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 page...moreGuys, 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 :)(less)
Have to confess, the beginning few chapters of this one were a little tedious/painful but the book got much...moreI really do love reading Sophie Kinsella.
Have to confess, the beginning few chapters of this one were a little tedious/painful but the book got much better as it progressed. Kinsella is the master of embarrasing/humliating her heroine, but in such a fun way. I was (surprisingly) touched by Sadie's tragic love story :'(
And, as always, Kinsella's leading men bring on the swoon. YUM. (next time, Kinsella don't wait until page 120 something to introduce the love interest! I could always use more of Ed). Also, best meet cute ever, haha. Still chuckling.
If I were the editor, I would have pared some of the superfluous scenes down (especially in the first half). However, this book is as crazy, silly and fun as her other novels and is the perfect rainy day comfort read.
I am seriously craving some more Kinsella now, can't wait for her 2012 release :)
Hands down best book I've read this year. My gosh, I loved it so x
Oh, so you can see I liked it. More than just a lot.
Every now and then a book comes...moreHands down best book I've read this year. My gosh, I loved it so x
Oh, so you can see I liked it. More than just a lot.
Every now and then a book comes along that just is the perfect fit for me.
A book that reminds me how much I love to read.
How much I love falling in love with characters.
How much I love gorgeous and funny and whimsical and perfectly put together prose.
A book that I cannot keep away from. And when I have to leave it, I am finding any moments in my day to squeeze in a few more sentences.
Even better, this was a book where, upon finishing, I went back through for the next couple of days. Just not ready to move on from the characters and the world.
I truly, sincerely, crazily loved this book. Just thinking about it now has me smiling and sighing, remembering the good times the book and I had together.
This book is just so utterly charming.
It had it all for me. I ached (surprisingly, a lot) with genuine sadness and regret. I swooned (oh my swoon!). I laughed. I felt inspired. I loved every single thing about this book.
There's mystery elements, murder, sky-diving, manic-like shoplifting, grief, love, people behaving badly, mixed-messages, possible ghost-lingering, quirky coincidences and despair all wrapped up with humour, fun, sincerity and whole lot of heart. I loved the plot, original and true and slightly bizarre. But, more than that, I adored the characters. And when I fall in love with characters, that provides the ultimate reading experience, because for that moment, while I am with them, they are real to me. Very endearing flawed characters.
What a gorgeous, life-affirming, moving, whimsical, original debut. With one book, Nicola has bounded on to my all time fave authors list.
Things you might want to know:
Free Falling is my favourite book this year (followed closely by an Aussie YA novel which I plan to talk about next week ;))
Nicola is one of five sisters, two of whom you may be familiar with: YA author Jaclyn Moriarty, and author Liane Moriarty. I love all three of these Moriarty girls, they are SO my kind of authors <3
I plan on rereading this very soon. In fact, I feel nostalgic about it every time I think about it, haha.
Oh, so, no review-type synopsis from me. You can find them in reviews on goodreads. I much prefer to just chat (or in this case, gush) about how much I loved this book so. (less)
Reading Past Perfect was reminiscent of the time I read Psych Major Syndrome. I just didn’t want to stop reading it. Not because it’s an adrenalin-fue...moreReading Past Perfect was reminiscent of the time I read Psych Major Syndrome. I just didn’t want to stop reading it. Not because it’s an adrenalin-fuelled, tension-filled, mind-blowing plot but because I was just having such a good time reading it that it felt like a crime to stop. So I read Past Perfect until 3am and grinned and sighed my way through it.
The first reason I fell in love with this book was because is gorgeously funny. The prose is a dream: insightful and sharp and snarky, slightly whimsical and completely relate-able. I found out after reading that Sales is a comedienne. Which absolutely makes sense as not only were there poignantly brilliant one-liners, but the whole experience is doused in a whimsical and clever humour. Gosh, I was crushing on so many sentences and sentiments and overall themes.
The premise of this book is truly awesome. Chelsea is working @ a historical colonial village, where her parents also work, and her relationship with employees there is somewhat family-like. They are close-knit and loyal and I loved them to bits (some were endearing, others intense and others provided comic relief). Amongst them is Chelsea’s (awesome) best friend &, awkwardly, her ex-boyfriend, who she just can’t seem to get over.
Chelsea’s Historical village is in a fierce all-out, teenager-y war with the teenagers who work @ a rival historical village across the road. (Think the townies and the cadets in On the Jellicoe Road). Chelsea gets kidnapped by one particularly cute boy from the enemy’s camp and even after her rescue can’t stop crushing on him even though he is completely forbidden...
I loved the escalating war between the two teen historical summer-job crews. It was clever and intense and fiery. And funny, haha.
I loved the whole setting of Chelsea working at the colonial village. So much fodder for in-jokes, random historical trivia (awesome stuff) and it’s a vivid setting I haven’t read before in YA ~ kind of like a summer camp vibe, but more funky ~ and Sailes absolutely takes advantage of it ~ using quiet irony, loads of humour and a little bit of heart. This is one of those books that so effortlessly portrays a vivid setting that you feel you were there with the characters, and bonded along. I felt like a part of the gang :) I want to go there and hang out.
I LOVED the romance in this. It was just perfect for my tastes. I swooned, I ached, I wanted more of Dan ~ their chemistry and honesty and dialogue and kisses and complications and betrayals felt so genuine. lovelovelove.
Not only was Chelsea and Dan's relationship brilliant ~ but all the characters were real. Chelsea’s best friend was funny and true and I loved her. Her parents cracked me up. Even minor characters were treated with their own unique flavour.
Flannery talks more about the history side of it~ it was genius and so relate-able and even while I was having immense fun reading this ~ it also made me think a little ~ about history and my memories, and who I am and what makes me me, etc. It had a gorgeous message without being at all didactic (rather liberating the reader to think for themselves. Without sounding cheesy ~ it felt uplifting by the end)
There’s some awesome jokes in here, a brilliant sense of camaraderie ~ it feels like Sales took her time creating this world and it’s nuances and characters (loved the ice-cream testing, the FARBS, the history the people had together).
I pretty much thought this was brilliant. Pretty much a perfect reading experience for me (loved every single minute of it) Why aren’t there more YA books like this?
Thanks to Flannery for recommending this to me (it was even better than I imagined!) and to S & S Galley Grab for the galley :) ~ I will be purchasing my own copy to squeeze onto my favourite shelf :D (less)
Set in Katoomba ~ and I read it while in Katoomba on holidays :) Okay, that's irrelevant to the review, but it made the experience just that more cool...moreSet in Katoomba ~ and I read it while in Katoomba on holidays :) Okay, that's irrelevant to the review, but it made the experience just that more cool, you know?
It's funny and brilliant and everything you'd expect from Steven Herrick.
See the watermelon on the cover? It's grinning. I couldn't stop smiling when I read this one.
It was also, sneakily, powerful and life-affirming.
And that's what I LOVE about Steven Herrick. He has characters that feel like you've known them forever. Characters that sneak up on you and then BAM you care about them completely and feel like you're the one sitting down at the dinner table with them. He takes those ordinary, mundane parts of day-to-day life and makes you appreciate them ~ and find the awesomeness in just being alive and being in the moment.
Okay, so this review just got a little Oprah-esque ~ so putting it back on track... This book is FUNNY. Grin-achingly, laugh-out-loud witty and clever and, mate, how I loved it. It's a male POV that makes you simultaneously love all male characters and also feel sorry for them in a lovingly-cringe-y way. Life is not always easy for the adolescent male. Particularly for Darcy who just can't keep his mouth shut (much to my amusement and to his detriment)
I loved it all but in particular, LOVED: the school kayaking trip on the river the shaving scenes the awkward father/son sex talk moments, haha. the romance with Darcy and Audrey. Cute and hilarious and when the kissing scene arrives ~ ahh, it's just grin-worthy and sigh-worthy and makes me all nostalgic :) the whole side-plot with Noah's dad. That's the kind of stuff that just blows me away in books. LOVED it.
Steven Herrick is one of my all-time (I'm talking ALL-TIME) fave authors. His books are brilliant for teens and still just perfect for adults or anyone really. And he has another book coming out this year WAHOO WAHEY! :D(less)
I love this book. Funny and sexy and a little bit crazy. Brilliant male POV set in Sydney. Good times. Whole-heartedly recommend :) What I wouldn't do...moreI love this book. Funny and sexy and a little bit crazy. Brilliant male POV set in Sydney. Good times. Whole-heartedly recommend :) What I wouldn't do to track down a copy of this for my shelf...
blurb: When John falls for Johanna it's a riot. The Americans. The police. The government. They're all involved. Because Johanna's father is a diplomat. And John is anything but diplomatic......(less)
Mate, Amra Pajalic's Aussie YA novel was such a good read.
I am always hesitant to compare novels but in this case I think a comparison is helpful to g...moreMate, Amra Pajalic's Aussie YA novel was such a good read.
I am always hesitant to compare novels but in this case I think a comparison is helpful to give you a good feel for the vibe and quality of the novel. When I think about The Good Daughter it is easy to compare it to Melina Marchetta's Looking for Alibrandi and Randa Abdel-Fattah's Ten Things I Hate About Me
It's not just because these novels also feature a non-Caucasian protagonist or a lively multi-cultural cast ~ it is the similarities in how Pajalic manages to thrust you completely into to characters lives and community with such ease and effortless humour.
I found it a bit ironic that the novel is titled 'The Good Daughter' as Sabiha struggles in her role of being a good daughter. She is sassy and often lets her mouth run ahead of her. She's flouncy and feisty and angsty and a perfect lead character ~ flawed and ache-y and confused and fiery all with a generous heart and a conflicted soul. She is a lot of fun. She had me grinning and also cringing ~ she's a whole array of emotions and Pajalic nails writing for teens ~ it was not condescending in any way, it felt like a real teen voice tearing through the pages.
Plot wise I was SOLD. I am always always fond of books that do not feature a OMG inciting incident to create conflict. Instead the conflict is largely internal and driven by the actions of all the people in Sabiha's life. It's about school and family and crushes and being torn between her Bosnian community and wanting to be like every other average Aussie. It's about identity and belonging and growing up.
Sabiha's mum had bipolar and I LOVED how it was represented in this book. She did an honest and amazing job (speaking from someone who has close personal experience with bipolar). It was not glamourised or used as a plot device to create dramatic conflict.
Sabiha's cousin Adnan. How funny is he? I really loved the guy. OH ~ and he gets on 'The Price is Right' with Larry Emdur. OMG, I was killing myself laughing.
I loved just how Australian this novel was. It is so easy to relate and settle into a book when the cultural references are about our TV shows and our celebs and our current events, etc. This is a novel that will resonate with Aussie teens.
I loved all the little details and funny dialogue. Stuff like Sabiha making a joke about Jesse having copies of the Twilight saga hidden under his bed :D
It is set in Melbourne. What is it with all these awesome Aussie characters roaming around the streets of Melbourne?
Recommended: The thing about this novel is it is just brimming with vitality. It's poignant and truly grin-worthy funny and absolutely heart-felt. Good good stuff.(less)
this was a whole heap of fun, addictive and an indulgent way to spend an evening reading curled up on the lounge. Julie James is just one of those...more3.5
this was a whole heap of fun, addictive and an indulgent way to spend an evening reading curled up on the lounge. Julie James is just one of those authors that fill the spot when you need a flirt-y, relaxing read. Glad I found her :)(less)
I've read 4 of Metzenthen's earlier books which were well written but didn't necessarily resonate. Jarvis 24 though - was so brilliant.
I felt so good...moreI've read 4 of Metzenthen's earlier books which were well written but didn't necessarily resonate. Jarvis 24 though - was so brilliant.
I felt so good while I was reading it. The characterisation was so good that I spent half the book being in awe and the other half grinning away at the Aussieness of Jarvis and his mates.
One of the best male POV's I've ever read (similar to Swerve by Phillip Gwyne). I think both those books have ruined other less superior male POV for me - as the standard has now been set higher. I loved every minute of this book and will be revisiting it for sure.
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)
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)
So, I am entirely blown away by this book. While reading, I had this little mantra chanting though my head, every other page: my gosh, Jaclyn is brill...moreSo, I am entirely blown away by this book. While reading, I had this little mantra chanting though my head, every other page: my gosh, Jaclyn is brilliant.
Truth: I have read A Corner of White twice in the space of one month. I also dreamt about it once <3
I believe: Jaclyn Moriarty is one of the most original, greatest Australian writers out there (past and present)
Oh, so you have NO IDEA what this book is about? The blurb is surreal and utterly intriguing. I was captured from the beginning, gorgeous prose and 'what's going on here' vibe sucked me in. The characters are the best kind of teen characters: likeable and silly and fresh. Dreamers and admirable and absolutely the kind of kids you want to either be, crush on or hang out with.
This story follows two worlds: Earth, specifically, Cambridge, England and the Kingdom of Cello, specifically, Bonfire, the Farms. In each world, our main characters are teenagers, one who has lost his dad, the other has ran away from her dad. I loved the mirrored coincidences between their problems. During the book, these two teens find a crack in their world in which they can communicate ~ [through the art of the letter ;)]
Moriarty writes the best epistolary stuff.
There's lots of mystery and tons of deliciously breath-taking world building.
This book is so gorgeously different to the Ashbury/Brookfield books. It features that same whimsical, delightful prose. The same vibrancy of characters and the nuances of their relationships. The same silly grin will appear on your face while reading it. But this book went even deeper. Amongst the craziness and surreal moments, there was a sense of truth and longing and justice and life and sorrow.
Me, getting all rave-y and emotional: The thing is, this book is not just brilliant, creative, gorgeously surreal, yet real, all at once. It really resonated with me. Something about it stirred me up. This book is such a testament to creativity and life and it contains complete magic for teens and adults (and mature children). I was truly transported and delighted while reading A Corner of White. Spellbound, mesmerised and in awe of Moriarty's imagination and gift for pulling these gorgeous, creative and crazy threads together into an something nothing short of brilliant.
If just the creativity and imagination in this book weren't enough, I was genuinely moved by these characters. Even, surprisingly, to the point of tears (These came, I am sure, from pure pleasure of being a a part of the characters lives and a true sense of empathy). A Corner of White defies genres. Not only is it a vivid experience, it's also emotionally resonant. The story, while deliciously crazy, somehow had a ring of truth to it. Utterly heartfelt and moving.
Oh, do I ever recommend this: absolute highlight of my year (not just in terms of reading, but as an experience. Good times were had)
I so hope this book falls into many many hands. I think it's a game-changer, guys. Defintley worth the wait (oh, a million times over). (less)
I spent one lazily delicious afternoon grinning my way through this.
About half way through, everything kicked up a notch and I couldn't put...moreI spent one lazily delicious afternoon grinning my way through this.
About half way through, everything kicked up a notch and I couldn't put it down. The build up to the climax was perfectly done, raising the stakes and the level of hilarity.
It was a completely fun book that felt like high school and had me grinning stupidly and occasionally snorting. One of the scenes (where Joel "takes one for the team") had me laughing so much my tummy started to hurt - how do they think up that stuff? Even thinking about the book right now, I have a ridiculous smile on my face - it genuinely cracked me up.
I also loved the spoofy Jane Austin and Matthew Reilly style writing that Joel and Cat wrote to each other, for an assignment, in the story (they emailed a paragraph per chapter, and used it to vent - killing/torturing each others characters, etc). So cleverly done. Classic!
It felt like Nick and Rebecca had a blast writing this and the chapters flowed so smoothly - one of the best collaborative efforts I've come across.
My only criticism is: at the beginning the build-up of some of the subplots dragged a little and I would have preferred to see more of Joel and Cat antagonising each other (in those initial chapters) as they had the whole sharp, eloquent insult thing down pat in the most entertaining of ways. (less)
Every time I've read Jaclyn Moriarty's books, I think: Oooh, this book is just so delicious that I can't imagine she's ever going to think up such awe...moreEvery time I've read Jaclyn Moriarty's books, I think: Oooh, this book is just so delicious that I can't imagine she's ever going to think up such awesomely wonderful sentences again. But I keep getting proven wrong. Dreaming of Amelia took me longer to read because I kept pausing to re-read sentences, they just feel so good in my brain :) However, I am determined to maintain my fan-girl tendencies and try to bring you a dignified review. Some info about the book:
The story's told in a series of student's HSC exam responses (written essays of the gothic - but comedic - nature), blog posts (with oh-so-awesome comments), memos, emails and meeting agenda sheets, from multiple POV's: students from Ashbury High and staff as well.
And, because Jaclyn is obviously a genius, she presents them all in a sometimes chronological time line, other times not and other times overlapping so you end up with a layered and slightly chaotic telling of the events. Each layer adds intrigue and a different POV that swivels the story around slightly. So... it is unlike any other YA book out there, really. It's like Jaclyn just invented her own thing and I can't really compare it to anything else I've read. Because the structure is so different to many books, you just have to sink into to it and settle in for the ride.
The main thing you need to know about this book is that it is Funny.
Expect to feel good. And smile a lot.
And if you're a laugh-out-loud-while-reading kinda person, you will be laughing out loud, loudly.
Plus, I kind of ached in some of the more poignant moments.
Sometimes, it gets a little bit crazy. But I like that.
And, for me, I just adore the characters.
...and, I'm starting to wonder if they aren't real people, roaming around Castle Hill.
I particularly loved re-visting Em and Lyd and Cassie (of The year of Secret Assignments, who also cameo in Bindy MacKenzie), they are some of my fave YA characters ever. And, Seb. Sigh. Riley's not bad either, I definitely feel the love there.
And och, aye, Toby's Irish history and convict storyline was grand, to be sure (okay, so that sounds lame from me, but from Toby, you will feel the Irish love).
Other random things to love:
there's an axe murderer there's a mental asylum of the old fashioned kind everyone's going crazy about Riley and Amelia and the mystery and wonder of them... there's ghostly activity at Ashbury High there's love and broken hearts and kisses in a classroom the staff at the school are just as gloriously entertaining as the students you will learn about black holes. I know! there's parties and secrets and nostalgic moments that made me feel nostalgic too
Overall though, I am in awe of the lovely chaotic storyline and the weaving of it all together and the beautiful, mysterious climax - how does Jaclyn do that? She's a genius and I don't think her style can be mimicked - it's so deliciously unique.
I keep this one near my bedside, so I can randomly flick through it and re-read passages. It's very therapuetic :)
And, if you've never read Jaclyn Moriarty -- Go here right now and scroll down and click on the link to read the first pages...and you will fall under her spell. Haha :) No, seriously, you will.
It is the fourth in a series, but also a stand alone. However, if you were to read one before this, read The Year of Secret Assignments (Finding Cassie Crazy). Which you should read asap if you've never had The Jaclyn Moriarty Experience. (less)