Beautifully written and compelling in both a quiet and urgent way. As Stars Fall was unexpected (both in it's captivating nature and in it's4.5 stars
Beautifully written and compelling in both a quiet and urgent way. As Stars Fall was unexpected (both in it's captivating nature and in it's plot) and lyrical and haunting in that perfect way where the characters bleed into you and you feel their grief and wildness and confusion and hope.
As Stars Fall is an astonishing book in so many ways. It moves along to it's own beat blending two vivid settings (the city and the country) and three POVs that criss-cross and gain momentum so that I was holding my breath wondering how things were going to turn out. The narrative structure reminds me a little of The Accident -- though As Stars Fall has an extra element that just verges on magical realism (kind of -- mostly in the way that you can begin to maybe expect the unexpected -- and in the feeling that something horribly magical, or magically horrible could be just about to unfold). I loved it for that. The element of danger and impending doom just quietly bubbling away in the background. It was grounded and yet had exquisite moments of grief and paranoid delusion and heightened emotions mixed in with the everyday stifling, even boring, aftermath of tragedy and upheaval.
I loved reading this exquisite Aussie YA novel -- which didn't follow a set formula but was crafted with care and took me to places I did not expect and then had me suddenly realising how much I had come to care for the characters. This is a slower read -- but every scene drew me deeper in and I consumed in a 24 hour period. It's reeling with emotion -- but balanced with some sharp humour and a gorgeous and unpredictable love story. I loved the school setting -- Robin is so brave and wonderful to watch at setting into a new school (she's daring and bold and clever and just such a great heroine to cheer for) and the farm setting and I loved the aliveness of the fierce and unrelenting, devastating fire. I am not really a bird fan at all but I loved the mysteriousness of the bush-stone curlew and how it tied everything together. The ending was stunning and really brought the book into a whole other level.
As Stars Fall is a favourite read for me this year and I recommend it to fans of Aussie YA -- to readers who like to sink into their books and quietly and unexpectedly fall in love....more
Love this Aussie YA debut set in the Blue Mountains (my hometown :)). The plot is compelling and the characters felt real -- this is one for fans of TLove this Aussie YA debut set in the Blue Mountains (my hometown :)). The plot is compelling and the characters felt real -- this is one for fans of Tomorrow, When the World Began and Life As We Knew It. Looking forward to more of Zorn's work (quietly hoping for a sequel?) ...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...)
I love how Clarke captured this story. The travel. The sisters. The travel journal. The surf. Australia! Bali! The foreshadowing and twists and mysterI love how Clarke captured this story. The travel. The sisters. The travel journal. The surf. Australia! Bali! The foreshadowing and twists and mystery and reveals. A gorgeously written debut, can't wait for more :)...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
It has been a long time since I have fallen so hard for a contemporary YA novel. I have barely heard of any buzz surrounding Laura Nowlin's debut. I oIt has been a long time since I have fallen so hard for a contemporary YA novel. I have barely heard of any buzz surrounding Laura Nowlin's debut. I ordered it on a whim, not really sure what to expect. I liked the cover, the premise sounded like my kind of thing and I always like the chase of finding a YA book free of preconceived hopes and praise.
I was unprepared for just how good this book is, easily my favourite YA book of the year so far and it now sits on my favourites shelf.
Nowlin is a born storyteller. And this book differs from other YA books as it spans over three years of Autumn's life (told in the present, but it also encapsulated much more than that with memories and flashbacks). I love the time span of this novel, it stretched ahead of me and wrapped itself around me and I was entirely absorbed into Autumn's world.
This is a YA coming-of-age love story, but not in that swoony, predictable way. It hit me harder than a just the regular dreamy smile for the hot guy next door (and Finny is a hot boy living next door): I felt it right through to my stomach and to my chest constricting as I watched August and Finny together. The things left unsaid, the memories swirling around them, hope's dashed, future's uncertain.
Nowlin so perfectly captures that teen voice: the misunderstandings between teenagers, the things unsaid, the dreams, the doubts, the wildly good times and also snatches of depression. I love Autumn as she felt so real. no aspect of her was gimmicky. She was fully nuanced, so gorgeous and bold and different without ever falling into a YA cliché and I loved seeing the world from her eyes. She was the perfect blend of confident and unsure. Nothing was black and white: I loved all the shades of grey in her feelings and everything that was going on in her world. I loved her for her fairytale hopes all mashed up with trying to face reality. For her love of reading and her uncompromising stance on who she was, even as she was trying to figure out the very same thing.
And, oh, how I love the history of her relationship with Finny. There are a lot of flashbacks and memories and I never grew tired of it. I felt included in their lives. Finny himself is now one of my most favourite YA boys, not just as a gorgeous love interest, but for who he was.
If He Had Been With Me has it's own unique vibe. The prose sometimes has it's own jaunty little rhythm, other times passages are so so poignant and heartfelt that my chest constricted. The writing was deeply personal, holding nothing back.
With such a lush scope of three years plus, Nowlin explores so many experiences: friendships, cliques, first love, divorce, mental health, sex, all those gorgeous moments caught between the mystery and promise of adulthood looming ahead while thinking back on childhood.
The thing about this book is it just kept getting better and better. For me, it was like meeting a new friend, and liking them, and then getting to know them until they become one of those lifelong besties that you cannot imagine life without. I liked Autumn so much from the outset, but she grew on me, exponentially so, as did her friends, her mum (and aunty) and, of course, Finny and now I just have this love for them and I know I won't ever be forgetting this gorgeous, beautiful and achey story.
For discussion: I would have preferred the book without the prologue chapter. The writing itself pulled me into the story, that and the promise of what was to come - I did not need such a dramatic hook. I also am not a fan of the blurb that's on GR. I think it changes the reading experience (luckily, I did not read the blurb on that site - which is also used on most bloggers review posts, amazon, etc - and only read the back cover of the book). The ending felt rushed, then abrupt. I think I needed a tiny bit longer to linger in the story, to make sense of it all, but I understand what Nowlin was trying to do.
I can't stop thinking about this story. I am crazily excited to fall this hard for a debut author and cannot wait to read more of Nowlin's work (understatement). I have a new absolute favourite book, so much passages bookmarked. I have so much love for this book and hope it falls into many hands. I envy those readers their first time reading experience waiting before them. LOVE
(Confession: I stayed up until 4.30am to finish this one. My only regret is it's already over...)
Perfect theme song: the Special Two by the ever lush Missy Higgins
This was refreshingly addictive with a great vibe.
Mostly, I loved Devan's voice in this. She was so fun to read. This contemporary YA has moving to aThis was refreshingly addictive with a great vibe.
Mostly, I loved Devan's voice in this. She was so fun to read. This contemporary YA has moving to a new school , getting to know (or not) an estranged mum, a huge musical element (I don't even like musicals-- well, I sometimes like the stories, I just don't like the bits where the people sing, haha--, but I loved this book).
This was fun and breezy with some high emotional moments to give it some depth. Very much looking forward to Amy Spalding's next book (out later this year!) Ink is Thicker Than Water. ...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
When We Were Two is a tender and engrossing Aussie YA novel. At just under 200 pages, the pages seem to slip by, yet the journey that takes place in sWhen We Were Two is a tender and engrossing Aussie YA novel. At just under 200 pages, the pages seem to slip by, yet the journey that takes place in so few words manages to get completely under your skin. It is story of two brothers, running away, heading towards the unknown.
I loved how I wasn't sure where the story would take me. How I was placed alongside Dan and Eddie, as if I was journeying along with them. I loved the people they met (so varied. I surprisingly found myself so swiftly attached to minor characters who popped up in the story. Such as Ah Ling, who was delightful. They time with him was hilarious, poignant and heart-breaking ~ as was true of many of the encounters).
Newton has description and setting down to an art form. At no time did I feel bogged down with the setting (they journey from Central West New South Wales east to coastal Port Macquarie ~ which was lovely for me as I have done that same trip ~ albeit not on foot ;) ~ many times.) neither did the historical time period alienate me (opposite, it was charming and resounded strongly). Newton has a gift with creating
I would not have assumed this novel would be my thing (topically) but this incredible story of hope, resilience and brotherhood was mesmerising. I stayed up too late two nights in a row devouring this. It was heartbreaking in parts, and then ever-so-unexpectedly-endearingly funny moments later. The dialogue was so Australian and perfect in tone, mateship and love conveyed in between the lines superbly.
I have to say, I have not come across such a lovable, endearing character such as Eddie in such a long time. He made me smile and ache and his optimism and courage stirred something inside of me. I loved him, and the relationship between him and his brother felt all too real. I think sibling relationships in fiction are some of the most powerful relationships we can explore in terms of unconditional love despite all our flaws.
In conclusion: this broke my heart (a real tear-jerker). It was perfectly tender and gorgeously funny. It also, weirdly, gave me a real sense of pride for the characters, the era and the general Aussieness of it. This book is a real triumph, and it's story is ageless, certain to charm and affect Aussie readers (young and old) for years to come. Oh, I loved this story so. ...more
Straight up: I love how Ockler writes her protagonists. This is her fourth book, and each protagonists has been entirely individual with a distinct voStraight up: I love how Ockler writes her protagonists. This is her fourth book, and each protagonists has been entirely individual with a distinct voice and unique vibe.
The Book of Broken Hearts is about family, especially Jude's relationship with her dad whom she loves so dearly. It is also about falling in love. And about living in the moment. None of this comes easy to Jude.
This book is so much I love about contemporary YA. It has the unputdownable sucked-into-a-story vibe. It has little unique elements that breathe life into the book (the history of the sisters, Jude's father's history), it has a love interest who is not only hot (and often shirtless ;)) but has his own back story and it is so easy to imagine him as the star of his own story, not just as the guy created to be the love interest for Jude. It has such an effortless narration: breezy -- the pages just fly by, and funny -- Jude has spunk and wicked little splashes of humour that lighten some heavy moments.
There is so much comfort in falling into a book where the author know where she is headed and she takes the reader there confidently. I am, first and foremost and always, a contemporary YA loving girl, and, for me, Ockler embraces everything I love about the genre. Her characters slowly bleed onto the page. her settings come alive, she brings the swoon (so much so) and she celebrates life and hope in the midst of hardships. I am all about that.
I so wholeheartedly recommend this book. I loved the time I spent with it, and it's one I will be revisiting for sure (while waiting for another Ockler book ;)) ...more
The thing that most sucks me into C K Kelly Martin is how she gets right under he character's skin, and she has done it again in Come See About Me witThe thing that most sucks me into C K Kelly Martin is how she gets right under he character's skin, and she has done it again in Come See About Me with Leah. The prose is pitch perfect, this elegant blend of simple and straightforward with some poetic turns of phrase sprinkled throughout. Martin is a talented writer, for sure, and there's nothing like sinking into a book from the first page thinking 'this is going to be good'.
And it was good.
From the blurb, you know it's a grief book, coupled with sexy times.
My gosh, C K Kelly Martin brings the angst and depression and sorrow and longing and utter devastation with such expertise. I really felt that. On the flip side, if there was one thing I would change about the book, would be that, although it felt 100% realistic, the first 20% where Leah was drowning, I started to feel like I was drowning, too. But, if the pacing feels a little slow at the beginning, hang in there, because it is so worth it. Just a few more chapters along, and suddenly I couldn't put the kindle down.
You guys, it would be remiss of me to just get all SWOON and SEXY regarding Liam. Because he is so much more than that. I love all the shades of grey in his character and in his relationship with Leah. Liam is Irish and gorgeous and has some unique background/occupation not often seen in the YA scene making him completely intriguing. He is also complicated, messy, older. And Leah's relationship with him is complicated, messy and definitely older.
A word about the sex: It's sensual and steamy and completely hot (as in HOT). Without the bounds of being a YA book, Martin is able to explore more sexually, and the scenes are essential to the relationship and so gorgeously and evocatively done. The scenes weren't just some steamy filler, guys, they had depth and emotions and all kinds of excitement and confusion that comes with a sexual relationship in your early twenties. Caution: The sex scenes are not fade to black, and are for mature readers, not young teens (IMO).
Where was I before I was distracted by Liam? ;)
Oh, I was glued to the pages (after making it past the little 10 - 20% slow hump). Coming to the climax and resolution, I had this sudden panic attack. So bewitched by the story, it had slipped my mind that this is a Martin Book, and her stories often have these bittersweet (read: painful) endings. The suspense in those last chapters nearly broke me. Which is a true sign of my love for the characters, my gut clenching for them. No spoilers here, but absolutely everything I felt while loving in this world was worth it and I thought the ending was perfect.
This is what I want you to know: C K Kelly Martin is truly one of the talented writers for this YA generation. She brings what feels like the truth with a heartbreaking and hopeful clarity. Come See About Me is a New Adult novel, set outside of high school, with sex scenes more explicit than regular YA stuff. I was sucked in, swallowed up and mesmerised by this story. I read it over the course of one blissed-out ache-y day and one month on, I am still feeling the emotions of this read.
I find it hard to pick favourites, but I think Liam and Leah is my fave C K Kelly Martin couple so far x...more
I love Lisa Schroeder. She is on my auto-buy list of favourite authors.I bought this without realising it is her debut non-verse (regular prose with sI love Lisa Schroeder. She is on my auto-buy list of favourite authors.I bought this without realising it is her debut non-verse (regular prose with some poems scattered throughout) book. I also saw mixed reviews before beginning. I am SO happy to say I am on the LOVE side.
What a completely heart-felt little book this is. My heart broke and I was full of hope and well wishes for our the lovely Rae. I got swept into this story and even shed a tear or two :) Also, Schroeder's prose is just gorgeous. I love her writing and her themes and the way she brought light into darkness.
Warning: I think both the blurb and the cover of this are unfortunately misleading. It's not a kissy romance book. It's also not about one typical story just dealing with abuse. ALSO the first 100 pages might begin as cliché but the plot veers right of in it's own unique and unexpected direction. I would love to see more people find this quietly awesome gem of a book....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
Author Sara Zarr goes from strength to strength with her writing. Story of a Girl and Sweethearts are both beautifully told quiet and courageous storiAuthor Sara Zarr goes from strength to strength with her writing. Story of a Girl and Sweethearts are both beautifully told quiet and courageous stories but I think Once Was Lost is my favourite so far.
While the religious premise may make some mainstream readers hesitant, it is so honestly portrayed that it's not about religion at all, rather one girl coming to terms with faith, hopelessness, searching for the truth and trying to find her place in the world: not issues unique to Christians, rather relevant to everyone regardless of religious belief. There was nothing preachy about it (phew!)
It's a subtle book, unfolding in layers which continually drew me in until it got to a point where I felt deeply invested in the characters lives. It is the kind of book where I held my breath and somehow felt touched and empowered after completion.
Zarr has an amazing talent and teen voice. Her stories may not feature "original" twist-y premises or jaw-dropping OMG climaxes. Rather they feature layered, flawed and achingly real characters in circumstances that are relate-able ~ her stories feel like the truth and challenge me as a reader. They cause me to think beyond myself and to hope. Once Was Lost felt simultaneously effortless to read yet there was constance depth bubbling away under the surface.
This was completely absorbing and absolutely touching and the kind of YA contemp that keeps me coming back to the genre for more.
Also: I should mention her prose is just lovely: simple and flowing and occasionally quietly metaphorical. Gorgeous.
I am continually drawn to Young Adult fiction that feels like the truth> Books such as Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue and Laura Buzo's GOOD OIL4.5 stars.
I am continually drawn to Young Adult fiction that feels like the truth> Books such as Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue and Laura Buzo's GOOD OIL and Sara Zarr's ONCE WAS LOST all resound with me so strongly because their stories are subtle yet complicated, quiet yet resounding and GOD IS IN THE PANCAKES is of the same calibre.
God is in the Pancakes is a stand out read for me due to Grace, such a spunky protagonist who I couldn't help but ache for. Reading about her felt like reading about my own teen self (and many choices and mistakes she makes completely make sense to me ~ haha, tongue twister of a sentence, moving along...)
I ADORE books that have a strong dynamic with family relationships ~ and this one just felt achingly real.
Grace's relationship with her sister was brilliant ~ the complications and love and fights, the petty full-blown arguments and the small gestures that show their bond were just perfection (made me nostalgic for those good old days when my sister and I were still at home together).
Likewise, the mother-daughter relationship is captured so well (the mother is not just there perfunctorily, but is a string nuanced character of her own).
There's complications with Eric, Grace's best friend, where things are changing. And GOSH ~ it's not like it was a swooning* book so much as the kind of book that makes you feel like you have been punched in the gut because you can just feel the ache and awkwardness and attraction and complication of it all. It resonated strongly with me ~ the yearning and the fear and the confusion and the whole mess of it all. *Although Eric is definitely worthy of a swoon :D
One of the biggest parts of the book was Grace's relationship with the quirky and lovable Mr Sands, who asks Grace to help him die (!). And whoah ~ the whole euthanasia thing was head-spinny ~ done brilliantly, not preachy or easy or judgementally. It really got me thinking.
It is not Christian fiction (despite what the title may imply) but Grace wonders about faith and God and if there is anything in it or anyone out there who cares about her and the things she struggles with so much that she cannot bear to say aloud to anyone ~ and I found the exploration of this refreshing and honest
It was easy to forget that I was reading about characters in a story as I felt immersed in the lives of these people and really rooted for them. It is also worth mentioning that I found some of the plot-lines unpredictable and yet their resolutions rang true.
As for the prose ~ it's unsentimental and strong. It's succinct and will cause you to smile effortlessly (Robin Epstein is a former stand-up comedian and a sitcom writer). The humour in this book helps lift some of the intense subject matter.
Recommended: While on the surface, God is in the Pancakes may look like a quiet novel, the impact is anything but. I finished this novel with a rock the size of a fist in my gut and with tears glistening in my eyes. Ultimately, it's a triumphant and brave book ~ unique in plot ~ hopeful and funny and true....more