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
Stunning cover for my most anticipated book of my entire reading future.
A Tangle of Gold found it's way into my greedy hands and, as to a hot buttereStunning cover for my most anticipated book of my entire reading future.
A Tangle of Gold found it's way into my greedy hands and, as to a hot buttered bun in a spinning tea-cup, it was beyond amazing. Look, this series is stunning and creative and wild and heart-felt and deliciously winsome. This who have read A Corner of White and The Cracks in the Kingdom and have fallen in love with Madeleine and Elliot and Cello know just how brilliant this series is.
What you may not know is that the final book reveals a whole new level of genius-like revelations that will leave you in suspense and awe. There are twisty-twists I did not see coming, suspicions and heartbreak, and reveals that take the series as a whole and raised it, to, like, the next 100 levels of plotting-artistry and flair.
I felt so nostalgic, going back to Cambridge and Cello. This book was brilliant, it whisked me away and a tiny piece of my heart kind of believes Cello is real - I just need some smoke and mirrors...
Thanks to Jaclyn Moriarty for gifting me with one of the literary highlights of (not just the last few years) my reading life with The Colours of Madeleine x...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.
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
Head of the River by Pip Harry was a highlight of my 2014 reading year. It was absorbing and captivating, unpredictable and unique and is a brilliantHead of the River by Pip Harry was a highlight of my 2014 reading year. It was absorbing and captivating, unpredictable and unique and is a brilliant addition to our much-praised and thriving Aussie YA scene.
Pip Harry is one of those YA authors who capture the teen voice and experience so authentically and without condescension. Her characters are brave and true and flawed and the kind of teen who, were I to meet them in real life, have the power to inspire adults with their courage and intelligence (in spite of making some foolish decisions ;) ).
One of the reasons I love contemporary YA is because it's a genre that lends itself so well to capturing emotion and placing readers in the characters shoes. Harry excels at this: the emotion and passion and pressure is captured so viscerally -- giving an immediacy and realness to everything Leni and Cristian go through. It's incredible -- the kind of commitment and dedication it takes for teenagers to train and compete and perform.
While Head of the River centres around Lani and Cristian's rowing -- there are just so many more themes that seamlessly blend into the work. Though the themes could lend itself to something more heavy-going, Harry's prose reads effortlessly and I found myself sailing through, finding it all too easy to keep reading just-one-more-chapter.
The strength of Harry's writing is how the characters are so honest on the pages. They have hopes and fears and keep secrets, they crush and swoon and are let down. This is a story that explores highs and lows. One thing I loved: while some plot threads were heading towards obvious disaster or conflict -- nothing was predictable and everything played out so organically it felt real.
So highly recommended. I hope many more readers have the chance to read Head of the River. Meanwhile, I'll be hanging out for Harry's next book :D ...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
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 encoI 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...)