#LoveOzYA Throwback Thursday (#4)

Throwback Thursday edition is our way of spreading the love of backlist Aussie books that you might have missed. We'll hopefully be posting a new book each week, and we'd love you to join us!

chiara's pick

Title: A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeleine #1)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Released: January 1st 2014 (first published September 18th 2012)
Publisher: Pan Australia
Add it to Goodreads
Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World - a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie's Tea Shop.

Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello - where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours. They are worlds apart - until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white - the slim seam of a letter.

Elliot begins to write to Madeleine, the Girl-in-the-World - a most dangerous thing to do for suspected cracks must be reported and closed.

But Elliot's father has disappeared and Madeleine's mother is sick. Can a stranger from another world help to unravel the mysteries in your own? Can Madeleine and Elliot find the missing pieces of themselves before it is too late?

A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.

why i chose it

A Corner of White was actually book-pushed onto me by my mum. She saw it at Big W, and really liked the cover so she bought it. And then fell in love with it. Only when the third book, A Tangle of Gold, was about to be released did I finally read A Corner of White

I ended up absolutely loving it. Which just goes to show you should listen to your mother *laughs* A Corner of White was magical, and beautiful, and all kinds of those really lovely adjectives. I adored every single character, most of all Elliot Baranski, who is my precious cinnamon child and needs to be protected.

A Corner of White is incredibly unique and whimsical, which works for some people and not for others. For me, I just went with it and ended up loving it. The sequel was even more to my tastes, and it actually a favourite book!

If you're looking for a new (and finished!) series to add to your TBR don't hesitate to start this one.

Follow Chiara at Books for a Delicate Eternity, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads

What's your pick for this week? Share on your blog, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, or in the comments below! Make sure you tag your posts with #AusYABloggers so we can share the love.

July New Releases

If you're purchasing online, remember to check out Booko for free shipping when purchasing from Booktopia, Angus & Robertson Bookworld and Boomerang Books. Support your local bookstores to support our Australian publishing industry. 

July New Releases

Penguin Teen

Hachette Australia

Allen and Unwin

Allen and Unwin (Hot Keys)

Harper Collins

Harper Collins


Pan Macmillan


What books are you excited for in July?

You can find Kelly via Diva Booknerd  Twitter  Instagram and Goodreads

A Shadow's Breath Guest Post + Giveaway!

In some of my favourite Aussie YA, what really stands out to me is how authors depict the Australian landscape - whether it be physically in the city or the outback, or culturally through our resilience and ability to relate to others. A Shadow's Breath by Nicole Hayes is one of those books which does this exceptionally well, alongside providing a story which is compelling and full of suspense!

Guest Post by Nicole Hayes - Writing A Shadow's Breath

It makes sense that this competition is about capturing a visual depiction of A Shadow’s Breath since that’s how the first words of this novel came to me.

I generally start a story with a solid idea of what I want to say, a big picture concept or theme I want to explore, and, usually, the main character has already started to “speak” to me as part of this. Not in a woo-woo way. Ha! But because I’ve already played around with her voice, or thought about what sort of person she might be, by testing out her words in my head even before I write anything down. This is how Shelley in The Whole of My World and Frankie in One True Thing emerged when I sat down to write those books, seeming to leap off the page largely formed.

With A Shadow’s Breath, those early images in my head were more visual than anything else. I could see this girl waking up after an accident in the hot, dry Australian bush with that enormous, cerulean-blue sky above her. I’ve collected so many pictures of the Australian landscape and our incredible skies over the years, gathering them in my memories, feeding them with my imagination, that they essentially forced themselves out of me when I attempted to write Tessa’s story.

In this way, the natural world is as much a character in A Shadow’s Breath as Tessa Gilham is. The vastness of the bush, the history and timelessness of our amazing outback, the awesome shifts in weather, the creatures, and always, always the heat. How incredibly powerful the elements are when they work together to create a unique country that is beautiful, ravaging, but also terrifying. So many ways to die here! I had a million possibilities and challenges for Tessa and Nick to overcome – quite apart from the problems in their relationship – and all of them so visceral and alive that the words flew out of me.

But the thing that gripped me most, apart from all the fabulous (from a writer’s point of view!) dangers and perils that lurk in our landscape, was what it looked like. The colours and textures, the shapes and edges. Once I started exploring these possibilities, I quickly found that the language around our wilderness is rich and evocative, atmospheric and complex in style and substance. An unpredictable! I loved the idea of that vast, open blue of a dry summer’s day set against the purples and greys of sudden, terrifying summer storms. And I spent a lot of time trying to capture all this, relishing the process of finding the precise word, the ideal colour, the perfect slant of light to match what I could see in my head.

But I knew that this in itself isn’t a story.

Story is about characters, about people, relating – or often, not relating – and because Tessa’s story of abuse and neglect was one I’d heard too often and witnessed at different times, it became really clear how this almost alien, brutal landscape provided a metaphor for Tessa’s struggle to feel safe anywhere – at school, in her small, claustrophic town, in her own home. To Tessa, the perils of the outback were bearable compared to what she’d survived already. Which was why the story became two narratives running alongside each other: the Now story, of Tessa and Nick fighting to stay alive after a car accident in the middle of nowhere, struggling to make their way out of the bush, carrying injuries of all kinds, physical and psychological. Their relationship as tenuous at that moment as their grip on life. And the Then chapters, of the days leading up to the accident, the small-town gossip surrounding a girl like Tessa whose family history is as notorious and damaged as Tessa is. And her own struggle to believe anything good could happen to her, but also, incredibly, beginning those first steps toward moving on. Believing.

When I brought all these components together, I realised I was writing something I’d always wanted to write: a survival story set in the Australian bush, driven by a protagonist who is smart, capable, and fiercely independent in a survival sense – socially and physically – but also afraid to trust or believe in the simplest and most important things: love, family, forgiveness. If it wasn’t for her best friend, Yuki, she would have given up years ago.

But Tessa does believe in her art, in the freedom it gives her to safely explore her darkest fears, her deepest secrets, including the darkest of all. A secret she’s never told anyone, not even Yuki, and definitely not her mum. And the thing that drove her and Nick into the bush in the first place, the reason she’s afraid to go home.

Even more frightening than the harsh, perilous Australian bush.

Extract from A Shadow's Breath

Vast sky. Blue and wide and impossibly bright.Tessa blinks. Blinks again. A shadow falls, then passes. Heat like a wall presses against her. The rustle of wind in leaves. Or something moving outside? She listens, strains towards the sound. Now barely a whisper of noise that might not be real. And then it’s gone.She squeezes her eyes shut. Opens them. A rushing sound fills her head like a conch shell held to her ear. Her skin stretched taut against her cheekbones, her lips crusty and dry as a scab.

Still. That sky. She can’t look at it for long before the black dots appear. The feeling of life – hot and bright and wondrous.


She’ll be okay, it seems to tell her. She’ll be okay. And she fixes on that single thing – the notion that life still beats on inside her – before the weight of consciousness grows too heavy and she allows herself to fall into that blessed dark, the silence a welcome relief, knowing she’ll come out the other side.

Wherever that is. 

Novels by Nicole Hayes

You can follow Nicole Hayes on:

Check out the photo comp!

Nicole Hayes has been kind enough to offer two of her books up for grabs AND a $20 voucher for an Australian bookstore to the lucky winner. 

Simply post a photo of A Shadow's Breath with the hashtag #ashadowsbreathcontest on twitter or instagram to enter. If you don't own a copy of the book yourself, don't worry - your local library may have one or you may even create something on Photoshop which is inspired by the phrase 'a shadow's breath'.

Full details can be found on my instagram post here:
Giveaway alert! 'A Shadow's Breath' is an amazing #LoveOzYA novel by Nicole Hayes and now Aussie readers can have the opportunity to win more of her books *PLUS* a bookish gift voucher through our photo comp... . . 📒Main Rule: Include in your photo the cover of A Shadow's Breath - it can be through your own copy, one from the library or a digital image. Feel free to get creative with a theme that takes inspiration from the title - the most creative photo wins! . . 📒The Prize: Any 2 novels by Nicole Hayes (choose from A Shadow's Breath ● One True Thing ● The Whole of My World) AND: - A $20 voucher for an Australian bookstore . . 📒Open to entries here or on twitter, just make sure to use the #ashadowsbreathcontest hashtag in your posts so Nicole can see them! . . 📒Open to Australian residents only, competition closes on 10th July . . [ Stay tuned for some blog posts happening soon and more opportunities to win a copy of 'A Shadow's Breath' over at @divabooknerd @ausyabloggers and my blog! ]
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Follow Eugenia at Genie in a Book, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads

Pride Month Guest Post: Bisexual YA #ownvoices Novels by Sarah @ Written Word Worlds

To celebrate Pride Month we asked Aussie bloggers from the LGBTQIA+ community to submit some guest posts for our blog! Sarah, a passionate advocate for LGBTQIA+ diversity was kind enough to write the following (amazing) post. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!


One thing I’ve become a lot more aware about by being a part of the online bookish community is the diversity in certain books. Being a white cis woman living in Australia, I recognise my privilege and can see that I’m represented in a lot of what I read, but being a part of the online community has widened my perspective and has allowed me to discover more diverse books and novels that represent other parts of my identity, such as my sexual orientation and my experiences with mental illness. When I read my first novel with a queer protagonist, The Flywheel, it changed my life. Suddenly, I realised that my feelings were valid and didn’t have to be kept secret, and that allowed me to not feel as alone anymore.

Realising that there was more novels out there than the ones that just contained straight, cis, white, able-bodied, neurotypical protagonists was a world-changing experience for me. It was one that altered the way I saw books that I previously loved, and changed what books I bought, and why I bought them. I wanted to read more books that conveyed how beautiful and vibrant and diverse the world really is, not just offering a slice of a white, heteronormative, neurotypical society that we’re given too much of on a regular basis. But also, I wanted to read books that were representative of my identity. There’s nothing quite like seeing yourself reflected back at you through the pages of a book. It makes you feel seen. Heard. Like who you are and what you stand for matters. That you matter.

And so my quest for reading more novels with queer protagonists began — if they were bi, that was even more exciting. One book I discovered that I connected with in so many ways, and contained a character that I saw so much of myself in, was Our Own Private Universe. While it was only released earlier this year, I hadn’t found anything that I saw so much of who I am as a person in before reading it, or after. The struggles of the two main characters were struggles that I have, or I’m continuing, to struggle with, and their relationship experiences were unbelievably similar to mine. It was astounding that a book, or an author, was writing about everything I was going through in such a raw and heartfelt way. Because of that, Our Own Private Universe has got to be one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Another one of my favourite books with a bisexual protagonist is Queens of Geek. Queens of Geek is a gorgeous novel about fandoms and friendship and embracing your identity, and perhaps one of the aspects I loved so much about it was that it wasn’t about sexuality. It’s easy to write novels about someone struggling with their sexuality, but that’s not what we want to read all the time. Yes, it’s important to read those stories too, and the stories where one’s sexuality is the centre focus, but it’s also important to simply have diverse characters in the narrative and not have what makes them diverse as their defining quality. Queens of Geek is diverse and adorable and filled with gorgeous characters that leap right off the pages. If only Charlie could leap right into my arms.

One of the best novels I’ve read all year is undeniably Radio Silence, which is a novel that also contains a bisexual protagonist. And there are other queer characters too! This was another book where the protagonist’s sexuality wasn’t the main focus, and unlike many of the other books I’ve read with queer protagonists, this isn’t a book with much romance in it at all. It was refreshing to read about a bisexual girl in this light because surprise! We do have lives beyond our bisexual tendencies! She and another main character, Aled Last, were such adorable queer munchkins and there’s nothing I wanted more than to just hug them.

Ah, I could write about my favourite queer characters for days, but I have to restrain myself! Highly commended goes to Far From You — a mystery / crime novel with a bisexual protagonist and an intense narrative, which I recommend for everyone who loves something a bit darker! And Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is simply delightful. Then there are a multitude of novels with bisexual main characters that I haven’t got around to reading yet, so I’ll put a list of those ones below!

What are your favourite books containing queer characters? Have you read any novels with bisexual protagonists? Have you read any of the novels I’ve mentioned? What’s one book you see yourself represented in? I’d love to know!

YA Novels with Bisexual Main Characters That I Need to Read:
    Ramona Blue

Follow Sarah via her blog, Twitter, and Instagram

#LoveOzYA Throwback Thursday (#3)

Throwback Thursday  edition is our way of spreading the love of backlist Aussie books that you might have missed. We'll hopefully be posting a new book each week, and we'd love you to join us!

Nicole's pick

Title: Playing Beatie Bow
Author: Ruth Park
Released: December 4th 1984
Publisher: Puffin Books
Add it to Goodreads 
The game is called Beatie Bow and the children play it for the thrill of scaring themselves. But when Abigail is drawn in, the game is quickly transformed into an extraordinary, sometimes horrifying, adventure as she finds herself transported to a place that is foreign yet strangely familiar ....

why i chose it

I think I probably saw the movie before I read the book, but I don't remember which order they came in, only that I loved them both. This time slip fantasy sees 14 year old Abigail chasing a girl from the park and finding herself in the Sydney of the past. I love the setting - The Rocks in Sydney has always fascinated me, I loved visiting there as a kid, and to a girl from suburban Melbourne, 19th Century Sydney is quite exotic. I also loved the romance between Abigail and Judah. I loved the tragic element, Judah is promised to his cousin, Dovey, and Abigail must return to her own time, but their attraction to each other is undeniable.  This is an Australian classic, and an enduring favourite, which predates YA as a "thing". The good news is that it's now available as a Penguin Classic for everyone to enjoy.

Follow Nicole at Nicole Has Read, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads

What's your pick for this week? Share on your blog, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, or in the comments below! Make sure you tag your posts with #AusYABloggers so we can share the love.

We Heart: Danielle Binks

Blogger, author extraordinaire and Young Adult and Middle Grade literary agent with Jacinta di Mase Management, Danielle Binks is a champion of #LoveOzYA and one of our favourites here at the AusYABloggers. We approached Danielle to share her inspirational story.


Here’s a new and original story – when I left high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I did know that I’d like a career where I could write, because that’s what I was good at. I loved reading, and I’d adored my English and Literature classes, had won a couple of in-school short story competitions and been Yearbook/Magazine Editor in my graduating year.

Oh yeah – and I read a lot of FanFiction. And wrote even more.

Mostly Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls, Once & Again, The West Wing and Dawson’s Creek – and later on there was a lot of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and Twilight tributes too.

In my FanFic hey-day, I could easily churn out a 40K serial-story … and by the end of my “career” I’d written 24 pieces of Fan-Fic, totalling about 400K.
But when it came time for university preferences and career-paths, I looked around at all the writing careers there were and thought – journalism! That’s for me. That’ll let me write!

I did three years of a Communications Degree, with a focus on journalism and hated it. This was not the path for me. Most of my assignments came back with notes that my writing was too detailed and over-written. I was constantly reminded of WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY? to condense my work. I was miserable, and I wrote a lot of FanFic in those three years. And I read a lot of books. YA mostly, but I also discovered the romance genre and delved headfirst into that lovely readership too. I’d always been a reader, and I’d always read YA – raising myself on a healthy reading adolescence of Melina Marchetta, Margo Lanagan, Robin Klein, John Marsden … all the Aussie classics. And I kept reading them, even when I’d “aged-out” of the young adult readership.

During my time (unhappily) studying journalism, I also became an avid reader of book blogs. I was a huge fan of blogs like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and Persnickety Snark (the owner of which – Adele Walsh – would later become one of my best friends!).

In the final term of my Communications course, we had to do an internship anywhere of our choice, but related to media … And something made me type in “Melbourne children’s book publishers” to Google, which is how I found Black Dog Books (now an imprint of Walker Books) and sent off a query to do an internship with them for a couple of months. They agreed, and everything changed for me.

It was nothing short of amazing. Not just because it was working with books, and children’s literature in particular! – but because I got to understanding how many different roles and jobs exist in book publishing and I started to envision a career for myself that didn’t involve putting my journalism degree to good use.

Clare Renner of Black Dog Books encouraged me to apply for something called the ‘RMIT Professional Writing & Editing’ course if I hoped to break into book publishing as an editor, publicist or writer. I did apply, but I also knew the odds weren’t in my favour and that the course knocked back hundreds of applicants every year.

When I went in for my interview with RMIT one of the first things the panel asked me was for my writing background and experience – of which, I had very little. Except … I told them about my FanFiction, which they’d never heard of. I explained it was like writing love-notes to your favourite popular-fiction narratives, and a lot of it was mimicry in the universe or creator’s style and I sent them one of my one-shot Buffy pieces as part of my application assessment.
And I got in.

That same year, I also started my book review blog – Alpha Reader – calling it “my solo book club” it was a little space dedicated to my reading everything I loved, which was YA and romance. Suddenly book-blogging overtook my time that FanFic once occupied.

I also found myself writing a lot more – not the FanFic of my youth, but my own fic. I was inspired from being around fellow creative and bookish people at RMIT, and encouraged by all the reading I was learning from – all of that, coupled with the writing backbone that FanFic gave me, and suddenly I had the confidence to explore my own fiction more. I was quietly entering short-story competitions, and occasionally winning or placing in a few. I submitted to the wonderful Voiceworks Magazine, for creators under the age of 25. I also placed second in the John Marsden Short Story Prize (now The John Marsden & Hachette Australia Prize – Express Media). I was learning to put myself out there, and getting my courage up.

I studied Professional Writing and Editing for two years, but I spent a good six-months after graduating looking for a job in publishing (and I kept my old job at my local post office during that job-hunt time). 

"I quickly realised that people who get into publishing rarely leave it, because there’s such passion there … which is wonderful, but it makes it very hard for newbie’s to get their foot in the door when nobody else moves aside."

That all changed when I applied for an Australian Publishers Association paid-internship program – throwing my hat into the ring to work for one of six different publishing houses around Australia. I interviewed for one Melbourne position with Australia’s last feminist publishing house, the independent publisher, Spinifex Press – and was successful. I’d nabbed a six-month paid-internship. My foot was in the door!

Working at an independent publisher – with a staff of about six people – was wonderful. I had to wear many hats, and I put all of my studies to good use; on any given day I worked as publicist, editor, proof-reader, marketing and events manager, or sales-rep.

Finally getting to work in publishing also encouraged me to venture out to events more, and really get involved in the local books community. I started attending Melbourne Writers Festival and really making an effort to break out of my introvert shell, and get to know people – put myself out there.

While working at Spinifex I also kept up my book blogging – my time studying at RMIT had made my book reviews into more thoughtful, and nuanced musings on the state of youth literature and publishing generally. 

"I didn’t care that I wrote long, rambling reviews of the books I was reading – I was more concerned with being thoughtful and giving young adult books the kind of intense scrutiny and spotlighting I didn’t see them getting in mainstream arts media."

That paid off for me too, when Kill Your Darlings literary journal asked me to write something about YA for their online journal. It was an area of publishing they thought they weren’t paying enough attention to, but they liked what I was exploring about the readership on my blog and in my reviews – so they extended that very kind offer. And they said I could write about anything – a topic of my choice. So I decided to explore what I wished was getting more scrutiny from the YA books community; You are not alone: Why we need more Indigenous writers and characters in Australian YA.

After that, Kill Your Darlings invited me to be their regular online contributor – writing on Young Adult Literature – throughout 2013 and 2014.

During this time I’d left Spinifex and worked as freelance publicist for a few more small, independent publishers – an area I love, but can be very mercurial work. But even when I was struggling to find work, I kept my foothold in the industry by turning up – and I really can’t stress enough how much that can make all the difference!

I kept attending book launches, Wheeler Centre events, Melbourne Writers Festival, and I discovered something glorious called the Reading Matters Conference – hosted by the Centre for Youth Literature. Attending all of these events kept my name in the community, and gave me plenty of ideas for freelance arts media commentary, and I started writing for places like Books+Publishing Magazine.

Then in 2015 everything changed again. The book and hashtag - #LoveOzYA - were ideas borne from the onslaught of American YA blockbuster books, that were being adapted into blockbuster movies. I did a summary of the phenomenon that Aussie authors were up against (roughly; for every 9 young adult books on our store shelves, only one will be by an Australian author).
This was something I was really passionate about, and I kept thinking up ways to address the issue – things like creating ‘Readalikes’ posters, and then agreeing to join a dedicated committee formed to represent the #LoveOzYA Grassroots movement.

A few months later I was at the Wheeler Centre, waiting for my creative-writing workshop group to arrive, when a woman approached me and said she recognized my hair (!) from Twitter, and that she really liked my Kill Your Darlings YA commentary. It was Jacinta di Mase – literary agent representing authors like Clementine Ford and Natasha Lester. We had a great chat, that ended in her giving me a card and saying she’d love for me to come along to a roundtable manuscript assessment one day.

A roundtable assessment is when Jacinta gathers a few close friends and colleagues to read through a whole lot of unsolicited manuscripts by authors she’s thinking of representing. She had a children’s and YA day that I attended, and we quickly realized that we had similar tastes and story-expectations. We got along really well, and I had a great time talking about potential future #LoveOzYA projects and what I’d like to see more of on the shelves … I went to a couple more roundtable assessments before Jacinta made me the ultimate offer – to join her as “agent-at-large”, seeking young adult and middle grade authors. She basically pitched it to me as – I’d get to have a REAL say in the #LoveOzYA of the future. I could not resist.

Around this time the #LoveOzYA grassroots movement was really doing amazing things and framing an important conversation about Australian representation for our teen readers. We had a website and a movement, and there was something really exciting developing. Then out of the blue one day, I got a phone-call from HarperCollins Publisher Chren Byng – asking if I’d be interested in heading up an anthology of #LoveOzYA short stories, that celebrates our national youth literature.

The offer to helm Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology came as a shock, but it was an idea that also really fit me to a tee. It was the best way I could think of to pay tribute to the idea of #LoveOzYA – and my reading home that shaped me into the reader I am today, and set me on my path to becoming a youth literature advocate. Because while I can’t exactly see a direct line from my past careers to now, I do know that the one persona I always try to remain true to is that of advocate – for YA literature and teen-spaces for their own stories.

Between the Anthology and my new role as literary agent, I really just want to give back to the books and community that made me – and to put good Aussie YA into teens’ hands for years to come.

I’m also still writing my own-fic. I’ve contributed a short-story to the Anthology, called Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory – about a little sister saying goodbye to her deaf big brother, before he goes off on an overseas adventure. My appearing in the Anthology was really me coming out (I hope!) as an emerging voice in the Australian YA landscape. Watch this space.

"I don’t know how I got here.
That’s the honest truth.
And I know how frustrating it is to hear people who work in the industry that you aspire to, say; “I was in the right place at the right time!” because how is that helpful, exactly?!
But it’s the truth."

I was in the right place, at the right time 99% of the time … but also; I just kept reading the books I loved, turning up to events, and championing the books and readership that most shaped me. And as far as I can tell – that got me to where I am today.

There was no plan. There’s still no plan.
But I’m loving every minute.

You can find Danielle via Her Website  Twitter and Instagram

Danielle will be a regular feature author on the AusYABloggers blog, sharing her experience and answering questions from young, aspiring authors. If you would like to ask Danielle a question, simply fill out this form.

Ramadan Reading with Annie

One of our favourite bloggers at the AusYABloggers is Annie from Read3r’z Re-Vu and during the week I caught up with Annie to chat about her wonderful network of readers, the holy month of Ramadan and asked Annie for her favourite own voices recommendations.

What is Read3r’z Re-Vu

We spy Laini Taylor there Annie
I created Read3r’z Re-Vu, A Network of Readers (name and all) in 2008 and launched in 2009 as a means to bring readers together to enjoy what they are most passionate about – books. Over the years, I have watched the network grow to not just include readers, but bloggers, small business owners and we have had the unique privilege of having authors join us as special guests during sessions I host once a month. It’s different as we don’t analyse a prescribed text – a theme is prescribed to allow members the freedom to choose what they would like to review at sessions but to keep it consistent, it would be a book that relates to the theme. In addition to the sessions I run once a month, we also engage in outdoor activities such as annual bookstore crawl, annual athletics carnival picnic and host exclusive high teas and dinners with visiting authors as well as attend as many book events and launches as possible to support the publishing house or author. We are living in difficult times so keeping a network that is so diverse in faith and culture alive is very important to me on a personal level. With all the negativity in the world, I want to lead by example rather than speech. I feel if I can keep something so positive alive and contribute to the community, I’ve done what I could to supress hate and bridge gaps. I am quite proud of what Read3r’z Re-Vu has achieved as a network and how friendships have been formed among people from all walks of life.

Can you share with us what Ramadan is?

Muslims follow the lunar calendar where the phases of the moon are followed closely and upon the citation of a new moon, a new month commences. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, depending on the citation of the new moon it can go for anywhere between 28-30 days. It is a holy month for Muslims as Muslims believe it is when our Prophet Muhammad received the divine revelation of the Holy Quran, Islam and the message of One God. As part of the holy month, Muslims engage in a fast during sunlight hours. The fast is our means of bringing us closer to God, humble ourselves as a person and remind us of those who are less fortunate than us. The fasting is only prescribed to Muslims who are fit and able to engage in the fast – so if a Muslim is sick or has a medical condition that requires regular medication or meals, they are exempt. Same applies to pregnant and lactating women. If one has commenced fasting then during the day has become ill, they are to break their fast immediately. For those who can’t fast, they usually pay a Fidyah which is a charity – money paid to the needy and equates to what we would normally spend on food in a day which general rule of thumb Muslims tend to apply is approx. $10 per day for a meal. Ramadan is a peaceful time of the year – it is a time for prayer, family and repentance. You could call it our annual spiritual and physical detox.

How can allies support our Muslim friends during the time of Ramadan?

Support always comes with understanding and mutual respect :) it's helpful when allies know to disassociate Muslims from the evil that's happening around the world. These atrocities do not represent our values. I have often said - pick a team you're most proud of, imagine if you wake up one morning and you find people who you don't even know wear your team's jersey and commit these evil acts in that team's name yet it's not what you stand for.. how would that make you feel?

I always do my best to have chats with friends and family who aren’t Muslim about Ramadan just to bridge that gap – I am very sure what we do would appear strange to those who don’t know anything about Islam or Ramadan but having a conversation where friends listen to understand rather than just to reply – it’s very supportive and helpful. I usually start with: Have you ever worked with a Muslim colleague or have a Muslim friend who has declined invites to lunch or even social gatherings after work or school during a certain time of the year? They suddenly go missing from the social sphere or they disappear for a power nap during lunch? It’s not to cause any offence or to avoid anyone, it’s only because it’s the Holy Month of Ramadan. We’re either fasting or praying or sleeping lol When it’s time to break our fast (Iftar) we’re most likely with family as Ramadan is the time for family then afterwards we are at the mosque for prayers that go for most of the night. So our time is quite consumed with the fasting and prayers during Ramadan. With it, the fast can get quite exhausting but not from the lack of food and water consumption. We wake up Sahur (breakfast) at approx. 4:30am to eat in time before Fajr (morning prayers) by 5:20am - then it’s off to work or school so when we do get downtime – it’s usually for rest. To mark the end of Ramadan, we celebrate a religious holiday called Eid ul Fitr also known as Idul Fitri. It’s a time when we attend prayers in the morning then make up for lost time by visiting friends or family and go house to house eating all day. It’s also a time for charity as we pay what is called a Fitrah to the poor prior to Eid prayers and continue to give charity and also do our best to carry on positive behaviour once we bid the Holy Month farewell.

Can you tell us about the first book you saw yourself and faith represented?

That’s an interesting question because I have 2 books that I can name here. The first book I saw myself in was “Hate is such a Strong Word” by Sarah Ayoub. Although the main character was of a different faith, I saw myself a lot in the protagonist with her attitude and outlook towards life, cultural communities and how she was ‘trapped between 2 cultures’ having grown up in Australia but still having to deal with cultural traditions that are deeply rooted into her family. The second book I can name here is “Fire Boy” by Sami Shah. Although this is Urban Fantasy and relates to story of Jinn – the referencing to the Islamic faith in this book was so accurate, it blew me away! It also sparked a lot of questions from my non Muslim friends once reading this which bridged even more gaps.

With the importance of diverse reads, we would love if you could recommend readers own voices narratives to support Muslim authors.​

A couple of fantastic YA titles come to mind:
When Michael Met Mina” by Randa Abdel-Fattah – very important read and a story that is told in 2 perspectives. It explores hot topics such as refugees and Islamaphobia and also explores how mutual understanding and respect can form strong friendships that break down the barriers and stereotypes. This is book I see as the next “Looking for Alibrandi”

“Living on Hope Street” by Demet Divaroren – this is quite new in Contemporary YA due for release this month. This story is told from various perspectives and each voice is so distinguished, you can easily follow the story and each character as you read it. It’s a very raw and confronting read as it taps into hot topics such as immigration and also explores intense themes such as alcoholism that fuels domestic violence however unlikely friendships form among neighbours who live on the same street that help deal with these issues.

Titles Annie recommends to support own voices authors

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