Guest Post: The Courage to Really Live by Erin Rhew

Thank you to Belle for hosting me today, and a big hello to Belle’s readers! <waves> I’m currently on blog tour with my husband, Deek Rhew, to celebrate the release of his book and the spotlight feature my publisher is putting on my trilogy, The Fulfillment Series! Stay tuned for information on how you can enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card!!

In 2007, I thought I was going to die. Not in the “OMG, I’m going to die” figurative sense, but in the literal “I’m sick enough to actually die” sense. I’m thankful to have a huge family and tons of friends who supported me through many surgeries and on the long recovery road.

This girl is dying.

Because of the great advances in modern medicine, I—thankfully—recovered. But what I discovered from my brush with death is the importance of truly living. So often, we walk through life with a long bucket list, but why wait? Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Instead, take the bull by the horns and do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Put a concerted effort toward saving to go where you want to go (I’m a huge Dave Ramsey fan—budgeting is amazing), make the time to do what you want to do, and always, always spend time with the ones you love.

In 2011, I started writing a trilogy, and by 2013, it had been published. I’m a huge grammar nerd, and I always wanted to work for a publishing company. Now I do! A big romantic a heart, I’ve always wanted to meet that special someone who looks at me like I hung the moon and treats me like a queen (and of course, whom I feel the same way about). When I found that person, I married him! Deek is the most wonderful man in the world. The two of us have always wanted to travel, explore, and adventure, so we do. We’re saving money toward our long-term dreams (of being professional vagabonds and living in lots of different places for six month stints), and we explore and adventure all the time. In fact, we’ve been across the country several times—by plane, car, and train!

What’s on your “to do” list? What have you always wanted to do but never have? Start making plans to do those things today. Why wait? Life’s too short to not truly live!

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Apr 14, 2016 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: SORCERER TO THE CROWN by Zen Cho

It’s been a little while since I finished this one, I had hoped waiting would help me figure out what I think of it, but it hasn’t really.

There were a lot of things I liked about it – the way it dealt with racism and sexism, the whole magic school for ladies and Zacharias himself. The entire construction is perfectly delightful Regency. The premise was more than enough to keep me interested the whole way through. These would normally be enough to have me raving but I’m still quite ambivalent about the whole thing.

I was not a fan of Prunella at all. I find it very baffling that someone as determined to not learn as she is, manages to swoop in and fix everything on such a regular basis. As much as I liked Zacharias, he sometimes felt a little flat. On top of that, it’s Regency nature meant that sometimes the plot meandered a little too much.

I’ll be reading the rest of the series, I’m definitely interested in seeing how it all pans out, but I can’t see myself rushing out to get them.

Purchase: Booktopia | Book Depository | Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Apr 13, 2016 - Waiting on Wednesdays    No Comments

Waiting on Wednesday


Trapped in a city no one knows exists, Squid lies dying as Nim fights for their lives. With every minute, their hope of getting the vaccine back to civilization is fading. From the brink of death and the edge of the world, Squid must once again conquer dangers even more sinister than the undead – the future of humankind depends on it.

But Squid’s efforts will be wasted if Lynn cannot keep the people of Alice safe until he returns, and Lynn is now a hostage of the Holy Order. Forced to face punishment at the hands of the High Priestess, Lynn is at the mercy of the mad cult, as beyond the wall the undead horde continues its relentless approach.

Caught between madness and mindlessness, the odds are stacked against Squid and Lynn. Will they triumph or do they already walk in a world of ash?


I confess I actually read this a couple of weeks ago, but I am waiting to hold it in my hot little hands so that definitely counts. If this blurb doesn’t convince you, hold tight for my review next week!

Add to your to read list on Goodreads or buy on Amazon.

Mar 25, 2016 - Book News    No Comments

Aurealis Award Winners Announced


For those who weren’t there or weren’t following on Twitter like I was, here are the winners of the 2016 Aurealis Awards (for works published in 2015). Results reproduced from the official Aurealis Awards website.

Congratulations to all the winners!

A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia) 

The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin)

“The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press) 

“Bullets”, Joanne Anderton (In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep, AHWA)

“The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press) 

“The Giant’s Lady”, Rowena Cory Daniells (Legends 2, Newcon Press) 

“Defy the Grey Kings”, Jason Fischer (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Firkin Press) 

“All the Wrong Places”, Sean Williams (Meeting Infinity, Solaris)

“By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers”, Garth Nix (Old Venus, Random House)

To Hold the Bridge, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin) 

Bloodlines, Amanda Pillar (ed.) (Ticonderoga Publications) 

In The Skin of a Monster, Kathryn Barker (Allen & Unwin) 

Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)

Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing) 

Illuminae, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin) 

The Watergivers [The Last Stormlord (2009), Stormlord Rising(2010), Stormlord’s Exile (2011)], Glenda Larke (HarperVoyager)


Letters to Tiptree, Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
The Ditmar Awards are being announced Sunday evening, Brisbane time, so stand by for more news.

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Mar 25, 2016 - Book News    No Comments

Writing Women Characters Into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas

Writing Women Characters Into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas

Mar 18, 2016 - Book News    No Comments

Presenting the 2016 Inky Awards longlist


Gold Inky Awards Longlist (for books by an Australian author)

Clancy of the Undertow –
Christopher Currie

The Flywheel – Erin Gough

Illuminae – Amie Kaufman &
Jay Kristoff

Sister Heart – Sally Morgan

Carousel – Brendan Ritchie

Inbetween Days – Vikki Wakefield

Zeroes – Scott Westerfeld, Margo
Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti

Green Valentine – Lili Wilkinson

The Guy, The Girl, the Artist and
his Ex – Gabrielle Williams

Cloudwish – Fiona Wood

Silver Inky Awards Longlist (for books by an international author)

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas

Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy

I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson

The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness

All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oakes

Magnus Chase – Rick Riordan

The Marvels – Brian Selznick

Made You Up – Francesca Zappia

These fantastic books have been selected by teens, for teens as the best new reads to feast your eyes upon!

Congratulations to all the longlisted authors, thank you to the many teens who shared their thoughts to create it, and special thanks to Jordan, Melanie, Chris, Rehan, Diem, Vinhara, Catie, Oliver, Sarah, Kellie, Emily, Lauren, Genevieve, Phoebe, and Cleopatra for being the announcement superstars!

Mar 6, 2016 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: HOW TO BE HAPPY by David Burton

A funny, sad and serious memoir, ‘How to Be Happy’ is David Burton’s story of his turbulent life at high school and beyond. Feeling out of place and convinced that he is not normal, David has a rocky start. He longs to have a girlfriend, but his first ‘date’ is a disaster. There’s the catastrophe of the school swimming carnival – David is not sporty – and friendships that take devastating turns. Then he finds some solace in drama classes with the creation of ‘Crazy Dave’, and he builds a life where everything is fine. But everything is not fine.

And, at the centre of it all, trying desperately to work it all out, is the real David.

‘How to Be Happy’ tackles depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, academic pressure, love and adolescent confusion. It’s a brave and honest account of one young man’s search for a happy, true and meaningful life that will resonate with readers young and old.

Honestly, the blurb explains this book better than I’m ever going to. Let’s try anyway.

It’s taken me a long time to digest this one. I’m roughly the same age as David, so a lot of my experiences (both personal and viewed) are reflected in this book, but the themes explored are so universal that everyone will get something out of it.

David has such a beautifully candid style, and there were several moments where I both laughed aloud and fought back tears (and sometimes at the same time!). While it is a wonderful and heartbreaking book, there is so much hope to be found, even in the darkest moments, and I loved that about it.

There were a few times where I wished there was more included about things like his home life, but at the same time, it’s a very introspective book, and the style of the writing doesn’t allow for much peripheral information, so it’s something I can easily forgive.

In all, there are some good things to be picked out regardless of whether you’ve struggled with sexuality/mental health issues, and while it’s not a definitive guide (or any kind of guide in the traditional sense of the word) on how to be happy, it IS a charming and challenging exploration of one path to happiness.

Purchase: Booktopia | Book Depository | Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Feb 28, 2016 - Book News    1 Comment

Book Review: A CRUCIBLE OF SOULS by Mitchell Hogan

I am a sucker for big, adventure-y, journey stories. I love it when characters go on a physical and emotional trip through life, learning and growing and experiencing everything their world has to offer.

So, when everything goes to hell and Caldan is dragged out of his neat little world into the big, nasty world, I was very happy.

I love that it isn’t a complicated, convoluted mess of a story. I see that a lot in fantasy these days, and as much as I enjoy that kind of story too, sometimes I want something a lot more straightforward. Don’t get me wrong – there is a considerable amount of depth to both the characters and the plot, but I didn’t feel the need to take notes every time something happened (something that has been necessary in other series).

Mitchell Hogan’s writing reminds me a lot of Matthew Reilly’s – think The Tournament more than Contest – both have a very plot-driven style that strips out almost everything that’s deemed unnecessary to furthering the story. Compared to some of the great big meandering expositions found in a lot of fantasy, I think that makes a really nice change.

The magic system is really interesting, and helps set it apart from every other sword-and-sorcery type story. I would have liked to have a bit more detail about how it worked, but more than enough is provided to get the point across for the story. I also really enjoyed the characters, and many of the sub-plots are just as interesting as the main one. There are a few characters I’m hoping to see a lot more of, especially Felice.

All of this to say that it’s a fantastic example of Australian fantasy, with a great story and great characters and great magic. AND it’s now one of my go-to recommendations. Do yourself a favour, and go read this book!

Purchase: Booktopia | Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.