Songlines by Carolyn Denman #BlogTour with #GuestPost and #Giveaway @CDenmanAuthor @YABoundToursPR

Hello Readers! We are a part of another blog tour! This one is for the young adult fantasy Songlines
by Carolyn Denman. Read on as the author shares with us her top ten YA reads, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post!

by Carolyn Denman
Genre: Clean YA Fantasy
Release Date: August 20th 2016

We belong to the Earth, Lainie-Bug. We were sent here in human form for a reason. If you don’t know what to do, then just be human.
 Right. Like that was ever a simple thing to do.
In the heart of the Wimmera region of Australia, an ancient gateway is kept hidden and safe by a creature so powerful that even the moon would obey her commands at least it would if she had any idea that she wasn’t just a normal girl about to finish high school.
When a mining company begins some exploratory sampling near Lainie’s sheep farm, a family secret is revealed that makes her regret not having learned more about her heritage.
 What she’s told by their farm hand, Harry, can’t possibly be true, but then the most irritating guy in class, Bane, begins to act even more insane than ever, until she can no longer deny that something very unusual is going on.
When Harry doesn’t return from his quest to seek help to protect the area from the miners, Lainie sets out to discover the truth of her heritage, and of the secret she’s been born to protect.
All right, so throwing together a list of my most treasured YA novels took me about a minute (thanks, Goodreads shelving system). Since then, I’ve spent a good half an hour and far too much of my precious ‘shower thinking time’ trying to work out what order they should go in. How do I pick a favourite? Should I go by which ones I’ve read most often? Unfair on the new releases. How about which ones I would recommend to a friend? Depends too much on who the friend is. What about the book I would pick if I could only carry one of them out of a burning building. No good. I’d just grab my Kindle.
So I give up. The thing about books is that each one is unique, and therefore each one is the perfect read for a particular moment. Therefore, here is a list of some of my beloved paper friends, and why I think each one is the perfect story…sometimes.
Every Heart a Doorway
Seanan McGuire
Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere...else.
But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced...they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.
But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.
No matter the cost.
I picked this book up last year because I thought it was about time I read some books that had won an award or two *. Awards don’t usually inspire me much. Possibly because I have an underlying suspicion that compulsory high school reads are selected on the basis of how many awards they’ve won (and I’m still traumatised by some of those books). Every Heart completely blasted away that little bit of ignorance. This book is golden! Such a beautiful study in what it means to embrace who you are, to live with a sense that you don’t belong, to find connections with others who are different to you, and all of this is threaded with creative world building (with multiple worlds!) and a good old-fashioned murder mystery.
*Winner: 2017 Hugo Award
Winner: 2017 Alex Award
Winner: 2017 Locus Award
Winner: 2016 Nebula Award
Nominated: 2017 World Fantasy Award
Nominated: 2017 British Fantasy Award
2016 Tiptree Honor List

Medoran Chronicles
Lynette Noni
With just one step, sixteen-year-old Alexandra Jennings's world changes—literally.
Dreading her first day at a new school, Alex is stunned when she walks through a doorway and finds herself stranded in Medora, a fantasy world full of impossibilities. Desperate to return home, she learns that only a man named Professor Marselle can help her... but he's missing.
While waiting for him to reappear, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora's boarding school for teenagers with extraordinary gifts. She soon starts to enjoy her bizarre new world and the friends who embrace her as one of their own, but strange things are happening at Akarnae, and Alex can't ignore her fear that something unexpected... something sinister... is looming.
An unwilling pawn in a deadly game, Alex's shoulders bear the crushing weight of an entire race's survival. Only she can save the Medorans, but what if doing so prevents her from ever returning home?
Will Alex risk her entire world—and maybe even her life—to save Medora?
This series just keeps getting better. I must admit, I was a bit ho-hum about the first book, and yet couldn’t help but see how everything was going to pan out, and so I started book two, and got swept along more and more with each passing chapter. The fourth book has just been released and I’m not letting myself start it until I know I’ve got time to swallow it whole, because I have a feeling the whole of Freya (yes, that’s our world) will be put on hold until the last page has been read, and I’ve sighed that little regretful sigh because the ride is over. At least until book five rolls out.
The Hate U Give
Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Contemporary fiction is a fairly new thing for me. I’ve always been more of an ‘elves and dragons’ kind of girl. This book was so fervently recommended to me by Sarah from the YA Room (Melbourne book club) that I felt I should give it a go. And oh my Great Grandmother, what an amazing book! No wonder it’s been getting so much attention. As a white (white-ish. Okay, off-white) woman who has never lived in the US, I can confidently say that I really needed to read this story to better appreciate some of the complexities around racism there. Such a deftly written story, with such richly drawn characters. Realistic characters making tough decisions in complicated situations. Even if you never read any other contemporary YA, please, please read this one. It may leave you talkin’ a bit gangsta for a few days, tho’.
Illuminae Files
Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.
BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
If ever there’s a book you should buy in print copy, it’s this one. Yeah, it looks big, and that might put some readers off, but just have a bit of a flip through the pages before you pass it over. This book is different, as it says in the Briefing Note. The story is told through a collection of documents and transcripts and it’s just plain fun. Full of action, adventure, mystery and heartbreak. This is everything a YA read should be, and everything a sci-fi adventure should be. I wish I was there. Sort of. I probably wouldn’t enjoy the danger so much, I guess.
Court of Thorns and Roses
Sarah J Maas
Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
One of the best things about this book is that Feyre can see her own character flaws, and yet still struggles to rise above them. This is a great series for when you’re in the mood to lose yourself in a quality paranormal romance with great character development. It keeps you guessing as to each person’s motivations, which is really fun. And, oh, the feels!
Jodi McAlister
Four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day – begin to disappear. As the bodies mount up, Pearl Linford has to work out what in the supernatural hell is going on, before it happens to her.
Finn Blacklin is the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it, the boy her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on. Finn is also the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human boy at birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is. And now both the Seelie and the Unseelie think Pearl is the Valentine, and if they find out she isn’t, she’ll disappear too.
Pearl must use all her wits to protect herself. Finn must come to terms with his newfound heritage. And then there’s the explosive chemistry between them that neither of them know quite what to do about . . .
This is probably the most similar book to my own that I’ve read. Kind of makes me a bit biased, so feel free to ignore what I say about it and go and make up your own mind. I devoured this book in less than a day. It was fun, fast-paced, just the right amount of sexy, and I can’t wait to get stuck into Ironheart. In fact, I have it right over there on my bookshelf…calling me…gotta go now, bye!

Strange The Dreamer
Laini Taylor
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Seriously, Laini Taylor’s love of metaphor and language threads golden strands throughout this story.  Where many writers avoid using language like that for fear of ‘purple prose’ (which is the accusation that flowery language is being used to disguise a boring piece of writing) Laini embraces it, and it just works. I fell in love with Lazlo and Sarai the way moths fall in love moonbeams. Seriously, you’ll be talking like that for a least a week while you recover from this book hangover.
Dragonflight (Pern Series)
Anne McCaffrey
To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright.
But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world. . .
Okay, firstly I have to say that whoever took on the job of ‘updating’ the blurb probably should have taken the time to read at least some of the book. Here’s the version I grew up with (printed in 1990, and no, it wasn’t even the first copy I owned. That one succumbed to death-by-schoolbag)

Secondly, I know this book series has a few cringe-worthy quotes and questionable ethics, but it had such a mega-influence on me as a teenager that I couldn’t leave it out. It kind of hurts to go back and read it now because back when I first read it, all I could see was a strong feminist message. Lessa was one of the first kick-ass heroines I’d ever read about. So many of the book themes were about her defying the sexist social expectations of her culture. Of course, now that we’ve all been practicing the right phrases to use and not use, it’s easy to see where the author’s more subtle sexist attitudes seem to have escaped her own notice (not so subtle to us now).  I honestly get it. I do. I know how easily it can happen because a few months ago I re-read my own treasured Songlines which had had been edited to death by so many people, and I came across a line that I’d used to make a character sound more ‘country’. A common phrase. A bit of a larrikin phrase. On closer examination, it was an utterly unacceptable homophobic phrase. I was horrified, to say the least. Why had no one noticed? Why, oh why, had none of my beta readers politely cleared their throats and pointed it out to me before it was released to the world? Because it was a phrase that so many of us had grown up hearing, that none of us had even flinched, or taken the time to think about what the phrase really meant. Needless to say, I will be forever grateful for the grace of my publisher, and for print-on-demand, which allowed me to update the book without too much hassle. I honestly believe that Anne McCaffrey would have loved to have had the opportunity to revise some of those lines and scenes. She was the first writer I ever read to have been brave enough to even begin tackling the issue of homophobia. I doubt she ever intended to imply that violence against women was ever okay.
All this aside, the Pern series was absolutely ground-breaking, and became a platform for so many of my own fantastical imaginings. Parts of it may be a somewhat dated now (to put it gently), but in the words of Aivas and Robinton (and, ahem, the Bible) there is ‘a time for every purpose under heaven’.
Heart of Brass (The Anipodean Queen #1)
Felicity Banks
Emmeline Muchamore is a well-bred young lady hiding explosive family secrets. She needs to marry well, and quickly, in order to keep her family respectable. But when her brass heart malfunctions, she makes a desperate choice to steal the parts she needs to repair it and survive.
She is unable to explain her actions without revealing she has a steam-powered heart, so she is arrested for theft and transported to Victoria, Australia - right in the midst of the Gold Rush.
Now that she’s escaped the bounds of high society, iron manacles cannot hold her for long.
The only metal that really matters is gold.
This was my first introduction to Australian steampunk, and what a rollicking tale it was! It pulled some of the best and worst threads of Australian history together into an adventure with just the right amount of magic and mayhem. And guess what? There’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ bonus section at the end!
The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Patrick Ness
What if you aren’t the Chosen One?
The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions…
Oh, my goodness, I simply adore this book. Patrick Ness has somehow found that treasured fine line between taking the mickey out of all the YA paranormal tropes, and yet at the same time honouring them.  The story is both laugh-out-loud funny, and yet still tackles issues like OCD, family break-ups and eating disorders in a beautifully sensitive way. In separating the storylines between the supernatural dramas of the ‘indie kids’ (aka Chosen Ones) and the gritty realistic issues faced by the ‘rest of them’, it’s pretty clear which story contains the real heroes.

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Carolyn lives on a hobby farm on the outskirts of Melbourne with her husband, two daughters, and her parents. The fact that she always has at least three of her pets following her around at any one time in no way means that she is the fairest in the land. They probably just like her taste in music.
As well as writing stories for Aurealis and Andromeda Spaceways magazines, Carolyn is also the author of the YA Australian fantasy series The Sentinels of Eden.

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