I first read 'On The Jellicoe Road' in 2006. I had been DYING for it's release ~ and can still remember how tingly and giddy I felt as I walked home w...moreI first read 'On The Jellicoe Road' in 2006. I had been DYING for it's release ~ and can still remember how tingly and giddy I felt as I walked home with my copy. Back then, I had 3 kids under 5 and couldn't wait for them to get in bed so I could curl up and savour my new Melina Marchetta.
On The Jellicoe Road is notorious for people finding the beginning confusing ~ and I have seen lovers of the book urge people to persevere to find it's magic.
It was not like that for me. From the first chapter ~ I was spellbound. I remember thinking it was beautiful and haunting and funny and so entirely utterly appealing ~ the prose and the mystery and the characters. I guess I did feel a little like: what is going on? But not in a distracting way. It was absorbing and engaging and mesmerising. And entirely unexpected.
I LOVED how gorgeously chaotic the story initially felt. I knew NOTHING about it ~ I even wondered if Santangelo would be the love interest in the early days (which quickly flew from my mind as Jonah's (JONAH!) story started unravelling).
I LOVE that I knew nothing about it. Not one review, not one opinion. I had my expectations of awesomeness (it was, after all, a Melina Marchetta and I had read (and re-read) her previous two books countless times.
Reading it blindly was a stunning experience: I felt like the whole world was just me and the book. That the entire experience was mine. That no one had gone before me. That the story was for me and I was a part of the story. I still feel like that, in a way. I see others discovering it and loving it and I am SO proud of it (as if, somehow, it is mine, haha) ~ but a small part of me feels like it belongs uniquely to me. More to me than anyone else (I know this is a ridiculous sentiment, but I still feel it). I almost feel private about it ~ as if it has become a part of me and talking about is like letting others peek into my soul.
That very first time: I read it all in one go. I was shattered and absorbed and breathless and incredulous. I fell in love with the characters and the prose and the setting. I still recall finishing the book and how I felt gutted and euphoric and in awe all at once. Too stunned to cry (even though it would have been lovely to weep), I lay in my bed for an hour, just thinking about it. And then ... I picked it up and started reading it from the beginning all over again.
Since then, I have read it every year (sometimes more than once). It has never lost it's magic. It weaves itself deeper into me. It is my own personal cult book <3
It seems ridiculous that I have not reviewed my favourite book of all time. I think I just feel entirely too inadequate to be up the the task. I also feel like it is such a part of me that I want to hold it close and not share it with the world. Yet another part of me feels like I could talk about it all day long and never tire of things to say and quotes to quote.
This isn't a review, per se.
It is me, humbly telling you, that 'On The Jellicoe Road' is my favourite book of all time. It is brilliant and hopeful and ache-y and truly soul-changing. It is the kind of chaotically gorgeous masterpiece that you only ever-so-rarely stumble across. It is perfect in it's brilliance. It radiates life and hope even as it is filled with grief and sorrow. It is everything, everything , I love about reading, in such a way that it almost ruined me for other books ;) I am completely undone for it. (less)
I just love everything about Stealing Heaven. I love Danielle, who is a professional thief. And Greg, who is the grinning cop with crazy hair. I love...moreI just love everything about Stealing Heaven. I love Danielle, who is a professional thief. And Greg, who is the grinning cop with crazy hair. I love reading about older characters in YA (18 and 20years) and the uniqueness of the story. This is the book I wish I had written :)
The premise of a thief liking a cop is achingly done. I got a little emotional in this one. Probably just me :)
I've re-read this one and it's still a fave. I think maybe my favourite out of Elizabeth Scott's books so far...(less)
Melina Marchetta mentioned it as a fave read of 2009.
Author Julia Lawrinson said: 'If you only read one book th...moreI was hanging out to read this because:
Melina Marchetta mentioned it as a fave read of 2009.
Author Julia Lawrinson said: 'If you only read one book this year ... it should be Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue …"
with a 19 year old protag and a 26 year old love interest, it's my kind of fave upper YA
surfing, Sydney, haunted past, Aussie YA :)
My Review: Mate, Raw Blue is so Australian, hey? It is also so authentic that I experienced little pools of tension in my gut and tiny bubbles of hope that Carly would be okay. A powerful, raw and beautiful novel that now sits proudly on my all time faves shelf.
It has this languid, quietly intense pace which you sit back in the pocket, holding your breath. I was only a fifth in when I was startled to discover that Carly had gotten under my skin in a way that a literary character hasn't for a very long time. I was crazily invested in her and felt all ripped up and torn inside-out as the novel progressed. I so wanted her to be okay.
Carly is such an awesome protag - 19, tough surfer girl, vulnerable and alone, hurting (after a traumatic/shocking event @ schoolies) not letting anyone in. Enter Ryan - surfer, 26. With his own dodgy/dangerous past. And, he likes Carly. The scenes of them meeting and starting to hang out and then Carly deciding whether to trust Ryan - it's mesmerising and lip-biting and beautiful and painful all at once. These characters are contemporary YA at it's best.
The characters and dialogue were not only distinctly Australian, but they were so nuanced and authentic that I felt like I was eavesdropping on real life. I loved the surfing scenes, where the ocean was like a living, breathing all-consuming force. Kirsty has such a way with words that you are engaged in the scene with all your five senses.
Also, I have to mention Danny, one of my fave characters. A 15 year old surfer with synaesthesia (so completely fascinating) who befriends Carly and was an awesome dude in general.
I read this in one gulping heap and even now Carly's story continues to linger. Not only was this novel brilliantly engaging - but it's also an important novel about hope and pain and healing. I've re-read it already, as if hoping to absorb some of the magic of Kirsty's writing into my own (ahh, hasn't happened yet). Kirsty Eagar has shot straight up onto my list of whoa-crazy-good authors.
Her sophomore novel, Saltwater Vampires, is out in September and I am so there! If it's half as good as Raw Blue - it'll be the best paranormal out there :)
I hardly ever give 5 stars I only like to save them for the best of the absolute best. This is 5 stars all the way.(less)
Graffiti Moon takes place over one night (although there are some flashbacks) and is told from two POV's: Lucy and Ed.
This book is genius.
It's exactly...more Graffiti Moon takes place over one night (although there are some flashbacks) and is told from two POV's: Lucy and Ed.
This book is genius.
It's exactly why I love reading YA.
Somehow this book perfectly captures how I felt as a teen - that big dreaming scheming place in my head, a place where night time is magical and when boys can make you tingle just by looking at them across the room.
It's funny and heart felt and the whole scenario is one of the best set-ups I've read. And I wish I could tell you the hook but I don't want to give away spoilers... so, you'll have to see for yourself.
Graffiti Moon is completely addictive with the tension building so beautifully that I just had to keep reading, wondering how it was all going to play out.
It's sprinkled with stunning prose and scenes described to masterfully that I felt I was right there. really, I have rarely read such beautiful, compelling prose - poetic and lyrical and funny and smart - words that beg to be re-read and swilled around in your mouth like a good wine.
The dialogue was brilliant. BRILLIANT. It kills me, dialogue like that. Sigh.
The characters are so completely awesome that they stand up and walk around, leaping off the page. They are also completely teenagery in the very best of ways.
The boys in this novel are charming and off-beat, wildly funny and completely crush-worthy and so nuanced that they are unique - not carbon copied characters that you'd find between the pages of another book.
The girls are captivating, sometimes sly and always fun. They are genuine and their moments of angst have such flair that you can't help but completely love them.
It's not just me who is raving about this. Check out more reviews @ goodreads
Anyway, Graffiti Moon spoke to me and is one of my favourite reads this year and for a girl who loves contemp YA with a splash of romance - well the love story in this one is completely awesome.
I am continually drawn to Young Adult fiction that feels like the truth> Books such as Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue and Laura Buzo's GOOD OIL...more4.5 stars.
I am continually drawn to Young Adult fiction that feels like the truth> Books such as Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue and Laura Buzo's GOOD OIL and Sara Zarr's ONCE WAS LOST all resound with me so strongly because their stories are subtle yet complicated, quiet yet resounding and GOD IS IN THE PANCAKES is of the same calibre.
God is in the Pancakes is a stand out read for me due to Grace, such a spunky protagonist who I couldn't help but ache for. Reading about her felt like reading about my own teen self (and many choices and mistakes she makes completely make sense to me ~ haha, tongue twister of a sentence, moving along...)
I ADORE books that have a strong dynamic with family relationships ~ and this one just felt achingly real.
Grace's relationship with her sister was brilliant ~ the complications and love and fights, the petty full-blown arguments and the small gestures that show their bond were just perfection (made me nostalgic for those good old days when my sister and I were still at home together).
Likewise, the mother-daughter relationship is captured so well (the mother is not just there perfunctorily, but is a string nuanced character of her own).
There's complications with Eric, Grace's best friend, where things are changing. And GOSH ~ it's not like it was a swooning* book so much as the kind of book that makes you feel like you have been punched in the gut because you can just feel the ache and awkwardness and attraction and complication of it all. It resonated strongly with me ~ the yearning and the fear and the confusion and the whole mess of it all. *Although Eric is definitely worthy of a swoon :D
One of the biggest parts of the book was Grace's relationship with the quirky and lovable Mr Sands, who asks Grace to help him die (!). And whoah ~ the whole euthanasia thing was head-spinny ~ done brilliantly, not preachy or easy or judgementally. It really got me thinking.
It is not Christian fiction (despite what the title may imply) but Grace wonders about faith and God and if there is anything in it or anyone out there who cares about her and the things she struggles with so much that she cannot bear to say aloud to anyone ~ and I found the exploration of this refreshing and honest
It was easy to forget that I was reading about characters in a story as I felt immersed in the lives of these people and really rooted for them. It is also worth mentioning that I found some of the plot-lines unpredictable and yet their resolutions rang true.
As for the prose ~ it's unsentimental and strong. It's succinct and will cause you to smile effortlessly (Robin Epstein is a former stand-up comedian and a sitcom writer). The humour in this book helps lift some of the intense subject matter.
Recommended: While on the surface, God is in the Pancakes may look like a quiet novel, the impact is anything but. I finished this novel with a rock the size of a fist in my gut and with tears glistening in my eyes. Ultimately, it's a triumphant and brave book ~ unique in plot ~ hopeful and funny and true.(less)
Set in Katoomba ~ and I read it while in Katoomba on holidays :) Okay, that's irrelevant to the review, but it made the experience just that more cool...moreSet in Katoomba ~ and I read it while in Katoomba on holidays :) Okay, that's irrelevant to the review, but it made the experience just that more cool, you know?
It's funny and brilliant and everything you'd expect from Steven Herrick.
See the watermelon on the cover? It's grinning. I couldn't stop smiling when I read this one.
It was also, sneakily, powerful and life-affirming.
And that's what I LOVE about Steven Herrick. He has characters that feel like you've known them forever. Characters that sneak up on you and then BAM you care about them completely and feel like you're the one sitting down at the dinner table with them. He takes those ordinary, mundane parts of day-to-day life and makes you appreciate them ~ and find the awesomeness in just being alive and being in the moment.
Okay, so this review just got a little Oprah-esque ~ so putting it back on track... This book is FUNNY. Grin-achingly, laugh-out-loud witty and clever and, mate, how I loved it. It's a male POV that makes you simultaneously love all male characters and also feel sorry for them in a lovingly-cringe-y way. Life is not always easy for the adolescent male. Particularly for Darcy who just can't keep his mouth shut (much to my amusement and to his detriment)
I loved it all but in particular, LOVED: the school kayaking trip on the river the shaving scenes the awkward father/son sex talk moments, haha. the romance with Darcy and Audrey. Cute and hilarious and when the kissing scene arrives ~ ahh, it's just grin-worthy and sigh-worthy and makes me all nostalgic :) the whole side-plot with Noah's dad. That's the kind of stuff that just blows me away in books. LOVED it.
Steven Herrick is one of my all-time (I'm talking ALL-TIME) fave authors. His books are brilliant for teens and still just perfect for adults or anyone really. And he has another book coming out this year WAHOO WAHEY! :D(less)
All I Ever Wanted is blurbed by two of my all-time fave Aussie YA authors:
‘One of the most memorable YA books I’ve ever read. Original, real, startli
...moreAll I Ever Wanted is blurbed by two of my all-time fave Aussie YA authors:
‘One of the most memorable YA books I’ve ever read. Original, real, startling and beautiful.’ Cath Crowley (Graffiti Moon)
‘In a tarnished world, Mim is tough and sweet and true. Utterly charming’ Fiona Wood (Six Impossible Things).
Okay, I nearly feel like my work here as a reader/reviewer is done as I fully (crazily) endorse both those statements.
All I Ever Wanted captivated me from the first few pages. I adore Mim, she’s tough and brave and bold despite her fears and failures. She’s smart and funny and fierce and looking at her world through her eyes was just gorgeous. She has strong convictions and secret dreams and is spirited in that Josie Alibrandi way (Melina Marchetta).
The prose in this book (!)
[pauses for a moment]
Absolutely, genius-like, divine.
I am billing it as a mix between Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon and Leanne Hall’s This Is Shyness (both amazing-brilliant-wow books to be blended up with).
It is, in some ways, a gritty read but without it feeling gritty. It’s like a diamond in the rough kind of read ~ all tough on the outside but absolutely shining and beautiful at its core.
I love books like this: original, unpredictable, delightfully strange, completely real and shining with hope. It felt utterly Australian. The characters are unabashedly flawed and all the more lovable for it.
I haven’t said much about the plot ~ honestly, I liked reading it having no idea what to expect from it ~ but for those of you who need more a teaser ~ here’s a blurb from author Vicki Wakefield talking about her teen experience that inspired Mim’s story:
As a teenager, I always had one leg dangling over the wrong side of the tracks. When I was seventeen I went to house-sit for a friend who was an unmarried teenage mother. It was a half-house in a lost street in a forgotten suburb – just like the book.
It wasn’t hard to dredge up memories of that month – I lived in a perpetual state of fear and desperation. I dared myself to stay there. During the day the street was deserted; at night it was alive and menacing and I was terrified. Law seemed to exist outside of that street, but by the end of the month I was braver, wiser and I’d changed my mind about some of the residents. The people who lived there didn’t have money or material things – but what they did have was pride, a sense of community and bucketloads of humanity. (taken from her author page @ Text)
I am sold on Wakefield’s debut and she has entered my ranks of hallowed Aussie quthors and auto-buy, must-reads.
And YES ~ I did reference Melina Marchetta, Cath Crowley and Fiona Wood all in one review for this stunning debut :)
All I Ever Wanted has been longlisted for the inky's (wooT!) Fingers crossed it will make the cut into the short list :)
It has been a long time since I have fallen so hard for a contemporary YA novel. I have barely heard of any buzz surrounding Laura Nowlin's debut. I o...moreIt has been a long time since I have fallen so hard for a contemporary YA novel. I have barely heard of any buzz surrounding Laura Nowlin's debut. I ordered it on a whim, not really sure what to expect. I liked the cover, the premise sounded like my kind of thing and I always like the chase of finding a YA book free of preconceived hopes and praise.
I was unprepared for just how good this book is, easily my favourite YA book of the year so far and it now sits on my favourites shelf.
Nowlin is a born storyteller. And this book differs from other YA books as it spans over three years of Autumn's life (told in the present, but it also encapsulated much more than that with memories and flashbacks). I love the time span of this novel, it stretched ahead of me and wrapped itself around me and I was entirely absorbed into Autumn's world.
This is a YA coming-of-age love story, but not in that swoony, predictable way. It hit me harder than a just the regular dreamy smile for the hot guy next door (and Finny is a hot boy living next door): I felt it right through to my stomach and to my chest constricting as I watched August and Finny together. The things left unsaid, the memories swirling around them, hope's dashed, future's uncertain.
Nowlin so perfectly captures that teen voice: the misunderstandings between teenagers, the things unsaid, the dreams, the doubts, the wildly good times and also snatches of depression. I love Autumn as she felt so real. no aspect of her was gimmicky. She was fully nuanced, so gorgeous and bold and different without ever falling into a YA cliché and I loved seeing the world from her eyes. She was the perfect blend of confident and unsure. Nothing was black and white: I loved all the shades of grey in her feelings and everything that was going on in her world. I loved her for her fairytale hopes all mashed up with trying to face reality. For her love of reading and her uncompromising stance on who she was, even as she was trying to figure out the very same thing.
And, oh, how I love the history of her relationship with Finny. There are a lot of flashbacks and memories and I never grew tired of it. I felt included in their lives. Finny himself is now one of my most favourite YA boys, not just as a gorgeous love interest, but for who he was.
If He Had Been With Me has it's own unique vibe. The prose sometimes has it's own jaunty little rhythm, other times passages are so so poignant and heartfelt that my chest constricted. The writing was deeply personal, holding nothing back.
With such a lush scope of three years plus, Nowlin explores so many experiences: friendships, cliques, first love, divorce, mental health, sex, all those gorgeous moments caught between the mystery and promise of adulthood looming ahead while thinking back on childhood.
The thing about this book is it just kept getting better and better. For me, it was like meeting a new friend, and liking them, and then getting to know them until they become one of those lifelong besties that you cannot imagine life without. I liked Autumn so much from the outset, but she grew on me, exponentially so, as did her friends, her mum (and aunty) and, of course, Finny and now I just have this love for them and I know I won't ever be forgetting this gorgeous, beautiful and achey story.
For discussion: I would have preferred the book without the prologue chapter. The writing itself pulled me into the story, that and the promise of what was to come - I did not need such a dramatic hook. I also am not a fan of the blurb that's on GR. I think it changes the reading experience (luckily, I did not read the blurb on that site - which is also used on most bloggers review posts, amazon, etc - and only read the back cover of the book). The ending felt rushed, then abrupt. I think I needed a tiny bit longer to linger in the story, to make sense of it all, but I understand what Nowlin was trying to do.
I can't stop thinking about this story. I am crazily excited to fall this hard for a debut author and cannot wait to read more of Nowlin's work (understatement). I have a new absolute favourite book, so much passages bookmarked. I have so much love for this book and hope it falls into many hands. I envy those readers their first time reading experience waiting before them. LOVE
(Confession: I stayed up until 4.30am to finish this one. My only regret is it's already over...)
Perfect theme song: the Special Two by the ever lush Missy Higgins
I love the premise and inspiration for this novel:
Two years ago Liane Moriarty stumbled upon a fascinating article about real life deathbed confessio
...moreI love the premise and inspiration for this novel:
Two years ago Liane Moriarty stumbled upon a fascinating article about real life deathbed confessions. She learned about Christian Spurling, who confessed on his deathbed to faking a notorious photo of the Loch Ness Monster. There was a famous songwriter who was dying of cancer and wrote a letter admitting, after years of adamant denials, that she had plagiarized a lullaby melody. Then there was the hapless man who, after suffering a stroke, confessed he’d killed his neighbour thirty years earlier. The only problem was that he didn’t end up dying. After he was released from hospital he went straight to jail.
This article helped inspire Sydney-based Liane to write her latest novel, The Husband's Secret which we are publishing in April.
Cecilia Fitzpatrick, Sydney wife, mother and P&C President, discovers her husband has a secret so dark it could destroy her blissfully ordinary suburban existence. We all have secrets. But not like this… The Husband’s Secret is a stunning, complex novel guaranteed to cause debate and controversy. This book will have everyone asking, “What would I do?” (taken from Pan Macmillan's press release)
Some of the best highlights of my reading life over the last 7 years (it was in 2005 that I stumbled upon Three Wishes, an all time fave) has been snapping open a new Liane Moriarty. My love for her prose and characters and unique stories brings with it high expectations. You guys, I am SO EXCITED to be sharing my review of this book with you as there has never been a better time to get with the program. The Husband's Secret was so divinely awesome, so surprising, so deliciously funny and genuinely heartfelt that it seriously blew me away, me - a devout fan with sky-high expectations.
So you think you know what this book could be about? Think again. It is so mysterious and even after the Big Reveal (ie the reading of the letter) it's even more unexpected and surprising. Even more addictive. How does she do it? Liane has a niche on the market for intelligent women's fiction ~ utterly original, superbly creative and just so good, so good.
This book had the magic combo for me: that feeling of wanting to rush ahead and devour it all, desperately hanging out for the reveal, and also wanting to slow down and savour all it's brilliance. (confession: I decided to savour this book. 24 hours after cracking open that first chapter I was done. I couldn't stop thinking about when I had to tear myself away, and I'm still thinking about it now.)
I love so much about Liane's books. But I often find myself in a scatterbrained mess trying to articulate just how brilliant they are. Here's a few points :)
1. The storytelling! Moriarty is a master storyteller weaving together three perspectives which eventually criss-cross each other paths. It has that gorgeous touch of whimsy, coincidence and fate. It's also insanely addictive storytelling - reveals in just the right places, humour sprinkled in perfectly alongside the heartbreak the tension building and the climax exploding.
2. The humour is so delightful, it's wicked and empathetic and intelligent and smiley and it just nails it, every time.
3. The characters. They come to life in such a way that they are lovable even in their unlovable moments. I truly was invested in them. I felt their sorrow and ached alongside them <3
4. Those swoony moments. With a few deft sentences, the romance in this book just had my heart, it also left me bereft (but hopeful) at times. Which is the perfect kind of love stories, all good and bad and swoony and unpredictable.
5. The Sydney (and Melbourne) setting. Just gorgeous. So spot on, I could feel myself walking along those streets and doing the school run.
6. The more I was drawn into the book, the more I got caught up in the shades of grey. And wondering just what was the right thing to do? How was Liane going to make this whole thing turn out? The answer is: in an unexpected and unforgettable way...
I recommend this book so much. I am excited for it to be out, excited for everyone to read it. And already hanging out for my next Liane Moriarty fix. (less)