destefano_perfectON INTERNMENT you can be anything you dream – a novelist or a singer, a florist or a factory worker… Your life is yours to embrace or to squander. There’s only one rule: you don’t approach THE EDGE. If you do, it’s already over.

Perfect Ruin is the first book in Lauren DeStefano’s riveting new series, the Internment Chronicles.

Paperback, 356 pages

Published March 10th 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Internment is a city in the clouds ruled by a monarchy. The population is restricted; all citizens’ life records are closely watched and medication is strictly controlled. Morgan’s brother is one who went too close to the edge, and now her whole family is on the watch list. When a girl is found murdered, their small protective community begins to feel claustrophobic and secrets long held unfold everything Morgan thought she knew.

One day, a body is found on the train tracks, murdered. Such crimes do not exist on Interment, and it causes a panic among the people. They are confused and terrified. The deceased’s partner is on the run, accused of the act. Morgan is curious about the accused and soon finds out there is a underground group of citizens who see the darker side of Internment and want to escape. Morgan’s curiosity in the murder and why it happened, along with her family’s history, brings unwanted attention from the leaders. It soon becomes a game of cat and mouse when secrets are finally revealed to Morgan.

The writing is pretty fast-paced and the world building is creative and imaginative.  I really enjoy reading books by Lauren DeStefano. I find her stories fun reads, and a bit dark with very memorable and strong characters. If you are a fan of her Chemical Garden series as I am, you’ll enjoy this new series as well. Science fiction, romance, and mystery all in one.


Nix_newtIn a departure from his usual style, multi award-winning science fiction and fantasy author, Garth Nix, has penned a brisk and playful regency romance in Newt’s Emerald. When a precious family heirloom, the Newington Emerald, is stolen, young Lady Truthful Newington determines to set off in pursuit of the culprit. This chase will take her to London, where she must assume the guise of a young French nobleman in order to discover further clues to aid her in unravelling the mystery. With the help of a wonderfully drawn great aunt, Lady Badgery, Truthful finds herself enmeshed in a world of rogues, dashing gentlemen, high society, and dastardly sorcery.

Fittingly, Nix has peppered this romantic comedy of errors and intrigue with a substantial and clever sprinkling of the highbrow vocab of yesteryear. I, for one, learned a range of historical terms and turns of phrase, and Nix even helpfully includes a glossary of terms at the back of the book. It comes as no surprise to find that he cites Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, and Patrick O’Brien as influences, having discovered their work as a teen. Newt’s Emerald, in fact, is the final incarnation of a manuscript Nix had first started writing all the way back in 1990.

And it’s good news for his readership that he returned to that earlier manuscript and crafted it into this rollicking, entertaining story. As a central character, Truthful is charming and vivid, and is possessed of a lively wit and impressive independence, despite her tender age. When she encounters the dashing and courageous Major Hartnett (‘of his Britannic Majesty’s Ninety-Fifth Regiment of Rifles’, no less), you bet you’ll be hoping for sparks to start flying. But Nix cleverly weaves the romantic element in with the fantasy and adventure – this isn’t your run-of-the-mill, teen romance. There are conniving characters to outwit, sleights of hand to perform, and a number of surprises that will delight you as they are revealed.

Although I loved earnest and principled Truthful, determined Hartnett, and even the evil sorceress, it was Lady Badgery who really stole my heart – a dry, acerbic, yet wise woman who suffers no fools and does whatever it takes to protect her great-niece, however frustrating that task sometimes proves to be. An eccentric character, she gads about dressed in robes and a favourite fez – sleeping when it suits her and dispensing with any censorship in her often caustic exchanges with visitors who irritate her. Essentially, she’s that unabashedly dotty, unapologetic old great aunt we all secretly hope to become one day.

Newt’s Emerald is a light-hearted, easy-to-read little jewel of a book and one which is sure to lift your spirits with its delightful characters and sense of downright fun. Grab a copy, settle in, and lose yourself in the ornate prose, exciting adventure, and, of course, romance.

Paperback, 232 pages

Published August 23rd 2015 by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760112653.

NC_Burn Bright Boxed Set_600Delighted to see the Night Creature series mentioned in this:

“Deliciously dark and imaginative, this trilogy takes place on the party island of Ixion, where everything takes place in excess, and sinister secrets lurk beneath the surface. Night Creatures rule over the island and its inhabitants, but internal politicking, along with a festering rebellion among some of the youth, threaten upheaval and chaos. Poetic and gorgeous.”


If you live in the US you can now buy the entire trilogy in one ebook.

sorensen_secret Ella and MichaAfter spending eight months away at college, Ella is finally about to go home for the summer break. She is not relishing the prospect; not when she’s spent the better part of a year trying valiantly to reinvent herself, and especially not when she has left behind her best friend, and the only person she could ever count on, without an explanation – or even a goodbye.

Demons don’t wait, as Ella is about to find. And nor does Micha. Her gorgeous best friend has spent the past several months searching for her and, now that she’s back, he has no intention of letting her go again. Or of letting her forget who she really is.

Seeing Micha again stirs up all sorts of feelings that Ella had hoped to leave behind. However much he might want it, remembering who she is isn’t an option – it would mean remembering her past and Ella has done her upmost to bury all of that.

With a set up like the one in The Secret of Ella and Micha, it’s impossible not to get dragged in from the start. What has happened to Ella that is so bad that she’s abandoned everything she knows – including the boy she loves? Worse than that, what has happened that has made her want to become someone else? Someone dispassionate and disconnected from the world when she had always been one to embrace life wholeheartedly?

This is a tale that explores the impact of poverty and broken homes on the teens who experience them. Neither Ella nor Micha have had stable lives, but they had always found stability in each other until something snapped and – for Ella – everything came undone.

The Secret of Ella and Micha has some adult themes that makes it an unsuitable read for middle grade and tween readers; but it is still essentially a book for readers younger than myself. Classed as New Adult, I’d recommend it for older teens or possibly readers in their early twenties. While the storyline is compelling, it doesn’t have the depth of analysis that Ella and Micha’s circumstances call for. Their background is mostly for the sake of conflict and, while it is an interesting conflict, it conveniently fades out to make room for the romance.

The Secret of Ella and Micha is a light romance with a bit of background angst and some mystery. It’s the quintessential beach read – one of those books that you can fly through and enjoy while relaxing on holiday. It’s a safe, friendly read that won’t have you in tears at the end of the whole thing.


The Secret of Ella and Micha – Jessica Sorensen

Little Brown (February 12, 2013)

ISBN: 9780751552287

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!


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