perspective, however, lends a sense of urgency and humanity to the situation.

The family politics of Cloudwish are beautifully rendered. Wood manages to portray the often overlooked disconnect between immigrant parents and first generation children. From the language barrier, where neither parent nor child knows enough of the other’s main language to have profound conversations, to the cultural differences between the generations. The most poignant notion the novel sets forth is that no matter how much love is within a family, it can be battered by fundamental cultural differences.

Probably the thing that I liked the most about Cloudwish is that it didn’t follow any conventional plot structure. There were escalations, shifts in power dynamics, misunderstandings, secrets and general parent-versus-child issues; but most of these things played out in subtle, realistic ways without the great big climax that makes everything okay. Some things weren’t resolved at all, because in life some things aren’t.

Cloudwish is a lovely addition to the Australian contemporary YA genre. It stays true to itself, relying on the strength of its characters to tell a good story.


Cloudwish – Fiona Wood

Pan Macmillan Australia (August 25, 2015)

ISBN: 9781743533123

noni-arkanaeAlex was sent down the hallway to the third door on the right. Nothing was ever the same again. Who’d have guessed behind that door was a whole different world of magic and excitement.

Lynette Noni has crafted a story that is not only fun but intriguing as well.  As we all know, the boarding school, magic, questing and teen angst thing has been done to freaking death.  We’re usually on the quest with a nerdy guy, or a pathetically naive girl. Alex is so beyond awesome that it’s kind of annoying that she’s fictional.

I also like to analyse the calibre of the best friends or posse, and judge them on their ability to see the main character as they really are, and their willingness to stick by them through the entire character arc. Bear and Jordan are pretty damn loyal. They stack up, and though they can’t be with Alex every step of her journey, they don’t have to cower, crawl and kowtow to fix a mess; which is refreshing.

The adult characters aren’t all ridiculously stern, though Alex’s parents are markedly absent through a good 99 percent of the story. I am looking forward to the future books where I would imagine they will remerge and add flavour to the plot.

I thoroughly enjoyed the settings of the boarding school and the various other places Alex travels to. I can imagine how it would feel to be in the archives, and the food court sounds amazing.

I look forward to continuing with the Medoran Chronicles and finding out what Alex does next.


Paperback, 436 pages

Published February 1st 2015 by Pantera Press

ISBN 1921997508 (ISBN13: 9781921997501)


noni-Akarnae student cardP.S. At Brisbane Supanova in November I had the chance to briefly meet Lynetteto have her sign my book and participate in a fun extra she had on offer at the signing table. There were also bookmarks… hand made by Lynette.

You can find Lynette here:- http://lynettenoni.com/

And you can follow her on all the social medias.

Facebook:- https://www.facebook.com/lynette.noni/

Instagram:- https://www.instagram.com/lynettenoni/

Twitter:-  https://twitter.com/LynetteNoni


Paperback, 436 pages

Published February 1st 2015 by Pantera Press

ISBN 1921997508 (ISBN13: 9781921997501)



Belinda_kisses_tnBel’s happy with the series so far!



shadow huntersThis is a Netflix exclusive, 13 episode TV show based on the best selling Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

Some would class the City of Bones film as a bit of a flop… (I personally liked it). So I was utterly thrilled to see recently that the TV series was heading to my Netflix account on the 13th of January 2016. Episodes are to be released on a traditional once weekly basis and I’m looking forward to seeing the installments pertaining to the slideshow shows when mousing over the tile.

The special effects are pretty damn cool and though the first thought that ran through my head when they pulled out the Seraph blades was ‘Wow hope they bought enough batteries’, the rest of it is better than most I’ve seen before.

They didn’t stick to the storyline rigidly; Clary is 18, rather than 15, and the cast has completely changed… not necessarily a bad thing.

I want to hear what you all thought and tell me if you’re going to keep up with the series.

I am totally sucked in.



I have the small format paperback. It’s looks very much like a page from a visual diary. Oranges red’s and vivid yellows are superimposed over print to look like an inferno. Though it seems rather abstract in the description, it really does represent the story quite well.

The title is over the top of lines of white out, and the blurb at the top of the page by Marie Lu shares my opinion of this book. The one line synopsis, “First, survive. Then tell the truth.” It’s a real hook to picking up the book.


The cast is rather large as there are the crews of two space vessels to take into account. We do however focus mainly on a much smaller group.


I cannot pick between Kady and Ezra. The interviews at the beginning of the book really clinch it for me.

Least Favourite

Aidan. I can just imagine his cold, detached, monotone voice. A whole lot of nope!


The space colony Kady and Ezra live in is attacked by a large company (attacked as in bombs and biological warfare) and in the evacuation they end up on two different space vessels.


The biological warfare starts to take hold on the ship Ezra is on and lies are being told to cover the tracks of the people in power.


It’s up to Kady and Ezra to bring the best outcome and save as many people as they can. No pressure!


I love the formatting of this book.

Presented as a dossier ready for review by a tribunal, I think it quite unique. It’s filled with interviews, third party recounts of surveillance footage, instant messages, diary entries, artworks, diagrams and emails.

Sitting at 599 pages I really thought I would struggle to get through this monster this month. I did, however, get it consumed in a day: almost one sitting.

It is totally immersive and the character voices are witty and believable.

I’m glad this is written by Aussie authors. There really is something satisfying about authors who are not American making it to the NY Times best sellers list.


Interviewer: – “We can talk about it if you like, or we can sit here and stare at the walls until our allotted hour is over.”

Interviewer:- “It’s up to you.”


~ Ezra interview.

Interviewer: – “You evacuated at that stage?”

Kady:- “You make it sound way more organised than it was.”

Interviewer:- “How was it?”

Kady:- All kittens and rainbows apart from the screaming and explosions.”

~Kady interview.




An array of oranges and yellows. Like an explosion overlaid with embers. It’s dramatic and eye-catching; and the writing on the cover suits the files format of the novel.



Ezra Mason and Kady Grant. A couple for a year, at the beginning of Illuminae, they have just broken up.



I don’t know if I have one. I really like the dynamic between AIDEN and Kady without necessarily adoring either of them on their own.


Least Favourite

Probably Ezra. He’s a perfectly functional character, if he were meant to be minor player. Considering that he’s second only to Kady, he’s kind of lacklustre.



When a corporation finds that another company has been mining one of its planet’s resources, it moves to destroy the colony. Kady and Ezra are set to be collateral damage in the battle. Luckily for them one of the United Terran Authority battle-carriers is near enough to respond to distress signals and come to the rescue. Now, badly damaged, the remnants of this once great colony must keep ahead of the remaining enemy ship as they try to reach civilisation.


Just when you think that the Kerenzan refugees are in as much danger as they could be, they get thrown even deeper. With some of the survivors suffering from the effects of previously unheard of biological weapons, the others need to make difficult decisions about how to survive to six month trek to safety.



The ending picks up pace so much more than the beginning. It’s amped up and edge-of-your-seat stuff.


The format didn’t work for me. I don’t mind different styles, but structuring this in interviews, files and break-downs of video footage killed almost all of the emotion. It’s actually an amazing story. Fresh, vivid, with enough going on to keep the pace and story tight and taut. The panic of being chased by a determined and more powerful enemy, being at risk from biological hazards and not being able to trust the usual hierarchy is obvious, but would be more palpable if the story had been interspersed with files rather than being entirely files.


Interviewer: How did you make it out?

Kady Grant: I’m a lateral thinker.

Interviewer: Meaning you used your comput-

Kady Grant: Meaning I broke open a window.




The hardcover has a see-through plastic book cover. The actual hardcover of the book is a document with red handwritten notes on it. It 100% represents the story and the bright orange colours really draw the eye to it.


There are so many characters in this story that at times I couldn’t remember who was who. The main characters are Kady and Ezra; they recently broke up and during the rescue, end up on different spaceships. A lot of the communication is done between the two.


I can’t really pick an absolute favorite out of the group but I did like Ezra over Kady. I found him to be a very caring person.

Least Favourite

I don’t have a character specifically, but the whole company of BeiTech was pretty awful.


Most of the beginning of the story is character interviews about what happened to cause the mass evacuations of the Karenza Colony, and reports of some of the survivors and the testing they were going through on their ships to put them to work in different fields. Pilot, computers..etc.


The illegal colony of Karenza is invaded and the majority of the citizens are killed; it’s a massacre. Some are able to escape to the three ships in the area, but are separated from their friends and family (if they even survived) and are given new jobs above the aircrafts, which are still trying to escape the BeiTech ships.


In the beginning of a war you expect a lot of upset, deaths, and that is what you get. There are twists, explosions, near death experiences. You name it!


This book was difficult for me. I had heard about it everywhere, and I loved the idea of how it was put together (all letters, reports, computer messages etc). But I really had a hard time getting into the story or liking the characters. I came to the conclusion (in relation to my own feelings of this book) that it is a work of art. Some of the pages, especially near the end, are very visual and artistic; they add a great experience to the reading of the story. I also enjoyed the more gruesome parts of the story; it makes the story dark and dangerous and crazy, which I love.


CitB:stay on task, grasshopper. we let the Alexander burn us out of the sky, your red hot love will be subsumed by a bigger, hotter flame

ByteMe: how do you even function in society?

CitB: it’s a struggle


Discussion Topics:

How do you feel about computers being programmed to kill innocents if those deaths could save more lives than they took?


Hardcover, 599 pages

Published October 20th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

ISBN 0553499114 (ISBN13: 9780553499117)

bowman-VengeanceRevenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal. 

Hardcover, 336 pages

Published September 1st 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers

This was one of those stories that I refer to as a “travel story”. I am unsure if there is already a term used for it.

Kate is in constant movement from one place to another, meeting people, finding answers and running for her life. There is very little downtime and things are always in motion.

After returning home and finding her father murdered, Kate decides that she wants revenge. First she follows her fathers wishes by travelling to a friend’s house who has promised to take care of her. Upon her arrival she finds that the friend has also passed. Kate follows her heart and the trail of the Rose Riders to avenge her father’s death with a small crew of her own (even though they are more focused on obtaining gold than killing the most powerful gang leader around).

Kate is a very determined character that has one focus. At times she will say whatever it takes to get those around her to do what she wants so she can reach her goal. All the while, those around her have ideas of their own. At times a bit of romance comes into play and there’s a lot of character growth for Kate as the story progresses.

I can’t say that I loved Vengeance Road so much that it inspired me to pick up more westerns, but I had a good time reading it and would recommend it to those who enjoy historical reads. It’s a very wild west, horse riding, shoot outs, card playing roller coaster of greed and revenge. An action packed, plot driven story that keeps you on your toes and has a fun twist ending. I haven’t read a lot of westerns and this one was engaging, had a great plot, and I loved the ending.


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