A lone person on an iceberg with a huge ship looming above. It’s icy and cold looking. The title is in bold with colouration that makes it look a little like dirty snow. I have a hard cover copy and the book underneath the dust jacket is black, the title on the spine is in silver foil. Pretty special.


Though we know there is a fully comprehensive crew on board the Oyster, there is a central cast of maybe 12 characters.


I do like Mr Smoke and Mrs Slink. They’re smart, sassy, and protective of Petrel.

Least Favourite

Dolph. The girl has issues.


The Oyster is divided into 3 tribes, and considering everyone lives on an ice breaker ship, it seems somewhat idiotic for this to be the case. Petrel (otherwise known as the ‘Nothing Girl’) is tribe-less, so is ignored by a good proportion of the crew. So when Petrel notices a figure on an iceberg, she is indirectly involved with his rescue.


A strange mania takes over the crew when their captain is murdered. The easiest thing is to blame the stranger.


Not what I was expecting, and yet it pleased me.


After so long on a ship (300 years), some of the concepts have me thinking back to biology class and the issues with inbreeding. There seems to always be mention of babies, but none of the female crew was pregnant as far as we’re told and if the tribes aren’t supposed to co-mingle… yeah, I don’t need to complete that thought.

There is a sneak peek at book 2, Sunker’s Deep, in the back and because I don’t know if I want to read on, so I’m avoiding it.


“Snow falls from the sky,” said Krill, scowling, “and ice, and even a bird on occasion. But a boy?” He shook his head. “No, there’s another explanation somewhere, and it’s got me worried. According to the old stories, there’s nothing north of here but madness. So what if that’s where he comes from? Eh?” He walked to the door, then turned and glared at Petrel. “What if he comes from somewhere north? And what if he’s brought a bit of that madness with him?” ~Krill planting a seed of doubt in Petrel’s mind.


tanner-ice breaker 2Krista:


I think the cover fits the book because it is about about a large boat. But the title did confuse me a little bit. The cover is very attention grabbing and a great visual description of the story.


So many characters! But as the story follows Petrel she is the focus and the most rounded character. There is Petrel and Fin who are both on their own missions. Petrel makes one friend aboard the ship Squid. She also has two Imp companions and their many rat followers. Then it extends to the other members of the crew and boat itself.


Mr Smoke and Mrs Slink. I have to agree with Belinda on this one; they added so much humor and fun to the story. I have to say that I loved Petrel too; she is very brave.

Least Favourite

Dolph is a pretty nasty character. She does have reasons to be upset and angry but I think her character overall becomes more of a villain in this story line.


Petrel is introduced to us as being the only person on the boat that does not belong to one of the tribes. Her parents were considered traitors and now she is an orphan and she plays more of a stowaway role on the story as none of the tribes will take her in. She has to sneak around, steal food, and stay out of the way or risk the possibility of being thrown overboard. One day she is watching the icebergs and notices a boy on the ice. She makes some of the adults on board aware of him, and they decide to bring him aboard, completely causing uproar among all of the boat’s residents.


A stranger on board is against all reasoning and is a bad omen. When the captain turns up dead, the stranger is blamed and a search party and war-like state takes hold of the boat. Petrel decides to rescue the boy, she knows he is innocent. With the help of her friends she must warn the residents of danger and save them all from destruction.


The ending was perfect, pulling the whole story together. It also leaves open possibilities for continuing the stories of these characters.


I did not read anything about the book before going into it, not even the back cover, but I really enjoyed it. In a way, it sort of reminded me of Maria V Snyder’s Inside Out duology (which I loved) It is a great story for young readers and teens. Strong characters and engaging plot.

“Petrel leaned on the rail, watching the ice cave and stamping her feet for warmth. The berg came closer. That’s when she saw him. Laid out on the ice like a dead fish, with a scattering of snow covering his face. A boy, where there should have been nothing but the memory of winter. A frozen boy.’




The cover has a girl against the backdrop of a dark sky, a rat on each of her shoulders. A ship navigating through a glacier studded sea is in the foreground. The title is in a font reminiscent of cogs. It works well to give the book the feel of middle-grade fantasy with highlights on the things that are important to the story.



There are three tribes in Ice Breaker, and neither of the two main characters belong to any of them. Petrel has been an outcast on her ship for as long as she can remember and Fin is new to the ship, the Oyster, having been found half-frozen on a glacier.



Petrel. She’s tough and can survive almost anything. Despite the life she’s led, she’s also kind and able to empathise with people – even the ones who have hurt her.


Least Favourite

I couldn’t pick anyone. I wasn’t fond of Fin at the beginning but as you get to know where he came from and what he’s been through, he grows on you.



It’s an ordinary day for Petrel. Just as she finds a warm enough place to sleep the ship’s children are chasing her off again. To get away she heads out into the frigid cold of the deck, and finds a boy half-frozen on a glacier.



For years the ship has been divided into three factions – all at war with one another. Now, for the first time, they realise that they might all have a greater common enemy.



Ice Breaker has a satisfying, tidy ending. I’m looking forward to the sequel, but there’s no nasty cliff-hanger here.



I devoured this book. From beginning to end, I was hooked. I love the way that Lian Tanner melds real-world ethics to her fantasy without turning her novels into morality stories. Her books are technically for a younger readership but she doesn’t shy away from harsh realities or speak down to her readers; making these novels compelling for people of any age. There’s a psychological depth to Ice Breaker that many YA and adult novels lack. The imagination behind her fantasy worlds never fails to stun me either.


‘And with that she was gone, leaving the boy shocked beyond belief. She had given him a name! She had forced a name on him, when he had neither earned it nor wanted it!’



Familiarity breeds contempt, Do you think it would it be possible for people to stay in such close proximity for 300 years and not all die from our own stupidity?

The theme of theology versus technology is not a new one. Given that current technological trends are fast destroying the planet is it naive to show technology as being something flawless that should be whole-heartedly embraced?



Hardcover, 304 pages

Published August 18th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends (first published November 1st 2013)

ISBN 1250052165 (ISBN13: 9781250052162)


The girls share all the goodies that were in their Hachette grab bags at the Holly Black event in Sydney.

Natasha Obrien-HA, B, C, D, LGBTQ+

Writer, comedienne, career lesbian and blogger. You can find most of Tash’s thoughts at www.Effort-Lez.com


LGBTQ-abcdSo what’s in a name anyway? Well when we are talking about LGBTQ+ labels, a lot can be in a name. LGBTQ+ individuals use many different LGBTQ+ labels to self identify. A lot of self exploration goes into adopting a LGBTQ+ label. These labels are very rooted in identity and identity politics. So it’s very important to queer people that they are addressed with the right labels. Here is a quick reference list to help you get familiar with some of the most commonly used LGBTQ+ labels. 


Gay: A person who is attracted primarily to members of the same sex. Although it can be used for any sex, it is primarily used to refer to males who are attracted to other males 


Lesbian: A female who is attracted to other women.


Bisexual: A person who is attracted to both persons of both sexes. 


Transgender: Is an umbrella term used to identify persons who do not identify with their assigned gender at birth (CIS gender) or the binary gender system, for example, a person born biologically male who feels they are in fact female. Many transgendered people do not identify with the male-female gender binary. Rather, they feel they exist outside it or in between. Persons with this perspective can also overlap with GENDERQUEER.


Genderqueer: Genderqueer persons possess identities which reject the traditional male-female sexual binary. They do not feel they are either male or female, but rather a blend of the two or a third neutral gender. These persons may also identify as ADROGYNOUS 


Androgynous: Having an appearance that is gender neutral that posses characteristics of both sexes. 


Pansexual: A person who is attracted to persons of all gender identities and expressions. Including Trans and Genderqueer persons.


Queer: Is a general umbrella term used to refer to ANYONE from the LGBTQ+ community. If you are ever in doubt on what label to use to refer to someone you can always use this term.


So there you have it: a quick list of LGBTQ+ definitions. Remember, it’s always best practice to ask someone how they identify rather then assuming their sexuality and gender based on their appearance. When it comes to labels, it’s all about SELF identification. So let’s always honour how our friends choose to identify. 


Best xx



Photo cred. www.StephGrantPhotography.com IG @imsteph @promotelovemovement #promoteLove

smythe_Way Down Dark cover imageBefore you open the cover of Way Down Dark, book 1 in a new YA Trilogy by UK author JP Smythe, I advise strapping yourself in tight and preparing for a bumpy, bloody, breathtaking ride.

This dark dystopian story is set aboard a spaceship called Australia. Australia, we are told, is one of many ships that was hastily built, loaded with people and dispatched into space hundreds of years ago. Earth was dying you see, and the ships were sent out in search of a new home for the human race. Only, they’re still searching. Well, Australia is anyway.

Life on Australia is far from idyllic. The book’s dramatic beginning, which is when we meet our central protagonist 17 year-old Chan, ensures there is absolutely no confusion about that. An assortment of gangs and cults reign over the various sections of the ship and the barbaric Lows, who are willing to slaughter anyone in their path, are leading a push towards absolute control.

The only life that Chan’s ever known is one of violence, of fighting. Of trying to survive.

But there might be a way to escape. In order to find it Chan must head way down into the   darkness – a place of buried secrets, long-forgotten lies, and the abandoned bodies of the dead.

Wow. I was on board Australia with Chan and her story from the very first. The ship, with its hulking size and crude multi-level structure, is so artfully depicted I could see the rough curtain-drawn berths that line every floor and I could smell the hideous stench of the deep dark pit down below.

And Chan’s quest to find meaning within this impossibly bleak existence – to make a difference – pulled me along at breakneck speed all the way to the book’s new dawn conclusion (this is only book 1 of 3 remember).

I have to say Chan is one seriously tough female protagonist. I love the idea that girls who are about her age might read this book and gain something from the character’s fierce independence, her unwavering strength, and her always compassionate heart. And the absence of any real romance thread in the story is a positive. The book is stronger and fresher because of this.

In Way Down Dark, JP Smythe has crafted a Trilogy opening that offers dystopian YA readers something very different to the usual. The book is pretty violent but it also has a strong humanitarian message that gives the story real heart. I found it compelling.

Last year American author Veronica Roth’s hugely successful YA fantasy novel Divergent made a successful leap from the page to cinema screens. Well, Way Down Dark looks to be on its way to becoming a movie too. Deadline.com reports that Studio 8 has just optioned the novel.


johnston_thousand nightsTo save her sister she must face a demon.

For many years a cruel king has demanded that his people provide him with brides. They come from all of the districts in the city and all of the towns. They always die – some on the first night. Now it is her village’s turn to provide a wife. She knows that he will choose the most beautiful girl her village has to offer; her sister.

She will not allow it. Whatever the price of keeping her sister alive, she will pay it.

Before long her sister’s life will not be the only thing she is fighting for. With an inter-species war looming, she will have to fight for her family, her people, and the soul of a king…

When revisiting traditional stories, there’s always the possibility that the outdated morals will taint a modern day adaptation. In few stories is there more danger of this than the Asian/Middle Eastern story of One Thousand and One Nights. The story of Scheherazade regaling her royal husband with half-told tales to stay her execution for another night does her credit but obliterates any understanding a modern reader could have for him.

Because of this, I was reluctant to begin a book based on the One Thousand and One Nights tale, but curiosity overcame me. I cracked the spine and read the first page. Then the second. Before I knew it, I was halfway through the book and it was hours past my bedtime.

Suffice it to say that A Thousand Nights is a fantastic novel. It’s a short book, but makes the most of the words it uses. The writing is vivid, lyrical and precise. This book is a luxury to read, and it’s a surprise to find that each beautifully crafted sentence moves the story forward. No words are superfluous.

Unlike the original story, women are the front and centre of A Thousand Nights. In the traditional tale most of the women were present only to die. Even Scheherazade, who survives, is a framing device to tell stories mostly featuring men. In A Thousand Nights, women are the driving force for every major event. The unnamed main character decides her own fate without applying to anyone for permission. Her sister, though the one being saved, is no plot device to disappear once her part is over. She and the main character are connected even across the distance, and neither gives up on the other as they both work toward their goals.

In many ways this is a fairy tale flipped on its head. The bride is no damsel awaiting rescue. Instead it is the humanity in her husband that needs to be saved. He is helpless to free himself and she is his only hope.

A Thousand Nights is a lovely retelling of the tale of Scheherazade. With a focus on character rather than action, it manages to keep the fairy tale-like feeling of the original while exploring the intricacy of emotions a little deeper.

A Thousand Nights – E.K. Johnston

Macmillan (October 22, 2015)

ISBN: 9781447284116

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