Everyone knows that bringing back a loved one from the dead cannot end well but Wren obviously missed that chapter in Stephen King's Pet Cematary. All...moreEveryone knows that bringing back a loved one from the dead cannot end well but Wren obviously missed that chapter in Stephen King's Pet Cematary. All jokes aside Cold Kiss is much more than a zombie story, while Wren has some pretty substantial paranormal abilities, fundamentally this is a tale of love, loss and redemption.
Having been through the grieving process myself, losing my baby daughter and more recently my mum I connected with Wren and her utter devastation over the death of her boyfriend Danny; the overwhelming desire to return things to the way they were, to talk with, laugh with, kiss, love, to touch the one you love with all your heart, again. Probably a good thing I didn't have Wren's powers as I'm not quite sure I wouldn't have done the same thing in the face of such overwhelming heartache.
I loved how the author gave us Wren & Danny's backstory, it provides the reader with an intimate view of their relationship & gives credence to Wren's actions. Amy Garvey does a brilliant job exposing the depth of Wren's grief, her inability to let go, her slow realisation that Danny is a husk of his former self, her desire to take responsiblity for her grievous mistake and her growing desperation to make everything right. Other's have said what was Wren thinking? Why would she do something so selfish? I think that's the point, she wasn't thinking, she was reacting to a grief so encompassing it was crushing.
I didn't think much of Wren's mum but maybe there's more to be discovered about her reasons for silence. I liked caring, down-to-earth Gabriel and the fact that Wren had someone to confide in as she began to unravel although I'm not sure I saw the need for him to so quickly step up as her next romantic interest. That aside, I'm looking forward to finding out more about Gabriel's clairvoyancy and watching Wren & Gabriel's relationship develop over time.
A haunting, hopeful, beautifully written story with a touch of 'creep' factor.(less)
If you're anything like me I'd recommend having a box of tissues close while reading Without Tess. Then again maybe I'm just soppy, I was crying long...moreIf you're anything like me I'd recommend having a box of tissues close while reading Without Tess. Then again maybe I'm just soppy, I was crying long before I reached the really sad part, I cried at the 'toad scene' and I dont even like toads!
10 year old Lizzie adores her 11 year old sister Tess; the bond between the two is palpable, swinging wildly between idolisation, love, protectiveness and resentment as Tess' disturbing behaviour and cruelty impacts Lizzie emotionally and physically. Tess's fantasy world of imaginative gameplay descends into psychoses; convinced of her own immortality she's delusional and dangerous. Distressing to read of at any age but heartbreaking in a child.
Tess' poems scattered throughout the novel are quite beautiful, often disturbing and sometimes downright creepy but they're another vivid instrument for depicting Tess's mental instability.
My only question is why Tess' behaviour wasn't picked up earlier, acted upon, or taken more seriously ... by her parents or school teachers. This "oversight" didn't really make much sense to me; earlier intervention may have meant a different outcome??
"No," I say finally. "I don't believe in heaven. But I'll tell you what I know for sure. There definitely is such a thing as hell. And you know what? You don't even need to die to get there."
5 years on from Tess' death, Lizzie is scarred and defensive but with the help of school psychologist Kaplan, she's trying to come to terms with moving on without her sister. The relationship between Lizzie and Kaplan is portrayed with insight and sensitivity; revealing, painful, amusing and hopeful. The author writes with such emotional depth that I couldn't have been more involved in Lizzie's journey through Tess' Pegasus journal, her own childhood memories, illusions, guilt and grief.
For those of you thinking it's all despair and doom ... it isn't. Marcella Pixley's writing is perceptive & beautifully lyrical, there are splashes of sarcastic humour and the story isn't without hope. Without Tess is emotionally draining but so worth the tears.(less)
The Girl Of Fire and Thorns is a coming of age story, rich fantasy embroidered with magic, adventure, rebellion, betrayal and just a touch of...more4.5 stars
The Girl Of Fire and Thorns is a coming of age story, rich fantasy embroidered with magic, adventure, rebellion, betrayal and just a touch of romance.
I liked that Elisa wasn't a 'typical' heroine, she's overweight, easily manipulated and full of self doubt but she's also the chosen one, the bearer of the Godstone, destined for heroic service. Over the course of the story Elisa comes into her own; she recognises her inner strength as she faces adversity and slowly grasps the magnitude of her potential. She's smart, quick-witted and brave and from a readers point of view, very easy to cheer on.
The one thing I found a bit monotonous was the frequent references to Elisa's weight or loss of. I was aware of her insecurities from the get-go and thought the constant reminders where unnecessary.
Carson serves up a colourful cast of characters, I really enjoyed the revolutionaries Humberto & Cosme, nursemaid Ximena and I hope Ms Carson plans on giving us more Lord Hector.
Alongside the author's vivdly crafted world is another positive, she doesn't shy away from dealing out some tough love to these wonderful characters or giving the reader a WOAH ... didn't see that one coming!
An exhilarating debut fantasy, well paced and the ending ... it's good! We're not left hanging by our fingernails for the next installment but quietly anticipating book 2 of the Fire & Thorns trilogy, The Crown of Embers.(less)
Kick-ass action, feverish pace, quirky cast of characters, blood, gore and violence (oh yeah) make this one a winner in my book. Preternatura...more4.5 stars
Kick-ass action, feverish pace, quirky cast of characters, blood, gore and violence (oh yeah) make this one a winner in my book. Preternaturals; hellhounds, basilisks, dragons, chupacabras, zombies are an accepted reality, co-existing with humans under government protection ... pretty cool world building.
Kali is human one day and slayer of preternatural beasties the next. Working against the clock, the countdown as she changes from human to hunter amps up the suspense and had my heart in my mouth a few times. Kali is pretty much a loner until she ends up with unexpected allies Skylar & Bethany.
Skylar is cute, sassy and a little odd and Skylar's brothers are an awesome lot. Bethany starts off as a typical mean girl but she's obnoxiously loyal, sarcastic, hilarious and I loved her. These two had personality plus and their banter had me giggling.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes writes in a no-fluff way, not that there isn't emotion, there is, but she gets down and dirty and doesn't mind throwing in the twists and turns and some totally hateful curveballs!
Highly recommend this one for lovers of urban fantasy :) (less)
This is a story full of subtleties; quietly moving, intimate, aching, escalating in tension and quite beautiful.
Once I understood the reason for Beth...moreThis is a story full of subtleties; quietly moving, intimate, aching, escalating in tension and quite beautiful.
Once I understood the reason for Beth's writing style in You Are My Only, I fell in love with it. I guess it may not be appreciated by everyone but when you think about an author's means of conveying such emotion in a small time frame, it makes perfect sense.
I also love stories with alternating narratives, especially when done well and Beth portrays Emmy and Sophie with insight and compassion. Emmy's voice is almost breathless, loose and disjointed but at the same time poetic which is extremely fitting considering her distressing & pitiful circumstances.
“I have Baby’s sock in my purse. I have the smell of her in my heart.”
It was wonderful to see Sophie gain courage and enlightenment once she had a support network of friends with next door neighbour Joey and his Aunts. In some ways she seemed a lot younger than her 14 years with the running from the unexplained "No Good" but in other ways she was wise beyond her years.
Beth Kephart gives as much attention to her 'minor' characters as she does Emmy and Sophie. I loved Joey and his adorable Aunts, Cloris and Helen and sweet Autumn, Emmy's 'roomie' in the psychiatric institution.
It was easy to relate to the heartache, the circumstances beyond their control but I didn't find this a depressing read. It was equally easy to revel in Sophie's new-found joy in small wondrous things; eating a cookie, flying a kite, having a friend.
I'm wholeheartedly recommending this one to mature YA readers and adults and Beth will go on my "author's who write from the heart" list! (less)
The Language of Flowers is a gorgeously constructed bouquet; it tantalises the senses, it's exquisite in detail, provokes an abundance of emotions and...moreThe Language of Flowers is a gorgeously constructed bouquet; it tantalises the senses, it's exquisite in detail, provokes an abundance of emotions and is quite simply ... irresistible.
Weaving hypnotically between Victoria's past and present in alternating chapters, Vanessa Diffenbaugh reveals Victoria's scarred childhood; abandoned, a life spent in foster care, emancipated from the system at age 18, but destitute and homeless. She's damaged, emotionally detached, socially inept and mistrustful, she's built up a defensive arsenal to protect herself from further pain and while she could be perceived as prickly and unlikeable, Diffenbaugh portrays Victoria with such sensitivity that I couldn't help but find her endearing. Her struggle to love and trust with so little experience of being loved herself captured my heart.
Victoria's only respite from the foster care system is a year spent with down-to-earth Elizabeth at age 10. She meets her first experience of love and understanding with sabotage and rage but as she slowly learns to trust something tragic happens and she's returned to state care. What she takes from her time with Elizabeth is a love and knowledge of flowers and plants; the symbolism in flower-given messages.
Working with Renata at Bloom allows Victoria to develop her gift with flower messages, allows her to express herself in the only way she knows how and introduces her to Grant.
I placed a rhododendron on the plywood counter before him. The cluster of purple blossoms was not yet open and the buds pointed in his direction, tightly coiled and toxic. Beware
The flower descriptions and meanings are beyond words, I cannot tell you how much I adored the beautiful detail; it's not only fundamental to the story but there's just something totally romantic and sentimental in communicating without words ~ *sighworthy*
I've always loved giving and receiving flowers, I'd now love my own Victorian flower dictionary to add special meaning to the joy of flowers.
The Language of Flowers is a story about love, forgiveness and family, the family you make your own. It has a deep well of pain and sadness but it's ultimately uplifting and a 'keeper' on my bookshelf.(less)
This was both a compelling and challenging read. It's the relatively unknown story of the small aboriginal boy, Nanberry, adopted by surgeon...more4.5 stars
This was both a compelling and challenging read. It's the relatively unknown story of the small aboriginal boy, Nanberry, adopted by surgeon John White, chief surgeon of the first fleet sent to establish a convict settlement at Botany Bay. Spanning the years 1788 to 1823, French employs meticulous research of actual historical figures; old letters, court transcripts and journal entries to provide a thoroughly absorbing backdrop to true events.
Nanberry was one of only 3 survivors of the Cadigal tribe struck by the devastating smallpox outbreak which decimated the aboriginal population in the area. You can't help but love Nanberry, he's intelligent, protective, and inspiring, a lad caught between two cultures but determined to take his place in the white man's world while retaining his roots.
Surgeon White is an interesting combination of conventional old ethics and compassionate forward thinking. Rachel Turner, the convict girl who survived the death penalty and near death on the second fleet, captures Surgeon White's heart but convention prevents him from marrying a convict and returning with her to England. This is their story, John White, Nanberry White (black brother), Andrew, (Nanberry's white brother) and Rachel, Andrew's mother.
French captures the cruelty, famine, debauchery, horror, squalor, the corruption of the marine corp and most importantly the uniqueness of the Australian landscape and aboriginal culture with simple but evocative prose.
It's terrible to plead relative ignorance of events in your own country so what I loved about NANBERRY was the inspiration I gained to read further. I found the extensive author's notes really enjoyable reading too. Nanberry should be compulsory reading in our school curriculum, suitable for readers age 10 and up but nonetheless one I can't recommend highly enough for young and old alike. (less)
The title Flyaway is quite apt but the cover does nothing for me. How about you? That aside, I'm drawn to stories that deal with real issues...more3.5 stars
The title Flyaway is quite apt but the cover does nothing for me. How about you? That aside, I'm drawn to stories that deal with real issues and Stevie's story has a believable feel. This was a pretty good read but had none of the gut-wrenching emotional impact of Laura Wiess' Ordinary Beauty which was a favourite read of mine in 2011.
Stevie is blindly loyal to her crystal meth addicted mother, she's also angry, moody, obnoxious and not very likeable but hey I know quite a few teenagers without drug addicted mothers who aren't very likeable. I felt the relationship between Stevie and her Aunt Mindy was realistically portrayed and as Stevie learnt who to trust and count on in her life, she matured along with her behaviour.
I felt the real horror of Stevie's mums crystal meth addiction was downplayed and when it's revealed that some of Stevie's friends are also using it seems to be tackled in a rather blasé manner. Maybe after reading Ordinary Beauty I prefer the harsh reality of addiction and neglect to be just that ... a harsh reality.
What worked for me: The fact that the author volunteered at the bird nursery at PAWS wildlife rehabilitation center really came through in her writing. The descriptions of the care and feeding of birds at On The Wing was one of the truly lovely parts of this book and Stevie and Alans' involvement was healing for both of them.
Overall a quick read with a sweet ending. While it didn't check all the boxes, I'll definitely read more from this author.(less)
This was a really powerful account of 5 teens facing their addictions in a rehab setting. Not a pretty read, nothing sugar-coated, it's honest and raw...moreThis was a really powerful account of 5 teens facing their addictions in a rehab setting. Not a pretty read, nothing sugar-coated, it's honest and raw which adds a sense of intimacy to the story. Yes there's pain, suffering and heartache, yes it's hard-hitting, (I'd be disappointed if it wasn't) and yes there's bad language, the F-bomb is dropped often but none of this felt gratuitous.
The story is told via the first-person narratives of Kelly and Christopher but accompanied by group transcripts and personal essays from all five, the reader gains unique insight into each teen's slide into addiction and the struggle to change their life.
I appreciated the ending, it's not too clean (pardon the pun) or too good to be true ... it's realistic and hopeful; just as it should be. An important read for teens and adults alike.
I'll definitely be reading more from this talented author who's not afraid to tell it like it is.(less)
You'd think with the amount of YA fiction out there where the story line revolves around the death of a sibling or parent that this would get...more4.5 stars
You'd think with the amount of YA fiction out there where the story line revolves around the death of a sibling or parent that this would get old. Not that I'm making light of it, far from it. I seem to be drawn to bittersweet fiction like this, especially when it's written in a way that parallels "real life" and Harrington writes in a real-life kinda way ... honest, raw, warts and all.
Mom always used to say, "Why can't you be more like your sister?" But I wasn't interested in being like June, and I definitely didn't want to live in June's shadow. Even if mine was less impressive, at least it was my own."
After the suicide of her older sister June, Harper is understandably a trainwreck. She's angry, confused, devastated and combined with the complicated family dynamics and emotions already in existence it makes for a pretty messy trainwreck. But kudos to Harper for voicing the thoughts that many of us have but don't say, because it's just not the done thing.
“I am so mad at her,” I tell him. It’s hard to admit that. I’m ashamed for being as angry as I am. I mean, she was in so much pain, she had to be, to do what she did, and logically I know it’s not fair of me to hate her for it. But no one said emotions are fair. Part of me still thinks she was a selfish bitch, for bailing on me and our mom and everyone else, for leaving me with nothing but the pieces of so many shattered lives and a guilt that will never, ever go away. “She didn’t even say goodbye, or leave a note, or anything, and I hate her for that. I should’ve seen it coming. I should’ve done something.”
I liked Harrington's portrayal of Harper & Laney's friendship, it's always refreshing to read a YA where the friends actually behave like friends. I liked Jake well enough even though he did come across as a "douche-baggy hipster music snob ..." (Laney's words lol) but I loved his passion for music. Harper and Jake rub each other the wrong way ... until they don't, and I liked that too.
Harper, Laney and Jakes' road trip across the US to scatter June's ashes in California is an adventure in itself, but it's also a journey of discovery, tears, laughs, friendship, hope and MUSIC ... complete with a van named Joplin :)
What I loved ... was the music talk, Jake is totally into the music of my late teens and early adulthood; The Rolling Stones, ABBA, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Coldplay, Eric Clapton. Music has played such an important part in my life, especially after the death of my baby daughter, music has uplifted and inspired, consoled and comforted, music has been a warm place and a safe harbour.
Clapton wrote this song about it, after, and it just – It rips your heart out. It is the best kind of devastating there is. He took his pain and he turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that’s what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you. What I’m trying to say is, it’s just nice, I guess, knowing that someone else can put into words what I feel. That there are people who have been through things worse than I have, and they came out on the other side okay. Not only that, but they made some kind of twisted, fucked-up sense of the completely senseless. They made it mean something. These songs tell me I’m not alone. If you look at it that way, music...music can see you through anything.” Jake -(on Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven)
and make sure you check out Jake’s playlists at the back of the book :))
More favourite quotes:
Jake was right - I'm strong in a way June never was. Because I know that I want to be here. Even with the pain. Even with the ugliness.
Life goes on, I’m going on, even without her. Not every day hurts. Not every breath hurts. Maybe that’s all we can really ask for.
An impressive debut novel and an author to watch out for.(less)
Exciting and original world building, characters I quickly became invested in, and a cracker pace made Initiation a surprisingly addictive read.
I love...moreExciting and original world building, characters I quickly became invested in, and a cracker pace made Initiation a surprisingly addictive read.
I love the world Royce created, humans live in underground habitats while vampires and werewolves rule the roost upstairs and humans with the warrior gene are sent upwards at 16 to battle the monsters! Thrilling stuff and there's enough twists and turns to keep even the most jaded reader entertained.
Rachel is such a cool character, she's realistic about her lot in life and just a little "outside the norm" making her very likeable. I had to keep reminding myself that she was 16, mature, but 16; and the romance really was all about the sweet taste of first love but the abundant hot male characters, werewolf Jason, Deacon and Warrior Chad are central to the plot and of course good reading candy :)
The simple narrative had me intitially thinking this was well suited for the younger teen but there are a number of sexual references (without the deed) to warrant caution for the younger reader but for the older teen I have no hesitation in saying go for it.
Enough ends are tied up to produce a satisfying conclusion without the dreaded cliffhanger but there's the delicious anticipation of the journey being far from over. I can't wait to continue Rachel's story in Driven!
A beautiful, brilliant, agonising read that tugs at your heartstrings. My first Laura Weiss book but it definitely won't be my last.
This was one of t...moreA beautiful, brilliant, agonising read that tugs at your heartstrings. My first Laura Weiss book but it definitely won't be my last.
This was one of those rare reads that had me alternating wildly between holding my breath unable to turn the page for fear of what I might read, desperate to put the book down and escape from the raw emotion and powerless to tear myself away from the page.
Laura Wiess doesn't shy away from tackling the harsh truths of addiction, child neglect and abuse but what makes Ordinary Beauty so much more poignant is that stories like this are often not stories, they are someone's reality.
Sayre is strong, compassionate & courageous, a character you can't help but love and want love for. Sayre's mother on the other hand; alcholic, meth addict and all round loathesome creature I quite often found myself wishing her a nasty end and early in the story hoping that someone would back over her with a truck ... I know, I know, where's my compassion ;)
Sayre's story is heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful, it's not a 'victim' story but a story of survival and triumph and it's far from ordinary. It's an ageless read that reminds us how blessed are we whose lives are far removed from Sayre Bellavia's.(less)
An island community is decimated by a deadly virus and quarantine is enforced at gunpoint. It starts with sneezing, itching and coughing, followed by...moreAn island community is decimated by a deadly virus and quarantine is enforced at gunpoint. It starts with sneezing, itching and coughing, followed by a loss of social inhibitions, hallucinations and in most cases, death. The Way We Fall isn't just about a virus's tragic effect on a population but a look at society's inevitable unraveling.
Kaelyn's diary entries/letters to Leo give the reader Kaelyn's unique perspective on events taking place but she deals with much of the loss and heartbreak in such a detached manner it's a bit disconcerting. Many of the characters never really develop, possibly due to the letter format; there is only so much you can recount in a letter or maybe it's the simple fact that many of them die.
Drew, Gav and Tessa are a likeable enough supporting cast, I certainly admired their resourcefulness and courage. Kaelyn stepped up too, courageous, tenacious and fiercely protective of her cousin Meredith.
Despite Kaelyn's odd detachment (no more details, wouldn't want to get spoilerish) the story isn't completely lacking in emotion. There's an overall palpable sense of desperation and hoplessness, and warranted distrust in a government that has basically abandoned this community. Frighteningly real ... no magic wand, no guaranteed happy ending and quite within the realm of possiblity.
Looking back on the notes I scribbled it looks like a lot of negative but I really enjoyed The Way We Fall. This little germ-o-phobe loves a deadly virus/quarantine story and I'm really looking forward to the next installment in the trilogy. (less)