Summer Skin, by Kirsty Eagar

9781925266924.jpgJess froze. There was a guy. Watching her. Well, technically, he was watching her arse – of all the times to be wearing cut-offs. Worse, the guy in question was probably that guy. She didn’t know what to do, so she did nothing, just stayed in position, her heart racing like a mad thing. Absurdly, she identified LOLO BX playing on the radio and was glad they were getting airplay.
But then he said, ‘Can I help you there?’
Jess turned to look at the speaker, feeling woozy as the blood drained from her head. It was Blondie, all right…

Jess and her friends hate the jocks from Knights College, especially the ones who shamed Jess’s best friend. This year she is out for revenge, and she has a plan. But her target – Blondie, also known as Mitch – might be a little more than she’s bargained for. He’s gorgeous, but he’s arrogant, cold, and has some pretty big chips on his rugby-playing shoulders.

As sworn enemies, Jess and Mitch should have nothing in coming – but they’re both vulnerable, and they’re both searching for something, even though they know that thing does not involve a relationship. So, if they agree to some occasional get togethers with no strings attached, nobody’s going to get hurt. Or are they?

Set in the world of university residential colleges, Summer Skin is, in part, a romance, but it’s anything but typical. Jess is a clever, resourceful girl with a strong group of friends, who knows what she wants in mo0st areas of her life. Mitch is, on the surface, a sexist pig, but it doesn’t take long to realise that he’s hurting and flawed. Both have plenty to learn about the opposite sex, and about relationships, but, perhaps mostly, about themselves.

An outstanding new adult read.

Summer Skin, by Kirsty Eager
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781925266924

Wildlight, by Robyn Mundy

Wildlight - Robyn MundyBelow, a limp windsock gave way to a clearing in the bush that looked too small for a landing pad. The blue nose of a vehicle peeked through the trees. The helicopter hovered, swayed its hips. They inched lower, the pilot peering through the side window. He manoeuvred the throttle as lightly as a computer mouse. They were even with the treetops, now they were below them. Steph read a painted sign: MAATSUYKER ISLAND. A soft thud, a bounce, the kiss of solid earth, an exhalation as the rotors lowered pitch. They were down, they were safe.

Steph is not thrilled to be coming to Maatsuyker Island. She’s sixteen and supposed to be in her last year of school. Instead her parents have brought her to this remote outpost off the coast of Tasmania to act as caretakers of the island and its lighthouse. They hope that their time there, largely cut off from the outside world, will help the family to heal from the tragic loss of Steph’s twin brother.

Angry and resentful at being on the island, Steph drifts, her studies losing importance and her plan to become a doctor seeming unlikely. Meeting Tom Forrest, a deckhand on a cray fishing boat which visits the island, provides a welcome distraction. 19 year old Tom has problems of his own. He doesn’t want to be deckhand all his life, but his manipulative brother isn’t keen to let him leave. In the meantime, he’s fishing illegally, making Tom party to his behaviour. As the teens grow close, they dream of a life back on the mainland. When Tom goes missing, Steph is devastated.

Wildlight is a haunting, beautiful coming of age tale about first love, set amongst the wilderness in a way that makes the setting almost a character. With most of the book set in 1999, the use of a prologue and concluding chapters set in 2015 shows the impact the teen year events have on the adult lives of the characters.

Mundy’s poetic style and well-developed characters take the reader on an emotion-filled journey.


Wildlight, by Robyn Mundy
Picador, 2016
ISBN 9781743537909

Razorhurst, by Justine Larbalestier

Kelpie didn’t look at the card between her fingers. She could feel it there, but she was staring at the red splashes on the walls, on the mirror of the wardrobe, across the two paintings, at the blood sliding down them in rivulets. her nostrils flared at the smell from the dead man and she wished she could close them.
She did not see or smell apples.

Kelpie has been living on the streets of Surry Hills almost as long as she can remember. Her friends are mostly ghosts – she alone seems to be able to see and hear them – so she’s no stranger to death, but she is still shocked when she stumbles across the scene where Jimmy Palmer has just been slain. Unwittingly, she is now part of a turf war between mob bosses Glory Nelson and Mr Davidson. She also has a new, unexpected friend and protector – Dymphna Campbell – who was Jimmy’s girlfriend and Glory’s best girl. But Dymphna doesn’t know who to trust: she had Jimmy had been plotting to replace both of the mob bosses, and whoever killed Jimmy must have known that. Jimmy’s ghost wants to help, but he’s a bit hysterical over the turn of events. Kelpie’s only living friend, Snowy, also seems to want to help, but Jimmy says it was Snowy who killed him. Could sticking together be the thing that keeps both girls alive?

Set in 1930s Sydney, Razorhurst is historical fiction with a paranormal element, via the ghost characters. Set amidst the backdrop of a period where poverty was high, and gangs focused on prostitution and gambling preferred the razor as a means of enforcement and retribution, the story is fiction, but does draw on the lives of madams Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh, and 1930s prostitutes Dulcie Markham and Nellie Cameron as starting points for the intriguing characters of Glory and Dymphna.

Kelpie and Dymphna, who alternate as viewpoint characters, seem initially to be two very different people thrown together by circumstance, but it emerges that they have more in common than either thinks. this makes their relationship both complex and, for the reader, intriguing. The events that they endure, both within the short time frame of the book and in their pasts – which we see through flash backs – are violent and traumatic, yet both girls are strong, albeit in different ways.

Razorhurst is absorbing, frightening, and, at times, amusing. It is also utterly readable.



Razorhurst, by Justine Larbalestier
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781743319437

Available from good bookstores or online.

Pretty Girl, by J. C. Burke

The other girls are looking up and laughing, the tension dissolving around them. But it’s not for Sarah. Where Sarah and Tallulah have found themselves in their first year of college is worse than Sarah could ever have been imagined.

AT school Sarah, Tallulah, Jess and Tallulah were inseparable, so when they were all offered places at the same university college, it seemed certain their friendship would continue to flourish. But none of them could have foreseen the way their first year at university would pan out. Sarah’s having relationship trouble with her long-term boyfriend Wil, Paige and Jess hare both keeping secrets about their new crushes, and Tallulah is partying way too hard. Then Sarah finds Paige face down in the university swimming pool, and although she saves her, the months that follow are confusing. Was it a terrible accident, or did someone hurt Paige? Sarah saw something that night, but hasn’t told anyone, for reasons of her own. Then Jess has a fatal accident, and the remaining girls struggle to remain connected.

Pretty Girl is an intriguing blend of thriller and coming of age tale. Told from the dual perspectives of friends Sarah and Paige, readers are able to piece together much of the mystery of what has happened, but at the same time can only guess at how it will end. Alongside the mystery, we see the two girls, and (to a lesser extent) their friends, struggle to find their place in the world. Their friendships, their relationships and their sense of identity are all questioned as they navigate a tumultuous year.

An absorbing read for teens and young adults.


Pretty Girl, J.C. Burke

Pretty Girl, by J. C. Burke
Random House, 2013
ISBN 9781741663136

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Heiresses, by Allison Rushby

Ro couldn’t help herself. However rude it might be, she continued to stare, then reached out and touched the girl on the arm. “You are real,” she said quietly. “It was just…I was wondering if this was some kind of odd dream.”

“Perhaps it is,” Thalia said quite calmly. “Though I’ve never had a dream before where I’ve been told I’m a triplet and it ha turned out only a few minutes later to be true.” She shot a look at her brother’s retreating back.

For seventeen years Thalia, Erato and Clio have lived with their adoptive families, each girl unaware that she is one of a set of triplets, separated after their mother died in childbirth. Now they have been reunited by their aunt, Hestia, who believes they have been wrongly denied their mother’s estate. She wants the girls to work together to claim what is rightfully theirs.  But working together is not easy for three girls who have just met, and harder still when each has a reason for needing the inheritance.

As they get to know their new-found aunt, and each other, the girls struggle to figure out who they can trust. It seems they can’t even trust each other.

The Heiresses is an intriguing story of family, betrayal and more, with an element of mystery and loads of tension. Suitable for a new adult and adult audience,and set in 1925 London, there is lots to like about the story and its three diverse, feisty heroines.

The HeiressesThe Inheritance: The Heiresses 1

The Heiresses, by Allison Rushby

Pan Macmillan , 2013

ISBN 9781742613147

Available from good bookstores or online.