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 wI 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. ...more
I love Frankie and Will and Tom and all the gang. Her characters are flawed and daring and real and Australian. This book is funny and touching and aI love Frankie and Will and Tom and all the gang. Her characters are flawed and daring and real and Australian. This book is funny and touching and a story of families, depression, growing up, love and hope. And I love how Melina gifted us with a sequel, The Piper's Son. I could read about her characters for years...
This book was a favourite before Id even finished it :)...more
Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry is one of my most favourite nostalgia books <3
it came out when I was 17 and in my final year of high school.
iGuitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry is one of my most favourite nostalgia books <3
it came out when I was 17 and in my final year of high school.
i loved it.
my mates loved it.
i carried it around with me.
i wanted to be Rosie. i crushed on Asher.
i doodled all the little icons out of it into my journal.
i answered some of the profile-y parts in my journal, too :)
it's such a perfect teenagery book.
it's about crushes and first love. running away. a road trip. a kombi van. hippies. it sweet and quirky. funny and gorgeous. and very zen-alternative-byron-bay-esque.
it's gorgeously Australian.
it is experimental in structure: the story told from all POV's: Rosie and Asher and a narrator and their parents ...
Asher is all stream-of-consciousness with no punctuation.
other parts are all the little tidbits of their lives.
how much do i love it now? it was an ultimate favourite for me 14 years ago. it's still gorgeous and addictive and makes my heart swell when I flick through it. it reminds me of myself, as a teenager (not necessarily the characters, but how i felt and how i felt reading this book for the first time). i LOVE how different and arty it is (i do not know many books like it). it's still 5 stars from me ~ for being everything i wanted a book to be and more when I was younger.
i re-read this last month. i just got it back on my shelf ~ yesterday~ after loaning it to two sisters: 11 and 13 years old who LOVED it. i recced it to an adult friend of mine (in the US) last year, and she adored it too <3
this review is much more informal and chatty (although, it is my review and i'll chat books in whatever format i like ;).
as a bonus, i took some pics of random parts of the book so you could see how it is a little bit different ... captions/explanations under the images :)
asher has dreadlocks :D rosie tries to make them ~ by putting wax in her hair O.o
lily is rosie's mum. she is having her own little freak-out due to what lily has gone and done...
this is what asher and rosie did while they were on their road trip (for part of it. for the bliss part... ;)
top of page: asher sending a post card to his byron bay friends middle: a slice of character profiles, very awesome bottom: a wednesday diary for rosie
more of how the story moves forward in it's own funky/cool way including: snippet from LIVING WITH TEENAGERS (which rosie's mum is reading. her and rosie are getting all rock in their relationship) what asher packs to run away sightings at the local bus station strange signs they see on the way rosie's thoughts while on the bus <3
what rosie and asher talk about, under a tree, while on their road trip (next section, we see all their answers to the questions)
it is my own personal aussie YA cult classic kind of book :)...more
When I first heard about Bird from Text I felt really excited. It sounded gorgeous and special and a little bit mysterious. Plus the cover is seriousl When I first heard about Bird from Text I felt really excited. It sounded gorgeous and special and a little bit mysterious. Plus the cover is seriously something else (in person it is even more striking). I dove straight in the day it arrived and had no idea what to expect. It took less than a paragraph to feel hooked, and less than a chapter for Jewel to set up camp in my heart.
Jewel is my favourite kind of heroine: fierce and creative and lonely and marching along to the beat of her own drum. She's daring and smart and unashamedly stands out from the crowd. She's surrounded by a tragedy that's coloured her entire existence and yet her optimism shines, thumps along even as danger and mystery shroud her. Things go from bad to worse and revelations leave her (and us - the readers) reeling.
It wasn't just Jewel (love her) or the mystery (I had no idea how things were going to turn out) that kept me turning the pages -- Chan's prose is truly gorgeous, just the right blend of humour and sentiment, poetic but never flowery, succinct and cutting right to the core of emotions. The dialogue is awesome, and being inside Jewel's mind is a treat -- she thinks beautiful and unexpected things, ever hopeful and always loveable. This book feels like it was a labour of love -- and it makes it a treasure to behold.
My reviews always tend to focus on how I responded to a book -- I like to leave the plot a surprise, but here's a taste of what you will find inside Bird: small isolated town (the setting is sublime, engaging all the readers senses), Jamaican culture, a mysterious and fun new friendship (but can it be trusted?), duppies (discover for yourself...), family secrets and a heroine with a heart so big she bursts from the page. Jewel is younger than the usual YA heroine - but she's a perfect voice for upper MG, YA and adult readers to connect to.
Bird's fairytale vibe an intoxicating blend of whimsy and realism that left me feeling like anything could happen. An astonishing debut that I highly, completely recommend....more
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 loveI 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......more
I adored this book. It's funny (silly-grin-on-your-face-half-the-time-you're-reading-it-funny) and it produced the occasional snort of laughter (and II adored this book. It's funny (silly-grin-on-your-face-half-the-time-you're-reading-it-funny) and it produced the occasional snort of laughter (and I'm not a snorter, even at the best of times). It's utterly charming, really. I just love Gemma, whole-heartedly. She's dramatic and honest and comes from a crazy but genuine Aussie family and I would so be best friends with her (you would be, too). When she stuffs up, I really felt that little sinking feeling in my stomach along with her.
Plus, Raven De Head.
Stroke of genius, that name. Haha.
He is one of the coolest fleshed out love interests ever. Seriously. He is so unpretentious. Somehow, his bad boyness is not at all cliché, but rather heart-wrenchingly honest. I loved the scenes with Raven and the De Head family. The whole De Head family really struck a chord with me. One of those families that have a bad reputation, multiple wrecked cars on the front lawn, a brother in jail and the whole town against them. I actually ached for the boys, so sweet, but all tough exterior. And I could see why Gemma struggled with becoming friends with them. There's one fight scene at the De Head house that is so well done, I swear, I was in that room, wide-eyed and scared alongside Gemma.
This book was short-listed for the Children's Book Council of Australia awards (Australia's biggest annual award) and lost out to Margo Lanagan's red Spikes. It is very Australian - Aussie humour and a heap of our slang. Who doesn't love Aussie humour ;)?
Here's a quote from the School Library Journal that sums it up nicely: "Shanahan's quirky characters are a riot, but the depth of Gemma's growth and heartbreak is genuinely profound." —Terri Clark...more
First off, it is a verse novel. And I find most verse novels to be compelling and richly drawn. I read this curled up in beThis book, I just loved it.
First off, it is a verse novel. And I find most verse novels to be compelling and richly drawn. I read this curled up in bed on a rainy day and flew through the pages. The thing about this book is it gets cooler and cooler as it goes on.
There were parts in it where my heart just ached for Robin and Sophie. I was definitely cheering them on. And, some events in the book filled me up with warmth in the best kind of uplifting way. Other events broke my heart and had me holding my breath - I definitely felt the tension and Robin's pain.
This book feels like high school and reminds me why teenagers are so cool and such an incredible age-group to read about. It reminds me how hard it is to be a teenager - but also how awesome it feels.
By the end, I just had this happy feeling :) In fact I have a happy feeling now just thinking about it....more
Completely exhilarating and brilliant and breath-taking and funny and clever and unexpected. Also: so much fun and delight and some very smiley swoonyCompletely exhilarating and brilliant and breath-taking and funny and clever and unexpected. Also: so much fun and delight and some very smiley swoony moments. Jaclyn Moriarty is amazing and The Cracks in the Kingdom is on my all time ultimate faves list.
A Corner of White was just the beginning. I loved it whole-heartedly (my fave book of 2012) and The Cracks in the Kingdom has taken my love for this series to a whole new level (is that even possible?)
The plot cracks along splendidly. Whereas A Corner of White needed more time world building, TCitK takes off from the first chapter. I couldn't put it down, and trust me, I tried. I wanted to savour it and stretch it out and linger for a while but I was compelled to keep flying through, greedy for more, desperate to see where Moriarty would take me. And Moriarty delivers. For the mid series book, it really amps everything up -- and while it sets up the third book perfectly with some new complications, it still delivers with so many satisfying climaxes and resolutions to plot threads from the 1st book and 2nd. (no spoilers here but be excited, guys! So much goodness unfolds!)
The way Moriarty wields all her threads together, she builds them and builds them into this stunning and startling climax, revelations and twists and unexpected flips. I did not see so much of it coming and the way everything unfolded was pretty much perfect. Moriarty is daring and genius. I felt exhilarated when I finished, breathless and giddy and silly and satisfied (except for wanting book three, the finale for this trilogy. stat.)
TCitK is not just a fun, compelling and original, magical book. It's so much more than that. It has Moriarty's off kilter and gorgeous, grin worthy prose, but beyond that I feel like it's all real. I care so much for this Kingdom and the World. The characters have completely won me over and I have a deep and real affection for them.
I've always loved Elliot -- " the boy who knew exactly how to make a girl feel like some kind of carbonated sugar drink was running through her veins" (p.382). And Madeleine grew on me by the end of A Corner of White so that by the time I started The Cracks in the Kingdom she was firmly one of my fave literary heroines and I love spending time with her. I also love a new character in the series "a kid named Samuel from Olde Quaint who's a walking panic attack." (p.78). He is so endearing and earnest and I laughed out loud multiple times at his try-hard ways (laughing in a nice way ;))
Here are a few highlights from the book:
The letters are fantastic, charming and vibrant and a highlight (Moriarty is the queen of epistolary) The trip to the Lake of Spells (best camping trip ever!) The mystery of the 5 missing royals (so compelling and sad and suspenseful!) The whole mystery with Elliot's dad (some really awesome revelations and conclusions!) More science (so smart and interesting!) and more magic (of the quirky and funny and awesome kind) and more Colour attacks (love all the Colour scenes) Secret security and characters with hidden agendas (love Sergio!) The turquiose rain in Jagged Edge (another fave moment, so cool). Also, more travelling throughout the Kingdom of Cello (you se so much more of the strange and beautiful and unique world and it's inhabitants)
(I actually have a lot more highlights but they all crossover into spoilery territory...)
In conclusion: The Cracks in the Kingdom is one of the best books I have ever read, and The Colours of Madeleine is my favourite series of all time. The series is original and it shines so brightly with creativity and heart and humour and is everything I could ever ask for in the most ultimate reading experience. I so hope you give this series a go, and I hope it brings you just as much joy as it does to me....more
MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS was screaming out on my looking-for-the-YA-awesome radar after reading some ever-so-fabulous reviews late last year. The pr3.5 stars
MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS was screaming out on my looking-for-the-YA-awesome radar after reading some ever-so-fabulous reviews late last year. The preppy cover* initially made me wonder if it would be too mean-girl, rich-girl, gossip-girl-esque for my tastes but the book was refreshingly charming. the girls in this book are smart and relate-able and, like the title says, ‘mostly good girls’ (like me and my friends were ;)
The narrative is told in vignette-style anecdotes about Violet's life. Leila Sales brings the funny, you guys. MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS is reminiscent of Georgia Nicholson (although not as quite as hilarious or delightfully British). It is still energetic, upbeat and cleverly cool (but not in an annoying "i am too cool, watch me be cool" character way)
This is a book that had me reminiscing (in a grin-smile-chuckle way) those teenage years and, in particular, missing my best buds where we had (hilarious) shared history, running-in-jokes, lists (of all kinds) and big dreams (alongside being half scared out of our brains).
While I loved the vignettes and found the pages flipping fast, I didn’t feel as engaged as I would have liked due to not being grabbed enough by a strong plot (there was no main source of tension that had me caught up in the narrative ~ it was very much reading for the moment kind of experience). I wish Sales had had a bit more of a hook to pull me in at the beginning (although my liking to her prose and characters ~ with their general coolness ~ was instant).
It’s not a book that will linger but I had a blast while reading it. I think my teen self would have loved this more ~ and as an older reader, it’s definitely a book that shines as quality in the YA scene, but it lacked a bit of upper YA vibe for my current preferences (hence the 3 stars)
(note: I insanely loved her sophomore title which had a stronger plot (and genuine uniqueness), some charming swoon and the same grin-worthy sense of humour)
* actually really like the cover even as it made me wonder if it was my kind of book. It reminds me very much so of pictures by one of my all time fave illustrators GORDON FITCHETT (and his book ...more
Every time I've read Jaclyn Moriarty's books, I think: Oooh, this book is just so delicious that I can't imagine she's ever going to think up such aweEvery time I've read Jaclyn Moriarty's books, I think: Oooh, this book is just so delicious that I can't imagine she's ever going to think up such awesomely wonderful sentences again. But I keep getting proven wrong. Dreaming of Amelia took me longer to read because I kept pausing to re-read sentences, they just feel so good in my brain :) However, I am determined to maintain my fan-girl tendencies and try to bring you a dignified review. Some info about the book:
The story's told in a series of student's HSC exam responses (written essays of the gothic - but comedic - nature), blog posts (with oh-so-awesome comments), memos, emails and meeting agenda sheets, from multiple POV's: students from Ashbury High and staff as well.
And, because Jaclyn is obviously a genius, she presents them all in a sometimes chronological time line, other times not and other times overlapping so you end up with a layered and slightly chaotic telling of the events. Each layer adds intrigue and a different POV that swivels the story around slightly. So... it is unlike any other YA book out there, really. It's like Jaclyn just invented her own thing and I can't really compare it to anything else I've read. Because the structure is so different to many books, you just have to sink into to it and settle in for the ride.
The main thing you need to know about this book is that it is Funny.
Expect to feel good. And smile a lot.
And if you're a laugh-out-loud-while-reading kinda person, you will be laughing out loud, loudly.
Plus, I kind of ached in some of the more poignant moments.
Sometimes, it gets a little bit crazy. But I like that.
And, for me, I just adore the characters.
...and, I'm starting to wonder if they aren't real people, roaming around Castle Hill.
I particularly loved re-visting Em and Lyd and Cassie (of The year of Secret Assignments, who also cameo in Bindy MacKenzie), they are some of my fave YA characters ever. And, Seb. Sigh. Riley's not bad either, I definitely feel the love there.
And och, aye, Toby's Irish history and convict storyline was grand, to be sure (okay, so that sounds lame from me, but from Toby, you will feel the Irish love).
Other random things to love:
there's an axe murderer there's a mental asylum of the old fashioned kind everyone's going crazy about Riley and Amelia and the mystery and wonder of them... there's ghostly activity at Ashbury High there's love and broken hearts and kisses in a classroom the staff at the school are just as gloriously entertaining as the students you will learn about black holes. I know! there's parties and secrets and nostalgic moments that made me feel nostalgic too
Overall though, I am in awe of the lovely chaotic storyline and the weaving of it all together and the beautiful, mysterious climax - how does Jaclyn do that? She's a genius and I don't think her style can be mimicked - it's so deliciously unique.
I keep this one near my bedside, so I can randomly flick through it and re-read passages. It's very therapuetic :)
And, if you've never read Jaclyn Moriarty -- Go here right now and scroll down and click on the link to read the first pages...and you will fall under her spell. Haha :) No, seriously, you will.
It is the fourth in a series, but also a stand alone. However, if you were to read one before this, read The Year of Secret Assignments (Finding Cassie Crazy). Which you should read asap if you've never had The Jaclyn Moriarty Experience. ...more
This is the first book in the series that caused a borrowing frenzy in the school library. Seven teenagers camping in the bush. Australia gets invadedThis is the first book in the series that caused a borrowing frenzy in the school library. Seven teenagers camping in the bush. Australia gets invaded. And the teens go militia :) First published in 1993, it's just as awesome today. And *drumroll* the movie is coming to the big screen this year! It's the biggest budgeted movie ever made in Australia. I hope it makes the whole world go crazy over these books!
This is my absolute favourite series ever and I cannot recommend it enough to adults and teens alike.