Allen & Unwin’s #YAFanFest16

Allen & Unwin held the first ever #YAFanFest last month where they celebrated Young Adult fiction with popular YA authors and discussed upcoming books. I wasn’t able to be there since I’m in another state but I was lucky enough to win a goodie bag from the event so it was almost as excellent as actually being there! The tote bag had the cover of Swarm from the Zeroes series by Scott Westerfeld, the novel Sophie Someone by Hayley Long, the novel Nothing Tastes As Good by Claire Hennessy, a poster of Illuminae authors Jay and Amie, tasty treats and an adorable little guy who I declare to be the #YAFanFest16 mascot!


The two novels sound incredible and they are on my TBR for this month but first I wanted to read the book Allen & Unwin put together of some new YA fiction ranging in publication, from this October to April 2018! So I’ve included a few thoughts on the small chapters I’ve read from each book below and I’ll include links to the books.

Cell 7
Kerry Drewery
October 2016

Wow, that was thirty-three pages of interesting suspense. I need to read this book now! Judging it from the title I probably would not have bought this book because it doesn’t sound like something I’d be interested in but after reading that small introduction I’m hooked, I need to know what happens next! I’ll be picking this up next time I’m shopping!

Sixteen-year-old Martha Honeydew has no parents, not much of a future in school and is on death row for shooting one of the world’s most beloved men in cold blood. She’s the first teenage girl to face the death penalty and be tried by the country’s “Votes for All” system. A system where viewers of a TV show called, An Eye For An Eye, text YES or No, LIVE or DIE and decided a person’s fate! It’s so creepy how the presenter on the TV show greets the audience and treats these people like they’re totally fictional.

It was excellent when Gus, a survivor of death row after being voted free by the viewers, appears for an interview to discuss Martha’s case. It’s clear he’s been fed lines and he really doesn’t want to be there so us readers know he’s lying about his treatment in the cells. I really want to know how the cells get as they go further through the seven days before their death because I’m assuming it’s not the lovely image Gus painted. Also, the cost of voting for these people to live or die is so expensive. I wonder how much money these people end up giving this organisation with each person they murder by text!

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily
by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
November 2016

This one wasn’t as good for me so I don’t think I’d buy the book at this time but I might borrow it. I didn’t realise it was the second book in a series until I saw someone review the first book a few days after I read it! It seems like the story will follow the relationship between Dash and Lily as he tries to help her cope with her sudden sadness with her ill grandfather and general lacklustre attitude to all the things she loved before when they were newly dating. Dash knows she loves Christmas so he gifts her a tree and gets ready for twelve days of Christmas to cheer her up! It sounds like there will be a few truly lovely and funny moments and a range of wacky characters like Boomer, who speaks to the Christmas trees and connects with them to find the right one for each family! However, Lily is having doubts about Dash when she pours her heart out to him, tells him she loves him and he doesn’t say it back.  These two will need a Christmas miracle!

The Graces
by Laure Eve
November 2016

This preview was so short, only four pages! What a way to keep people guessing. The Graces are made up of two sisters and a brother. They are utterly mysterious and unique. People want to impress them and be their friend but they tire of people quickly and rarely stick around when they let someone into their circle. They seem to fit perfectly into whatever they’re doing and they’re effortless while others look like a joke copying them. People think they’re witches but are they? Maybe they’re just normal teenagers and people are just gossiping but I think it would be a much better story if they were witches and were using the teenagers for their spells!

The Amateurs
by Sara Shephard
December 2016

I’ve been wanting to read this book since I saw the cover because it looked stylish and I enjoyed the Pretty Little Liars series when I was younger but when I did read the first portion of this preview I wasn’t hooked at all. I didn’t like the two characters the story was based on from the small portion I read about them because it didn’t bring me into it at all. And then one of them disappeared and I starting thinking about Pretty Little Liars and A…

Then the story went into new characters, people who go onto online forums and solve previously unsolved cases. Some people are just regular people with a passion and others are actual retired police or detective employees. When I realised this story would focus on these people as well my outlook on it majorly improved. Now, this was a story I wanted to read. I actually just received an eBook of this book to review so I’m hoping the story will focus mainly on these people and their actual work on the forums but we’ll see!

Lisette’s  Paris Notebook
by Catherine Bateson
January 2017

I’m not quite sure what the plot is of this book yet but I think Lisette has recently learned of her father’s identity and that has somehow taken her to Paris, maybe to find him? It’s a whole new experience for her as she’s originally from Melbourne and is totally out of her comfort zone. While she’s in Paris she’ll be staying with her mother’s clairvoyant, Madame Christophe and hopefully following her dreams. She has a flair for style and design but it seems like her style is very different to the Parisian style and it will take her awhile to find where she fits in this new city. She’ll be meeting new friends as Madame Christophe has signed her up for french lessons, but she knows there won’t be any french boys there to fall in love with so what’s the point?

This book didn’t strike me as something would love right away but if I was to read it I’m sure I would get into the storyline even if it took a few chapters to become more involved. That being said, I wouldn’t look for it as my first pick out of the books I’ve read about in this collection but it could surprise me so I’d like to read more of it.

No Virgin
by Anne Cassidy
January 2017

In the first line of this book, we discover that the main character of this book, Stacey Woods, was raped. After she was raped she was in too much shock to do anything but lock herself in the bathroom and try to process it, while her rapist is outside of the door telling her it was only a bit of fun. When she does pull herself up she gets dressed, takes the money for a cab home and leaves. When she gets home her mother is angry at her for being away for two nights without telling her but her best friend, Patrice, won’t even see her. The next day at school Patrice is furious at her and Stacey finally tells her the truth as to why she was away and she’s understandably shocked.

The first lines of the book explain that Patrice told Stacey to tell her story, in as much detail as possible, so it’s like Stacey is speaking to us and telling us her story. I definitely want to read this and hear her story and I have a feeling it will be an important read for teenagers and young adult readers.

by Garth Nix
April 2017

I’ve never read a Garth Nix book before but I’ve seen them around everywhere so it’s nice to finally read something he’s written. Frogkisser! is his take on an old tale of the princess and the frog she will kiss to turn him back into a prince. It’s a story I have to wonder about how it was made all those years ago but without it then we wouldn’t have this enjoyable story here. In Frogkisser! there are two princesses – one is constantly falling in and out of love with princes without a thought and the second is sort of left to look after her and fix things. My favourite characters so far are the Royal Dogs because they’re completely loyal to their princesses and they talk to each other! We also have a librarian that turns into an owl and throws up when he’s nervous and not one, but two step-parents! Their step-mother isn’t cruel to them, she barely knows they exist but her new husband is an evil wizard that intends to take the throne from the princess.

Just to be as evil as can be, the step-father turns the Morven’s boyfriends into frogs. When she decides she must have the most current boyfriend back it’s up to her sister to find him out of the thousands of frogs in the moat around the castle and bring him to her to kiss. She finds the frog but when she brings it back to her older sister she decides she wouldn’t kiss a dirty frog so Anya must kiss him but when she does it turns out he’s the wrong prince! That’s hardly an issue compared to the next development when her step-father tells her she’ll be shipped away to a boarding school and Morven will be married off! Now, it’s up to Anya to take him down, keep her family together, and probably kiss a few more frogs. This book seems like it has a lot going on so I’m sure it’ll be an excellent read from start to finish, I’ll definitely be looking out for this one.

The Things We Promise
by J. C. Burke
March 2017

Our main character has thirty-two weeks until the school formal and it’s important that she finds an excellent hairstyle for it now. It’s also important that Billy, her older brother living in New York, keeps his promise to make her shine for her formal but Billy is one of the most “up and coming” make-up artists in New York right now after coming from an unknown suburb in Australia.

She’s dealing with a new jealously as a girl at school seems to be on such friendly terms with her busy and important brother and the struggle of her mother and father’s fighting and separation. It seems like it will be a very family oriented story and have a lot to say about their awful and homophobic father as well. I’d like to know more about this story and I’d like to read the whole book and find out more!

The Mad as Hell Fan Club
by Gabrielle Williams
April 2017

Four teenagers from Melbourne have grown up together since they were younger with the two younger girls of the families being best friends and the two older brothers getting along as well but the book hints that her older brother will destroy her (emotionally I’m assuming) and cause a rift in their group. For now, they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.

This book did not sound good to me at all. I didn’t get swept into the idea that was being portrayed and I wasn’t interested in going any further with it. The writing was good but I had no idea where it was going so I won’t be looking for this one at all.

Gap Year in Ghost Town
by Michael Pryor
July 2017

Anton Marin is the ghost-hunter of Melbourne! The Marin family has hunted ghosts for hundreds of years as protectors of the living but they don’t just hunt them, they help ease their passage to moving on. Ghost-hunting is the future his father always planned for him but Anton wants to go to University and study so they came to an agreement. Anton will have a gap year where he devotes himself to ghost-hunting and if he still chooses to go to university after the twelve months then his father will agree to it!

It isn’t an easy job – you have the passive and lingering types, the insanely angry and destructive types that could do some serious damage, and you also have to watch out for the possums! But Anton gets himself into a bad situation luckily Rani Cross comes to his rescue. She’s a gorgeous girl with a sword and reservation for his family’s way of dealing with ghosts. Rani, and most of the ghost-hunting community believe in striking down the ghosts and destroying them. After she leaves him he thinks he’s unlikely to see her again anytime soon but then she comes into his bookstore the next day looking for help.

Anton is immediately one of my favourite people for making a Community reference to Troy and Abed in the mooooorning! But he also works in a bookstore that his family owns and he hunts ghosts so that’s triple cool points! This book sounds great and it’s one of my favourites from this book but why do so many of these books that mention Australia centre around Melbourne?! I’m feeling seriously left out here up in Brisbane while everyone has their awesome and fantastically exciting books in Melbourne.

Defy The Stars
Claudia Gray
June 2017

This book sounds really complicated to me from the small portion I’ve read. I understood the obvious plot of it but I felt that we were getting a lot of information very fast. So Noemi Vidal is seventeen-years-old and in three weeks she will die. Genesis has been at war with Earth for at least forty years while they fight for their independence and lose thousands of people each year. To save her planet and her sister who is still on the planet, Noemi will go on a suicide mission to fight the mechs (the robotic army from Earth) and secure her planet’s independence from Earth once and for all.

I didn’t find myself too interested while I was reading this one.  I read the full plot and what happens after the preview I read actually sounds a lot more compelling to read but I definitely wasn’t hooked from what I read. I feel like I would actually like to read it to read about Abel and see how their relationship comes about because you know they’re going to have a relationship! I feel like that’s something that could further my interest in the book.

by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner
January 2018

Amelia is a scavenger from Earth but it seems like Earth is not an option for life anymore with its fallen skyscrapers and uninhabitable land. They have instructions from ancient creatures from long ago, the Undying, that have brought them to a planet similar to their own, it’s barren and without life but the air is right for them and there is water! The downside is two scavengers are standing right next to where she left her backpack with all her supplies and communication and if she doesn’t get her pack back soon things will be going very badly for her. When she does approach them they’re clearly hostile and things seem to be going down, down, down until the academic shows up. Jules Thomas is dressed with money and carrying a pack big enough for her and a few other things but he’s there, he speaks more of the language than she does and he might be her only ally on the planet.

I still haven’t had the chance to read their first series together, These Broken Stars, but I really want to read the whole series before Unearthed is released so I can see what kind of excellent writing I’m in for! Amelia sounds like an awesome girl and I’m sure Jules will be charming as hell with a touch of awkwardness!

by Jay Kristoff
April 2018

I’m really looking forward to this book because I love his writing but the preview was so short! It was painfully short because it left me with so many questions and needing to know how these people came to be there, where they went wrong, what was happening outside that room! The best part was the first page showing the three laws of robotics but each law is crossed out and replaced with a new law.

1. Your body is not your own.

2. Your mind is not your own.

3. Your life is not your own. 

We then get our first glimpse of the main character. She’s in a cell with her family and then they march in. These perfect and beautiful people with blank faces have come to execute them. They shoot her father down, brutally and without pause and then they march back up the stairs and leave them with his body.

Any of his books will be an automatic read for me because I have enjoyed everything of his I’ve read so far, including this preview for Lifel1k3, but I have something to look forward to already in April 2018! If you follow the link to the Goodreads page you’ll also find a much more in-depth plot of the book in a review from Jay Kristoff himself.

I hope you’ve found a few new books to look forward to!

– Kirra (GR)

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