Where We Begin – Christie Nieman – Pan Australia – 25 August 2020
Seventeen-year-old Anna is running into the night. Fleeing her boyfriend, her mother, and everything she has known.
She is travelling into the country, to the land and the grandparents she has never met, looking for answers to questions that have never been asked.
For every family has secrets.
But some secrets – once laid bare – can never be forgiven.
Where We Begin is a beautiful story about belonging.
Everything is a bit of a mystery when you start reading Where We Begin. The blurb on the back of the book is vague and the start of the story places our main character alone on bus, we don’t know where she is going or why. We don’t know where she has come from. We don’t know why she left or what she is going to. We don’t even know her name. It’s hard to write a review without revealing these mysteries, so if you want the authentic experience, go, read the book and then come back.
Where We Begin weaves into its story powerful truths about the history of Australia, racism, teenage relationships, family and domestic violence, alcoholism and its effects, and storytelling. The title makes so much sense to so many aspects of the story once you’ve read the book. Honestly, there is so much to love about this book, from our studious and determined main character who is thrown into a spin over her new circumstances, the trauma she has experienced throughout her childhood and the new pain she experiences as she learns the truth about her family and past.
Rogue – A.J. Betts – The Vault #1 – Pan Australia – Published 26 June 2018
There was no going back; there was no choice, anymore. I’d chosen out and this was it: hot-cold, dry-wet, bright-dark and lonely.
Hayley has gone rogue.
She’s left everything she’s ever known – her friends, her bees, her whole world – all because her curiosity was too big to fit within the walls of the underwater home she was forced to flee.
But what is this new world she’s come to? Has Hayley finally found somewhere she can belong?
Or will she have to keep running?
Rogue is the second book in the two book dystopian series, The Vault. As the follow-up to Hive, Rogue took the world of Hive and blew it wide open. With the same curious and ever-searching main character and even more incredible descriptions of the surrounding landscape, Rogue gives readers and Hayley the answers they were searching for in book one.
Hayley had so many questions and when the son gave her the option to leave her confined life behind and explore what else was out there, she took it. Now, Hayley finds herself in a place she never could have imagined, with new creatures, landscapes and rules. But she can’t forget the people she left behind, and, as she learns more about this new world, she isn’t sure if she should let her old world go or if she should share her new-found discoveries.
Hive – A.J. Betts – The Vault #1 – Pan Australia – Published 26 June 2018
Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules in the only world she has ever known.
Until she witnesses the impossible: a drip from the ceiling.
A drip? It doesn’t make sense.
Yet she hears it, catches it. Tastes it.
Curiosity is a hook.
What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.
Hive is a unique dystopian story. Intricately crafted, the world beautifully written, this gentle and compelling story is just the start of an exciting two-book series. The narrator, alongside the reader, knows only of the day-to-day rhythm of life and the stories she has been told. As she questions, explores and discovers scant details, she, and the reader, learns there is far more to the world than she could have expected.
Hayley is a beekeeper. It is her job to tend the Hive, just one of the gardeners in the gardener house, one of the six houses, that rely on water from the source and follow the patterns set out by the generations before them. But Hayley has a secret, one that has her questioning everything around and soon the walls of her world seem to hem her in. But will questioning provide the answers she is looking for?
Take Three Girls – Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood, Simmone Howell – Pan Australia – Published 29 August 2017
Ady – not the confident A-Lister she appears to be.
Kate – brainy boarder taking risks to pursue the music she loves.
Clem – disenchanted swim-star losing her heart to the wrong boy.
All are targeted by PSST, a toxic website that deals in gossip and lies. St Hilda’s antidote to the cyber-bullying? The Year 10 Wellness program. Nice try – but sometimes all it takes is three girls.
Take Three Girls is contemporary #LoveOzYA fiction at its best. And yet, Take Three Girls is transferable to any society, any country which experiences the troubles of bullying, social media dangers, and relationship breakdown. With a no-holds-barred approach, Take Three Girls takes some serious and seriously important topics and meets them head on. What results is an open, honest, and refreshing novel that clears the way for some vital conversations.
Clem, Ady, and Kate. Three girls who attend the same school, but who otherwise don’t have a lot in common. Or at least, don’t think they do. When these three girls, like many others, are targeted by an abusive website spreading horrifying false information and sexual harassment, they are thrown together, not only in class but as they face the challenges of a cruel online world and culture.