I'm not allowed to say anything until October when the book comes out, but I only have 2 words for you: New. Benchmark. YA. Okay, that's 3 words (or 2I'm not allowed to say anything until October when the book comes out, but I only have 2 words for you: New. Benchmark. YA. Okay, that's 3 words (or 2 words and 1 acronym) but anyway. Let me stuff my hand into my mouth.
This sounds exactly like Shirley's sense of darkness, humour and Bad Romance! Fremantle Press (like Text Publishing) have a knack of putting out these small, niche but amazing YA novels, which is why they're my favourite Aussie publisher (no offence to my own) :)...more
I deadset wanted to read this book, yeah totally reckon, before they showed it on the television, rite? Those slackarse molls Top Chicks (who live onI deadset wanted to read this book, yeah totally reckon, before they showed it on the television, rite? Those slackarse molls Top Chicks (who live on the good side of Cronulla Goodreads, so not dick'ed authors) - Mandee, Belle, Zoe and Jess, said k'niver ave a go wid ya and I thought perf! Bloody oaff we 'ad an unroole time. I wore me new angora jumper (just off layby from Grace Brothers - 'ave a feel wudya?) and we all did our nails so preedy! We looked like real disco divas ey.
... I was going to write my whole review in Aussie 70's lingo, but I can't keep it up. LOL! *doubles over in laughter*
I adored Puberty Blues and I think I'll probably be scoring it higher than the Girls 'cos everyone has their "one thing" that compels them to pump their score up, and mine is "voice". My biggest bugbear is probably teen voices that sound like 40 year old women unconvincing and I think this novel, with its fresh 70s beach slang that would have sounded relevant at the time - has taken on a funny, quirky, neu-historical feel 33 years later.
Combined with a tongue-in-cheek delivery and a harrowing coming-of-age story - about two best friends and their navigation of their early teen years through surf gangs, sex, drugs and violence - this novel has captured something that feels both "of a time" and "timeless".
My only criticism of it is the brevity (113 pages). At it's very best, it manages to skillfully create a huge amount of spacial imagery (Cronulla Beach in it's entirety) with only a handful of sentences. At the worst, and this is especially true near the end, it felt like I was reading some condensed Readers Digest version of the novel as opposed to the actual novel itself.
The novel got me mainly thinking of two things:
Firstly - what makes something a Classic and something a Cult Classic? Puberty Blues is no true classic by any stretch of the imagination, but there is something so well written about it, something memorable and even loveable about it, that if someone like me can read it for the first time three decades after it's publication and still appreciate it - then something must be said of that.
Secondly - is Puberty Blues anti-Feminist? Afterall, it portrays the mis-treatment of girls, even from the two protagonists to their fellow peers. I would say this novel is actually very Feminist. To me Feminism in writing is the documentation of how women live, by women (two female authors in this instance), showing and exposing the reality, the brutalities that women have to go through in a "sexualised" economy in which they are treated like commodities. From small singular actions (name calling) to much larger issues (gang rape), to show the weakness of women is the strength of women, and that is my very favourite thing about this book.
Hey Cool Cats & Gorgeous Girls! If you've been wondering where I've been... I've just been discharged from hospital. Has anyone started reading this? Yes? No? Let me know. I'm a bit whoozy from morphine, but totally fine to read, interact and review. Squishy hug anyone?
I've got myself a copy with a "racy cover". Forewards by Germaine Greer and KYLIE MINOGUE. Wassat?
Saw the "First Look" TV promo for the upcoming series based on this novel on Channel 10 last night. It looked good!
If you want to jump on the Nostalgia Train and read this Australian Cult "Coming-of-age" Classic set in the 70s (and written in the 80s) then please sign up on the thread below!
I admit I might have liked the promo because I saw a glimpse of Rodger Corser. He may have had side-burns and a 70s 'mo. It was only a headshot, but I hope there are "stubbie shorts" involved further down below. *Clears throat*...more
I'm going to try and keep this review quite short, as I hate it when someone whose opinions I love and respect (that being the wonderful Jo) recommendI'm going to try and keep this review quite short, as I hate it when someone whose opinions I love and respect (that being the wonderful Jo) recommends me a book that I don't take to at all. Plus I don't really want to waste your time (and upset authors) telling you what I didn't enjoy about this book whereas 1) the proof in the pudding (shortlisting for the WA Premier's Award 2009 and numerous four and five star Goodreads reviews) and 2) I'd rather talk about books that I either adore or find difficult and challenging. Simply said, I just didn't like Brown Skin Blue and I feel quite blase about it.
This novel is about Barry Mundy (nicknamed Barramundy! You know, as in the iconic Australian fish) who while grappling with personal demons, ends up working on a "Croc Jumping" cruise and spends his time pondering about crocs in the water grappling with their prey. The delightful character name I warmed to immediately. The largely obvious metaphor looming in my line of vision I was more than a little wary of.
The very first page presents me with two key elements which are to pave the way of my entire reading experience. On one hand, the unapologetic, searing introduction on the subject of abuse leaves me largely impressed. But on the other, a clunky misuse of a literary device puts a fly (a big Aussie blowie) into my soup. I know the description of Barry's mother complete with red dirt and dry winds is very beautiful, but how does Barry (it's first person POV) know how these two elements felt rough in the back of her throat? I knew that this novel was going to pan out two ways. Either the sheer force of the story will win out and literary gripes will take a backseat (like in Jasper Jones) or the literary devices will overcome the story. This was going to be a death roll with a beast of my own.
I guess you can tell what won out.
I just found the metaphors and symbolism a little chunky, such as the (over-saturated) use of the colour blue and the triggers used to connect the present and the past. The writing style felt awkward, with the flashbacks and the fact that Barry was on the search for his father and yet there was never any active searching and he spent all his time hanging around with his girl-crush instead, with all the answers seemingly coming to him. It elicited the feeling in me that the answer to his question was in the one spot all-along and I arrived at the answer way too early, thus spoiling the "climatic reveal". The experimentation with various other writing styles within the novel - the tragic-comic Richard Flannagan-esque narratives from each possible father and a perplexing quasi-stream-of-consciousness climax... I'm not sure I really enjoyed.
To me "the revelation" should also leave the reader feeling cathartic - wrung out and emotionally exhausted, but lifted and hopeful for the future (because it's a future we don't get to see with a standalone novel), but Brown Skin Blue left me feeling shaken, confused and feeling anything but resolved and reconciled. I felt terrible and I hated how the novel ended there. I'd prefer it to begin there. That "resolution" felt more to me like a "new problem".
Anyway, this is my personal experience of this novel. I am not saying that Belinda Jeffrey has no talent. The opposite. She has immense talent. The issues facing remote communities such as isolation, abuse and the cruelty of nature are real and worthy subjects. I just didn't like the novel. Those looking for an authentic outback novel combined with the adolescent experience will be pleased and best refer to the positive reviews I will willingly link to here. Here and here.
Apologies! This review didn't end up as short as I promised! I will go now! So um.... I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes when you find a book you don't connect with... you just have to roll with it.
I'm a girl that quite fancies "whimsy", which is precisely why my toenails are currently painted pale champagne pink. Something in the World Called LoI'm a girl that quite fancies "whimsy", which is precisely why my toenails are currently painted pale champagne pink. Something in the World Called Love though, might be so whimsical that without any true gravitas or darkness to weigh it down, it runs the risk of floating away… right over my head and my memory. Right over its literary merit and message. Into the whimsical land of handmade blueberry jams tied with cloth bows and girls with bangs... Of No Return.
Here is a simple test of whether this book is for you:
We're first introduced to our protagonist Esma wearing a blue peg (as in what you put the washing up with) in her hair as a clip.
If this makes you go "Oooo, that is just so whimsical, romantic, quirky etc etc" then you will LOVE this book.
If this makes you go OH NO, is this the sort of person who has bird motifs EVERYWHERE? then I direct you to watch this youtube clip: Put A Bird On It instead.
Esma is a twenty-something year old who has moved into a share house with the charismatic, but cold, distant and little bit superior Kara (kinda like cold, distant and little bit superior Julia from Masterchef 2012) and loveable, affable Simon the muso. Esma has chosen the house for purely emotional reasons, based on the inert feeling that it will help her grow and the writing - make no mistake - beautifully captures Esma's heightened, and highly poetic feelings perfectly.
I think Sue Saliba understands that phase in a woman's life when she is no longer a teen, but still feels under-developed and still like a girl. She manages to evoke that very soft, feminine aspect of her character, while she navigates her through the new adult world of budgets and house-sharing politics and real life.
Beneath all the whimsy though is the very serious issues of the heart, firstly that being Esma's unhealthy obsession with housemate Kara, her need to be loved and validated. I don't know about you, but I admit I may... have very strong connections to a few female friends which borders on a sense of "heightened adoration" and it's nice to see this explored in a novel.
Secondly, Esma gets inadvertently caught up with Puppy Farming, another heavy issue (and a personal campaign close to my own heart). NEVER buy a puppy from a pet shop. THIS IS WHY. I really love the fact that Esma comes to grips that Simon is the brains (researching the legislation), that his girlfriend Samantha are the hands (doing the actual rescue work) and that she is useless at both, but because she feels it the most keenly, that she is the heart.
Which kind of brings me the crux of this review. Esma is all heart and this novel is written all about the heart. And it is gorgeous. I really ended up appreciating the writing style. But at he end of the day, I wish Esma's heart beat a little more passionately and strongly! I wanted to jump up by the end and write that review going EVERYONE READ THIS! I LOVE THIS! But instead I felt strangely… all...
*le sigh* Perhaps to alleviate my ennui I need to decoupage a bird onto all my mis-matched shabby chic teacups......more
So here we have it – Cath Crowley’s first novel, The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain, published in 2004. This is where the magic began! This is whatSo here we have it – Cath Crowley’s first novel, The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain, published in 2004. This is where the magic began! This is what started the almost decade-long journey to the penultimate (at this point in time, anyway) Graffiti Moon! So what is this book like? Is it something to be gaped at, celebrated and preserved for all time like Shakespeare’s House? Or is it a piece of dirty laundry that Cath Crowley wished she could hide in the back of her drawer of smalls and rather you’d not see?
Let me admit that I have passed over this book at least four times at the library. A novel about a soccer playing girl just didn’t interest me because I’m not interested in sports. And for some reason I thought it was middle-grade fiction… it’s actually younger-end Young Adult. Maybe it was the sports theme that made me think that. And speaking of the theme, I dismissed it as a clone written in the early naughties to cash in on the widely popular “Bend It Like Beckham” trend back then.
Which is might very well be. But it doesn’t really matter as long as Cath Crowley – in the words of what a judge on a Music Reality TV would say – “makes it her own.”
From the very first few sentences I knew we were dealing with a talented author. Seriously. All she did was describe a SOCCER BALL IN ACTION and it sounded so poetic with such a lovely grasp on space and feel that I knew that she had IT, the X FACTOR. Call me Simon Cowell.
Believe the other existing, praise-worthy reviews - Grace Faltrain is more than just a soccer novel. You don’t even have to be faintly interested in soccer because like every Cath Crowley novel, it is primarily about people – the complexities of their relationships with each other and it is loaded with buckets of heart and tears-inducing, throat-constricting metaphors on life.
The novel is told in multiple-narrative and this really is where Crowley shines. She makes this structure vital. Much like the game of soccer, the “chapters” are short, sometimes even consisting of a single line as the perspective is passed from Gracie to individuals on her team, the students at her school and even her parents. Unlike in Black Painted Fingernails where I literally had to force myself to read the “parent points of view” (zzzzz old people zzzzz), Gracie’s parents are more akin to the loveable Mr Dietz in Please Ignore Vera Dietz.
Yes, like every debut problem there are rookie problems. Like the motions of soccer itself, there are sentences and sentiments that are repetitive. There are some metaphors which straddle the line between meaningful and cheese - "Those threads that hold Gracie and me were woven tightly around Bill too but he broke them. How do I know they can be spun again?" And at times the novel threatens to turn into “Middle-Class People’s First World Problems” if it wasn’t steered with a hand as steady and skilful as Cath’s.
None of these things matter as critique though, as Cath has since moved on in leaps and bounds since.
Overall, this is a really lovely, emotive first novel. Funny. Fresh. Wonderfully distinctive voice. What makes the novel special falls away near the end as the novel heads towards its fairly unsurprising, run-of-the-mill movie finish, but this doesn't detract too much and I have to remember this is a "kids book".
I've noticed that Graffiti Moon is structured in the classic "Comedy of Errors" style, Gracie Faltrain is your classic “Rise and Fall of (insert name).” In a writing environment where everyone is trying to be unique little snowflakes (and in the process is destroying the fabric of writing), Cath brings a refreshing Classic Sexyback aesthetic to the scene and she does it oh so well.
Score, Cath Crowley.
This review also appears here on my blog Books on Marrs...more
Vikki, I know our first date went horribly and I went home with a blood nose (and my best dress is ruined), but this second date sounds really, reallyVikki, I know our first date went horribly and I went home with a blood nose (and my best dress is ruined), but this second date sounds really, really amazing (and I mean it) so let me love you, please :-) ...more
Fiona Wood's upcoming second novel which started out life as Pulchritude and then changed to Kisschassey now has an official title as confirmed by theFiona Wood's upcoming second novel which started out life as Pulchritude and then changed to Kisschassey now has an official title as confirmed by the author on twitter - Wildlife. Thanks Reporter Maggie!
The only info I can find so far is that it is "set in the Victorian Alps" (via Readings)
I was initially wary of this book in much the same way I was wary of Guitar Highway Rose. Even though I LOVED GHR, it still wasn't the sort of book II was initially wary of this book in much the same way I was wary of Guitar Highway Rose. Even though I LOVED GHR, it still wasn't the sort of book I normally read and I thought maybe its beauty was just a fluke. I was convinced that a novel made completely up of exchanged letters, messages hastily stuck in fridge doors and notes passed around was going to be too lightweight… but this novel changed my mind when halfway through, it took my heart and cracked it in half.
Feeling Sorry for Celia is about Elizabeth and her revelations of friendship with the aforementioned Celia to her new penpal Christina when her English class is forced to write letters in order to save this dying art form. I have to say, this is the most quirky "triangle" I have seen in YA and it makes me think that Jaclyn Moriarty has an agenda herself - to save the dying art form of the "original novel".
Simply said, I love this book. I thought it was going to be a girly-girly book and in a way it is, but in the best way possible. It's a very young hearted and playful and as opposed to being twee, is counter-balanced by Jaclyn Moriarty 's amazing sense of humour, full of sharp and dark wit. When you look below the surface, there's also a lot of dark things happening, least of them being these really snarky and neurotic letters sent by imaginary societies inside the protagonists head and addressed to her Self Esteem.
The clincher for me is how Moriarty balances all these components together until it is just right. Not too deep and dark, just the right amount of sweet optimism and heart-tugging. "Bittersweet" as the book's blurb describes itself is right on the money.
It feels like reading and seeing little snippets of people's lives as they flash on by... and the author has somehow managed to hinge the whole thing onto a traditional novel format, with a plot, character development, climax and resolution. If this was an installation in a museum, I would marvel at the intricacies.
I love the little things, like how we don't get to find out why her mum writes these crazy questions to Elizabeth until we find out later what her mother does for a living. Little glimpse that provide revelations like that sure does tickle Shirley's fancy.
Occasionally, the novel pushes the humour a little too far (even for my liking) until it becomes more farcical than humorous. Oh and the ending is a little bit too "Sandy's Makeover at the end of Grease" for me, but apart from that, a lovely fresh novel.
Not as powerful a juggernaut as say The Book Thief or Jasper Jones or On The Jellicoe Road, but this deserves a rightful place on the "Contemporary Aussie YA Classics" shelf. I would champion it for sure.
I'll definitely try out her other novels now, especially if I've heard correctly and they have overlapping characters. I love a crossover!
I found this poor unwanted book that was once a gift from “Uncle Michael” in the bargains section of Good Sammies, marked down from $2 to $1. I foundI found this poor unwanted book that was once a gift from “Uncle Michael” in the bargains section of Good Sammies, marked down from $2 to $1. I found this quite a bargain indeed as it’s got two shiny award stickers on it (one being a 2005 CBCA). I’ve not heard of this book before. Is this a forgotten YA Aussie treasure that should be sitting on a bazillion GR shelves instead?
On the younger spectrum of YA (I’d say 12+), The Running Man is a story of a young boy named Joseph who has to draw a portrait for a school assignment and ends up in the home of the terrifying Vietnam Vet next door called Tom Leyton who he has never seen, but only heard rumours about through his mother’s nosey friend.
A tense relationship begins to form between the two in this slow burner of a novel. The bulk of the narrative is made up of quiet introspective studies between the duo. I myself don’t mind a gentle character study and I found both Joseph and Tom very likeable and I didn’t mind getting to know them in what literally felt like one word at a time on occasions.
What unfortunately bogs it down for me is the plethora of symbolism, not all of them appropriate. Tom Leyton keeps silk worms and this is used as an analogy for himself – a hermit who needs to break free of his cacoon. I like this symbolism, I really do, but after it is re-iterated for the umpteenth time and the author tries to draw more and more parables out of the same thing – I felt it was too much. And the lengthy use of old poetry to further illustrate what I already understand deadens the prose that is struggling with itself to find enough light to balance the darkness.
I really liked this novel until about ¾ in, then it becomes too much.
The use of The Running Man as a symbol of both Joseph and Tom’s fears I think is also only half-there. For me, a good symbol should be intuitive and self-explanatory (eg – the cacoon symbol worked okay), but The Running Man symbol feels counter-intuitive (I feel it doesn’t make sense without a lengthy explanation), thus reducing and limiting the universal appeal.
Overall, a regretfully unbalanced book. There are some dreadfully touching scenes between the two leads. The stories recounted by Tom Leyton are terribly beautiful and plain terrifying at the same time, especially about his time in Vietnam and his subsequent hospitalisation afterwards. He truly is a wonderful character. But ultimately, this book is too heavy and too heavy-handed.
So to answer the question I set out to do – I believe it’s strictly one for the teachers and award-boards. Sorry! ...more
a) The title. This has to be one of the oddest titles of the year. And I'm not tLove Notes from Vinegar House is a book I just HAD to read because of:
a) The title. This has to be one of the oddest titles of the year. And I'm not the only one in thinking so because it's ended up on the Goodread's list Clever, Curious and Cringeworthy Book Titles of 2012, along with others such as Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous, Thou Shalt Not Road Trip and my personal favourite - A Breath of Eyre (Unbound, #1).
b) The promo that likens it to "Rebecca meets Gossip Girl" ... Is this ... a good thing?
c) The tagline of "There are some things you should know about me if we are going to be friends. Like I don't believe in ghosts." This doesn't really make any sense out of context. This is a horror novel right? So I reckon a much scarier opener would be "There are some things you should know about me if we are going to be friends. Like I'm a fan of Kyle Sandilands"*
Which is a shame because if you just look past all those above things, I think Love Notes from Vinegar House is a great contemporary novel, with a strong Aussie flavour and a completely different take on the "paranormal" theme.
Freya Jackson Kramer has been exiled to spend her school holidays at dreaded Grandmother "Vinegar's" creepy old internet-less mansion on the coast and she finds herself more than happy to go after committing a "Facebook indiscretion". Unfortunately her least favourite cousin Rumer is there, along with the boy that Rumer used to date and whom Freya has loved forever.
I'm a fan of the novel Rebecca and I really love how this is a modern interpretation, set in a small town of one of Australia's beautiful and desolate coastlines and played out as a teenage melodrama instead - a three-way power struggle buoyed by old family secrets and where old memories clash with the present day. I like the little nods - the little beach that is off limits. The grumpy and possibly evil housekeeper.
To compliment the Gothic undercurrent, the writing is very modern and clean, with the type of heroine I love the most. I never quote in my reviews (they're capable of being waaay too long without the help of quotes, thank you), but in this instance I will, because Freya is just so strange, tongue-in-cheek, smart and dark:
"Once, at Grandma's house, I was given the role of wild dog suffering from rabies. Not one of my finest moments. I figured if I got too tired of the game I could bite Rumer on the leg and blame it on losing myself in the character. I never got a chance to bite Rumer, though, because she tied me to a tree then went off and forgot about me."
I came into the story expecting a ghost story and my understanding was that I was going to get freaked out pretty much straight away. So it perplexed me that nothing overtly creepy actually happened until one-third into the novel and I found myself questioning this novel being billed so heavily as a "ghost story".
Having read and then had time to contemplate this: I don't feel cheated. It's just gotten me to re-evaluate what I believed a "ghost story" should be, probably because I am heavily stuck with the notion of "around the campfire with a torch" sort of ghost story. Rather than being a Monster of the Week, it's more a deceptive psychological arc that slowly sees inner demons manifesting themselves into real life. Or do they? It ultimately loops back to the opening sentence where Freya insists she does not believe in ghosts. And I like this. And I can see the power in the statement, but only in HINDSIGHT.
I've since returned to and dissected the novel and I can the fine little things I missed the first time - like the parallel between the children's games of Murder in the Dark with the little strips of paper with murderer written on them that Freya and her cousin used to play - and the Love Notes that start showing up in real life, which Freya dismisses as new teenagers games.
It may not be one of those novels that grabbed me immediately, but I am so impressed by its beauty and intricacies in hindsight that I think this novel will become one of those deeply personal taste favourites for 2012. I can see myself liking it more with a second or even third read, which is actually the joy of this "style" of book.
I only hope that the title etc doesn't put people off cos I think this is a very thought-provoking, challenging and deceptively complex book.
If this were Master Chef and you are looking for a modern take on an old classic, which might have become stodgy and you want something new and different, then bite into this. It doesn't taste "vinegary" at all :)
*Sad but True fact. Sorry, but I've followed King Kyle since the "Idol days" and I can't stop now.
This review also appears on my blog Books on Marrs here.
Meanwhile, earlier on the ranch...
I love Karen Tayleur and I love a ghost story.
Rebecca meets Gossip Girl? I'm not exactly sure how this works... but I'm intrigued to find out....more
When I first took notice of this book, the name of the author struck me as familiar even though Pip Harry was a debut YA author.
Then I saw her profileWhen I first took notice of this book, the name of the author struck me as familiar even though Pip Harry was a debut YA author.
Then I saw her profile pic. Years ago, there used to be a young girl err... I used to know (lets call her… Shirley Zarr) who used to religiously read a trashy gossip women's magazine called NW and the Pip Harry who used to write the entertainment pages was a Pip Harry that looked exactly like this Pip Harry.
Okay, so the trashbag from the paragraph above is actually me and I rejoiced because I personally believe in my head that I KNOW Pip Harry because I used to see her on a weekly basis. Then the other half of me grew nervous because I automatically thought that the novel was going to be a girly gossipy affair set in a boarding school and I didn't know if this was going to be a good thing.
I shouldn't have been scared because after all, you don't get published by UQP if you suck, even if you are a famous journalist. Pip Harry's writing style is assured, unpretentious and realistic. The initial paragraph shocked me (I'm not going to repeat it here, it bears censoring, message me if your curiosity is piqued), but it helped to drive the writing ahead, which I nodded along to (indicating I am pleased with what I saw).
Kate Elliot, a "Goth" is sent to a boarding school after committing an unspeakable act (her big secret) against her mother and there she is given plenty of time to think about her actions and how she is supposed to move on ahead.
My initial fear was that Kate being a Goth was perhaps going to make the book seem dated, after all didn't Goths have their day in the sun (intentional ironic pun intended) in the 90s? But the author manages to provide enough belief in the text as it being a life-choice of Kate's because of her identification with the dress sense and music. I guess I still even see the odd occasional "punk" even, imbedded in the sea of hipsters & carpris.
Which brings me to Kate herself. Unfortunately I couldn't connect with her at all as a person. I found myself liking all the secondary characters around her, like awesome bad-rep girl Maddy; shy, Voice Within Lou and even Kate's formidable Politician mother - because Kate described them so vividly, but I felt we never got to know who she was. She does not captivate me as a standalone character because she is almost personality-free. Kate to me served as more of a vessel in order to tell the story: describing what is happening, what she is doing, lots (too many?) flashbacks of her life. This novel could easily have been told in a a third-person point of view as a majority of the time it is observational narrative.
If we were to take away the fact that Kate was a Goth, would the character remain intact? Yes. She could be any insecure, angry young girl. As opposed to a person she is almost a metaphor - a symbol of a girl that is hidden underneath her heavy makeup and Goth clothing just waiting to break out and become herself. If this was the author's intent, I get it, but it unfortunately makes Kate too diffused. I wanted to see her more passionate about who she was and what she did. All I got from the novel was that "she became a Goth cos black clothes reflected how she felt on the inside". Okay, then? Even the graphic novel she was working on - she just tells us what it's about and what it looks like - I wanted to feel what drove her to draw, what made art tick for her.
I am sure Pip Harry is going to do ahead and write more novels and in her next effort - I want to see her write a MC that stands as a character in their own right. If this book was told by Maddy and had the voice, style and easy swagger of Maddy we saw in the novel, it would have been a winner. This would be growth for her as a writer I would like to see.
Overall, secondary characterisation and an unpretentious fresh style are Pip Harry's strengths. Some of the writing is good, some of it debut-author-patchy, but just when I think it is boring along comes something so thoughtful and beautiful it makes me reconsider like this:
"When people say my mum has gone to a better place." He looks up at the sky, which is starting to darken. "No better place for her than right here, I reckon. Here is where her family, her friends are."
The last 1/4 of the book was excellent, better in pace and really pushed it home for Pip Harry, ending the book on an emotional sweet note for me.
So overall, I can see, and like, the budding talent. Pip - it is nice to see you again*
* I don't actually have a connection to Pip Harry. I am just talking like a stalker.
Dear Penguin Australia, thank you for giving me a chance to read Night Beach, I am very grateful. I am not in this to Win Famous Friends or UnintentioDear Penguin Australia, thank you for giving me a chance to read Night Beach, I am very grateful. I am not in this to Win Famous Friends or Unintentionally Make Famous Enemies. I just like to read and then tell people what I think. I don't fawn unless it is genuine. I don't criticise unless the book forces me to be passionate and want the author to do better. So please find enclosed my review. Yours, Shirley Marr.
From the onset I wanted to love this book. I wanted to love Kirsty's first book, Raw Blue. I didn't quite get there and gave it a non-committal 3 stars. Saltwater Vampires… yeeeaaahhh, but naaahhhh (maybe the title puts me off. Are there Freshwater Vampires too? Does one require Steve Irwin to wrangle them?). But this novel is where me and Kirsty can make a fresh start.
Night Beach is a deeply Gothic, ghostly story about Abbie and her love of the Deep Blue Sea which she surfs and loves. Where at the bottom of her soul, her latent obsessions and desires over the ocean, Kane the boy she craves and her artwork create a monstrous place that starts to take on a supernatural life of its own called The Night Beach. The most frightening thing is that Abbie might just be haunted by herself. Will this take her to a place of madness in her mind of no return?
I admit the first chapter didn't immediately grab me. I mean, girl on a surfboard, pushy old sea dog and some cowboy McHottie badboy - is this Raw Blue II? I was promised Night Beach. Gimme ghosts… or sumthin'. Chapter two onwards I am prepared to be on truce terms with the novel. We go slowly, eyes on each other at all times.
*meanwhile, a few minutes later back on the ranch…*
Oh my ... freakingness. What is happening? Normality is slowly leaving me, like the tide going out. I don't know the answers, but I want them so badly. I can't read fast enough. The chapters just build and build. The book gets creepier and creepier. This is so delicious, I don't think I can stop reading. Someone stop me, I'm going to explode from the deliciousness. At the same time I am so scared that this "gothic" billed book is going to spiral into your typical (view spoiler)[PNR!!!! Arghhhh (hide spoiler)]. This keeps me on tetherhooks.
This novel is billed as "Gothic" and Gothic with a capital G this book is. Eagar creates a beautiful mindscape of the Australia suburban seaside - where numbing middle-class living and the wild ocean collide through the glass windows of a beach-facing house, in a setting that feels both claustrophobic and all-consuming. I am breathless with the description of the house that Abbie lives in as having no hallways. Only rooms that open into other rooms and chandeliers on ceilings that are positioned in strange corners, these circumstances never explained. Yummy shivers.
And step-cousin Kane. What a tool. What an absolute hottie. I can absolutely understand the animal attraction that Abbie has with him. Being the daughter of a tradesman myself, building sites filled with wolf-whistling, young working-class tools don't daunt me. In fact, in the middle of the Australian summer heat, I often stand slack-mouthed, watching the tanned, topless bodies of these sexist and piggish Aussie men and I can't explain the attraction. Kirsty Eagar captures Abbie's feelings spot on.
Abbie's obsession with her painting and art is realistically rendered too. I have the feeling that Eagar has imbued her protagonist with the same obsessive feelings that Eagar probably has towards her own novel writing endeavours, which reads a little obvious, but the intention rings true. The yearning and the need to create come across very strong and poetic. Together - Abbie's obsessive wanting of Kane combined with her obsessive need to create art mash together into a series of chillingly beautiful supernatural experiences Abbie starts going through.
Boy does the book deliver on the brief of scary story in the first half. The extra cherry being that the book does not take that hackneyed and beaten-to-death-reincarnated-and-then-beaten-to-death-again (roughly around a dozen or so times) route I expected to. It exceeded all my expectations. All culminating with a mid-point that is so beautiful that my (view spoiler)[own (hide spoiler)]hair was standing on end!
Five Stars for you, Kirsty Eagar.
What happens after the midpoint, I can only describe as strange and subtle. The book starts to fall in on itself, almost grain by grain. Whereas the first half builds up to the perfect peak, the second half begins that same slide downwards just as measuredly. First I start to notice that the writing is not as magical anymore. I can't really put it down to anything but that the "x-factor" is gone.
Then the writing starts to read like this:
"Thanks to dad, I also understand what it's like when you're coming off a low base and everything's a chicken and egg situation - you need money to make money. What it's like to scramble."
I know I overuse this word but … what?
Kirsty Eagar's writing is lovely in the fact that it is simple and effortless. When she writes about feelings and the tacit, it comes across as beautifully classic and it's this rendering of prose that suites her best. When she tries to over-work and over-think her words and be consciously clever, it can be… well, you just read that excerpt didn't you?
Things also start to feel pedestrian and flatten out. New small real-world sub-plots are added in. A series of ultimately dead-end scenes and scenarios involving babysitting, troubles with dad, troubles with sister, wandering around pointlessly mooning over an ex boyfriend occur. It feels like Kirsty Eagar has peaked and doesn't really know what to do between now and the final climax. I am slowly losing interest and at one stage my eyes skim over a chunk of words and I realised with a sinking heart that my mind had just wandered.
This should be the point when Kirsty begins to tie all the lose ends together and bring the baby home, but it feels like all the threads are unravelling instead.
It also feels suspiciously like the rushed writing of someone writing large chunks on end, with no time to stop in-between to take a breather, with perfunctory editing.
By the time the climax arrives I am debating its payoff value and the denouement goes through the expected motions.
The best thing I can say is that the "mystery" does not disappoint in its final execution. I didn't feel cheated. The final scene is okay.
I felt this book was released before it was ready. And what a shame. It had all the potential in the world to be spectacular. You know that horrible achey feeling you always feel when you think of the term "the one that got away"? Whether it be a boy or an opportunity or just something very special that slipped through your fingers? Well I feel absolutely that way over this book. The first half was perfect. I wish the second half was too.
Epilogue: This book absolutely refuses to let go of me. So maybe I should give it four stars for impact. But I have to give it three stars for technical execution. Sorry. I followed my hunch that something went wrong with the second half, looked around on the web and I discovered that the publication date was originally February - pushed back to April with the author stating that she felt it would be a "better book" for it. I just feel maybe Kirsty ran out of time in the end. Under the circumstances, I think Kirsty did fantastic and I applaud her.
Thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for the advance copy of this book
I'm jumping on a plane tonight to go on holidays for 2 weeks (so farewell for 2 weeks, will you die without me?), so before I go, this is going to beI'm jumping on a plane tonight to go on holidays for 2 weeks (so farewell for 2 weeks, will you die without me?), so before I go, this is going to be a quick and dirty review! I hope I'm not being disrespectful and anyway, I am sure given all the time in the world, my words will still come out like jdjfoehehmskslks, so please pardon me!
Jasper Jones is the the "bad boy" of a small rural town in Western Australia, who comes and knocks on the window of shy and ordinary Charlie Bucktin one night. Charlie has been seemingly picked at random and once he crawls out of his window, both him and the reader are basically picked up and smashed upon the wall of the uncaring, senselessly random and fatalistic universe of this book.
I read the whole thing with a dread that never left me. At the beginning I protested and flailed around. The narrator sounded too old and wise for his age. There are passages of conversation that while witty and delightfully are self-serving and went around in circles and are too long. If you want to read the gripes, go and look at the one and two stars reviews from people quoting "you must nevers" like "how to write a novel" manuals are going out of style.
How to Write a Novel manuals are for people who aren't geniuses. Rules like "show and not tell" are for ordinary writers who if they fail this rule, will suck. A genius writer is someone who decides to break this rule (and boy does Jasper Jones break it bad) and yet manages to write a novel of such suspense, eeriness and slow burning goodness that I simply couldn't tear my eyes away.
I don't care what Craig Silvey does or doesn't do. His writing is masterful and absolutely beautiful. And the novel just builds and builds, getting better and better until the end where it finales with an equally shocking and stunningly beautiful ending. I challenge anyone not to be moved by the end of it all. If you didn't, I think you must have spent too much time picking at it the whole time and to that I say "bad luck". You missed the the journey and never got to the destination. I would choose every time, an imperfect, brave novel that haunts me, over a perfectly written piece that makes me go "nice writing, is that all?".
For me, this novel went 3.5 stars, 4 stars and then 5 stars. I'm a sucker for a "picture perfect" scene at the end that summarises the whole novel up in one visual (much like a closing statement in an essay - which in itself is an artform) and reflects how I am feeling on the inside. I got that. That's what separates the men and women from the boys and girls for me.
This novel is the Aussies doing what they do best - underdog characters, prejudice, struggle, hatred, hopelessness, fatalism and hope. But in the end being able to show how the seemingly randomness of life actually means something, makes sense, is worth it all. And I am so proud that is is Western Australian.
I read an article once that remarked how different Western Australian writers were compared to the authors found elsewhere around the country. That just like the frequent bushfires and the heat and the barrenness, that the writers were like their environment - a lot harder, vicious and unrelenting. I found this somewhat curious and offensive at the same time, but now I know that it is true. And it is the ultimate compliment for Craig Silvey.
In time, my emotions and feelings are going to become so entangled up with this story (I can feel them still growing) that one day, when I think about this book, I will think of it as legend.
The Great Mass Aussie (with Three Special International Guests) Readalong
... is currently on - like Donkey Kong!
It's the biggest Readalong Ever.
Here's my pic of me Readin & Rollin. By my pool with a cool drink and my old beat up Kindle. I dropped it and now the whole right hand corner is missing. So I never know how much battery I have left. I'm sure there's something profound in that. Anyway, make sure you check out everyone elses selfies too!
Did I mention that the author was a 2010 Cleo Bachelor? Scroll down the thread for a photo.
Not that the great literary minds here will be swayed by that.
It's in celebration of this book being named Printz Honor.
The boards bounce beneath us, and the stars, the air, his smile, my heart vibrate in tune. The set ends in a guitar solo that unzips the night and rupThe boards bounce beneath us, and the stars, the air, his smile, my heart vibrate in tune. The set ends in a guitar solo that unzips the night and ruptures the edge of the world. It takes the dancers by the tip of the spine and whips them around the pier.
Nice huh? Truly magical writing with a bit o' edge to it.
But the story behind me and Dress Rehearsal has been a long drawn out one. I would go to the bookstore. Dress Rehearsal would stare at me. I would stare back. Then I would make advances towards a different book. The sole reason was because of the cover. It was way too pretty. The vintage wallpaper design, the title that looked like it was painted with glossy white paint, leaving a careless drop here and there.
I thought the book would be too light contemporary for me. I like a bit of darkness and edge. I thought it would be about a fluffy high school production like Pink. But I can only resist a gorgeous cover for so long so Dress Rehearsal finally came home with me.
Boy were my preconceptions wrong. I knew this would be my book when in the opening scene, MC Lara Pearlman is stuck in a change room with one hand on the zipper of the dress she just split, and one foot on the random hand in her cubicle, attempting to steal her handbag.
Dress Rehearsal ended up delighting and challenging me beyond my expectations. To explain to you what the book is about, let me propose what two different publishing houses and two different authors might have done with One Dress Rehearsal. Novel 1: Lara Pearlman is a 180cm tall, size 16 teenager. She will have run-ins with mean girls. This will be an "topical issue" book where at the end Lara Pearlman realises she is beautiful, just the way she is. Novel 2: A highschool decides to stage a production based on refugees and displaced people. There will be lots of soapboxing. There might be Russel Crowe and some Romper Stomping. This will be a "topical issue" book where in the end, both sides reconcile somewhat.
Now, I'm not saying that either of these novels would be bad. They are just so typical, so hackneyed so... zzzzz (what? I'm in the middle of reviewing. Okay, let me wake up). Dress Rehearsal is anything but typical. The novel is about Big Girl Lara Pearlman, but her size is normal to everyone. She's just one of the girls. In my head she's a teenage Florence Welch; an Amazonian beauty. Some of the boys thinks she hot. Which is believable as the novel is set in a small coastal town, where everyone has grown up together and know each other intimately. It's just part of life. Lara likes to eat and makes no bones about it. Because she's a true character (and not just a walking metaphor for body image), we get to know her and how funny, witty, flawed and petulant she is. As a human being. And Lara Pearlman is one of my favourite characters I have met for a long time!
As for the elements of the play, I loved how it is interwoven into the lives of Lara and the wonderful characters that surround her. She will suddenly reflect on her privileged white-bread life and think of the refugee people who have nothing, very naturally just like that. No big soapboxing. And it still has the essence of making one think about the problems of the world. In fact the displacement of Lara and the immediate people around her loom to the forefront while the play goes to the back, which is a wonderful feat.
Yes, there is a robbery and an abduction that occurs as hinted in the blurb and these events are dealt with in a quiet strong fashion by the characters. Acknowledge, accept, resolve, keep carrying on. I've realised there is one perfect word to describe this in essence and that is Australian. And so very Western Australian. What a coupe, Fremantle Press.
The other big positive is skinny blond teenage Chelsea who everyone takes for a drunken skank. As someone who starts out as an antagonist, her character arc is beautiful. She is handled with as much love by the author as Lara from an emotionally generous author.
The negatives? I wasn't entirely satisfied with the lead up to the ending. In fact, I can't even remember the ending, it wasn't memorable. It was moving toward a serious and slightly romantic finish and I expected Lara's dialogue to perhaps reflect the maturity she had gained during the "dress rehearsal" of her life. But she was still cracking snarky one liners after serious statements and I wanted to some reigning in with the editing. Plus I didn't find the ending romantic when it had the potential to be a sweet bang-on moment. It ended with one of Lara's clangers. Cue embarrassed silence. Like at the barbie when Uncle Andrew drops a drunken joke and no one laughs. Zoe Thurner, Clown School is not for you.
Well... overall, a stunning debut from a first time author. Please grow her Fremantle Press, she's a real keeper.
I'm never going to be sick of saying this, so I'm going to say it again. "Too many points of views" is a literary gripe most people are familiar and passionate about, but for me "Use of first-person point of view when one bloody does not need to" is my biggest bugbear. Pardon me for all the "bloody" - I'm Australian. Whether it's because of the fact that first-peron is the easiest narrative to use or because of complacency 'cos everyone is doing it - nothing makes me grumpier than reading a novel which basically is a "this happened" and "then that" and "then I" form of observational narrative. If that is your only purpose, then switch to third-person. If you want to commit to giving me a story from inside someone's head, then I want to be smacked in the face by the narrator's personality, I want to see all their value judgements and honest feelings, I want to feel how they feel.
Which is why Penny Drummond is my favourite YA character of the year (thus far). She is such a vocal, opinionated and funny character she practically squeezes herself beside you and nominates herself as the guide to introduce you to her school, her classmates and all the coming and goings of her life. She says some completely inappropriate things, she says some things that are intelligently imposing and hilarious. She's loveable in the same way that Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory is loveable.
Lili Wilkinson writes with the sort of ease that suggests she's been writing YA forever and although I am a fan of first/second time writers with their new voices, there's something to be said about the compulsive readability and flow of Lili's prose. Penny Drummond is an over-achieving student and aspiring journalist who knows she's onto a scoop when she suspects a male student has a condition called "love-shyness". The novel is part "teen gumshoe" as Penny works to find the mystery man and part "Eliza Doolittle" as she attempts to help him.
There is no great secret what our highly neurotic heroine needs to learn about herself as she attempts to help another. There's no twist to what happens when the love-shy boy discovers she's been stalking him. This storyline is a YA staple, but having said that, it is done nicely. And at the same time there are some brave choices: an extremely unlikeable male lead to go with our purposely difficult female lead. But for me, it paid off.
I am not shy (slightly topic-related pun intended) to admit I didn't like Pink. I found the MC weak and annoying, I disliked the supporting cast and I found all the pop references in it indulgent. Love-Shy though - I love the main character, love the supporting cast. I loved all the pop references because when they are being delivered by someone I love (Penny) then it's actually adorable.
In conclusion, I think Lili Wilkinson has hit the mark with Love-shy. I would be happy to have another novel in this vein. On the other hand though, as in Scatterheart I know she can write darker than this, so perhaps it would be interesting to see Lili test herself in the future. Whether Love-shy was an easy write or whether Lili just makes it look easy… only Lili can answer that.
Here's my piece of investigative journalism where I prove that Lili Wilkinson and me are SOUL MATES.
Love-Shy vs. Preloved
If you click onto the spoiler tag, you get the above list, but with more points. Warning, it DOES contain spoilers! Read at your own risk.
Basically inhaled this in one reading and made me like all glowey. Lili Wilkinson, finally, welcome to my heart.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
To be honest with you, I wasn't that keen to read Cinnamon Rain, a new Aussie YA title from debut author Emma Cameron. For starters, I found the titleTo be honest with you, I wasn't that keen to read Cinnamon Rain, a new Aussie YA title from debut author Emma Cameron. For starters, I found the title "Cinnamon Rain" perplexing as it doesn't really conjure up anything particularly visually and/or emotionally impressive (or even familiar) in terms of poetic vernacular for myself. Cinnamon Rain… what the heck… is that?
Secondly, the blurb describes it as about a boy trying to stay out of trouble at school. With a friend who has an abusive stepdad. This friend is called Bongo. And a girl whom "they both love". If that doesn't sound like an Aussie cliche, it's probably be next week's plot line on Neighbours. Then I also find out it is a verse novel. No offence, I don't either "do" or "not do" verse novels, it just never interested me. But I am a stickler for sniffing out new Aussie talent, so I decided to, as Harold Bishop might say, "give it a burl".
Elaborating on what I said before, Cinnamon Rain is told from three different viewpoints in three separate volumes within the novel, following the final year of junior high school when the protagonists decide whether they should continue with their senior education or go out into the world and make their own way. The novel chronicling this delicate transition period and beyond when naive teenagers become - so to speak - independent young adults.
Reading the first few pages, I confidently declared to my husband that it was what I expected - a standard 3 star read. "Wait till you get to the end," Hubby sagely advises perhaps used to the fact that I often changes heart easily and always can be swayed by strong character development, storyline, writing etc despite my pugnacious intent to either love or dislike something to begin with.
And change my heart I do. It doesn't take long for me to fall into the swing of this novel. When I think poetry, I think of elaborate, purpley wankerage. This book though is intensely readable, in very sparse language and in all of it's simplicity, it is the most poetic "verse" I have ever read. It is quite simply - beautiful. I am so impressed that despite saying so little, how much I learn about the characters and how intensely I come to care for them. If this novel was written as standard prose, I don't think it could have said twice as much or said it as well.
I love how the novel is set out, with the three inter-related volumes. How we get to get to see the world from one narrator and then the same thing from another character. As opposed to being repetitive, it is actually illuminating and it is clever how the middle volume adds more to the story, with the final volume pulling the story full circle.
If I have anything negative to say about this novel (and it really isn't negative, just an observation) is that jury is out on the title "Cinnamon Rain" after the completion of reading. I know it is used in the novel, but I wouldn't say it is fully explained and is left more to the interpretation of the reader. I guess it means a red, stinging rain, but not as vicious as "raining blood", which brings me to my segue. This novel had the potential to get very dark, as more than one of our protagonist are forced to leave school earlier than they are ready due to tough family situations, but you just know they will be safe. And there is a feel to the novel that although realistic, is idealised and sweet. And I don't mean that in a bad way cos I loved that "hopefulness" of it and I especially loved the ending. So perhaps "Cinnamon" Rain is the perfect title for this book. Not the cold "November Rain"; not "Fire and Rain".
Obviously written and targeted to Year 10 students contemplating their future, this novel succeeds by being an excellent read for older and more savvy readers due to its sheer heart, universal themes of finding your path (no matter your age) and excellent writing.
I still think the blurb is terrible and I feel it might turn readers off, but I eat my words about this book being like Neighbours. If Neighbours employed Emma Cameron as a writer, it would be a better show for it.
This book really moved me.
This review originally appeared here on my blog Books on Marrs.
Earlier... back on the ranch...
I did not know that this was a verse novel! Oh well, here I go regardless!
Why is this book called Cinnamon Rain? Is it some sort of reddish coloured tears that an emo would cry out? But then why is it cinnamon flavoured?
What did you think? asks Goodreads. I'm the author! I wrote this book! It's as awesome as this book...
Nothing can be more awesome than that booWhat did you think? asks Goodreads. I'm the author! I wrote this book! It's as awesome as this book...
Nothing can be more awesome than that book.
My book has an 80's flavour, but it's never going to be as rad as that blond dude's haircut and his grey+grey colour scheme.
In my own words...
Preloved is a ghost story. It involves past lives. It's about a modern teen girl and a dead teen boy from the 80s. It's more a bad romance, less of a love story. And it's more abnormal than paranormal! Since it references the 80s, it might also have stonewash denim and a Choose Life t shirt in there somewhere too. I hope it's funny and dark and sweet in its own indie way.
I hope you, well, love Preloved and please be as honest as you like in your reviews. My rules you already know - I don't give stars to my own book (cos it's up to you, not me). I try and read each and every review (thank you). But not the threads that start under them (I consider those personal spaces, who wants an author and their ruddy 2 cents worth there huh?)
As per tradition… here is some trivia :)
Cos I love trivia.
14 Things to Prelove about Preloved
1. The cover is designed by Gayna Murphy, who also designed the Australian cover of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.
2. One of the working titles for Preloved was Excellent Used Condition (if you’re an eBay Bunny like me, it’d make perfect sense).
3. At the Melbourne Writers Festival I was asked if I would write a paranormal book. I jokingly said that I would write one about Chinese Vampires.
I wasn’t serious about the vampire part, but I became obsessed afterwards about the “paranormal” and “Chinese” part. That’s how I started writing Preloved.
Considering that it was Twilight that led to Fury being written (in a completely wholesome non-50-Shades-of-Grey manner, see here), I sometimes wonder what is happening inside my head.
PS - if you've ever seen the cult Hong Kong movie Mr Vampire … there's a scene I wrote in the book which is a sort of homage.
4. My editor for Fury, Melissa Keil, wanted me to write a “romance” because she said she had “read a lot of online comments (for Fury) that suggest you should write a romance”. If you are that culprit, please own up.
5. Preloved’s unofficial tag-line is “Less Paranomal, more Abnormal” courtesy of Megan Burke.
6. The suburb Amy lives in might sound familiar because someone you know likes to badmouth it. See if you can spot the one sentence that connects Eliza to Amy.
7. Belle from Belle’s Bookshelf won a cameo to be in this novel. See if you can spot her!
8. All the Chinese superstitions in this book really exist (I didn't make any of them up!) and they come from my mum.
9. To write Logan, my research consisted of spending hours watching videos of Kylie Mole and other great 80s Aussie slang “users” like Alf Stewart.
10. Rebecca is named after Kylie Mole’s best friend Rebecca (who incidentally, was played by Kylie Minogue). This makes sense in context of the novel (or maybe not).
11. Stacey and Logan are both named after characters from my favourite 80s childhood series, The Babysitter’s Club. I chose Logan because he’s Marianne Spier’s boyfriend in the series and my editor is called Maryann.
12. For the edits of the final draft, I returned back to my mother’s home to work at the kitchen bench while she cooked, so that I could feel the connection that Amy and her mother share in the novel.
13. I am an accountant in real life. I have never seen any YA featuring a scene in Accounting (bah to English and Biology class) so I wrote one.
Let me leave you with this article I found in the local paper while I was doing the final edits of Preloved in Augusta in the south of Western Australia. I love how Augusta is kinda stuck in the 80s and still has a video store, I mean that in the utmost of affection (that's why I went there to do my final edits). HAHAHA - CAR'N Cowaramup!
Look, Empress Shirley has even stamped the books with her Imperial Chop (yes, I am so Chinese I own a personal chop)
If you’re wondering what the characters say (and what my Chinese name is), it’s Sher-Li Mah :) So I’m Just Shirley in any language.
If you’re wondering what shade of nail polish I’m wearing, it’s called “Legs Up to There” by Australian-made, cruelty-free brand Chi Chi. Note that the name, when applied to my own stature, is 100% false.
And of course the giveaway is opened internationally.
You know you want it. So go forth!
The very first copy of Preloved has arrived. I put on a tutu to celebrate.
To be honest, the idea of this book did not initially set my pants on fire. A virginity pact novel? What? Is this going to be like American Pie? MaybeTo be honest, the idea of this book did not initially set my pants on fire. A virginity pact novel? What? Is this going to be like American Pie? Maybe it had something to do with the pre-publicity which proclaimed "Get ready for some teachers and librarians to hate it!" What? Is this the 1950s? How about proclaiming it as "Contains excellent character development! Get ready for people who enjoy quality Aussie YA to love it"?
The novel is about four teenage girls who as the title suggests, attempt to "lose" their virginity with a sense of their own control and empowerment before "schoolies" (an Australian rite of passage celebration for Year 12 school leavers). The novel is told from each of the girls's POVs in turn and recounts their own separate experiences leading up to the promised time when they reveal all to each other.
To me, sensationalist tactics that focus on the seemingly luridness of a book suggests that the major drawcard is shock factor and I'd hate to say it, but I imagined a one-gimmick-wonder. Don't quiet, quality novels speak for themselves? So thirty-odd pages in, I was surprised that my alternate-proclaimation came true when I started marveling at how wonderful the character voice in the first volume was. I found myself falling for the funny charm and down-to-earth Aussie realism. So I'd say that the novel's true strength are the four girls. They're all equally wonderful, real flesh and blood characters that are different enough to have an interesting story each, but not so different that they become stereotypes. If this were American Pie, it would have like, a Geek Girl, a Foreign Exchange Student, a Cheerleader and... God knows what, I'm too scared to speculate. So I love the fact that the girls are called the GeeGees. For Geek Girls. They're all Geeks - yay! But it's more a label placed on them, there's more to them than a name, and it's delightful.
But this book is not without it's difficulties. The blurb mentions a "comedy of errors" and unfortunately for me, this is when things go unfortunately American Pie for me, in a contrived, face-palm and gross-out comedy way. I also found that the ending - when the errors are realised - is resolved and ended much too neatly and easily. I mean, this novel does not shy away from taking very definite opinions on strong topics like religion and culture, so why would everything pan out so perfectly?
I ended up liking this book. Especially, the subtle ways in which events and certain people would overlap in each of the recounts, but ultimately, that is what this book is - four separate accounts that come together in the end without enough emotional substance to truly bind them together. It's perhaps another case of "does there need to be separate POVs?" I feel that if any of the sections were to be removed, it wouldn't feel as if you were missing "part of a puzzle". So while this novel has sex galore, infactuations and even a touch of romance - for me, it lacks a strong single heartbeat. Back on the topic of virginity movies... I wish it had the heart of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin".
Oh one final thing - I have one word: TRIGA.
This book is worth reading for this ONE character.
I have this theory that Gabby Williams wrote this novel while she was watching Weekend at Bernies, while reading The Da Vinci Code, in the backseat ofI have this theory that Gabby Williams wrote this novel while she was watching Weekend at Bernies, while reading The Da Vinci Code, in the backseat of a car going on a road trip and then she looked up and went "Hey, look on the dashboard - it's a plastic Jesus! But imagine if it weren't a dashboard, but maybe instead the boot and…"
Okay, let me first explain that a few months ago The Reluctant Hallelujah was my number 1 Aussie YA Du Jour for 2012. I like how it was being publicised as the most quirky and daring novel of the year and being the rebel reader I am, I instantly liked the sound of it.
Dodie Farnshaw is just about to start her final year exams when her parents go missing and she discovers the secret that they have been keeping all these years. Literally keeping, as in the secret cellar door under the carpet. Before she knows it, she's on a road trip and on the run from the bad guys, transporting some very important cargo from Melbourne to Sydney.
I like to think I'm pretty liberal, but the revelation that comes at page 44 still caught me off guard. I decided to keep an open mind. I found the ensuing banter and jokes centred around the topic indeed "quirky" and may have had a cool offbeat charm…. but seriously, Weekend at Bernies might have been acceptable in the 80s and maybe The Reluctant Hallelujah is acceptable in the Tenties… but… why?
I detect that overall, the novel is trying to make the parable that like itself, life can sometimes take crazy, unexplainable and unexpected turns. That small miracles that we never expected can occur and so can tragedies. That life is wonderfully chaotic. But... I don't think the novel manages to pull it off as successfully as it could. I didn't feel any great Hallelujah moment by the end. Not even a Reluctant Hallelujah. Ha ha.
What bothered me more than the above "thing" (you will probably find most spoiler-free reviews of this novel refer to it as such) is that I found the road-trip quite flat and without the sense of urgency I expected. It sagged with lots of off-topic scenes in between all the endless stopovers. And there was even time to spare to go for a walk around the garden before the drop-off? What? And there is enough time for the MC to moon over her attraction to the hot guy which is built upon the admiration of his eyelashes (??). What?
This book is NOT a one-star book because Gabby Williams is a wonderful writer. Like in her debut Beatle Meets Destiny, she writes with a Melbourne pretty & urban cool like nobody's business. I just think her languid, quiet and observational style is just not suited for a fast-paced thriller this road trip should be. It is evident in how she keeps trying to make spaces within the plot to write these (sometimes exceptionally gorgeous) one-on-one conversations, but ultimately they serve to slow down an already slow paced book.
If there weren't any baddies trying to chase her characters, if there was no deadline to make the "delivery", if this were a road trip novel in which her characters just took off in order to slowly discover themselves, then I think this novel would have possibly panned out PERFECTLY.
Sorry Gabby, but I just don't think this vehicle works to carry your talents to justice*. I am sure you will write a third novel though, so I will say that I look forward to it.
This novel was read with the always wonderful Reynje. How cute is this huh?
Meanwhile... earlier on the ranch...
Review to come. I did not want it to come to this but... let me put on my captain's hat and board the Awkward Review Boat. BRB.
Rey, are you there?
To whomever it is hiding behind this sock puppet account:
I am not going to delete my review. On the other hand, your review has subsequently been been deleted because it contravenes Goodreads policies. I'm sorry if you don't like my opinion, I'm only trying to be honest....more
The Bridge is the 2011 winner of The Text Prize, an annual X-Factor contest of the Australian publishing world where the prize is a publishing contracThe Bridge is the 2011 winner of The Text Prize, an annual X-Factor contest of the Australian publishing world where the prize is a publishing contract and a $10,000 advance (which btw, is huge, trust me - starving authors are salivating from a distance as we speak). I admit it - I've been watching this contest like a hawk since its inception.
The inaugural winner was The Billionaire's Curse. Like Johnny Ruffo - it's young and immature and when it comes to the crunch - talentless. This was followed by Leanne Hall's This Is Shyness (which I will liken to Declan Sykes), a quirky and delightful choice I highly applauded. This brings us to this novel. Which is like... Three Wishez. Y'know - all styled up in their post-apocalyptic Mad Max garb and threatening to implode with internal politics.
The Bridge is a dystopian thriller set in a landscape where the world is broken into two banks - Southside and Cityside - linked together by a series of bridges that span all the way down the river. Our main character finds his somewhat idyllic existence on the Cityside disrupted when his school is bombed. A young child that he regards as his own family is kidnapped by the "hostiles" from across the bridge and Nik embarks on a mission that becomes both a spiritual and physical journey.
Let me start by saying that this is not an easy book to read. The topic (which actually centres more squarely on being a political examination than an actual 'thriller') is heavy going, the storyline is heavy going and the writing itself - sombre and gritty - offers little if no respite. It felt like I was literally wading through the pages just to get through. When I had to stop, I found that I actually wasn't that keen to get back into it, even though I didn't have intentions of abandoning it because it was a good book. And at the beginning, this kind of got me into a mood where I was yelling "why don't they just bloody get rid of the bridges then to solve this problem?!"
Slowly though, as I got into it, little gems that made the reading worthwhile started to appear. I liken the experience to crawling through a mining shaft and having to work in back-breaking conditions, but eventually finding more gold and then at the end seeing a vague light.
I'll tell you what I dislike - "war themed" novels (which I won't call by name) where "our" side is fighting against a faceless "enemy". I know that these novels often go out of the way to disguise the enemy so that it possibly couldn’t be any recognisable country, but to imply that there are factions of humanity which can be discounted and abandoned to just "evil" does NOT float with me. So to find The Bridge, a novel that presents both sides of the story and paints in shades of grey, absolutely resounds with me. Its crowning glory is the fact that it starts on one side, works itself over the bridge to look at the other and then in the end leave with a note of both sorrow and hope.
The world-building is excellent (I wouldn't expect less from an author who is also a social researcher). The characterisation is strong, I really loved the MC Nikolai and at the point when he discovers who he is ((view spoiler)[neither of the City or South, but of both (hide spoiler)]) really bonded his connection with me. Female character Fyffe makes me want to shout "now THIS is how you write a gentle feminine character without tipping into Weakling area!" I love the subtle touches, such as "cross" (to do with the bridges) being at the same time a religious symbol. In fact, emotionally, this ticks all the boxes for me and my heart wants to give it Five Stars, but relentless Brain has a few issues to pick at, mainly:
At times the plot is driven by random discoveries which seem too slight to actually be plot drivers (ie: I found this small piece of info so that means this massive event is going to happen). And if not for the fact that I was so emotionally invested that I stopped caring - there are chapters near the end that consist of pages and pages of dialogue verbatim. I thought a good editor could have tightened this up for greater impact. After all, as Ronan Keating (bear with me, Ronan's an X factor reference) says: You say it best, when you say nothing at all.
Other than that, I am highly impressed with this brave choice by Text. I don't think it's going to spawn a novel of great popularity, but it succeeds in showcasing impressive talent.
It will be interesting to see if a sequel results from this.
The 2012 Text Prize book I've heard is The Relic, about mythological creatures that invade suburban Perth and threaten the world. It will be published in August 2012.
Okay. I'm from Perth and it sounds like I’d be down with that. Text Publishing, you know I love your work, but just don't let that winner be a The Billionaire's Curse ver 2 mmkay?
This review also appears on my blog, Books on Marrs. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I really liked Leanne Hall's debut novel This is Shyness. The world that Hall created was phenomenal - a perpetually night-bound suburb called ShynesI really liked Leanne Hall's debut novel This is Shyness. The world that Hall created was phenomenal - a perpetually night-bound suburb called Shyness where the sun has stopped rising; the relationship that blossoms wildly over the course of 24 hours between two strangers from opposite sides of the border. Where anything is possible under the cover of darkness; a dream-state that feels caught between sleeping and waking.
The only thing that wasn't my cup of tea was the somewhat comic-bookish, Scott Pilgrim vs the World style action adventure plot-line. Although fun, I thought Hall's universe was much too delicate and mature to be driven by what felt to me as a middle-grade hi-jinks, and that if Hall just let Shyness grow more organically, as opposed to trying to shape it into a normal plot book, the whole thing would come together of its own accord and be perfect.
With Queen of the Night, this is exactly what I got. I know I might be polarising readers who loved the excitement of the sugar-addicted Kidds and mad monkeys from the last installment, but I think Leanne Hall has made the right decision to make her second novel a more brooding, slow-burning and oblique affair. After the aftermath of Shyness, Wildgirl and Wolfboy have moved on and this novel is a study on how they are pulled together again and the possibilities of their future together. Their relationship is different this time around. The dynamics have changed. And Shyness is changing. It is no longer as dark and like the nightshades on the cover of the impossibly beautiful book, shades of purple have moved in and there is a fear that the darkness may be breaking up.
If the dreamworld of Shyness is a reflection of the protagonists mind-sets (and vice-versa), then for me, Leanne has put her characterisation and world development hand in hand and hallelujah! pronounced a perfect marriage. The story this time involves dream harvesting by evil Doctor Gregory (whom we met in the last book) and the fact that one of Wolfboy's friends has gotten in too deep. For a novel which has such dreamy language and is apparently made of dreams, this plot choice to tacitly explore dreams is genius. Some may say that the "plot" may seem too slight, but to me, the plot itself is the unfolding of the relationship and of Shyness itself, which is universal to the human experience of love, loss and the confusion in-between. All done with such cleverness and light-handedness, have I already mentioned the word "genius"?
As a sequel for those who have read the first novel, this instalment fits like a glove. I found the grappling that I had with the first novel, in terms of suspension of belief was non-existent here. I was fully immersed and while I was in the world I didn't want to leave and I didn't want the book to end. In fact, I would go as far as to say that anyone who didn't enjoy This is Shyness or enjoyed it less than they would have liked - give QOTN a go. I am willing to bet that you will like it so much more. Hall's prose itself has improved so dramatically that I am scratching my head trying to provide any sort of creative criticism. The slighty clunky (but endearing) scene expositions from Shyness, perhaps a mark of a debutante (i.e. - here is the bar. It has a lounge. The lounge is horse-shoe shaped. The walls are green. The floor is sticky.) are gone. Instead replaced by seamlessly integrated prose that is beyond magical.
You know those hipster Tumblrs with those moody, hipstergram, fairy-light encrusted hipster photos with hipster slogans scrawled on them? Well if you gave them a brain and a genuine purpose and... generally took all the hipster wank out of them and then translated them into text - you would get Queen of the Night. The sighey bits made me sigh; the dreamy bits made me starry-eyed.
Sure, I can say that I found the second last chapter felt unnecessarily anti-climatic and the final chapter a little too open (are you hinting at a third book in the series Leanne, are you really??), but for me the book in its entirety outweighs it all.
This book and the author can best be summed up by this sentence:
"I didn't get born. I ran out of a dream. They tried to chase me back, but I hid from them."
A contender for best Aussie release 2012! (early days I know, but I am this confident).
Thank you to Text Publishing for the review copy of this book.
Warning: Split-personality review ahead! I have scored this novel 3 stars, but as opposed to merely 'liking' the whole novel, I really adored the firsWarning: Split-personality review ahead! I have scored this novel 3 stars, but as opposed to merely 'liking' the whole novel, I really adored the first half and felt terribly disappointed by the second half! Let me explain.
The First Half: 4 Star Worthy! As soon as I saw the blurb of Thyla I knew that this was exactly the book I wanted to read. In brief: wild girl gets found in the Tasmanian wilderness missing her memory; the only thing she can recall is that her name is Tessa and the vague feeling she has a dark connection to another missing girl. After going through a patch of novels that were character driven (although I hesitate at calling them 'novels about nothing'!), I relished the thought of a high concept mystery novel in which I could sink my teeth.
Okay, first things first - this book is written in second-person-point of view. Somewhat of a strange choice and initially quite hard to get into. Tessa spends the novel addressing her words to Connolly, the policewoman who found her and whose missing daughter she wants to help find. This POV though, tends to fade in and out, as we get caught up with Tessa's day-to-day life at her new boarding school and for some parts isn't sustained particularly well and falls subconsciously into first-person POV. I don't think the POV necessarily works as well as say in Stolen: A Letter to my Captor where the MC Gemma has no choice but to address her captor. The link between Connolly and Tessa is not immediate; at times a little tenuous.
Apart from that, I thought that the story unfolded and started to read with incredible potential. There was a definite delicious creepiness to it that is reminiscent of Australian horror such as Picnic at Hanging Rock with the added dimension of the lushness of the Tasmanian landscape. The boarding school is creepy and the characters she meets are also wonderfully creepy with their one-dimensional (popular girls, unpopular girls, outcasts) personalities. Tessa herself is creepy because she behaves and talks like she's from the past, even though the novel is set in the present time. You can't believe how excited this all made me.
Tessa as a character is wonderful. And so unintentionally funny. Cropping up with gems like (after tasting waffles for the first time) Have you ever had waffles? If you haven't, and I mean this with the upmost fervour and seriousness, you really must do it! Her charming behaviour is almost at odds with her status as a 'wild girl' and really helped to endear her to me.
So yes. I found the first half of this novel layered, multi-faceted and interesting... then...
The Second Half: I'm sorry. 2 stars
Have you ever expected a novel to be one thing? The blurb says it is one thing, the build up says it is one thing, but then halfway through... you get somewhat of a surprise. As in genre surprise. And you suddenly think: well, stripe me down Tassie Tiger!* I'm sorry, but I really don't like this genre! If I had known, I wouldn't have tried to read this book cos it's not my thing and it will just be mean for me to rate it. If you read other reviews, it will tell you what this 'genre' is, but because I had no idea myself, I am going to hide it here >> (view spoiler)[PARANORMAL!!!! (hide spoiler)].
I read on though, although I can't tell you how disappointed I was. Suddenly this whole 'mystery' wasn't one anymore cos it had an 'explanation'. But I persevered cos there's no reason why it still couldn't be done well, right?
I'm sorry, but suddenly to make up in terms of answers there are huge data dumps and lengthy passages of dialogue that go on forever and characters giving very long monologues filling Tessa on what she'd forgotten. Except it was really slow and I wanted it to go really fast right? Like the really fast recaps at the beginning of Glee. And I found the unfolding of events to created a climax and cliff-hanger too generic (climatic battle, forbidden romance, impending 'war' between opposing factions).
Which made me sad cos if we take a look in the Big Book of Mysteries and Beasts, I found the potential angle of 'wild children/wolf children' more interesting and less explored than (view spoiler)[werewolves, or in this case Tasmanian were-Tigers (hide spoiler)]. I know that the author is passionate about her native island animal - the Tasmanian Devil - and that she has an interest in the extinct Tasmania Tiger and I felt that the element of humans vs the Tasmanian wilderness which was hinted at early in the novel, was unfortunately mowed down to make way for what felt like a completely different novel.
I understand the angle. It's popular. Most people like it. But still, I didn't think it was particularly that original or different from everything else out there. I really wanted it to prove me wrong. I really did.
Overall 4 + 2 = average of 3.
Which is by no means a bad score at all. If you wanted to read this book, by no means make me change your mind. If you love the paranomrla genre, you'd probably LOVE this. These are just the minority feelings I just wanted to express,
The sequel is called 'Vulpi' but to be kind and honest, I don't think I will read it.
Kate Gordon, I still love you and I think it is a job well done! Just not for me.
*stripe me down Tassie Tiger is not established Aussie lingo. I just made that up.
Firstly - I must mention that the endorsement on the front cover by David Koch, from Channel 7 Sunrise almost put me off. I am not saying that this isFirstly - I must mention that the endorsement on the front cover by David Koch, from Channel 7 Sunrise almost put me off. I am not saying that this is a bad thing (non-Australians can tune off right about now). Kochie's a top bloke and he's probably got excellent literary taste - but c'mon, a book endorsed by a former Father-of-the-year type saying "A must read for all teens"? Will this book be hidden-agenda laden with a strong community-service 'don't drink and drive kiddies' message?
Daniel Brennan, talented rugby player, oldest and cherished son of the Brennan clan manages to throw his entire life away when a drunken car ride causes an accident that kills two of his mates and paralyses his cousin Fin. The novel is an account of the aftermath through the eyes of the younger brother Tom Brennan, who is a perfectly pitched narrator as he's the middle child sandwiched between the members of his family and also the other factions that develop - the Brennans against the outraged small town and the Brennans against cousin Fin's family.
The opening prologue is excellent and chilling - in the middle of the night the entire family crawls into their car, past their garage with an gratified insult and escapes into the night and back into Grandmother's home in the town their mother grew up, which would now be their home as they can never return to their own.
The first chapter itself I found hard-going as it is very dense with happenings within the family and also the introduction of many characters within a short space of time, but having read Burke's novel "Pig Boy", I understand that this is her style, and the payoff is always good after some initial groundwork, so I persevered. And I was right. I am glad I read this novel.
What I find striking about the novel is that it sets itself up as any other novel about a family disaster - everything is all happy families on the surface, until a tragedy causes everyone to fall apart and it is revealed that cracks had been there all along... but it doesn't shy away away from being really intense with it's examination. Instead of being melancholic and reflective, it is full-blown emo-core all the way. And it hardly lets down. At times I had to put the book down because it was so heavy-going. And at times I wondered if it was too overdone, but you know what? I really loved how intense it all was.
There's nothing "don't do this kiddies" about it at all, just an acute and realistic examination of the forensics left after the scene of a car crash and it's wide-felt and reverberating impact. Heck I should know, I've been involved as a party in a major car crash.
I think JC Burke is a marvelous writer and I really loved reading this story packed with honesty, rawness and very real characters that are sometimes hard to emphasise with, but easy to understand and feel for. I really loved every character nuances, from the mother who shows her true colours on which son she loves more when Daniel is sent to jail... to the strong, complex friendship between Daniel and his uncle Brendan, who Tom find himself filling the intimidating void of.
I have no interest in rugby, but I even found the subplot of the inter-school rugby competitions and it's implications for the two-brothers who had always played side-by-side and what it means to win and lose, very interesting.
The only thing I am not too sure of is the ending where (view spoiler)[Tom Brennan finally finds "himself" again through a romantic relationship via a pash scene (hide spoiler)]. I understand what it's trying to say in terms of reconciliation and redemption and "coming home", but I would have rather it was a scene between the key players we met during the novel (ie: Daniel and Tom would have been on top of my list). Rather than being with a minor romantic-interest character, who despite the author's best intentions to make her well-rounded, was too minor and inconsequential for my liking to be a player in something as important as the ending (view spoiler)[bury the kissy-kissy scene somewhere else! (hide spoiler)]. So a bit of a fizzler ending for me... I kinda wanted it to roar out of the gate instead, finish the job of tearing me apart and taking my heart with it. Anyway, just my thoughts.
Overall, JC Burke is such a strong writer. She does male POV stories so well with such precision and beauty. Heck, I'd read whatever she's willing to scribble on the back of a dirty napkin.
PS - Go Kochie! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Six Impossible Things is about the Top 6 List that Dan Cereill (that's surreal and not cereal) has started inside his diary since his dad turned gay aSix Impossible Things is about the Top 6 List that Dan Cereill (that's surreal and not cereal) has started inside his diary since his dad turned gay and his broke & charmingly-unhinged Mum moved them into their now dead aunt's house. Number 1 on the list being what he deems the most impossible: Kissing Estelle, his dream girl-next-door.
Let me begin by saying that I love the tone of this book. It is quirky and unusual in that it is written from a teenage boy's point-of-view, but instead of being "testosterone-orientated" with the growing pains usually associated with a male protagonist novel... it is a book about a boy that is FOR girls (if I can be as bold to say). It's about a boy that is geeky, cute and which every girl in turn wished was their boy-next-door. And I like this angle. It is like a dream story within a dream world and it is everything I would expect of such a whimsical and delicate concoction - the book is funny, witty and heart-warming and I really adored the style of it.
The problem of course is me. It's a question of taste and maybe I am too jaded, but I found the novel a bit "Aussie soapy" for me at times. Is that even a word? You know, sometimes it felt a little too Neighbours or Home & Away. Not the whole thing mind you and I enjoyed 2/3 of the novel before the feeling crept up on me... but certain things would happen and things would go wrong... but then miraculously something will appear to fix the problem and everything is happy again. I won't give any spoilers, but things like Howard the lovable-emotion-detector dog needing money for an operation and then... viola...
But the biggest problem for me was that I never attached myself to the crush - Estelle. I really tried to like her, but something about her was too perfect. I know she's supposed to be quirky and cool, but in too measured a way. I didn't feel she was a real girl and deserving of lovable Dan's affections. In fact, the first time we meet Estelle for real, she's throwing a tantrum and calling her mum a cow and I thought hey! The Number One Impossible Thing is really going to be impossible cos Dan's gonna realise that it's not about achievement.... ahhhh...well. Maybe it's because Estelle says she likes Kings of Leon's earlier stuff than their later stuff. This is not a real girl! Real Girl's like their latter stuff (like me)! J/K. Estelle to me is like one of those beautiful (But I don't like them!) girls on H&A who have names like Gypsy or Rose or Indigo.
Anyway, I also felt that the plot progression stopped a few chapters earlier than the actual end of the book (view spoiler)[(at a point when I was sure Dan had pretty much achieved his list) (hide spoiler)], which then relied on reader connection to want to know the happy ending and because of the above, it wasn't enough for me. Although the last 1/3 was nice and lovely... I just felt for me personally, that the primary hook was gone.
But on the positive, this books is filled with a gorgeous main character, gorgeous supporting characters who are very lovable and is an uplifting read. I did laugh and smile along. With the underdog main character, an understanding dog and a list, at times this reminded me an inward-looking and clean, fluffy version of The Messenger (I mean that as a compliment).
This book probably deserves a 4 but a 3 from me for my taste. Sorry Fiona Wood, crikey, you could write rings around me!
Cover revealed on author's blog today. I think it's interesting how it's the same image from book 1 (Genesis) but in a different coloured scheme... hmCover revealed on author's blog today. I think it's interesting how it's the same image from book 1 (Genesis) but in a different coloured scheme... hmmm, my feelings? I think it's smart from a marketing POV cos a reader will see it and prob go oh, I remember reading the first one and it was great... although I was kinda hoping to see brand new artwork (cos I think whoever drew the cover is fantastic and they're going to waste by not drawing a new image!) Anyway, enough of me, I bet the colours look stunning in real life....more