Sunday, March 20, 2016

Must Read Oz Books

Helllooooooo. I guess this post has been a long time coming. When I asked my Twitter peeps for post ideas, pretty much everyone came back asking for a list of must read Oz (YA) books.

I'm pretty ashamed to say that as an Aussie I read very little by Australian authors. Please don't kill me haha. It's just the range of books from overseas authors (especially US) is so much broader and pretty hardbacks always get me. ALWAYS.  That being said, I can tryyyyy recommend you guys the few books by Aussie authors I've read.


I'm gonna split this up into genres so you can find what you're after. Every single one of these books/series got 4+ stars.


Majority of Aussie books I read are actually contemporary. Why is that I wonder? If someone can recommend me Australia's answer to Brandon Sanderson or Sarah J Maas I will go running to the bookstore right now and try their books!

All right you know it's coming so let's do it. Let's talk about all the Melina Marchetta because she is my Aussie lit QUEEN.

This is arguably my favourite Aussie YA book EVER (I can just hear Penguin Teen Australia's Gong of Choice because I said 'arguably' haha).
It's a bit hard to explain the story but it's about school wars/skirmishes - in a fun competitive way. There's a boarding school, a day school and like cadets and they come together every year and play territory wars.
The MC Taylor is bit of a take-no-shit kind of girl and the person who sort of looks after her, Hannah, disappears. Taylor finds this book Hannah is writing and is immersed in another timeline.
Wow I really suck at explaining. 
Anyway it's this beautiful book with sort of dual timelines about friendship, territory wars, family and all these secrets come spilling out. It's so heart-wrenching (when is a Marchetta book NOT?), emotional and the writing is always on point because Marchetta.

My first ever Marchetta book! This was written in 1992, like it is the same age as me. I read this when I was super young and it was my first ever foray into YA. 
This book deals with identity - and it's something pretty much all kids born these days go through: what does it mean to have parents born in another country and you're the first generation to be born here? How do we be Aussie but also continue to embrace our culture but not let it stifle us because our parents are shoving it down our throats?
It's set in Sydney and I just loved reading about the characters walking down streets and through suburbs I frequent.
There are so many relevant themes in this book. To be honest I'd say start with LFA if you haven't read Marchetta before.

Saving Francesca/The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta (YA/NA)
Melina's other 2 books set in Sydney. You can read them separately but The Piper's Son is Tom Mackee's story. The Piper's Son is freaking beautiful. I was a bit skeptical about liking Tom's story but I think Marchetta is the only writer who's managed to make me cry in every single one of her books. Tom Mackee made me cry. We meet him 3 years earlier in Saving Francesca.
Saving Francesca follows Frankie whose mother has a breakdown and suffers from depression. I thought this was such an honest portrayal of mental illness and the effects it has on the people around us. While Frankie faces the absence of her mother's humour and guidance, she's trying to fit in at a school that's just started accepting girls.
It's just this wonderful book about friendship, family, and Sydney life. 

This one has strong Marchetta vibes. I know it's not ideal to compare authors but if you like Marchetta I reckon you'll like this too! Sarah's set her story in Sydney's inner-west and I freaking loved the references to places I go to.
It's a story about 5 very different characters who are thrown together to make their Year 12 yearbook. Another great friendship story but showing characters from different socioeconomic backgrounds and lifestyles. It's accurate and relevant - teens being pressured into sex, body image, mental illness, poverty. 
TYC became so much more than just getting a yearbook out. It's one of my fav 2016 releases.

All right let's move on to Melbourne. The Every series is a Sherlock Holmes retelling set in Melbourne! Ellie is a great writer and I couldn't tell that Every Breath was her debut novel.
She does the parallels between characters really well and the plots are always interesting. While I had some problems with book 1, I found the series got better and it's a very strong series overall - especially due to Ellie's fantastic writing.
The main character Rachel (Watts aka Watson) has just moved to the city from a farm and she's trying to adjust. Her genius neighbour James Mycroft (Sherlock) is still trying to deal with his parents' death when he was a kid. Put the two together and somehow trouble manages to find them. Actually more like Mycroft goes out of his way to find trouble hah.
Each book deals with its own mystery while at the same time closes in on an overarching arc.
Get on it guys. Much fab very mystery.

This one is one of my fav contemporaries ever. It's a bit "chick lit" whatever the hell that means but that's what it says on Goodreads O_O
It's about opening a tea shop and these different women coming together from different lifestyles to achieve this. I absolutely love design and tea and this book brought the two together. A lot of it is around designing the tea shop and designing teas with slice of life drama interspersed. It's a very lovely read, quintessential and picturesque. The imagery is gorgeous. Think of those Instagram posts with flowers and tea!

High Fantasy

I would say this is borderline YA but I think it gets a bit too intense, graphic and violent later on to be really YA. 
The series is set in a steampunk feudal Japan and focuses on our girl Yukiko who has the power to speak with animals. She meets this sassy arashitora called Buruu and the fun begins. Sort of. Not really. There's a war brewing and things get messy and gruesome pretty quickly. I actually still haven't read the last book (Endsinger) because Jay knifed me in the feels with the ending of Kinslayer (THAT TITLE YO) and I just want to cry thinking about it. My body is still not ready.
So yesssss read Stormdancer it is really good!

When Melina released Finnikin of the Rock I was very skeptical - a male POV when she'd only written female and fantasy when her 3 previous books were all contemporary? Oh I was so wrong to be skeptical.
One of the most fab fantasy I've ever read. I still haven't finished Froi yet because the editions I have are freaking massive and carrying that around kills my shoulder. I'll get to it eventually lol and I know I'll love it.
Book 1 focuses on characters from Lumatere - the royal family was murdered and since then a tempest has blocked anyone from going in or out of the kingdom. Finnikin and co are on a journey to try to get back their city. Again my poor explaining doesn't do this book justice.

I grew up reading this middle-grade fantasy series as just about every other Aussie kid.
I HATE these covers. Absolutely abhor them. It's what put me off them for a long time. The covers have the most grotesque creatures/massive mutant critters and *shudders* BUT the books are so damn fabulous.
Deltora focuses on these kids who journey through the lands trying to find lost gemstones that, when put together on a belt will show the true heir of Deltora. They believe that by finding the heir, it will get rid of the evil Shadow Lord.
Good stuff.


One of my fav angel series. TVEC known as Embrace the series in the US, is a very original take on angels. 
The book centres on the Grigori who are humans with angel blood and protect mankind from angels (both light and dark) who have fallen.
There's a hot love triangle - probably one of the few love triangles I freaking adored, and it broke my heart - with lots of heartbreak, friendship and character development.
They're an extremely quick read, I could read one of these in a day. 5 books in the series, 5 days done!
I think I might love this series more than Unearthly... Big claim to make I know.

And this is my fav book by Jess! It's very contemporary in many ways except for the fact that the MC lives each twice day. At the stroke of midnight she'll wake up in another life, with another family, with different friends but still Sabine.
She tries to figure out what this means by trying out experiments and all this stuff happens. It's so gripping and at times heart breaking. Jess is an amazing writer and she also writes amazing guys sooooo yes READ THIS.

Science Fiction

Yoooo so Jay Kristoff knife my feels and Amie Kaufman breaks my heart. Put the two together and you get a freaking calamity of feels and heart slaying.
Illuminae. Is. Phenomenal. It's told through interviews, dossiers, ship plans, words twirling on pages, pages with nothing but a graphic, countdown timers. I've never read anything like this before. It's an experience. And it works. It flows. It had me on the edge of my seat. All 600 pages only took me 2.5 days to read (with work too) because time flies when you want to eat this thing.

Honestly cannot tell you how much I lust over the covers in this series.
Each book is its own story with its own couple but put them together and you get an intergalactic conspiracy.
My fav is book one (fav cover too) but every book in this series is amazing. I always get lost in the different worlds Amie and Meagan have created. There's an abandoned planet, a planet that's basically a massive bog and a planet which is a massive city. The world-building is so detailed and intricate, the characters sassy with lots of inner strength.
They're freaking immersive and funny and of course there's heart breaking moments too. 75% These Broken Stars THAT IS ALL.

Hahaha as you can tell I love anything by Jessica Shirvington. 
This one is somewhat sci-fi, set in the near future. It's about a technology that can tell us immediately who we're compatible with.
But there's conspiracy and heartbreak because that's Jess for you. And of course action-packed, pulls you in and sucker punches you.
Yup you also need this on your TBR if you haven't read it yet.

Graphic Novels/Picture Books

Anything by Shaun Tan. His picture books are not just for kids but have adult messages too! I recommend anything he's written but my favs are Tales from Outer Suburbia (a collection of short stories about quirky things that can happen in suburban life), The Arrival (a relatable story about immigration), The Red Tree (loneliness/depression).
His illustrations are beautiful and the underlying messages are so meaningful.


Well there you have it, my must read Aussie books. I know it's dominated by a few authors haha but hopefully you got something out of that and added a few books to your TBR.

Aussie authors I still need to read: Kirsty Eagar, Justine Larbalestier, Fiona Wood, Claire Zorn and Markus Zusak (I KNOW LOL I'm 1/3 of the way through The Book Thief and it's been 5 years, I WILL get there eventually). I own at least 1 book by all of these authors but I haven't read them. It'll happen. I swear.

Aussie authors I've read who aren't on this list: John Marsden, Jaclyn Moriarty, Gabrielle Tozer, Paula Weston


  1. GREAT RECS :) Although seriously, read more Aussie YA. *throws books at you* Summer Skin and My Sister Rosa are good starts.


  2. i'm always looking to read more books by australian authors! the few i have read have been quite good like jellicoe road, the year of secret assignments and graffiti moon (which i'm not sure if you've read but is one that i highly recommend!) i didn't know shaun tan was australian but i read the arrival a few years ago and really enjoyed it. so impressive how much he can convey with his gorgeous illustrations. i added both the yearbook committee and the tea chest to my goodreads as i'm always up for more contemporaries to read and books by aussie authors. plus they sound super good!

    also the book thief is amazing! i'm rooting for you to finish because it's one of my favourite books ever. thanks for all the recs! :)