Guys, I have shamefully been procrastinating reviewing Simmone Howell's outstanding new book. I felt intimidated to review this one because I truly juGuys, I have shamefully been procrastinating reviewing Simmone Howell's outstanding new book. I felt intimidated to review this one because I truly just want to get my review right. I struggle to find words that will encapsulate my reading experience, the heart and the essence of the book and also the brilliant, careful and loving way in which it is written.
This book is truly as awesome as the cover (and the wickedly funny/awesome/crazy/unique blurb)suggests.
I loved the prose. Howell has this wicked way of delivering lines. Her dialogue cracks, her characters are painted in just a few swift words. She coins phrases and pitches words against each other that seem like an unlikely pairing but are actually brilliantly perfect.
She nails, nails, the coming of age stuff. It's this perfect blend of naivety banging up against loss of innocence and the underside of a very gritty world. It's hopeful and lonely and full of longing and wishes and, on one hand you see how idealistic the characters can be while at the same time they come to terms with just how real and tough the world can be. Take a look at this gorgeous quote:
I had a shock of yearning, of wishing I was Nancy The feeling was sharp and it carried a shadow I was always on the edge of something that was never going to happen. (page 46)
This is another one of those Aussie YA books that bring Melbourne to full colour, thriving life. I love how the setting itself becomes a character. The nightclubs, the streets, the artwork and the houses all add this incredible atmosphere. Most of all, the record shop. It felt timeless and true and like an homage to all the great music that has come before.
This is such a beautiful and original book. To be frank, Simmone's work here is grittier than my preference. I remain eternally idealistic, optimistic and naive and seeing a darker side of things usually leaves me uncomfortable, a tiny feeling of unease pooling in my belly. Not so, here. It was balanced out beautifully by our sweet narrator. Sky is just beautiful and genuine, Gully tugged at my heart strings, and Nancy, in spite of her flaws, was appealing as that lost charismatic/wild girl. (check this snippet from Nancy, talking to Sky: 'I don't want to see the world, kid. I want to see the weird.' (Nancy, page 9)) And another one,Sky on Nancy: Kid, was what she called me. or little sister, or girlfriend, or dollbaby, or monkeyface. Sometimes she even used my name - Skylark, Sky - all in that drawl that felt like fingernails on my back lightly scratching itches I didn't even know I had.' (page 3)
I love the family vibe in this one. Full of ache and brokenness and despair and genuine love. I love that Howell takes all these quirky things (mannerisms and personalities and obsessions) and somehow makes them seem so entirely normal and true. This is possibly one of my all time fave quotes about family:
Gully and I groaned and laughed. With the lights soft and everyone's faces all shiny happy I felt flooded with warmth - it was like we'd been infected with a buzzing, shaggy, loveliness that I guessed meant the best kind of family. (page 139)
I loved the mystery. There was also some swoon: I was not interested in Luke Casey. I was not going to jump him or fall for his hot and tragic combo. (page 81) Well, the hot and tragic combo pretty much had me interested from the get-go, haha.
And, oh my gosh, isn't Sky just the most charmingest of narrators: And the more I drank the less weird I felt. Then we were laughing again, and nothing was serious and we were in the moment and the moment was everything. [...] The grass in the dark looked like velvet. I lay upon it and stared up at the sky. The stars were spinning. I might have hugged a tree before puking. (page 171)
Okay, so my review is all over the place and I have tried to piece it together but it's just not happening. I hope somewhere in my review you can catch just the tiniest glimpse of the magic and heart inside these pages I bookmarked this book to pieces. It's got charm and originality and heartbreak and mystery and these awesome detective style reports interspersed. It has the Melbourne vibe going on (you know what I mean). It is also lonely and sad in just the right amounts (and I like that in a book).
Note on the cover: it is so much more awesome in person. Also, it's from the book! The poster had appeared the week before on the wall opposite the shop. It was a stencil of a girls' face, three feet high below a concrete sky. She had black hair and eyes. her lips were slightly parted and a single tear rolled down her cheek (page 9) ...more
Guys, this book was just so much fun and incredibly heartfelt. Addictive and smiley and one of those books where you want to be absorbed into the pageGuys, this book was just so much fun and incredibly heartfelt. Addictive and smiley and one of those books where you want to be absorbed into the pages and hang out with the characters. It felt like watching the perfect teenage movie, a rom-com with plenty of humour, with an offbeat romance and the best pop culture references ever.
I was grinning from the first page (always a good sign!) and pretty much grinned and sighed my whole way through. I loved Sam as a narrator, a serious contender for a new fave male protag.
This book is perfect company for rainy days and sunny afternoons and cold winter nights (okay, pretty much for any occasion...).
One tiny little observation -- for an Aussie YA novel, it felt American in parts (the schooling system, and the characters sometimes seemed more out of an imported book. Although this does not detract from the awesomeness, it's just an observation on the Aussie vibe -- or lack thereof). Plus, the cover is winning -- gorgeous. I'm planning on gifting this to a few friends -- I definitely recommend it :)...more
Judging from the Aussie cover (which is gorgeous) and the blurb I expected Saving June to be a melancholic (perhaps whimsical) novel exploring grief/sJudging from the Aussie cover (which is gorgeous) and the blurb I expected Saving June to be a melancholic (perhaps whimsical) novel exploring grief/sisterhood & bad boys ;) I thought it may be a rainy-day comfort read. But it was so much more than that.
SAVING JUNE opens with Harper at her sisters wake ~ and the tone is pitch perfect for that kind of startled frozen grief ~ and yet Harrington had me grinning (grinning! in the aftermath of a funeral) multiple times before the chapter was through, even alongside that gorgeously portrayed ache.
That first chapter pretty much sets the tone for the book ~ which continues to grow in it’s awesomeness right until the very end. I found SAVING JUNE absolutely refreshing and completely addictive. It’s funky and full of life even as it explores darker themes.
It reads so effortlessly ~ like Harrington is very comfortable with her prose, characters and their world. I love lines of prose that make you stop and think, sentiments worded so perfectly that you find little epiphanies about the most ordinary of things (I found that here). Also ~ genius one-liners that made me ache/grin/pause/sigh or all of the above.
I am crazy-in-love with the grin-worthy and whip-smart dialogue, that easy banter that comes from people being stuck on a road trip together and getting overly bold and familiar. This book easily catches a sense of camaraderie between it’s characters that make it easy for a reader to slip in alongside them and feel as if you are there.
The romantic sub-plot (you guys!) unfolded exactly how I love: it starts off brilliantly antagonistic between Harper and Jake (love their first three meetings) and the romantic tension between them burns throughout the novel. Harrington shows such restraint in shaping their relationship and it really pays off. It’s incredibly sexy watching the love/hate/annoyance/attraction thing and even sexier when, well, when things turn sexy :D
The thing about this book is at first glance you can probably find a lot of cliched threads: the (better, smarter) sister who committed suicide, a road trip with a mysterious bad boy, characters who struggle with their parents and pasts and futures. But Harrington blitzes pass cliche-land with her nuanced characters that are explored in layers, unfolding piece by piece. SAVING JUNE has so much heart, it’s sad in parts but mostly captures that whole YA thing of finding your place in the world. It has hope and I smiled, grinned and sighed, like, a lot, considering the premise of the book O.o
There are also random cool things that make road trip books so much fun. For eg: Fridgehenge (!)
I am careful with my 5 star ratings. EXCEPT for when I crush on a book so hard that 5 stars is the only way to express how much this book was just perfect for me.
There are a few things that niggled at the end (view spoiler)[ why did Jake go on the road trip? was it really just about the note? (hide spoiler)] and occasionally the pacing lulls (not in terms of my interest in reading, oh my gosh I couldn’t put it down, but perhaps in terms of plot) and some of the banter with other characters can occasionally be too smart (in that John-Green-I-am-cool-kind-of-way ~ but only with a few minor-blip characters) but none of this detracted from insanely loving every minute of this. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Virtuosity is a gorgeously written book. I loved the smooth flowing prose from the start but what impressed me most was the way Jessica Martinez managVirtuosity is a gorgeously written book. I loved the smooth flowing prose from the start but what impressed me most was the way Jessica Martinez manages to evoke atmosphere and emotion ~ and her descriptions of music and the way it made me feel are *brilliant*. So succinct, never flowery ~ just the perfect blend of ache and beauty.
Virtuosity covers about two weeks in the life of Carmen ~ leading up to winning a future-changing prestigious award as a violinist. There's the perfect amount of back-story spliced in to compliment character depth and motivations. The plot pretty much straight-up concerns music and touches on themes such as performance anxiety, high (all-consuming) parent expectations, identity, and figuring out who you are verse who you want to be.
Pacing-wise: it's a dream to read. Smooth enough to settle in, compelling enough to keep reading the next chapter and tense enough to be anxious for the climax. The stakes are insanely high (and keep climbing higher) and the conflict is emotionally ache-y (in a number of sub-plots).
The conflict with love interest (fellow musician and main rival) Jeremy (British cute-guy) is startlingly compelling and definitely a mix of swoon and doubts. He's gorgeously flawed and a smidgen enigmatic. Plus: love/hate chemistry/curiosity <3. I really loved Jeremy, hey, and not just in a swoony way (there is that) but also as a character with his own story to tell.
What I most loved about Jessica Martinez's writing is how completely she gets under her character's skins. I felt like I was living the tension and the dream alongside them. Also, her villains are complex and understandable, even in their despicable moments.
Just writing this review has reminded me of so many scenes that took my breath away. A stunning book, guys.
Also ~ LOVED the ending. It was perfect ~ I love an ending that completes a character ARC more than an ending the finalises their story.
If the blurb of this book interests you, I really cannot see you being disappointed with this book. LOVED IT