Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Head of the River by Pip Harry

Head of the River by Pip Harry
Published June 25, 2014 by UQP
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars
From the blurb: Tall, gifted and the offspring of Olympians, superstar siblings Leni and Cristian Popescu are set to row Harley Grammar to victory in the Head of the River.
With six months until the big race, the twins can't lose. Or can they?

When Cristian is seduced by the easy route of performance-enhancing drugs, and Leni is suffocated with self-doubt, their bright futures start to fade. Juggling family, high expectations, study, break-ups, new relationships and wild parties, the pressure starts to build.

As the final moments tick down to the big race, who’ll make it to the start line? And who'll plummet from grace?
With six months until the big race, the twins can't lose. Or can they? 
When Cristian is seduced by the easy route of performance-enhancing drugs, and Leni is suffocated with self-doubt, their bright futures start to fade. Juggling family, high expectations, study, break-ups, new relationships and wild parties, the pressure starts to build. 
As the final moments tick down to the big race, who’ll make it to the start line? And who'll plummet from grace?

Head of the River is Pip Harry’s second novel. Set in Melbourne, seventeen year old Leni and Cris Popescu are twins, children of former Olympian rowers, and are in their final years of school at Harley Grammar. Both were taught to row at a young age and are now in preparations for the Head of the River, the most important race in the school year. Leni is feeling the pressure and Cris is starting to realise that rowing is not what he wants to do anymore.

I adored both Leni and Cris and the dual narration worked perfectly. Being twins they are so in sync, not that they don’t have arguments and rivalry, but the bond between them was so sweet. And while being very similar, they’re also quite different: Leni is serious, determined, focused, sometimes to the point of seeming unfriendly, which also means she’s lonely. Cris on the other hand wants to relax more and no longer wants to win as much. Both feel the pressure due to their parents’ legacy, but their parents were really supportive and present throughout their story. There were so many tender moments between the four of them, I loved the Popescu family.

Cris is struggling with his weight, he comfort eats, didn't work out as much over the holidays, and finds himself heavier than the rest of the boys. It was so refreshing to read about weight issues from a male perspective, and instead have Leni wishing to be bigger and more muscular. I could understand Cris going along with the plan to use drugs to get himself back in shape, and the topic was dealt with sensitively and realistically.

The book starts two days after the race and then jumps back to six months earlier, and I was hooked on Leni and Cris’ story from the start. It’s clear something serious happens at the race and slowly their story unfolds, detailing the enormous amount of time and effort that goes into their training. Was Leni going to get the win she so wanted? Was Cris going to get caught taking drugs? I took on all their nervous energy while reading and was anticipating the outcome.

There’s a romantic element for both twins, more so for Leni, but I really liked that it wasn’t the sole focus of their story. Leni is dating Adam, but has her eye on new boy, Sam. It was great to see Leni’s growth over the course of the story, specifically when it came to Sam, and to the rest of the rowers. 

For anyone put off because they have no idea about rowing, don’t be. Firstly, there’s a glossary of all the rowing terms, and secondly, everything is so vivid that you’ll be able to picture the rowing scenes easily, even if you've never picked up an oar.

Pip Harry has done it again, Head of the River accurately captures those awkward teenage years, filled with embarrassing parents, the pressure to achieve, and fumbling romances. This is a moving and captivating story with a bittersweet ending, sure to be loved by teens and adults.

Thank you to the wonderful people at UQP for my review copy.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Tease by Amanda Maciel
Published May 1, 2014 by Hachette
Source: the publisher via Netgalley
Rating: 5 stars
From the blurb: Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault.
At least, that's what everyone seems to think when Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. But Sara is sure she hasn't done anything wrong, because Emma brought it on herself. Sara is adamant that she was the victim - not Emma.
I’m going to start by saying that Tease by Amanda Maciel neither condones nor encourages slut-shaming or bullying. I know these two elements have made readers quit this book after only a few pages or decide not to read it at all.

So, it might surprise some readers when I say that I found this story completely captivating. Every time I had to put my tablet down, I would be itching to pick it up again. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. When I finished it I kept going to pick it up my tablet only to remind myself that it was over. And now I’ve spent a few days thinking about it, I can’t get the characters or the events out of my head.

I can understand why a lot of readers have chosen not to read this, but at the same time it’s totally worth sticking this book out to the end. Yes, this is a horrible subject. Yes, the girls use nasty language, but there is a lot more to Sara’s story and it’s one I think all teens need to read.

Seventeen year old Sara Wharton is facing charges due to the bullying that lead to sixteen year old Emma Putnam committing suicide. Also facing charges are her best friend, Brielle Griggs, her ex-boyfriend, Dylan Howe, and his friends Tyler and Jacob.  The story is split between the present (July) and the events leading to Emma’s death (January – March). Despite knowing what was going to happen, the story was still utterly compelling and horrifying at the same time.

When we first meet Sara she is at yet another meeting with her lawyers and is going over the charges laid against her. Sara doesn’t feel at all sorry or responsible, she stands by the fact that none of them physically killed Emma and that Emma chose to do what she did. Despite this callous attitude, Sara is not as heartless as she seems, and more of her true character is revealed as she tells her story.

Told via first person we get a realistic look at what it can be like for a teenage girl at school – obviously not all girls will have the same experience, but Sara’s story felt true nonetheless. Brielle is the more dominant one in their friendship; Sara has quite low self-esteem and only feels like she’s someone when she’s with Brielle. Their dynamic was so complex, it was easy to see how Sara got caught up in Brielle’s need to bring down Emma. It definitely wasn't all Brielle’s fault, Sara played a big part, but I did like seeing the moments where Sara wanted to stop, when she got scared or felt guilty. I can understand why Sara would put up a wall and deny any wrong doing, sometimes it’s easier to keep going, even when you wish you could stop and face the truth, especially when what you've caused is so horrible.

The reason I think this story is worth reading is due to the character growth, Sara has a completely different mindset by the time the end of the year rolls around, and no, this doesn't make what she did ok, but I was happy to see her learn from her actions rather than continue to be a bully. Also, it’s based on a true story, and I have no doubt that there are plenty of teens that half-heartedly participate in bullying, or allow bullying to happen and do nothing. This could be an enlightening read for them, highlighting the potential consequences of their actions.

Tease is a sad yet captivating story, so relevant to today when bullying in schools only seems to be on the increase, and when the outcome often involves injury or death. Amanda Maciel took a risk telling this story from the bully’s perspective, and it absolutely paid off, it’s a thought-provoking young adult novel.

Thank you to Hachette for my review copy via Netgalley.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Stacking the Shelves (18)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Review - it's a way for us to share the books we received during the week


For review:

The Protected by Claire Zorn (Aussie YA)
Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier (Aussie YA)
Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan 
Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan

The marketing packaging for Apple and Rain


All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield (Aussie YA)
Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield (Aussie YA)
Haze (The Rephaim #2) by Paula Weston (Aussie YA)

p.s A recap of our recent #OzYAChat on book covers can be found here!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure.

Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga #1) by Jennifer Donnelly
Published May 1, 2014 by Hachette AU
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3.5 stars
From the blurb: On the morning of her betrothal, Serafina's biggest worry should be about her reunion with Prince Mahdi, her childhood crush. Instead, she is haunted by strange dreams foretelling the return of an ancient evil.
Then the city is stormed by assassins.
Led only by her shadowy dreams and pursued by the invading army, Serafina and her best friend, Neela, embark upon a quest to find the army's leader and prevent a war between the mer nations. They must search for four other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas.
Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that will threaten their world's very existence.
Then the city is stormed by assassins. Led only by her shadowy dreams and pursued by the invading army, Serafina and her best friend, Neela, embark upon a quest to find the army's leader and prevent a war between the mer nations. They must search for four other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that will threaten their world's very existence.
Sixteen year old Serafina is the principessa of Merrow, a kingdom of merpeople in Cerulea, located in the Adriatic Sea. On the day of her Dokimi, a ceremony to verify she is a true descendant of Merrow, her kingdom is attacked. She and best friend Neela escape and use their witch-haunted dreams to guide them on a quest to find the Olt River and the four remaining girls in the prophecy.

I've not had much luck with mermaid books in the past but I enjoyed Deep Blue a lot. The underwater world featured in the story is described in detail and gave me a vivid image of the setting. The merpeople speak mermish and a lot of the words had an ocean-theme to them which was fun and often made me smile. There were also a lot of human words and items, but this made sense to me as the merpeople in this story were descended from the people of Atlantis.

The only negative for me was the third person perspective, I always find it hard to really connect with a story and the characters when this is used, but I was still able to understand Sera's feelings even if I wasn't as fully connected as I would have liked.

The story, like a lot of fantasy stories, has royal families, and this comes with the usual pressure regarding appearance, behaviour, and future plans. Serafina definitely feels the pressure placed on her, especially by her mother, Isabella. But she has one person she can confide in, Neela, her best friend. I loved the friendship between these two girls, they were always supportive of each other, and each bought different characteristics to their relationship.

The story is really friend-focused and it was nice to see romance take a back seat. Sure, there are romantic interests for Sera, but once her journey begins, they were forgotten in favour of more important things, like saving the world. The prophecy revolves around six girls, so of course there are four more to meet along the way, it was great to see them bond and to find out their stories. It was also cool to see a bunch of nationalities featured; Neela is Indian, Ava is Portuguese, and Ling is Chinese.

The magic was also a lot of fun, and it’s no surprise that it often reminded me of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The girls sing to cast songspells and each time they sang I thought of Ariel singing her voice away to Ursula. I found this world creative and unique, and was impressed that I could find these qualities in a mermaid-themed YA book.

Not only is Deep Blue full of friendship, magic, and adventure, but it is also packed with action, travel, and danger. The end wrapped up well, but it also left me curious about Astrid’s secret, and the whereabouts of Isabella, Blu, and Mahdi, so bring on book two!

Thank you to the lovely people at Hachette for my review copy.

I adore this gorgeous underwater cover and knew I had to do my nails to match.

I started with one coat of Ulta3 Lily White as a base.

I used acrylic paint for the rest, first I covered each nail in a medium blue, then I sponged on two darker shades of blue.

I painted 4 of my nails with the city of Cerulea and some vegetation, using a fine brush.

I painted Sera on my ring nail also using a very fine brush, and added some dots of silver using a pointy dotting tool.

I love this look, it’s one of those manicures that took a while but was worth the effort!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Stacking the Shelves (17)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews - it's a way for us to share the books we received during the week.


Mentioned in the vlog: Lauren from Shooting Stars Mag, Michelle from The Unfinished Bookshelf, Arie.


If Only by Sarh Walker (Aussie YA)
Water Colours by Sarah Walker (Aussie YA)
The Fifth Beatle by Vivek Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, with Kyle Baker
We Were Liars by E.Lockhart
Gossip of the Starlings by Nina de Gramont
Everything Leads to You by Nina La Cour
Hold Still by Nina La Cour
The Archived by Victoria Schwab

p.s I have a giveaway running for The Year of the Rat by Clare Funiss - enter here!

And we have another #OzYAChat this week - join us on Twitter @ 7pm AEST Thursday June 12

Friday, 6 June 2014

The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss

This post contains a review, a giveaway, and a bookish manicure.

The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss
Published April 24, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3 stars
From the blurb: Pearl’s baby sister is The Rat. She’s the reason Pearl’s mum died, the reason everything has changed forever, and Pearl can’t forgive her for that. Because losing her mum is the hardest thing that Pearl has ever gone through and no one, not her dad, her interfering granny, her best friend – and especially not her new little sister – can break down the barriers she’s putting up. But what if Pearl’s mum isn’t completely gone? What if, somehow, she’s still here?
The world may tip at any moment, Pearl knows that now. The trick is finding something to hold onto…

Sixteen year old Pearl lives in London with her mum and adoptive father. They moved into a ramshackle house four months earlier and her mum told her the news that she was pregnant. They were going to renovate and do up the house but then her mum died and little Rose was born prematurely.

The Year of the Rat is a look at a year of Pearl’s life, starting on the day her mum dies. She is devastated by the loss and refuses to visit her baby sister in hospital. She feels jealous because she thinks her dad loves his biological daughter more, she is mad at her mum for not letting them know she felt unwell, she’s mad at Rose, aka The Rat, for causing it all. Pearl’s reaction to her situation felt so real, there were times when she was acting badly, like taking her anger out on bff Molly, but it was all so believable.

Along with her struggles at home, Pearl decides to try and find her biological father. She has never wanted to before, she and her adoptive father have always been close, but now she wants to know who her real father is. Towards the end when her two families collide, the story almost verged on being a little too dramatic for me, but it never managed to go too far, and every event that occurred led to the final emotional scene which was so crucial for Pearl.

At the funeral Pearl sees her mother’s ghost and throughout the year her mother appears at times, and it seems only Pearl can see her. I didn’t feel as though it was an actual ghost, but similar to that scene in Scrubs where patients that died under a doctor’s watch, followed them around due to the doctor’s guilt. The scenes were always quite sad either way, because you knew that despite being able to communicate, Pearl’s mother was never truly going to be in her life again.

The Year of the Rat is a grief-filled story of a teen having to figure out what her life is meant to be for, now that her mother is dead. It’s sad, honest, and most of all, hopeful.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for my review copy, and for my copies to giveaway.

Please read before entering: I received 3 copies of The Year of the Rat.1 is an ARC and the other 2 are finished copies. All three are paperbacks, and 1 of the finished copies got damaged while in the post, the top corner of the spine is a little dented, but it’s not major, imo. Please only enter this giveaway if you are ok with the possibility of winning the ARC copy or the finished copy with a little dent in it. I will be drawing the winners at random, and there will be 1 international winner, and 2 Australian winners.

I like the simple graphic look the cover designers went with for The Year of the Rat and figured I’d have a go at nails to match.

I started with a base of Ulta3 Lotsa Fun, a rich, dark purple.

Once dry I used a very fine brush and acrylic paint for the mobile, strings, stars, and moon.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Every Word by Ellie Marney

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure.

Every Word (Every #2) by Ellie Marney
Published May 28, 2014 by Allen & Unwin
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 stars
From the blurb: James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents seven years ago...without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his 'partner in crime'.
Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behaviour - not that Mycroft's ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. So Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him...and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.The theft of a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator, and the deaths of Mycroft's parents...Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events - or will she lose him forever?Sparks fly when Watts and Mycroft reunite in this second sophisticated thriller about the teen sleuthing duo.
Every Word is the follow up to Aussie author Ellie Marney’s debut, Every Breath. Taking place eight weeks later, Rachel and James are now dating, but Rachel has been grounded so their time together has been limited, this doesn’t stop them from having some very heated moments.

Mycroft still hasn’t told Rachel much about his past, or the night his parents died, but they have still formed a close bond in the short time they have known each other. I love how well these two suit each other, the chemistry between them is undeniable. Not only is their plenty of sexual tension, they clearly care about each other, Rachel in particular really goes out of her way to take care of Mycroft, and she is often consumed with all the insecurities and self doubt that comes along with being a teenager in a relationship.

Mycroft’s work with Professor Walsh leads him to London and Rachel follows, thus landing both of them in trouble with some nasty crooks. The mystery surrounding this case was intriguing, fast paced, and made me extremely worried about their fate. Mycroft isn't the only one contributing to the case, Rachel plays a big part in figuring out clues and doing some solo sleuthing.

I loved the setting of Melbourne in Every Breath and I enjoyed the change in setting in this book just as much. It was clear that Marney had visited London as the story gives a descriptive tour via the eyes of Rachel. I equally loved the beautiful writing, particularly the prologue describing bush fire weather, it gave me goosebumps.

Every Word is an excellent sequel to Every Breath with more mystery, more romance, and more danger. I’m hoping Mycroft and Rachel finally get some time alone in the next book, Every Move, boy, do they deserve it!

Thank you to Allen & Unwin for my review copy.

Purchase:  A&R  /  Booktopia  /  Bookworld  /  Dymocks  /  Fishpond (intl shipping)

I didn’t do nails for Every Breath (see below) but for Every Word I decided to use the title font as inspiration.

I started with a bae of L.A Colors Color Craze Sea Siren.

Once dry I lightly sponged on some Orly Liquid Vinyl.

Easy peasy!

Eventually I did nails to match book one, Every Breath, as well!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Cracked by Clare Strahan

This post contains a review, an interview, a guest post, and a bookish manicure.

Cracked by Clare Strahan
Published May 28, 2014 by Allen & Unwin
Source: the publisher
Rating: 5 stars
From the blurb: At fifteen, Clover is finding the going tougher than she expected. Her life is close to being derailed on the rocky terrain of family, friendship, first love, acts of defiance and a planet on the brink of environmental disaster.
So when Keek breaks his promise, and school sucks, and her mother’s impossible, and her dad is in the wind, and her dog’s getting old, and the cool-girls are awful, and the footy boys are bullies…and then she’s arrested for vandalism – what else can she be but cracked?Can Clover pull herself together or will she spiral further out of control?

Cracked by Clare Strahan is the sort of book I knew I will love from the very first sentence, it has that something that only Aussie YA contemporary novels have.

Clover Jones is fifteen and angry – I love her. At age eleven she learnt about nuclear bombs in school and this, along with everything else wrong with the world, caused a crack inside her. Her mother is alternative and doesn’t believe in tv, or facebook, or capitalism, and Clover is often embarrassed by her. She’s never known her father, her former best friend moved away only to return years later but they’re no longer friends.

Clover has known Philip McKenzie, aka Keek, since primary school, and when they both get sent to the principal’s office, they strike up a new friendship. Keek rides his BMX and Clover gets into graffiti as she’s already a talented artist. I was completely absorbed by their friendship, and loved that they both got support out of the relationship.

The parents are very much present in this story which makes a change from a lot of YA novels. They definitely didn't know everything their kids were up to, which to me is realistic, but they were involved in their lives. The family dynamics explored were complex and I particularly loved the focus on the mother-daughter relationship between Clover and Penny.

Often in fiction real-life consequences are ignored or glossed over but that’s not the case here, both Clover and Keek have to deal with the repercussions of their actions - this didn’t feel preachy or like a warning to teens, just realistic and honest.

Cracked is a wonderful addition to Australian YA fiction, highlighting the bonds between family and friends, and focusing on a teen who cares very much about the people and world around her.

Thank you to the lovely people at Allen & Unwin for my review copy.

Purchase:  A&R  /  Booktopia  /  Bookworld  /  Dymocks  /  Fishpond (intl shipping)


Did you set out to write YA fiction? If so, what made you want to write for young adults?
Hmm. I did set out to write YA fiction, partly to see if I could do it, and partly because the reading I did as a teenager and in my early twenties sparked my imagination and woke up my thinking, so I’m very fond of books that appeal to that age-group – although, back in the old days, novels weren’t considered ‘young adult’ – there were children’s books and novels: young adults sought out the books that spoke to them. I love that Young Adult fiction has a liveliness about it, community, and smart conversation. 

Is Cracked set in a real location or is it fictional?
Fernwood is a fictional eastern suburb and I hope anyone who has lived in an outer suburb, or one that nestles up against rural areas, can recognise the reality of the place.

Clover obviously loves her dog - did you have a favourite pet as a child/teen?
Ah, dear Lucille the dog – one of my favourite characters, for sure. I grew up with a family dog called Sheba – a cocker spaniel who lived to be 15, and a grey cat called Smokey. Our pets were beloved members of the family and when you grow up with that, a family doesn’t seem complete without one. I don’t remember life without animal companions. When I was eighteen, I had a beautiful dog of my own – my ‘first child’ – called Jess. Then Winnie, Tash, and now Percy and Lily (who live with me and the cats, Persia, Bernard and Vincent). 

Have you read any good Aussie YA fiction lately?
I’m just about to review The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew by Eli Glasman which is full of fascinating facts about honouring that orthodox religion in the modern world. I’ve not long ago read Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon, Alison Croggon’s Black Spring and Lili Wilkinson’s Pink – I tend to get on to things after they’ve been a ‘thing’, but that doesn’t make them any less wonderful when I do catch up. In my current ‘to read’ pile are Fiona Wood’s Wildlife, Melissa Keil’s, Life in Outer Space and Simone Howell’s Girl Defective. And I’m really wanting to read The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss and Justine Larbalestier’s Razorhurst. My most favourite read of the last few months is Margo Lanagan’s Seahearts.

Are you working on another book or any new projects you can tell us about?
I’m writing another YA with the working title of The Property. It’s still such a fledgling, it doesn’t feel right to say too much because it’s fluid and evolving, but basically it’s again the story of 15 year old girl, very different to Clover but with some of the same challenges to face: an environment at risk, and figuring out who and how to love. At the moment I’m interested in ideas around privilege, and consent, and the dynamics of sibling relationships, and my pet favourite: authority vs authoritarianism.

Guest Post

Although Cracked is my debut novel, I’ve written four complete manuscripts and for each one, it’s been a process of having pieces of a jigsaw revealed – scenes, characters, images, ideas – and then making sense of them. My first vision for Cracked was of Clover and Keek having been arrested for a radical (and ultimately impossible) act of graffiti-protest – but how did they get to that point? Then one of my best friends recited the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s Anthem to me (as you do) and the line ‘I cracked when I was eleven, but it didn't show’, popped into my mind. I wrote it down because I thought it might be a good first line for a novel, and it’s really at the heart of Clover. In the end, Cracked is more relationship-driven than action-driven than I first imagined, but I’m not sorry because, well, Keek, Lucille, Penny, Alison … Rob, Dave, the teachers and the Herbs et al – I’m very glad they shared themselves with me. 

The books I loved as a teen are woven into the fabric of me, so it feels like an honour to be read by Young Adults, even though I hope the book works for Old Adults too. When I think of my experience of being a teen (it was long ago, but still resonates with me) and of making theatre with teens in a school setting (generally Shakespeare), I’m always struck by the challenge they pose, especially the rebellious ones: it’s a bit ‘what are you even?’ but more poignantly ‘why are you?’. I think it’s a good question to be asked and writing (and play-making) has always been my way of trying to answer it.

I love the cover of Cracked and knew I had to do nails to match!

I started with 1 thin coat of Zoya Dove, a pale grey. Over the top I lightly sponged on China Glaze White Out. Then I used a pointy dotting tool to add some misshapen spots using Nubar Barricade.

For Lucille I used acrylic paint and a fine brush to paint her silhouette.

I love this concrete nails look. I added a matte top coat once I’d finished and it really looks like stone - definitely something I'll be doing again.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Stacking the Shelves (16)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews - it's a way for us to share the books we received during the week


For review:

Head of the River by Pip Harry (Aussie YA)
As Stars Fall by Christie Nieman (Aussie YA)
Nowhere Boys by Elise McCredie (Aussie YA)
Shadowfell (Shadowfell #1) by Juliet Marillier (Aussie/NZ YA)
Raven Flight (Shadowfell #2) by Juliet Marillier (Aussie/NZ YA)
The Caller (Shadowfell #3) by Juliet Marillier (Aussie/NZ YA)
Breaking Butterflies by M.Angelais 
Seven (The Last Thirteen #7) by James Phelan (Aussie YA)

From a friend:

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa Walker - thank you Shaheen!