In the Skin of a Monster is stunning, deliciously off-beat and totally absorbing. Completely unlike anything I was expecting or have read before and,In the Skin of a Monster is stunning, deliciously off-beat and totally absorbing. Completely unlike anything I was expecting or have read before and, even once I found my footing and got into the groove of the world, Barker still managed to twist things around until I was left with an unexpected lump in my throat and tears down my cheeks.
I didn’t read the blurb of this properly (common habit with me, I skim and dive in). I thought this was a contemporary novel -- but it’s a more genre-defying, drums-along-to-it’s-own-beat kind of book. I often struggle at classifying books but I would say this is fantastical while also having a contemporary reality mingled in. The novel is mostly set in a dreamscape -- in a town identical to the real-life Aussie outback country town, but this version is where the dreams the people in the town dream at night come to life. Like in a dream, things seem similar but are a bit off kilter. And, in this town, a lot of the people have been having nightmares... making the dream world ever-deadly. Confused yet? Ha, well, that’s part of the appeal. Starting this book felt a little like On The Jellicoe Road, or This is Shyness -- the reader is thrown in -- to gorgeous writing and unexpected situations -- and the reader has to fend for themselves a little (but don't let that deter you, it was not a brain strain with epic world building, it was easy to slip into). I loved that about this book. It just launches straight in and gradually things are revealed, and it’s beautiful and amazing.
It’s a visually stunning story (in my mind's eye) and totally haunting. There’s layers and depth, characters to care about (fabulous loyal and brave friendships with some enigmatic romance and swoon), and hard-hitting emotions that took my breath away.
This book is my sleeper hit of the year. Gorgeous and evocative and Aussie (that outback vibe!) and creative and original and harrowing just completely unexpected. The ending blew me away. I loved it. Everything about it.
If you missed this book this year I am so urging you to bump it up your TBR ~ you might just find a new favourite like I have :) ...more
A haunting and unforgettable story that will linger for a long time. Gripping and tense, that last third is unputdownable. Best book I've read in a loA haunting and unforgettable story that will linger for a long time. Gripping and tense, that last third is unputdownable. Best book I've read in a long, long time. ...more
Smart and smiley and refreshing original. Loved so much about this: the premise and the twisty, brilliant and daring way everything some together. WilSmart and smiley and refreshing original. Loved so much about this: the premise and the twisty, brilliant and daring way everything some together. Williams is an outstanding author marching along to the beat of her own drum.
Ali Harris handled the logistics of Written in The Stars so amazingly. It is a 'Sliding Doors' concept where we get to see two future timelines playedAli Harris handled the logistics of Written in The Stars so amazingly. It is a 'Sliding Doors' concept where we get to see two future timelines played out: one where she marries the guy, the other where she leaves him standing at the altar (and explores the possibility of love with an old flame). It was always clear to me which timeline I was following and I loved the creativity in the way the story lines crisscrossed, not just for our MC, but also for her family and friends (whose lives unfolded differently in each timeline). It could not have been easy to map out this concept yet Harris makes it an effortless read. It was also not predictable as to how it would all end (which was a huge drive for reading on).
Having said all that ~ I personally just didn't connect to the characters and the overall writing style. I love the idea of the chick lit genre* but am ridiculously bored or fickle with it, liking the beginning and then fizzing out part way through (not specifically talking about this book here as boring).
If the premise of Written in the Star intrigues you, and you love this genre, it's definitely a book you should scout out and see what you think (the ratings on GR are high, you guys)
* I gotta say, I don't even know if I am applying the classification chick-lit correctly half the time. Is that a thing? I am so clueless here....more
Did you read that blurb? lovelove. First the cover (and title) snatched me and then the blurb had me hooked. I love finding books that I've heard nothDid you read that blurb? lovelove. First the cover (and title) snatched me and then the blurb had me hooked. I love finding books that I've heard nothing about and taking them home with me along with the promise of finding something special.
This Irish chick-lit(ish) tale has small elements of magical realism and a fun vibe that's a smidgen reminiscent of Sophie Kinsella/Meg Cabot (that's the best I can think to describe the style, with it's humour and quirky protag and her family and friends, but it's still not quite the perfect descriptor as O'Neill has her own distinct flavour going on).
Reluctantly Charmed is whimsical with a plot that is wild in it's vision and escalating drama. I loved that about it (the unharnessed charm, marching along to it's own Irish beat). The setting is charming (Dublin! and then countryside Ireland!).
I loved the off-beat vibe that felt distinctly Irish (and otherworldly to this Aussie girl here) ~ from it's rowdy pubs to it's superstitious folklore of eras gone by. Who wouldn't want to be charmed by the possibility of fairies. But not all fairies are good, or are they even real? There's an element of the unknown with foreshadowing on certain characters and there's also manic momentum as each successive letter is published, bringing with them more bedlam, uncertainty and promise.
There is a hot Irish-charm-swoon guy (which I would have welcomed more pages devoted to him, haha). He's a little elusive but brings all that sexual tension and leaves it in his wake.
My one criticism, for me as a reader, is even though the plot was always moving forward and all elements/scenes felt essential, there was just so many threads going on that it really cluttered things up towards the end and seemed to make the ending drag out a little and events take forever to finally unfold. Although, this could have been reader's anxiety ~ desperate to power through and see how the climax explodes all over the place and how the resolution would tie up (you will not guess it, guys).
I love how unexpected the whole book is and it's effortless smiley, breezy style with a wholly original premise (although some elements touched on chick-lit tropes). And that wicked ending! Woah ~ beautiful mix of surreal and real, perfect and painful, sexy and surprising. One minute I was grinning away, smashing through the pages and the next I was startled and genuinely touched...
I liked it, truly, a lot. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about getting back to reading it. And when I was reading it, often post-midnight and drowsy in bed, I was forcing my eyelids open to keep going in true book-addict-just-one-more-page style. Pumped to see what Ellie O'Neill has next and so glad to have found a new fave author <3...more
Masquerade by Kylie Fornasier is an Aussie YA debut set in 1750 Venice during the Carnivale. It came to me highly recommended by a real life reader buMasquerade by Kylie Fornasier is an Aussie YA debut set in 1750 Venice during the Carnivale. It came to me highly recommended by a real life reader buddy who said it was really good and different to anything else she had read. I am so glad for that rec, as a few chapters in I was not sure Masquerade was 'my kind' of book (I was not looking for a Gossip Girl-esque book set in a different era, which I had thought this might be due to the blurb). Oh, man, thankfully I set in for the long haul and ended up being completely swept into Fornasier's world and story.
I loved the characters and the way their paths criss-crossed. Fornasier clearly developed them all and their voices were unique, each thread/POV was intriguing and had depth. Here's the thing with the characters: there are 7 POVs. Wild, hey? Do not let that deter you. There are only a couple of POVs that are main, the others being granted brief timely flashes which add to the overall story-line and intrigue. There's some tension with one girl liking a boy who ends up liking a different girl, and those two girls (friends) handle their relationship so well, with no overwrought angst or drama. In fact, the novel deals with tragic and sorrowful circumstances, society/parental expectations, star-crossed lovers, first crushes, sneaky and underhanded real-stakes dares and a myriad of problems and they are all handled with finesse ~ no melodrama, just an aching honestly and an underlying tension that drives readers through the story to see where Fornasier is taking us and how things will work out (one of my favourite things about this novel is how I had no idea how things would pan out ~ loved that!).
I can't not mention the setting which comes alive in all it's glittering glory. The time period is dazzling and authentic and I felt like I was there amongst the drama and excitement of Carnivale.
The lead in to the climax all the way to the conclusion was so beautifully done. All the threads came together and nothing was predictable. In fact, the ending was so astonishingly gorgeous and captivating and haunting and unexpected that I finished the book and just lingered there (in Venice, with the characters) in my mind for sometime after. I would most definitely be up for a sequel should Fornasier want to continue to explore her characters lives.
I didn't think this would be my kind of read. I am not hugely into historical, certainly not fond of YA gossip and drama stuff, but it was completely genuine and addictive (especially once I passed the halfway mark when all the threads start colliding and I didn't want to put it down). If you're looking for a read that is sparkling and unique, beautiful and glittering, unexpected and a little bit haunting you should definitely pick up Masquerade. It's an underrated gem that is a favourite read of mine so far this year....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
truly extraordinary, beautiful and quietly heartbreaking. What a stunning book with an ending that took my breath away. I will be thinking about thistruly extraordinary, beautiful and quietly heartbreaking. What a stunning book with an ending that took my breath away. I will be thinking about this book for a long time. So very highly recommended. Aussie YA does not get much better than this <3 ( full review to come)...more
Wow. Tim Sinclair's debut verse novel on parkour is really something else. For starters, it's everything I like my verse novels to be: that deliciousWow. Tim Sinclair's debut verse novel on parkour is really something else. For starters, it's everything I like my verse novels to be: that delicious exploration of words and rhythm (not rhyme) and experimentation in typography variation. It's a visual masterpiece with so many pages set out in a unique and arresting format. Truly stunning, the pages are an artwork. There's an energy to the writing that drives it forward, at the same time, the words are put together so carefully that you have to stop and let the moment linger, before pushing ahead for more.
I can honestly say I have never read a book like it: the subject (so much action and thrills and paranoia and also this whole underground world I had no idea about). It's exhilarating and vivid -- I found myself being tempted by parkour, (haha, I can't even walk down stairs without tripping over imaginary cracks). I loved the Sydney setting and the relationships and the adrenalin in this book.
Finely crafted, Sinclair breathes so much life into this book. I have seen not a lot about Run out there and I truly hope it gets the attention it deserves. ...more