Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Me Since You by Laura Weiss

Laura Wiess captures the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss and, ultimately, to a strange and unexpected kind of understanding—in this beautiful and painfully honest new novel.

Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?

Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.

If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.

Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?


I have really enjoyed Laura Wiess's previous work. I just click with her writing: languid prose that builds atmosphere and characters that are real and nuanced and compelling. Plus, she always has a sweet dose of swoon <3

The opening on Me Since You grabs your attention and holds it tight. Rowan's police father responds to an emergency call where lives hang in the balance. It's  adrenalin fueled and emotive and left me feeling stunned and bereft. From there the story builds, exploring the fall-out from a major event gone wrong. And the fall-out just keeps growing and twisting around. It was interesting premise with so many angles to explore. Mostly the reader she's this through Rowan's eyes, as she goes about her school, work and home life. 

The story takes a particular harrowing twist and Rowan is thrown deeper into a negative mental health minefield. There's grief and despair and regret and guilt and anger and disbelief and it's so perfectly captured. 

I greatly admire just how far down the rabbit hole Wiess explores. It's intense and all consuming. I think, as a reader, I was not prepared for that amount of harrowing grief. It translated so strongly from the page that I found myself feeling shrouded in despair as I was reading. I know it is not a book I will revisit (as it was so vivid, the grief and depression) but I really do recommend it to people who love intense emotional journeys. 

And, yes, there was a good amount of swoon (which really added some light to the darkness). Eli is amazing and a perfect match for Rowan's state of mind :)

Me Since You @ goodreads

Available Feb 18 (NOW!)


Thanks MTV Books and Edelweiss for providing me with an egalley of this book 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty

Award-winning
Astonishingly original
Artistic and magical

Time slides around the world so strangely ...

It's not easy being Princess Ko.

Her family is missing, taken to the World through cracks in the Kingdom, which were then sealed tightly behind them.

Now Princess Ko is running the Kingdom, and war is looming.
To help her find her family, she gathers a special group of teens, including Elliot Baranski of the Farms. He's been writing secret letters to a Girl-in-the World named Madeleine Tully - and now the Kingdom needs her help.

Madeleine and Elliot must locate the missing royals, convince them of their true identities, and figure out how to unlock the dangerous cracks between the Kingdom and the World.

All before their enemies can stop them.



Completely exhilarating and brilliant and breath-taking and funny and clever and unexpected. Also: so much fun and delight and some very smiley swoony moments. Jaclyn Moriarty is amazing and The Cracks in the Kingdom is on my all time ultimate faves list.

A Corner of White was just the beginning. I loved it whole-heartedly (my fave book of 2012) and The Cracks in the Kingdom has taken my love for this series to a whole new level (is that even possible?)

The plot cracks along splendidly. Whereas A Corner of White needed more time world building, TCitK takes off from the first chapter. I couldn't put it down, and trust me, I tried. I wanted to savour it and stretch it out and linger for a while but I was compelled to keep flying through, greedy for more, desperate to see where Moriarty would take me. And Moriarty delivers. For the mid series book, it really amps everything up -- and while it sets up the third book perfectly with some new complications, it still delivers with so many satisfying climaxes and resolutions to plot threads from the 1st book and 2nd. (no spoilers here but be excited, guys! So much goodness unfolds!)

The way Moriarty wields all her threads together, she builds them and builds them into this stunning and startling climax, revelations and twists and unexpected flips. I did not see so much of it coming and the way everything unfolded was pretty much perfect. Moriarty is daring and genius. I felt exhilarated when I finished, breathless and giddy and silly and satisfied (except for wanting book three, the finale for this trilogy. stat.)

TCitK is not just a fun, compelling and original, magical book. It's so much more than that. It has Moriarty's off kilter and gorgeous, grin worthy prose, but beyond that I feel like it's all real. I care so much for this Kingdom and the World. The characters have completely won me over and I have a deep and real affection for them. 


I've always loved Elliot -- " the boy who knew exactly how to make a girl feel like some kind of carbonated sugar drink was running through her veins" (p.382). And Madeleine grew on me by the end of A Corner of White so that by the time I started The Cracks in the Kingdom she was firmly one of my fave literary heroines and I love spending time with her. I also love a new character in the series "a kid named Samuel from Olde Quaint who's a walking panic attack." (p.78). He is so endearing and earnest and I laughed out loud multiple times at his try-hard ways (laughing in a nice way ;))

Here are a few highlights from the book:

  • The letters are fantastic, charming and vibrant and a highlight (Moriarty is the queen of epistolary)
  • The trip to the Lake of Spells (best camping trip ever!)
  • The mystery of the 5 missing royals (so compelling and sad and suspenseful!)
  • The whole mystery with Elliot's dad (some really awesome revelations and conclusions!)
  • More science (so smart and interesting!) and more magic (of the quirky and funny and awesome kind) and more Colour attacks (love all the Colour scenes)
  • Secret security and characters with hidden agendas (love Sergio!)
  • The turquiose rain in Jagged Edge (another fave moment, so cool).
  •  Also, more travelling throughout the Kingdom of Cello (you se so much more of the strange and beautiful and unique world and it's inhabitants)
(I actually have a lot more highlights but they all crossover into spoilery territory...)

In conclusion: The Cracks in the Kingdom is one of the best books I have ever read, and The Colours of Madeleine is my favourite series of all time. The series is original and it shines so brightly with creativity and heart and humour and is everything I could ever ask for in the most ultimate reading experience. I so hope you give this series a go, and I hope it brings you just as much joy as it does to me.

The Cracks in the Kingdom @ Pan Macmillan
The Cracks in The Kingdom @ goodreads

Thanks so much to Pan Macmillan for my review copy!

The Cracks in the Kingdom will release in Australia next week, Feb 27

(For my international readers, it's out in March)



AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jaclyn Moriarty grew up in Sydney's north-west and studied Law and English on three continents - at Sydney University in Australia, Yale in the US and Cambridge in England. She spent four years working as a media and entertainment lawyer and now writes full time so that she can sleep in each day. She lives in Sydney with her son Charlie and is learning the cello.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Kristan Higgins: Three Reviews

I've talked about Kristan Higgins on the blog before (Reviews of My One and Only, Too Good To be True, Until there Was You). She's a kind of rainy day, feel good, swoony romance author. The first book in the Blue Heron series, The Best Man, is my fave book of hers so far -- I really surprised myself with how much I loved it last year.

She's a prolific writer, there's lots to choose from in her backlist. Here's reviews of her two most recent titles, and a 2010 title.

The Next Best Thing

Lucy Lang isn't looking for fireworks...

She's looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who'll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbecue, teach their future children to play soccer. But most important: someone who won't inspire the slightest stirring in her heart...or anywhere else. A young widow, Lucy can't risk that kind of loss again. But sharing her life with a cat named Fat Mikey and the Black Widows at the family bakery isn't enough either. So it's goodbye to Ethan, her hot but entirely inappropriate "friend with privileges," and hello to a man she can marry. 

Too bad Ethan Mirabelli isn't going anywhere. As far as he's concerned, what she needs might be right under her nose. But can he convince her that the next best thing can really be forever?


I was suddenly ridiculously excited to see a new Higgins book on netgalley. It wasn't until I was a little way in that I realised this is an older book (2010) repackaged with a more contemporary cover (I am definitely liking the new cover schemes a lot more than Higgins earlier work). 

I really liked how Higgins detoured from her usual set-up here. The Next Best Thing felt fresh and different and, perhaps, less of a romantic set-up and more of a contemporary novel with romance. Lucy is a young widow grieving her husband -- and Ethan is her brother-in-law. This set-up has all kinds of tension but Higgins takes her time laying the groundwork. She takes her sweet time -- everyone (readers and characters) can see the way Ethan feels, everyone except for Lucy (who casually, blindly uses Ethan for sexytimes). 

It's Ethan that got to me in this one. He's such a genuine guy who's been shafted so many times. And he stoically bears it all. Well, most the time :) He's also cute, swoony, cheeky and sweet (just an FYI) I loved watching their relationship, from present day, to the beginning, flashbacks and memories. I really wanted more from Lucy. She was grieving, sure, but she was so blind and clueless! Ethan was the highlight of this story and I found my attention wandering when he didn't have any page time. I felt he should forget about Lucy and find someone else who is completely into him. And it's never a good sign when the reader (me) is no longer rooting for the heroine (sorry!).

I did enjoy this for the most part, but am super hopeful for more of Higgin's future work -- she's was so impressing in The Best Man that I feel she's grown tremendously as a writer since this book :)

The Next Best Thing @ goodreads

The Next Best Thing is available now

The Perfect Match (Blue Heron #2)

Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And now—a mere three weeks later—Mr. Perfect is engaged to her best friend. But resilient, reliable Honor is going to pick herself up, dust herself off and get back out there… or she would if dating in Manningsport, New York, population 715, wasn't easier said than done. 

Charming, handsome British professor Tom Barlow just wants to do right by his unofficial stepson, Charlie, but his visa is about to expire. Now Tom must either get a green card or leave the States—and leave Charlie behind. 

In a moment of impulsiveness, Honor agrees to help Tom with a marriage of convenience—and make her ex jealous in the process. But juggling a fiancĂ©, hiding out from her former best friend and managing her job at the family vineyard isn't easy. And as sparks start to fly between Honor and Tom, they might discover that their pretend relationship is far too perfect to be anything but true love….


The Perfect Match is the classic 'fake marriage' set-up. I love the tension and scenarios that can crop up from this set-up. Especially when there is one gorgeous British guy on the scene, Tom. 

Look, straight up, it's hard from me to review this one because I have some mixed feelings, some of which may come from how much I loved the first book in this series, The Best Man. Honor is introduced in The Best Man -- and not in the most favourable of ways. I wanted to get under her skin, though, and believed in Higgins ability to work her magic. 

Even being inside Honor's head, I still found her slightly stand-offish and hard to know (although I felt quite familiar with her aging eggs, haha *eye roll*). I found Tom even more of an enigma. He cared a lot for his son, and had an English accent (always appealing, IMO) but I never truly believed his love for Honor was real and true and deep (lust, sure, love, I don't know?)

On one hand, The Perfect Match ticks all the boxes of a satisfying and fun chick-lit romance. It was swoony and fun and the pages flew by. Sexual tension was rampant. It was cute, for sure. On the other hand, I really wanted to be emotionally invested in Tom and Honor. Perhaps unfairly of me as I was coming off a real emotional connection in Faith and Levi's story in the first Blue Heron book so I raised my expectations higher than what I normally expect of this genre. 

The end result is: I had fun reading this book, there were some great swoony moments and it delivered as a rainy afternoon smiley romance but I still felt a bit let down as I wanted more, somehow. 

The Perfect Match @ goodreads

The Perfect Match is available now

Waiting on You (Blue Heron #3)


Does being nobody's fool mean that you're nobody's love?

Colleen O'Rourke is in love with love... just not when it comes to herself. Most nights, she can be found behind the bar at the Manningsport, New York, tavern she owns with her twin brother, doling out romantic advice to the lovelorn, mixing martinis and staying more or less happily single. See, ten years ago, Lucas Campbell, her first love, broke her heart... an experience Colleen doesn't want to have again, thanks. Since then, she's been happy with a fling here and there, some elite-level flirting and playing matchmaker to her friends.

But a family emergency has brought Lucas back to town, handsome as ever and still the only man who's ever been able to crack her defenses. Seems like maybe they've got some unfinished business waiting for them—but to find out, Colleen has to let her guard down, or risk losing a second chance with the only man she's ever loved.


Waiting on You is the third book in the Heron series. I was excited (started the moment it downloaded on my kindle) but cautious on beginning. My fave ever Higgins book is the first book in this series (The Best Man) but I didn't connect all that strongly with the 2nd book in the series (maybe a case if suddenly too high expectations?). As for this one -- Higgins is back in fine form. It doesn't rival The Best Man for my fave spot (Faith and Levi are just too awesome) but it delivers so much of Higgins trademark swoon and readability. 

Colleen has a strong personality. She's tough and friendly and seemingly indestructable, but underneath that she's still harbouring hurt from her first real love -- ten years on and she's never moved on, not really, not in her heart. But she's not ready to let him back in, especially as she loves him too much to risk a fling. As for Lucas. He's gorgeous, all pirate and swoony, and he has this achey past, making him vulnerable under his tough, unreadable exterior. It's a killer combo in a male lead. The tension between these two is fantastic. Perfect amount of smiley, grin-worthy, sigh-worthy scenes. The chemistry is palpable, and that is what Higgins does best (thank you!).

I loved watching our leads get together -- that's what always draws me to Higgins work, she has the magic touch with creating tension and swoon between her leads. I also loved how we get both perspectives -- Higgins really works that device to advantage, keeping me clicking through my kindle 'just one more chapter...' I liked the time I spent with them (I can say that for most of Higgins couples), but I do not think they will be one of my more memorable Higgins couple.

I do sometimes find Higgins subplots tiresome. I get that the families in this small town feature in all the books and are being revisited, but occasionally they are just too kooky/ridiculous/repetitive (with their interactions) for my taste. Maybe this is just a humour preference? Regardless, I will still be coming back for more Higgins as she fills her little romancey niche quite nicely. 

Waiting on you @ goodreads

Waiting on You is available from March 25 2014


My fave of these three is Waiting on You. 
Have you read Kristan Higgins? Do you have a fave?
Haven't read her yet but like contemporary romance?
I recommend The Best Man as a fab starting point

Thanks to Harlequin HQN and Netgalley for these digital review copies :)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

For the past five years Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq.
Now they are back in town where he grew up so Hayley can go to a proper school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.
Will being back home help Andy's PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?

Laurie Halse Anderson is an amazing YA writer. She tackles tough subjects head on, flinging hardships, trials and snares at her characters. She's relentless and wry and relevant and revered.

The cover of her latest books is mesmerising (love it!), the title alluring and the premise promises some LHA conflict and heartbreak. I love the way Anderson writes -- her sentences have a certain cadence, her humour often sneaky, her protagonists not afraid to be unlikeable. I also love how her books are all different shades, and although I find her voice distinctive, she's unique in all her work.

In TIKoM, Anderson peels back layer after layer on one family's experience with the demons of post traumatic stress disorder. Hayley's life is so clouded by her father's psychological scars. It's brutal and unpredictable and violent and so completely harrowing. About 2/3's in, I was so consumed by the reality of Hayley and her father's predicament that I was convinced there would be no happy ending, no resolution for an illness so all-consuming, so powerful. The stakes are raised, the scene is bleak -- Anderson's portrayal is intense. She does an incredible job of portraying the after effects of war and yet, somehow, I felt removed from it, as if I was looking in -- I had hoped to feel Hayley's pain and emotion as if it were my own. That emotional connection as a reader is so subjective -- I am a little disappointed that even while I was absorbed in the story it never really punched me in the gut.

TIKoM is not all darkness -- Anderson is the master of wry humour and candid quips and the book is peppered with personality. Another bonus is Finn. He's a genuine good (without being too good) and funny and swoony boy -- he'll bring many smiles to readers faces and he has surprises in store for Hayley Kincaid. He chips through her icy indifference, masterful and cute and creative. Their banter was cute, sure, and when Hayley finally let him in, it was beautiful. The friendship/romance in this is a lifeline to Hayley -- and to readers (who need a sparkle of hope to contrast with the very real and frightening reality of Hayley's home life). 

While reading this I reflected on how Anderson never talks down to her audience - and she's articulate, compelling and honest (as well as offering some fun in the midst of the horror). I know this book will connect with many readers (TIKom will appeal to teens and adults alike). Recommended
Read an extract
The Impossible Knife of memory @ Text Publishing
The Impossible Knife of Memory @ goodreads


Laurie-halse-anderson_regular
Laurie Halse Anderson is the author of several books for young adults including the New York Times bestselling novel Speak. She is the recipient of the prestigious ALAN Award (2008), which honours those who have made outstanding contributions to the field of adolescent literature. Laurie Halse Anderson lives in northern New York State with her husband.

Thanks to Text Publishing for my review copy

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ten Swoony Reads

I love a good swoon. (Just getting straight to the point here, haha). I have chosen some lesser known hidden gem type swoons. These are all YA books I have loved but maybe not talked much about on the blog? I often feel like I constantly rave about my absolute fave reads -- and I really want to make room for books I love that are often shafted in favour of my absolute favourite favourite books (This is not my top ten -- just ten really good, recommended reads).



I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I love this book so much -- and Sam is one swoony guy! He's gorgeous and genuine and has one of those heartbreaking home lives that just makes him all vulnerable. He is also an amazing big brother. And open and honest with his feelings for Ellie. So much swoon and heartache and hope -- definitely check this out if you haven't already (and if you like those vulnerable, sweet and gorgeous guys).

The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas

This book is gorgeous and quiet and compelling and I really recommend it. Also -- WILL. He's plays ice hockey, he's gorgeous. He's one of those silent types with unreadable looks and the chemistry just rides off him. This book feels real and genuine and the swoon pay-off is definitely rewarding :)


Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian 

This is a swoon for girls who like arty guys with tattoos, mischief and sex appeal. It's a forbidden kind of crush -- he's on staff and she's at a summer art school. Vivian's book Not That Kind of Girl also features oodles of swoon and making out (in haystacks and hidden secret places) -- just an FYI

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

The swoon in this is heartbreaking and romancey and gorgeous. Nico is a male lead that broke my heart just a little -- and made me grin a lot. This is one of my all time fave verse novels

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

The unresolved sexual tension in this book! Johnafter! This is fun and swoony and a definitely guilty pleasure. My fave Echols book :)

Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

This romantic verse novel had me sighing and swooning and grinning the whole way through. It's cute and fun and also sexy and addictive. A rainy day feel good read that's high on swooooon factor <3












The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

The Distance Between Us is so much what I love about YA. It's smiley and fun and funny and has this ridiculously swoony slow burn romance. Seriously. It also just felt unique. Like it was just marching along happily to it's own little beat.

The swoon and zingy-fun-antagonistic-cute chemistry between Caymen and Xander = addictive






Saving June by Hannah Harrington

This is a bad boy, antagonistic, slow burn swoon with a huge sexy pay-off. So much unresolved sexual tension -- so addictive. 




If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin

Everything about Finny and Autumn is perfect and complicated and swoony and heartbreaking and just mesmerising. One of my most recent fave YA couples <3





Come See About Me by C K Kelly Martin (a New Adult read)

I'm just going to rip this section straight out of my review for your consideration:

Liam.

My gosh.

You guys, it would be remiss of me to just get all SWOON and SEXY regarding Liam. Because he is so much more than that. I love all the shades of grey in his character and in his relationship with Leah. Liam is Irish and gorgeous and has some unique background/occupation not often seen in the YA scene making him completely intriguing. He is also complicated, messy, older. And Leah's relationship with him is complicated, messy and definitely older.

A word about the sex: It's sensual and steamy and completely hot. Without the bounds of being a YA book, Martin is able to explore more sexually, and the scenes are essential to the relationship and so gorgeously and evocatively done. The scenes weren't just some steamy filler, guys, they had depth and emotions and all kinds of excitement and confusion that comes with a sexual relationship in your early twenties. Caution: The sex scenes are not fade to black, and are for mature readers, not young teens (IMO).


Have you read any of these? What's the last book that had you swooning?

Also -- I think I'll have to do a follow up post of my actual absolute fave swoons. I feel like I have somehow cheated on my fave couples by not including them here!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Heart Beat by Elizabeth Scott

Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?


I love Elizabeth Scott. She is one of my all time fave YA authors. I love the feeling of snuggling up with a new Scott book (she is, thankfully, a prolific writer ;)). Heart Beat has a gut wrenching, painful premise that would make the book hard work to get through were it not for Scott's effortless prose. Scott has this way of writing sparsely, making the emotion more gut wrenching (as opposed to waxing poetic about all the feelings). 

I liked Heart Beat a lot but it wasn't an easy read. Emma's emotions cloud everything and being in her head space made me feel like I needed a breath of fresh air. I hate confrontation and am a huge peacemaker and -- despite the emotional turmoil that consumes Emma -- I was so desperate for her to make peace with Dan, for the fog to lift, for some peace and resolution. At times the conflict felt repetitive, but that may have been me projecting where I wanted the story to go :) It was a really emotional read -- so much grief, and yet no room to grieve. It's a doozy of a premise and right up Scott's alley to explore. 

Scott creates some of the best YA boys and Caleb ticks all the boxes (without feeling like he was created to tick boxes, haha). He's mysterious, seriously cute, and behind his bad boy image, he's got a genuinely heart-breaking story. This bad boy is not a typical YA "bad Boy" (i.e. some kind of swaggering, tough, womaniser style kid) -- Caleb has been in trouble with the law and his reputation is earnt, yet his personality is honest and intriguing and, surprisingly, sweet. Scott brings some iconic and swoony moments (rooftop meetings and more) and Emma's scenes with Caleb really lifted some of the heavier themes in the book (even while adding more emotional trauma -- of a different achey kind).

I also really liked the best friend relationship -- which was layered and unique and added more depth to themes being explored. 

Scott has the perfect voice for teens. She writes with immeadiacy and her pacing is spot on. She gets right under her character's skins and writes with a lot of heart. She nails friendships and family and swoony boys -- I recommend all her work, all the time, and Heart Beat is no exception. If the premise interests you at all -- check this one out, it's perfect heart-wrenching contemporary YA fans. 


paperback cover
ebook cover
Aren't all three covers gorgeous? I own the hard cover and it's stunning with it's gold foil accents. I also adore the ebook cover -- and the paperback typography appeals to me as well 

Heartbeat @ goodreads

Thanks to Harlequin Teen for my providing an arc via netgalley

Heartbeat is available now :)

Do you love Elizabeth Scott? What's your fave books of hers?

(mine's Stealing Heaven <3 & I love Will in Perfect You ;) -- also, Miracle is really good, definitely check it out if you haven't yet. Seriously underrated book!)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bird by Crystal Chan (+ giveaway)


Nothing matters. Only Bird matters. And he flew away.


Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit—a duppy—into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets.
Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree.
Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.
Entrenched secrets, mysterious spirits, and an astonishing friendship weave together in this extraordinary and haunting debut. 

When I first heard about Bird from Text I felt really excited. It sounded gorgeous and special and a little bit mysterious. Plus the cover is seriously something else (in person it is even more striking). I dove straight in the day it arrived and had no idea what to expect. It took less than a paragraph to feel hooked, and less than a chapter for Jewel to set up camp in my heart. 

Jewel is my favourite kind of heroine: fierce and creative and lonely and marching along to the beat of her own drum. She's daring and smart and unashamedly stands out from the crowd.  She's surrounded by a tragedy that's coloured her entire existence and yet her optimism shines, thumps along even as danger and mystery shroud her. Things go from bad to worse and revelations leave her (and us - the readers) reeling. 

It wasn't just Jewel (love her) or the mystery (I had no idea how things were going to turn out) that kept me turning the pages -- Chan's prose is truly gorgeous, just the right blend of humour and sentiment, poetic but never flowery, succinct and cutting right to the core of emotions. The dialogue is awesome, and being inside Jewel's mind is a treat -- she thinks beautiful and unexpected things, ever hopeful and always loveable. This book feels like it was a labour of love -- and it makes it a treasure to behold. 

My reviews always tend to focus on how I responded to a book -- I like to leave the plot a surprise, but here's a taste of what you will find inside Bird: small isolated town (the setting is sublime, engaging all the readers senses), Jamaican culture, a mysterious and fun new friendship (but can it be trusted?), duppies (discover for yourself...), family secrets and a heroine with a heart so big she bursts from the page. Jewel is younger than the usual YA heroine - but she's a perfect voice for upper MG, YA and adult readers to connect to.  

Bird's fairytale vibe is an intoxicating blend of whimsy and realism that left me feeling like anything could happen. An astonishing debut that I highly, completely recommend.



My review today is part of an Australian Blog Tour by Text Publishing.
Text is kindly giving away a copy of Bird to readers of inkcrush
(Australian and New Zealand addresses only, due to copyright reasons).


Text Publishing Blog Tour: Bird by Crystal Chan
Check out the rest of the blog tour!

Tuesday 28 Jan
Extract on Gobblefunked

Wednesday 29 (Pub date!)
Review and Guest Post at VeganYANerds (Amanda)

Thursday 30
Review by Kate at whY.A.not?

Friday 31
Review by Bec at First Impressions

Saturday 01 Feb
12 Curly Questions on Kids’ Book Review

Sunday 02
Review by Kelly at Diva Booknerd

Monday 03
Review by Melanie at YA Midnight Reads

Tuesday 04
Review by Naomi at inkcrush

Wednesday 05
Review and Q&A with Danielle at ALPHAReader




Many thanks to Text Publishing for providing this review copy

Bird is available in Australia now
Crystal Chan grew up as a mixed-race kid in the Wisconsin cornfields. She now lives in Chicago. As well as a writer, she is also a professional storyteller and performer. Bird is her first novel.