Review: You Can’t Shatter Me by Tahlia Newland

You Can’t Shatter Me
by Tahlia Newland

Description/Synopsis (from

Sixteen year old Carly wants to write her own life and cast herself as a superhero, but the story gets out of control when she stands up to a bully and he turns on her. His increasing harassment forces her to battle flying hooks, giant thistles, doubt dragons and a suffocating closet. Dylan, a karate-trained nerd who supports her stand, turns out to be a secret admirer, and while he struggles to control his inner caveman, Carly searches for her own way to stop the bully. An old hippie shows her an inner magic that’s supposed to make her invincible, but will Carly learn to use it before her knight in shining armour risks all in a battle with a fire-breathing dragon?

This heart-warming magical realism story will inspire and empower teens and adults alike.

My Thoughts:
I’m turning 42 on Friday, but I still love young adult (YA) fiction. In fact, I firmly believe that YA offers some of the most empowering stories and empowered female characters available in modern literature. I also believe that Tahlia Newland’s fiction is some of the best YA on the market, so when she asked if I’d read and review You Can’t Shatter Me, of course I said yes.

I was not disappointed.

In fact, I was awed.

Newland refers to this story as an example of magical realism, and it is. Sixteen-year-old Carly imagines herself a green lycra-clad superhero, flying from her bedroom window to mete out justice to bullied kids in her school, and uses her vivid imagination to visualize personal problems as doubt dragons to be slayed, while dealing with the very real torment of being the target of a bully herself.

Dylan also uses his imagination in powerful ways, seeing words as tangible objects that can harm or heal, and learning to conquer the former and boost the latter.

Both teens recognize that at some point each of us has to take a stand and become the writers of our own scripts, the authors of our own futures, and the breakers of our own paths.

Newland excels at weaving meditation techniques, including guided imagery, into the narrative without making it seem forced. Instead, she gives Carly an aunt who is part aging hippie/part guru, and who teaches her niece how she can make herself emotionally strong by sending love and light to the universe – even to people who mistreat her.

While You Can’t Shatter Me could have been a preachy diatribe against bullying, in Newland’s deft hands, this novel is an absorbing, educational read, that both satisfies and gives hope to adults and younger readers alike.

Goes well with a picnic lunch on the beach.

A Matter of Perception, by Tahlia Newland

A Matter of Perception

When Tahlia Newland, an on-and-off blog-buddy of mine, asked me to read and review her collection of magical realism/urban fantasy short stories, there was no way I could refuse, but the truth is I’d have read this collection of six tales no matter who the author was.

Taken together, these stories are a collection of different ways to perceive fantasy, and to use fantasy to perceive reality. The collection feels like a complete suite – all moods and tastes are well represented. Taken separately, well, let’s do that, shall we?

The Drorgon Slayer’s Choice
An unnamed photographer’s assistant sees an interdimensional monster, and is rescued by a god, though she does some rescuing of her own. It’s a great blend of action, romance, and philosophy. This was my favorite of the collection, and not just because it’s the longest or most developed. I really wanted to know what happens next

The Bone Yard
This one is the darkest in the series, in terms of mood. It involves a woman in a desperate situation being helped by supernatural beings, though the twist at the end is rather grisly. A balance of classic horror and modern terror.

Mistril’s Mistake
With great power comes great responsibility, even when you’re a wizard. The colored light battle had me imagining light sabers (but only a little), but the story about taking ownership of your actions is actually very good. More, please?

A Hole in the Pavement
What if our emotional troughs became literal holes that we fell into? That’s the premise of this story, and Newland envisions it beautifully. It was delicate and delicious.

Not me, it can’t be
Mind blowing: alternate points of view between a modern woman undergoing chemo and an ancient (fantasy?) world woman about to become a ritual sacrifice – and each are apparently dreaming of the other in a fabulous riff on the old “Am I a man dreaming I am a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I am a man” conundrum. I was teary at the end.

Rose Coloured Glasses
Easily the lightest tale in the sextet, this story is about an office worker named Sally who discovers a new perspective on her colleagues (and a possible new romance) thanks to a very special pair of glasses. Haven’t we all wished for these at some point?

I believe that any fan of fantasy, magical realism, or just a really gripping tale, will find this collection of stories compelling and entertaining, but what really puts the cherry on top is Newland’s explanation of the themes, included at the back of the book. Excellent book group fodder, but perfect for a plane trip, as well.

Goes well with hot chocolate and a brownie.

This book is available for Amazon Kindle. Buy this book from >>

Publish this Book: Lethal Inheritance by Tahlia Newland

Lethal Inheritance
Tahlia Newland
Seeking a publisher.
Read the first chapter >>

Product Description (from the author’s Website):
If last night was real then Ariel should be dead, but her mother has disappeared, there are bruise marks on her neck and that hideous beast in the photo looks frighteningly familiar.

When demons kidnap her mother, Ariel undertakes a rescue mission in a mysterious and unpredictable world in a hidden layer of reality. Demons who feed on fear are hunting her, and they’re aiming to kill. She needs help fast, but can she trust the quirky old guide who says he can teach her how to fine tune her mind into a powerful weapon? And what should she do about Nick, whose power is more than he or she can handle?

Ariel’s journey challenges her perception, tests her awareness and takes her deep into her heart and mind to confront, and ultimately transcend, her fear and anger.

It was a while ago that Australian YA author Tahlia Newland introduced herself to me and her book Lethal Inheritance, but I’m glad she did, because not only is she a delightful person to have as a blog buddy, she’s also a talented author.

Frequent visitors to this blog know that I’m a strong proponent of YA novels. I think the female characters we meet in YA (young adult) fiction are some of the best female characters in contemporary literature, and because the target audience is a little younger, a little fresher, authors have a lot more room to play with reality. Not that their writing can come from any place other than Truth – even the most preposterous stories (ahem – Christopher Moore’s work – ahem – still have some kind of basis in Truth) and teens are especially adept in finding the places where things do NOT ring true. But they can bend physics a little, and adjust life, the way writers who work in adult contemporary fiction (and I mean small-a adult not ADULT XXX adult) cannot. Well, Christopher Moore and the whole magical realism genre aside.

But I digress. The sample chapter of Lethal Inheritance is gripping and compelling. There’s character, there’s action, there’s suspense, and there’s risk…it grabs you, shakes you up, and leaves you dangling over a cliff.

Someone needs to publish this work.
Someone needs to publish it now!

Goes well with: a warm blanket, hot cocoa, and comfort food – mac-n-cheese or s’mores.