Laurie Halse Anderson is an amazing YA writer. She tackles tough subjects head on, flinging hardships, trials and snares at her characters. She's rele...moreLaurie Halse Anderson is an amazing YA writer. She tackles tough subjects head on, flinging hardships, trials and snares at her characters. She's relentless and wry and relevant and revered.
The cover of her latest books is mesmerising (love it!), the title alluring and the premise promises some LHA conflict and heartbreak. I love the way Anderson writes -- her sentences have a certain cadence, her humour often sneaky, her protagonists not afraid to be unlikeable. I also love how her books are all different shades, and although I find her voice distinctive, she's unique in all her work.
In TIKoM, Anderson peels back layer after layer on one family's experience with the demons of post traumatic stress disorder. Hayley's life is so clouded by her father's psychological scars. It's brutal and unpredictable and violent and so completely harrowing. About 2/3's in, I was so consumed by the reality of Hayley and her father's predicament that I was convinced there would be no happy ending, no resolution for an illness so all-consuming, so powerful. The stakes are raised, the scene is bleak -- Anderson's portrayal is intense. She does an incredible job of portraying the after effects of war and yet, somehow, I felt removed from it, as if I was looking in -- I had hoped to feel Hayley's pain and emotion as if it were my own. That emotional connection as a reader is so subjective -- I am a little disappointed that even while I was absorbed in the story it never really punched me in the gut.
TIKoM is not all darkness -- Anderson is the master of wry humour and candid quips and the book is peppered with personality. Another bonus is Finn. He's a genuine good (without being too good) and funny and swoony boy -- he'll bring many smiles to readers faces and he has surprises in store for Hayley Kincaid. He chips through her icy indifference, masterful and cute and creative. Their banter was cute, sure, and when Hayley finally let him in, it was beautiful. The friendship/romance in this is a lifeline to Hayley -- and to readers (who need a sparkle of hope to contrast with the very real and frightening reality of Hayley's home life).
While reading this I reflected on how Anderson never talks down to her audience - and she's articulate, compelling and honest (as well as offering some fun in the midst of the horror). I know this book will connect with many readers (TIKom will appeal to teens and adults alike). Recommended. (less)
I didn't really know what to expect from Julie Berry's debut. the blurb is a little bit elusive (in fact, I got the impression 'aliens?' -- close enco...moreI didn't really know what to expect from Julie Berry's debut. the blurb is a little bit elusive (in fact, I got the impression 'aliens?' -- close encounters, etc, haha). I may not even have picked this one up if the lovely publicist hadn't sent me a copy. Which would have been nearly criminal as this book soared to the top of my favourite reads this year.
It's written in 2nd person POV -- which has a mildly intoxicating, lilting vibe to it. The prose is gorgeous. At first, everything felt a little off kilter. I liken it a fraction to the experience of reading Jellicoe Rd: 'what's going on here?' tangled up with 'oh! I am really liking this beautiful prose and intriguing opening'. I was captured from the beginning and as the story wove around me I became deeper invested and more impressed. Until I pretty much just fell in love with everything about this book.
It was the first book in a long time that gave me those delicious physical pangs in the gut ~ pangs of anxiety and hope and ache and just the right amount of swoon. There's heartache and sorrow and mystery and so many unexpected events. The characters felt so real and brave and lonely and they squirrelled their way deep in my heart.
The story itself is not about aliens. or anything supernatural and freaky. It is set in an unspecified era that feels primitive-ish colonial America ~ small town/settlement vibe.
It shifts between past and present, both timelines equally engaging.
Judith is amazing. The love story is genuine. The swoons are not cheaply won -- and when they come they are all the more powerful for it :)
Everything is unpredictable. Things are genuinely freaky in parts - dark and yet somehow there's always hope. Sorrowful yet a promise of something good waiting somewhere on the horizon.
I really truly cannot commend this book enough. It is definitely one to be experienced first hand -- and then shared with friends. I can't wait to revisit it already. Julie Berry is an amazing new talent that I think every YA lover should be checking out.
Forgive me if my review is a chaotic rambling of thoughts. And definitely find yourself a copy of this book to try -- even if you're dubious like I was. And when you do -- may you love it just as much as I do x Nomes
I gave this 5 stars! I have only given SIX books 5 stars this year (out of 99 books read...)
I psyched myself up before reading this because it looked intense and emotional and maybe even a little disturbing.
It was kinda intense and it hit me...moreI psyched myself up before reading this because it looked intense and emotional and maybe even a little disturbing.
It was kinda intense and it hit me hard emotionally but don't let the slightly disturbing subject matter deter you from reading this. Despite the premise, there is a lot of breathing space in these pages which not only focuses on the main premise, but also includes a beautiful love story and an unforgettable main character with a cast of faithful and fun friends.
There's a lot to admire about this book. It's lyrical and haunting. There's moments of stillness amidst bubbles of fear. It's a little creepy and I had chills by the end. It's a page turner with masterful execution of the plot.
The ending was powerful and liberating. It really superseded my expectations and I know I'll be passing it on to teens I know.
I had this sense of peace and empowerment when I finished reading the book. It's a story that will linger and I am so glad that this story has been told.
*Slightly spoilery, but not much ~ so just click it anyways:* (especially Tina b/c it make help you make a decision as to whether you want to read it :) (view spoiler)[ I was grateful the story didn't get into physical/sexual abuse (at all) as I had thought it might. It was all psychological and stalker-y - which, while just as powerful and scary, was easier for me as a reader to stomach. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book was refreshing and had it's own unique beat to it.
Catherine (protag) reminded me a smidgen of Bindy (Jaclyn Moriarty) although the writing i...moreThis book was refreshing and had it's own unique beat to it.
Catherine (protag) reminded me a smidgen of Bindy (Jaclyn Moriarty) although the writing is not dramatic or Moriarty-esque, it is written in diary format and it's fresh and funny and heart-felt. This book will resonate with many teenagers.
Catherine is such a cool nerd, awkward and smart and earnest. It was easy to feel that teen angst with her - reminded me of being back in school and studying and how huge exams and competitions are.
This is an important and timeless book that also made me feel smart by association, haha.
I flew through this one and have a fond little feeling just thinking about it now. Sigh :) Also, lovely to read a clean no swearing, no sex but totally rocking book. (less)
Saltwater Vampires has a hugely ambitious and sophisticated plot - there's three story-lines that blend together: the shipwreck and blood pact made on...moreSaltwater Vampires has a hugely ambitious and sophisticated plot - there's three story-lines that blend together: the shipwreck and blood pact made on the Batavia (400 years earlier), a gathering of powerful freaky-guys in Amsterdam and Jamie and his mates kicking back surfing in Rocky Head, Australia.
What I loved about this book is it's unique blend of rich prose and suspense-filled plot. It's got this laid-back Aussie pace that manages to buzz with an exhilarating, suspense-filled plot. My reading experience was similar to Raw Blue: a contradiction - I was tearing through the pages and at the same time pausing at moments to re-read sentences and soak up the magic in the prose.
Jamie and his mates are not your usual heroes or vampire slayers. They're these loveable, freaked-out, wide-eyed and brave teens: flawed and crushed, hopeful and resilient. They're mates who watch each others back as well as let each other down and these contractions are so well drawn that the characters breathe on their own and worked their way into my heart. Eagar is a master of showing and readers are drawn into the richness of her characters and maybe have to work a little to see all the shades and complexities in the Aussie gang (consisting of three guys and two girls - whose history includes crushes, betrayals, guilt, relationship complications and a recent horrific accident in the ocean).
The vampires from the Batavia wreck are seriously freaky creatures of the night. Ugly and evil and the stuff made of nightmares. Powerful and relentless and their desire for blood and sadistic plans of mass feasting gave me chills. The horror factor clawed at my belly - in a wide-eyed, can't-look-away, creeped-out manner.
Just like the power of the outback setting in Lucy Christopher's Stolen, Eagar evokes similar sensations with the ocean. It's churning and powerful and compelling and lurking with hidden horrors. The ocean and the bush and music festival were used to advantage to add to the creepy undertones and Australian authenticity.
I haven't seen many thrillers of this outstanding calibre in the YA scene. Also, the male POV - spot on in a way that made me ache for it's authenticity.
It's a dark, spine-tingling read but not without it's moments of laid-back humour and some heart-felt relationship drama that added some levity. Also, how much did the last page just make me grin? It left me with a sense of loving these guys.
Two quotes I loved:
Aw, bugger it. Don't die wondering. 17.
Jamie's eyes met hers and recognition passed between them. He wondered if that was how it was going to be for the rest of their lives. They'd talk as if they were just two people who used to hang out, but all the time their eyes would be saying, I know you well and I miss you badly. 304.(less)
Just when I thought the Aussie YA scene couldn't get any hotter right now... along comes Fiona Wood's Six Impossible Things.
I couldn't put this book...moreJust when I thought the Aussie YA scene couldn't get any hotter right now... along comes Fiona Wood's Six Impossible Things.
I couldn't put this book down.
And then, when I finished, I immediately wanted to go back to the beginning and read it all again from that start. (I settled for another hour of flicking through and re-reading classic moments and favourite lines)
There is so much to love about this book it's hard to know where to begin.
Dan is completely lovable, funny and cute in such an unassuming way. His narration of the many tragic events unfolding in his life is teen angst with the most grin-worthy one-liners. He is sweet and hopeful and crushing hard on the unattainable girl next door (Estelle).
And the Girl Next Door is ever so funky and cool and smart in that way that you just want to hang out with her in the hope that some of her coolness rubs off.
The cast in this book were all fleshed out in such an achingly real way. Not only did I fall in love with Dan but I related to his Mum and I love how underneath all the charm and fun in this book, there's a lot of stuff readers can relate to: parent's separating/divorce, financial difficulty, depression, parent's mid-life crisis, wanting to be cool and accepted, getting your first job, wanting to get the unattainable girl and striving to be a better person but always seeming to fall short.
I have to mention: I loved how Dan's attic was connected to Estelle's which led to some sneaky creeping around between the houses. Such an awesome set up.
Six Impossible Things also has such a beautiful and whimsical prologue which I read twice before turning to the opening :)
six things about six impossible things:
1. It's funny. Brilliant one-liners, dialogue that just kills you with it's goodness, and the situations Dan finds himself in will have you grinning. 2. Dan - one of the best male POV's. Charming and smart and oh-so-funny and he transforms so awesomely from a slightly awkward geek to a cool confident guy. 3. Secret girls stuff. I loved Estelle and how the girl group hung out - it all felt so teenagery and fresh and had me feeling quite nostalgic. I loved Estelle's Diary which so reminded me of my own teenage diary :) 4. The adult cast - completely shone, even those in minor roles. I wish every YA book would strive to put in adult charatcers who are so multi-dimensional and relatable. I also love the plot lines and story arcs for the minor characters. 5. The little quirky details and how it all comes together in a climax that made my heart swell with happiness. Also you never quite know just how the story is going to end. 6. It's one of the best books I've read - right up there with Graffiti Moon and Raw Blue and Beatle Meets Destiny and Jaclyn Moriarty's work.
Recommended: I find it so hard to review books that completely floor me with it's brilliance - really, what I want to say is: I love this book so hard and think it's truly perfect for teens (guys and girls) and also for adult readers who will find a lot to love about Dan and his experiences.
And: I read in an interview that Dan Cereill is an anagram of Cinderella. I know, very cool!(less)
'John Belushi is Dead" (also published as 'Hollywood Ending' in Australia) is an strangely compelling and original read.
It's dark and gritty in parts (okay, in more than just parts). it doesn't shy away from vivid descriptions of death/disaster.
It fascinates with its exploration of that morbid curiosity that so many of us have in regards to sudden (gruesome) tragedy ~ particularly in the lives of the famous. It captures that haunting sense of history that you get from just standing in the spot where Something Huge once occurred.
My own devouring of this book en-likened me to the enthusiastic way it's characters seek out these sad and horrific events in history, like thrill seekers, it's an addiction ~ one that defines the lives of Hilda and Benji. Parts of this book made my skin crawl (particularly Benji O.o)
The plot starts out slowly but builds breathtakingly ~ to the point where you feel like anything could happen in the climax (brilliantly done).
It's an odd little blend of the macabre and bittersweet. It has touching moments alongside vividly disturbing encounters.
It touches on the holocaust, on iconic celebrities from an era long gone, mass murderers and unsolved mysteries (like the black dahlia).
It features a flawed, fantastically human cast (not always lovable).
I actually really enjoyed learning a lot of those 'hollywood ending' type stories (it was like reading awesome/unbelievably true wikipedia articles about the most fascinating parts of Hollywood's history) all blended into a present day narrative of one girl who's obsessed with death even as she overcomes her own demons with it. Strangely moving, in the end.
It's not particularly a "me book" but it was original, compelling and addicting. Not sure it is one I will re-read, but I am glad I read it.
I recommend this to anyone who loves learning true-crime type stuff (within a fictional narrative), has a mild interest in the golden days of Hollywood and can stomach the macabre side of things ;).
[this review feels a little scattered. but trying to get my thoughts down as i go, rather than waiting for divine inspiration and then never coming back to share what i thought ;) ](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.
Beatle Meets Destiny has all the makings of an Aussie YA cult classic.
Set in Melbourne, it's completely charming with it's off-beat feel, whimsical y...moreBeatle Meets Destiny has all the makings of an Aussie YA cult classic.
Set in Melbourne, it's completely charming with it's off-beat feel, whimsical yet sexy romance and huge belly-aching moments. This book is ridiculously good, refreshing, original and completely addictive.
What's it about? In Gabrielle's words taken from We Love YA: I threw my two main characters together with a kiss at the end of the first chapter, and then added an extra girlfriend, a stalker, a stolen tapestry, a teacher/student romance, some superstitions, astrology, feng shui and a kooky mother and it all kind of kicked along from there.
And what a sweet, sexy, inspirational kiss it is :)
My attempt @ a mini synopsis/teaser thingy: Beatle meets Destiny and and she's charming and he's hot and they kiss and have it going on... only Beatle already has a girlfriend of three years, who's sweet and stuck by him though some intense stuff. Meanwhile, Destiny gets herself all tangled up with a stalker and some arty drama with her next-door neighbour and Beatle finds his sister making out with his English teacher (who just happens to be Destiny's older brother). There's lots about twins (so funny! Beatle's a twin, but two months older than his sister) and some laughs about astrology and fate and a large cast of friends and family who each have their own pocket of individuality to add.
There's tension about what will happen with the mess Beatle makes for himself, but even as it builds, it's so quirky and whimsical and teenager-y that you're just enjoying the ride and the tension is a niggling feeling lurking behind the mayhem of it all.
The characters are theatrical and kooky and I love them for leaping off the page and into my heart. I want to hang out with them :)
It has a Moriarty-esque feel about it. The seemingly random threads all tying together in a belly-aching, extraordinarily twisted and awesome way. The climax is one of the best I've ever read. So funny it was almost painful, so cringe-y (for poor poor Beatle) that I almost couldn't bear to read it. So brilliant that it left me stunned - how did she co-ordinate it so well?
Also, the dialogue: snappingly awesome and witty and whimsical and just. so. true.
Did I mention that I grinned and laughed a lot? And that I read it in one afternoon and re-read most of it the following day?
If I could, I'd put a copy of this book in everyone's hands and the world would be a brighter place :)
5 stars of whimsical brilliance and a place of honour with my favourite books of all time
Stuff you should know
Beatle Meets Destiny is being made into a major feature film (and while the book is set in Melbourne, they're thinking of doing the shoot in Ireland)!
It's also a 2010 notable for CBCA (Children's Book Council of Australia).
And, on the short-list for the Prime Ministers Award (which comes with a $100 000 tax free prize). It's up against Stolen, but I'm totally rooting for Beatle Meets Destiny to win (and Stolen can win CBCA :) Stolen was powerful and lingering, but Beatle is quirky and cool and totally my thing.
Also, selected for the Books Alive Campaign - one of the 50 books you can't put down.
The best thing about being nom'ed for the biggest Australian awards is every respectable public library in Australia should carry the book (as part of national book week, Aug).(less)
It's definitely the kind of book I would have loved as a teenager. The main thing I loved, was Morgan. She's the coolest of...moreI really liked this book.
It's definitely the kind of book I would have loved as a teenager. The main thing I loved, was Morgan. She's the coolest of narrators. I connected with her voice on the very first page. I love that feeling of only having read a page and realising, 'I am going to love this book.'
It's about Morgan and her life in a small town where she works at a grocery store (and perves on 19 year old Rob), is the girlfriend of popular jock-hottie Derek and next door-neighbour to Tessa who kisses her outside in the middle of the night. These three friends complicate all her teen-ish-hormonal feelings and general angst. She also has an alcoholic father and an enviously awesome Grandma, two little brothers who I personally feel proud of and a love of all things literary.
There's no huge inciting incident and, despite the blurb, no majorly huge event occurs (I kept guessing what was going to happen - little weird twists and scenarios that...never happened) although the secret she uncovers would really shatter your world. It's more of a read about Morgan and the cool crazy mad mess that is her life.
I think you just have to settle into a groove and go with the flow. I don't think everyone will be into this book - it's kind of quirky (in the coolest of ways. definitely not dorky) and it definitely has it's moments of tension and conflict - but what mostly kept me turning the pages was the voice and the fact that I have a little bit of a crush on Morgan. She's snarky and fun and ironic and oh-so-confused but just lovely lovely lovely. The humour in this book is definitely my style. I was smiling a lot of the time while reading it :)
Oh, and Morgan? She thinks about sex. A fair bit. Just, you know, a heads up there :) There's also a bit of language and some themes that make it an upper YA kinda read.
Stuff to Love: 1. Morgan is really into words and writing and she's always writing/thinking up little fortune cookie snippets that are a cute commentary of her life (here's the first few ones I flipped too): Be careful of hotties searching for toothpicks. Never hitch your star to someone who will live in a small town for the rest of his life. When in doubt, go to sleep. Do not enjoy uninvited kisses. For value, buy the creamed corn.
2. I loved the ending - although I'm sure it will annoy some people :)
3. Morgan drives out to the hills and yells random things out (see blurb up the top) - and, I think, that's what being a teen is all about - feeling everything so intensely that you just have to get out in the open and scream your lungs out about it.
4. There's a lot of options in Morgan's life and the path isn't clear cut and the read isn't at all predictable.
5. I didn't find one character to be cliché - but all beautifully and compellingly flawed. Along the way, most characters surprised me - with sides of their personality. Definitely richly drawn characters - impressive to find that in some of the more minor characters.
I hope I managed to convey somewhere in here just how much this book rocks! (less)
I kept seeing rave reviews about this book - enough so that I couldn't resist getting a copy. I'm glad I did, b/c it was a great read and definitely o...moreI kept seeing rave reviews about this book - enough so that I couldn't resist getting a copy. I'm glad I did, b/c it was a great read and definitely one for my keepers shelf.
I really got into it. I found it to be pretty compelling for the most part and didn't even mind the science-y stuff :) I thought it was a very well thought out and presented premise and an original story.
The prose was just lovely to read and the way Pearson often varied it with verse style snippets was really kinda cool.
The characters all had their own flavour and most of them intrigued me. I would have liked to know a bit more about Dane and I found the parents to be a bit ambiguous, but it was from Jenna's POV - so I suppose it matches the direction the story was going in.
I also found it refreshing to read a YA that didn't have a lot of edgy material or swear words in it.
In particular, I really liked the ending. It was just different and I could really picture it and it gave the overall story that much more scope and impact. (less)
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 invaded...moreThis 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.