Book Review: The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

“The silver landscape falls away in front of her like a scroll with a map drawn on it. fairyland in its entirety: lakes of red fire, the only colour here, spewing and bubbling in the distance; forests growing terrible fruits; tornadoes, that look like a giant’s fingers digging into the soil; scattered lightning; burning rains and murderous flora of every kind…we banished them here. No wonder they hate us.”

Peadar O’Guilin, The Call


What if you only had three minutes to save your own life and the clock is already counting down… Three minutes: You wake up alone in a horrible land. A horn sounds. You realise you’ve been Called. Two minutes: They’re getting closer and despite all your training you’re exhausted, you can’t see anywhere to hide. One minute: You’re glad you can run… Nessa can’t, her polio-twisted legs mean she’ll never survive her Call will she? Suddenly, a hand grabs your wrist and it’s more painful than anything you have ever experienced before in your life… Time’s up. Could you survive The Call?



Before a review copy of The Call by Peadar O’Guilin appeared in my letterbox, I had heard many interesting things, including claims it was a genuine rival for The Hunger Games. It was one of those books I had to sit with for a while after finishing it before I could make up my mind whether I liked it or not. I’m not a fan of anything related to horror and so I was slightly apprehensive to start this book in the first place! It is really creepy… but also really good!

From age 10, the Irish youth are expected to attend survival college, where they train military-style in order to increase their chances of surviving the Call. Since the Sídhe were banished from our world to the hellish Grey Lands they have been seeking revenge by pulling the Irish youth into their world. Three minutes and four seconds translates to a full day in the Grey Lands where the youth must run from the peculiar talents of the Sídhe, talents that lend themselves perfectly to torture! When the youth vanish, they rarely survive. And if they do, they’re never the same.

Fourteen-year-old Nessa is a student at Boyle Survival College and is completely dedicated to saving her own life. She is focused and determined, only slightly hindered by a rare childhood case of polio that crippled her legs. She doesn’t let her disability hold her back and she definitely doesn’t ask for sympathy. Her only friend Megan is confident, witty and very protective of Nessa and Anto – Nessa’s crush – provides some light relief as the class joker. Her other classmates are not so nice and Nessa must watch her back while preparing for the Call – who will get to her first?

The Call is a great blend of dystopia, fantasy, Irish mythology and horror. O’Guilin’s world building is excellent; it is imaginative and gruesome and perfectly paced. The tension and emotion builds with each call and the characters are explored in a really interesting way. Their motivations and allegiances reflect more than just friendship with some underlying observations on class coming out and it makes the reader question who the true villains are. The closest it comes to The Hunger Games, and similar titles, is the way the military-style training of the characters ends with them shedding the blood of their classmates and friends. The students live in a world of manipulation, death and bloodshed; the violence reminded me a little of Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. The Sídhe are vicious and frightening and I really enjoyed seeing the dark side of the fae. I have always liked stories of fairies and I must admit this what what drew me in! I think this book definitely falls further towards horror than science fiction. It is quite horrifying and not for the faint-hearted! Overall, it is a really good read!


AUTHOR: Peadar O’Guilin

ISBN: 9781910989203

PUBLISHER: Scholastic Australia

RRP: $19.99

PUB DATE: September 2016


Thank you to Scholastic Australia for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review and Book Tour: Sapphire Falls by Fleur McDonald

“We’re country women, we just get on and keep going. No one else is going to do it for us.”

Fleur McDonald, Sapphire Hills


Fiona Forrest is devastated when her husband Charlie commits suicide after the accidental shooting of his mate Eddie. Though Fiona decides to keep farming their successful property, rumours that she intends to sell keep circulating.

When Detective Dave Burrows arrives to sign off on the investigation into Eddie’s death, his suspicions are aroused by some strange anomalies at the scene. As Dave becomes increasingly convinced that something sinister is going on, Fiona finds herself dealing with a series of disasters on the farm . . .

By the bestselling author of Crimson Dawn, this suspenseful novel about a woman fighting to preserve her husband’s dream, and a detective determined to uncover the truth will keep you guessing till the very last page.



Welcome to the final stop of the Sapphire Falls Blog Tour! I have just finished Sapphire Falls by Fleur McDonald and am looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you!

Until today, I was unaware there were so many nuances to the rural fiction genre. Despite working for a publisher who publishes rural fiction, I didn’t realise there were so many sub-genres: contemporary/ romance, historical and suspense/ mystery. This is the first of its kind I have read and I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed it!

After the death of her husband, Fiona Forrest is trying to keep the remaining pieces of her life together. Although she decides to keep their property, Fiona finds herself at the centre of small-town rumours suggesting otherwise. Old memories and feelings are stirred up when the local police re-investigate the shooting of Eddie and her husband’s suicide. The more they look into the cases, the more inconsistencies and unanswered questions they find. Is there something more sinister going on?

Since finishing this book, I now have a greater understanding of why readers are loving rural fiction so much! McDonald has previously mentioned that she truly believes in empowering women; agriculture is generally a male-dominated industry and I like that rural fiction is giving these women a voice. It shows off their strengths, from the nature of their character to the support systems they build through family and friends. Although I didn’t know it at the time of reading, McDonald is known for returning older characters in new stories and although each of her books is its own story, it adds an element of comfort for the reader when starting the new book. I may not have read one of McDonald’s books before but I slipped into the story with ease. Her writing is simple and clear, and the story – for the most part – is engaging and well-paced. There were a few parts I didn’t think were needed but overall, it was an enjoyable read. One thing I did like was the way McDonald mixes old and new together. Fiona uses Facebook Messenger to communicate with her brother in New York and this helps to keep the story contemporary yet she grounds her characters with touches of history (with the aga stove and old kettle). It is these details, and McDonald’s beautiful landscape descriptions that make Sapphire Falls a great read!



Twitter: @fleurmcdonald




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Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!


Book Review: The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

“Here in New York, where time was everyone’s currency, and to gaze deeply into the face of another was possibly a sign of madness, people were flocking to sit with Marina Abramović. She wasn’t so much stealing hearts, he thought, as awakening them.”

Heather Rose, The Museum of Modern Love


Arky Levin is a film composer in New York separated from his wife, who has asked him to keep one devastating promise. One day he finds his way to The Atrium at MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist is Present. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.

This dazzlingly original novel asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love and finds a way to answer them.



When I finished reading The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose, I was really unsure how to go about reviewing it. You see, it is brilliant. It is exhausting, empowering, beautiful, sad, confronting and inspiring. It evokes so many emotions and feelings that I didn’t really know where to start. It is a book that spoke to me on so many levels and in a really, really personal way. I wasn’t sure I could write a review for this book without pouring my heart and soul into it… with a few tears as well. But that’s what you are going to get because I can’t talk about art (and therefore this book) without it coming from the heart.

Art is one of my most favourite things in this world. I have had so many profound moments, standing in front of a painting on the other side of the world, or seeing a small piece of street art tucked away in a graffiti-filled Melbourne laneway. Art comes in so many different shapes and sizes and is one of the most powerful forms of expression we have available to us. I have had moments of awe, anger and fear. I have had moments of love, sorrow and passion. I have felt humbled and inspired and thoroughly confused. Not all art is straight forward; there have been many times where I have felt quite bewildered by what I have been looking at. Other times, I have nodded so fiercely in agreement I feared my head would fall off. Art can bring people together but it can also draw them apart. It can be a form of competition, an abuse of power, and evoke extreme and contrasting opinions and actions. The Museum of Modern Love is a story about Marina Abramović and though it is a work of fiction, it is based on true events and an artist that polarises the art world.

In 2010, Abramović sat on a chair at a table on the second floor of the MoMA – the Museum of Modern Art in New York – and invited members of the public to sit with her. The performance – called The Artist is Present – attracted far more attention than anyone thought it would and in this book, through Abramović’s performance, Rose has captured and observed a most profound meditation on art, life and death.

Arky Levin is a middle-aged composer who brings life to music but cannot seem to grasp his own life nor find the motivation to actually live it. His wife Lydia who is very sick, has made one final, devastating request of him and he doesn’t know how to deal with it. He is embarrassingly self-absorbed and by complying with her wishes – only because he doesn’t know what the right thing to do is – he is finally pushed to work out what matters to him and what gives his life meaning. While trying to compose a piece for his latest project, he finds himself procrastinating at the MoMA amongst the thousands of people visiting Abramović. An unnamed narrator introduces and brings together the stories of Abramović, her support team, and some of those who have come to see the performance. As her performance continues, the reader is able to follow the effect it has on the characters in the story. Will Arky find the connection to his own art and his family? Will Abramović make it through the seventy-five days and how many lives will she touch?

As much as I loved this book, I found it to be a tough and confronting read. Rose demands a level of bravery from her characters and forces them to face their reality and in a way, she encourages the reader to do the same. Rose appears to be quite attuned to the way art affects people and the way it can change people’s lives if they’re open to it. Having been to the performance herself, Rose was able to ask Abramović if she could use her as the main character and was able to meet and talk to those supporting Abramović and members of the public who watched or sat with her. “Any art I could think of was always going to be surpassed by her real story,” said Rose. As intimidating as the subject is, Rose writes with enormous respect, clarity and honesty. As I read this book, I was aware of how uncomfortable I felt at times, as Rose’s writing is so moving, I could have sworn I was in the room with them all as well. I felt an incredible sense of what it must have been like at the time – electric and emotional.

Abramović’s career has been a constant search to find the meaning of art. She has pushed the boundaries in many ways, and has often used pain as a focal point to bring herself and her observers into the present. Her awareness of arts power of self-transcendence encourages her to make art accessible and allow people the chance to feel vulnerable. Her silence during The Artist is Present – she did not speak a word for those seventy-five days – offered a chance for those around her to truly connect. Through Rose’s writing, I really feel that she has offered the reader the same opportunity. As each character explores themselves, I felt myself doing the same. Rose asks some pretty tough questions and there were times when the philosophy went over my head a bit; there were definitely moments I didn’t understand. But that’s art!

I feel as though I have painted a rather intense version of this book… but that’s exactly what it was for me. You may not connect with it in the same way; you may not have the same emotions that I do when it comes to art. There is so much to love about this book if art isn’t your thing. Rose is a fantastic writer and her characters really come to life. I really hope this book makes it on to the tops of many reading piles. I think The Museum of Modern Love is extraordinary!


AUTHOR: Heather Rose

ISBN: 9781760291860

PUBLISHER: Allen and Unwin

RRP: $27.99

PUB DATE: 24 August 2016


Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent

“Love is being, not belonging. Giving and receiving, not possessing.”

Isabel Vincent, Dinner with Edward


When Isabel meets Edward, both are at a crossroads: he wants to follow his late wife to the grave, and she is ready to give up on love. Thinking she is merely helping Edward’s daughter by agreeing to check in on her nonagenarian dad, Isabel has no idea that the man in the kitchen baking the sublime roast chicken and light-as-air apricot soufflé will end up changing her life.

As Edward and Isabel meet weekly for the glorious dinners Edward prepares, he shares so much more than his recipes for apple galette, the perfect martini or tips for deboning poultry. Edward is teaching Isabel the luxury of slowing down and taking the time to think through everything she does, to deconstruct her own life, cutting it back to the bone and examining the guts, no matter how messy that proves to be.



I have a confession to make… I started reading this book thinking it was a work of fiction. We all make mistakes, right? I’m not sure where I got the idea from… it just landed in my brain and I went from there. After the first few chapters, I realised my mistake and carried on reading. And read I did… actually, I devoured Dinner with Edward in a single sitting. Isabel Vincent is an investigative reporter with the New York Times and writes with a delightful ease. Reading her words is like having a conversation with a good friend!

Isabel is asked by a friend to have dinner with her elderly father, to check in on him after the death of his wife Paula. Over time, Isabel and Edward develop a special kind of friendship, bonding over extravagant meals infused with life lessons. They meet at a time in their lives when they’re both at a crossroads – Isabel is stuck in a crumbling marriage and Edward has just lost his wife of sixty-nine years. The dinners become a happy place for them both and nourish more than just their stomachs. Despite Edwards sexist view of the world – which Isabel puts down to a generational thing – there is no doubting the depth of his love for his wife and the genuine feeling behind the advice he offers. His heart is truly in the right place.

Edward’s meticulously planned menus reflect his personality and how he doesn’t compromise in his priorities. He teaches Isabel the value of friendship, the art of patience, slowing down and taking the time to think things through. He pushes her outside her comfort zone, and gives her the courage to find what makes her happy and make the necessary changes to achieve it. He is determined for Isabel to be happy within herself. In exchange, she provides Edward with friendship, companionship and is a keen student, soaking up his wisdom and knowledge, inside and out of the kitchen!

There are two things I took from this book that are really relevant to my life right now. Edward made two observations that really resonated with me; he said, ‘we live in the age of communication but nobody knows how to communicate anymore,’ and the second is that ‘paradise is not a place but the people in your lives.’ I have no doubt that every reader will take something from this book! I found it to be a complete joy!


AUTHOR: Isabel Vincent

ISBN: 9781925475227

PUBLISHER: Affirm Press

RRP: $19.99

PUB DATE: August 2016


Thank you to Affirm Press for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: Shield by Rachael Craw

“Destiny doesn’t come from a test tube.”

Rachael Craw, Shield


The final action-packed instalment of the Spark trilogy.

Evie is out of options. She must comply with the Affinity Project – obey their rules, play their deadly games, give up Jamie. And her losses keep growing. When she decides to help a small group of Shields trying to affect change, Evie finds herself in the firing line. Counsellor Knox is intent on revealing her secrets and shackling her to the Affinity Project for life. To protect her family, Evie must betray those closest to her. The odds of success – let alone survival – are slim.



I was extremely happy when Shield arrived in the mail. This is the much-awaited final book in the Spark Trilogy by Rachael Craw. The story continues for Evie, Jamie and the Affinity Project. In Spark (book one), Evie discovered she is a Shield, a genetically modified being designed to protect the vulnerable Sparks. A genetic flaw makes Sparks a target for Strays, seemingly normal people who turn into savage, obsessed killers when they come in contact with a particular Spark. In Stray (book two), Evie became involved in a deadly game with the Affinity Project in an attempt to prove the Stray gene can be cured. Unsurprisingly, the Affinity Project wasn’t open to their program being questioned and so they continued to press Evie further under their control. Across the two books, there were many twists, revelations, tragedies and plenty of action!

Shield picks up where Stray ended. The Affinity Project has been divided by Evie’s claims and many people want her out of the way, dead or alive. Evie isn’t sure who she can trust. Old faces reappear and new faces are introduced to the game and time is running out to save the ones she loves. However, Evie must also fight for herself, as there are certain people who are keen to reveal her secrets and tie her to the Project forever. Evie will try to protect them all – but at what cost?

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series. Evie is a fierce and independent character, headstrong and impulsive. Her act now, think later attitude definitely gets her into trouble and at times only heightens her own insecurities – and her angst. Her need to control everything and save everyone is commendable and foolish, yet it makes her all the more likable! Her love interest Jamie is also incredibly headstrong which makes him controlling, and is another force for Evie to push against. He isn’t a character I really liked or connected with, unlike his sister Kitty – Evie’s best friend – whom I would have loved to have seen more of! Unfortunately, she was fairly important to the story in the earlier books, just not this one!

Craw’s writing is fantastic. She maintains an almost frantic pace throughout the series and never drops the intensity or suspense. The reader is constantly aware of Evie’s claustrophobia and the danger she is in. I applaud the work Craw has put into her world building – it is quite complex yet the technology and ideas are believable. I got completely lost with all the tech talk, however this is a reflection of my reading skill not Craw’s writing. I have never been a great sci-fi reader and find it confusing in many books! I found the whole ‘love game’ – explained by genetics – quite tiring, however this is my general feeling of the trope across all YA, not just this book. I really enjoyed Craw’s views on human rights; the rights of genetically modified beings is a contentious one, so is the belief that a female’s reproductive organs are fair game. The potential for exploitation is a real one and I like how Craw approached it!

Overall, this is a great YA series that is fast paced, action packed and a really enjoyable read!


AUTHOR: Rachael Craw

ISBN: 9781922179647

PUBLISHER: Walker Books

RRP: $19.99

PUB DATE: 1 September 2016


Thank you to Walker Books for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: Girl Out of Water by Nat Luurtsema

“I tell her I’m going to stop training, and how it’s actually exciting because maybe I’ll find something I’m really good at… Hannah chews thoughtfully…’The thing is,’ she says, ‘you’ve been swimming since you were, like, eight…? ‘Seven,’ I correct her. ‘Right. So there’s so many options you haven’t explored!’… she’s so excited by how brilliant I’m going to be. It makes me feel tired and irritable and not very brilliant.”

Nat Luurtsema, Girl Out of Water


Stars in her eyes, water in her ears, boys on her nerves… Lou Brown is out of her depth.

A thoroughly British teen comedy starring a hilariously flawed heroine with a quip for every occasion perfect for fans of Holly Smale, Holly Bourne, Caitlin Moran and Sophie Kinsella. Lou Brown s life is going down the pan. Best friend Hannah sailed through the Olympic time trials and is off to her fancy-pants new swim training school, while Lou s own failure to qualify leaves her without a hobby or a friend. As Lou tries to navigate her post-swim world, a chance encounter with three boys with stars in their eyes takes her life in a surprising new direction. One that leads to a crazy world of underwater somersaults, talent show auditions, bitchy girls and one great big load of awkward boy chat.



Every now and then, you need a book to lighten the mood and leave you giggling on public transport. I quite enjoy being that person who laughs out aloud on the train… I like to think people are envious that I’m having a good time with my book😉 Girl Out of Water by Nat Luurtsema is a funny exploration of the awkward teenage years and the navigational skills needed for making it through the ever changing social and personal expectations.

When fifteen-year-old Lou Brown doesn’t perform as she expected at the Olympic time trials and misses out on the high performance training camp, she finds herself in a post-swimming world without a coach, a hobby and her best (and only) friend, Hannah. Lou must navigate life and school without the all-consuming swimming timetable and work out who she is away from it all. In her attempt to make friends, she ends up coaching three boys – Roman, Pete and Gabe –  in synchronised swimming (because dancing on land won’t get them a coveted spot in a televised talent show). There is one hilarious disaster after another; will Lou and the boys achieve their goals?

Girl Out of Water is brilliant in its own way. It is what I classify as light relief; it reminds me of Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging. Lou is an awkward teen who is funny without intentionally trying to be. Her life is crazy – her sister pretends they aren’t related, her divorced parents still live together and Hannah appears to be losing the plot. She is also a social outcast at school… She has no idea who she is outside of the pool! Roman, Pete and Gabe are popular, handsome and broody – is there any other way in YA? Despite the dysfunctional nature of Lou’s family, I love that they have a strong presence throughout the book! Parents are commonly absent in YA fiction and so it is nice to see a teen with a curfew and parents to threaten to pick her up in their pyjamas if she doesn’t comply! Parents are a source of embarrassment for teens – because teens are SO cool themselves – and it really makes me laugh to see something so ‘normal’ in a YA book. I love it!

Girl out of Water is a silly yet endearing story with plenty of laugh out aloud moments. It is genuinely heart-warming and will leave you with a smile on your face! What more could you ask for?!


AUTHOR: Nat Luurtsema

ISBN: 97871406366525

PUBLISHER: Walker Books

RRP: $16.99

PUB DATE: August 2016


Thank you to Walker Books for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: The Windy Season by Sam Carmody

“The boat heaved around, turned seawards… the swell lines broadened. The ocean grew big and dark and seemed to move in slow motion. Paul looked up at the grey ridges of water, felt his breath go at the sight of each one…”

– Sam Carmody, The Windy Season


A young fisherman is missing from the crayfish boats in the West Australian town of Stark. There’s no trace at all of Elliot, there hasn’t been for some weeks and Paul, his younger brother, is the only one who seems to be active in the search. Taking Elliot’s place on the boat skippered by their troubled cousin, Paul soon learns how many opportunities there are to get lost in those many thousands of kilometres of lonely coastline.

Fierce, evocative and memorable, this is an Australian story set within an often wild and unforgiving sea, where mysterious influences are brought to bear on the inhospitable town and its residents.



There are so many words to describe this book – ominous, menacing, shadowy, and Australian just to name a few. Sam Carmody’s debut novel, The Windy Season, was shortlisted for the 2014 Vogel’s Literary Award, an award for unpublished manuscripts. This coming of age tale is reminiscent of another well-known Western Australian author and whilst I found parts of the book quite frustrating to read, this is a great story. I love books that challenge the way I think, especially with regards to how I want to review them. Reviewing is such subjective thing; I am always honest with what I write – I won’t say I love a book when I don’t – yet I don’t want to put a reader off reading a particular book just because I had an issue with it or didn’t like it! That doesn’t mean someone else won’t love it… perhaps I overestimate the influence of my opinion!

When Paul’s brother Elliot goes missing, he decides to follow his brother’s last footsteps in the hope of finding answers to the many questions surrounding his disappearance. Paul makes his way to Stark, a small (fictional) town on the West Australian coast. He takes over Elliot’s place on his cousin’s crayfish boat and spends the time in between traversing the wild seas and sleeping with nosing around Stark for clues. Stark is an unwelcoming place, with a cast of misfits: drug addicts, alcoholics, runaways, back packers and those who feel like they owe something to the town. Everyone appears to be unhappy, especially with the newcomer sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. Many of the men from the other boats are hardened by circumstance and at times quite frightening. They are protective of their secrets and lies and Paul gets on the wrong side of many of them. In alternating parts of the story, the reader is also introduced to a small group of bikies – Swiss, the President and his goons – as they flee a drug bust in Sydney and make their way across the Australian desert. Eventually the two story lines collide and the dark truth of Stark is revealed.

There is a lot to like about this book. Carmody keeps the plot tight and has a really natural command of the language he uses. It is evocative without being overly descriptive, colloquial (ocker) without the potential to alienate foreign readers, and quite unforgiving in its fierceness, wildness and brutality. Carmody’s depiction of a small town ravaged by the unrelenting elements and substance abuse makes for a pretty bleak picture. The main character Paul is a fairly naïve kid, living in the shadow of his big brother. Paul appears to base all his actions and thoughts by what he thinks his big brother would say or do. He paints Elliot as a quiet and unusual young man who is often lost inside his own head. Paul goes to Stark searching for answers however he finds out more than just what happened to Elliot. Carmody stays true to the ‘coming-of-age’ tropes and allows Paul to define himself over time. He lusts after backpacker Kasia, listens to the philosophical mutterings of Michael, the German deckhand on his cousin’s boat, and learns more about his family than he knew before.

There were elements of this book that made me really uncomfortable however that comes down to my personal experiences and the themes in the book. I also really disliked Carmody’s aversion to quotation marks around speech. I find it really frustrating when I have to check who’s talking because it isn’t always clear! I found myself removed from the story so many times; it was hard to find a reading rhythm! These are just personal quirks though! Overall, The Windy Season is an excellent book with a distinctive Australian feel!


AUTHOR: Sam Carmody

ISBN: 9781760111564

PUBLISHER: Allen and Unwin

RRP: $29.99

PUB DATE: August 2016


Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!