I’m very late to the podcast party, but I’ve become ridiculously obsessed. I listen to my favourite podcasts when I’m doing housework, putting on make-up, driving, or just lounging around. While I listen to quite a lot of podcasts, these few are my absolute favourites and, if you’re also new to the podcast game, they each have dozens of episodes to catch up on. So pop those earbuds in and get listening.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, I want to share some of my favourite books written by women. Looking at my bookshelves, the majority of things I read are by women so narrowing down this list was a little challenging. I also noticed my shelves were severely lacking in diversity, something I’d like to amend because I believe feminism needs to be intersectional. So, I really want to hear your recommendations.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for, oh, a good year or so. There’s so much fabulous Aussie YA out there that I simply can’t recommend highly enough and plenty more I still need to discover. Again, this is just a tiny taste of the contemporary goodness my favourite homegrown authors have to offer. For some more suggestions, check out part one.
Jacqueline Wilson: This fabulous British author was my first introduction into contemporary YA and will always have a very special place in my heart. I started reading Wilson’s books when my family was going through some tough times and really connected to her writing and each of the characters. Aside from her newer titles, I’ve read most of her books countless times and have a massive collection. Luckily, I was able meet her about eight years ago at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. I was waiting in the lobby of the convention centre where everyone would line up to get books signed when she walked in early and spent about 20 minutes signing my massive collection of books. I’ve never forgotten that special day and those books remain some of the most special in my collection.
Georgia Byng: Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism was one of the first ‘big’ chapter books I can remember reading. I was hooked from the first page and read it over and over again. The story of an orphan who finds she has the power to hypnotise people and escapes her horrible orphanage for New York was just magical to 9-year-old me.
Enid Blyton: I adored Blyton’s magical worlds when I was little and treasured these copies of her books, which my mum bought me at a garage sale. These were some of the first books I remember spending hours revisiting as a child.
Roald Dahl: I can’t exactly remember what my first Dahl book was, but I do have a vidid memory of starting to read The Witches in the car and looking out the window wondering which of the women walking along the street could possibly be witch. Dahl was the ultimate storyteller and each of his books held me completely captive until the very last page. Apart from The Witches, I always adored Matilda (for obvious reasons). In recent years I’ve loved discovering his adult short stories which always have a wicked twist.
I’m not a big fan of series. In fact I usually go out of my way to avoid them. Apart from the fact I really dislike reading hyped books, which are usually part of a series, I generally forget what the each book as I wait for each instalment to be published. There are only a handful of series I’ve been liked enough to be dedicated to finishing and Ellie Marney’s thrilling Sherlock Holmes-inspired Every trilogy is without a doubt one of my favourites.
Despite seeing dozens of great reviews and having been excited for Every Breath for months, it took me a while to get around to reading the first book in the series. However, I was not disappointed when I finally got my act together.
For me, the thing which made this series fantastic was the characters. While they’re based on Sherlock and Watson, Marney bought her own unique style to Mycroft and Watts. Electric and engaging, they’re a true partnership. There’s undeniable chemistry between the pair from the outset and the way this evolved over the course of the books was one of my favourite elements of the series. Character development is never sacrificed for the sake mystery in this series.
The series jumps from urban and rural Australia to London seamlessly, with each book focused on a thrilling mystery. But the beauty of the series is that it doesn’t rely solely on these adventures, with powerful, loveable characters just as crucial to its appeal. The Every series is perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, contemporary or crime novels.
It isn’t often I venture outside my contemporary comfort zone, but sometimes taking a leap of faith can prove rewarding when it comes to finding new favourite books. For me to love a dystopian or futuristic novel the world building has to be incredible, but the characters have to be just as engaging. While my knowledge of the genre leaves a lot to be desired, these are some of my favourite YA dystopians.
Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow
Set in Cornwall, England Crow Moon sees the country divided into the Redworld and the Greenworld. Those in the small village communities of the Greenworld live self-sufficiently, protected by witches, while the Redworld wages wars over dwindling fuel supplies. It’s so easy to picture the stunning Cornish coast and get swept up in the Celtic mythology and paganism which drives Danny’s story || Full reviewWhen We Wake by Karen HealeyWhen We Wake imagines a frighteningly vivid Melbourne 100 years into the future. While I loved the intricate world building, which played off many contemporary issues in Australian society, the plot and characters also made this a very exciting read. The bonus for me was Tegan is also obsessed with The Beatles || Full reviewThe Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn
I devoured this book in a number of hours. Another OzYA novel, this time set in the Blue Mountains, The Sky So Heavy follows Fin as he fights for survival when the world is plunged into a nuclear winter. The terrifying concept made this absolutely impossible to put down || Full review
One of the best rewards I’ve found through blogging has been discovering OzYA. I’ve read a lot of contemporary novels, from America and the UK, but there’s something a little different about contemporary Aussie novels. I find it impossible to actually articulate, but there’s something magical about reading homegrown contemporary. My favourites are incredibly moving and, although I read many of them more than a year ago, have stayed with me. Basically? You should really read some fab OzYA. Here’s my first set of recommendations, I promise there will be many more in the future!
Head of the River by Pip Harry
I love this book with a fiery passion. Twins Leni and Cristian, want to follow in their parents’ footsteps and row at an Olympic level. Head of the River is a gorgeous exploration of how both Leni and Cristian deal with the pressure leading up to a prestigious state competition in different ways || Full reviewFriday Brown by Vikki Wakefield
It’s probably a good idea to have tissues handy before you start reading Friday Brown, because I ended up trying to cry quietly into the corner when I finished this during a plane trip. Friday is on the run after the death of her mother and has found comfort living with a group of equally lost people. I adore the characters in this book and Wakefield’s writing is absolutely superb. Three years after reading Friday Brown I’m still not over it and it remains just as strongly in my mind || Full reviewWildlife by Fiona WoodWildlife is raw and deep, a stunning exploration of life, death, first love and first loss. I adored its quirkiness, awkwardness and honesty. Wood’s writing is lovely and so moving that it’s almost impossible not to really feel this book || Full reviewGirl Defective by Simmone HowellGirl Defective is about lost girls, family and sitting on the cusp of adulthood. There’s an underlying uneasiness to the story, which perfectly suited the Melbourne record shop setting. The exploration of Sky’s relationship with her father and brother was beautiful and remains one of the best I’ve read in a YA novel || Full review