Winning with Jenna: Whimsical, Magical Books

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Welcome to the second installment of my recommendations series. Today I’m going to feature three of my favourite books with magic. These are all whimsical and fun.


carry on Title: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release date: October 6, 2015
Rating: 5 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here – it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story, and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

Carry On was one of my favourite books of 2015 and if you’ve known me for a while, you’ll know how absolutely obsessed I am with this book. The world and the magic of Carry On were hilarious and lots of fun! The characters were so amazing and I loved the relationships between them. SnowBaz is also one of my favourite ships of all time. I just love this novel so, so much, and you’re definitely missing out if you haven’t read it yet!


a corner of white Title: A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeleine #1) by Jaclyn Moriarty
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Release date: September 18, 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

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.

The Colours of Madeleine is my most recent obsession. I absolutely love this series and the world Jaclyn Moriarty has created. The novels are colourful and magical, and it’s difficult to comprehend the fact that I won’t ever be able to visit the exciting Kingdom of Cello. The first two books in this series are lots of fun but the final book absolutely BLEW MY MIND. It was sooooo good! I highly recommend this one if you’re looking for something that’s unique and lots of fun.


the sleeper and the spindle Title: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman (illustrated by Chris Riddell)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release date: May 3, 2014
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

This was a very interesting retelling of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. It was imaginative and empowering. I thought the illustrations by Chris Riddell really enhanced the story. The story is a little bit dark, unlike the previous two books I featured, which were more fun and magical, but I really liked that hint of darkness and thought it was a beautiful reimagining of some well-known fairytales.


I hope you enjoyed these recommendations. I love these books so, so much and hope you check them out, if you haven’t already!

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Winning with Jenna: Australian YA Contemporary

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I’ve been in a bit of a reading and blogging slump lately, and I’ve been wracking my brain for post ideas. So I’ve decided to do a recommendations series on this blog. I love talking about books that I enjoyed and you guys seem to love getting recommendations from me. I’ll feature three books in each of my posts and hopefully, you’ll discover something new to fall in love with!

Full credit goes to Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts for the title, ‘Winning with Jenna’. Last year, I had planned to do a bookish awards post to talk about my favourites of the year and Joey came up with the title for me. I never ended up creating that favourites post so I thought I’d use it now.

Today, I’m going to kick off my recommendation series with Australian YA contemporaries. A lot of my readers seem to be really interested in Aussie YA but have no idea where to start. Here are three of my favourite contemporaries, written by Australian authors.


the flywheel Title: The Flywheel by Erin Gough
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Release date: February 1, 2015
Rating: 5 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

Seventeen-year-old Del drops out of high school when her romance with another girl goes horribly wrong. Preferring chaos to bullying, Del makes it her mission to save her dad’s crumbling café, the Flywheel, while he ‘finds himself’ overseas.

Accompanied by her charming troublemaker best friend Charlie, Del sets out to save the cafe, keep Charlie out of prison, and maybe get a date with Rosa, the beautiful flamenco dancer from across the road. But when life is messy enough as it is, can girl-on-girl romance ever have a happy ending?

This was a wonderful LGBTQ+ novel that fans of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda would love! It was heartwarming and funny and I absolutely adored the characters in this book. This book is set in Sydney and features lots of places that I’m familiar with. When I read this one last year, it was unavailable outside of Australia but now you can get the ebook from the Kindle store and the physical book from Book Depository.


the stars at oktober bend Title: The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release date: February 1, 2016
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

Alice is fifteen, with hair as red as fire and skin as pale as bone, but something inside her is broken. She has acquired brain injury, the result of an assault, and her words come out slow and slurred. But when she writes, heartwords fly from her pen. She writes poems to express the words she can’t say and leaves them in unexpected places around the town.

Manny was once a child soldier. He is sixteen and has lost all his family. He appears to be adapting to his new life in this country, where there is comfort and safety, but at night he runs, barefoot, to escape the memory of his past. When he first sees Alice, she is sitting on the rusty roof of her river-house, looking like a carving on an old-fashioned ship sailing through the stars.

I absolutely loved this book when I read it back in January. It was beautifully written, with a strange combination of prose and poetry. The characters and relationships in this book are fantastic and they’ll stay with me for a long time to come.


the sidekicks Title: The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Release date: February 29, 2016
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd.

All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac’s gone, what does that make them?

The Sidekicks is a masterpiece. It is such a relatable book and really packs a punch, despite being under 250 pages long. It was a powerful story about grief and camaraderie, and how even the most different of people can become friends. I highly recommend this one to anyone who wants a realistic and relatable read!


I hope you liked my first Winning with Jenna post. I’ll probably feature Australian YA fantasy novels in my next recommendations post but let me know what else you’d like to see.