Thursday, March 31, 2011

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

The Clifton Chronicles is Jeffrey Archer's most ambitious work in four decades as an international bestselling author.
The epic tale of Harry Clifton's life begins in 1920, with the chilling words, 'I was told that my father was killed in the war'. But it will be another twenty years before Harry discovers how his father really died, which will only lead him to question: who was his father?
Is he the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore who worked in Bristol docks, or the first born son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line?
Only Time will Tell covers the years from 1920 to 1940, and includes a cast of memorable characters that The Times has compared to The Forsyte Saga. Volume one takes us from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry must decide whether to take up a place at Oxford, or join the navy and go to war with Hitler's Germany.
In Jeffrey Archer's masterful hands, the reader is taken on a journey that they won't want to end, and when you turn the last page of this unforgettable yarn, you will be faced with a dilemma that neither you, nor Harry Clifton could have anticipated (from publishers site).
A new Jeffrey Archer!

I have been reading Jeffrey Archer since I was 11 years old. Back then I LOVED his plot twists and his clever prose. I think reading him made me feel intellectual, haha. (I would read a few Sweet Valley High books and then lounge around in front of my older brother with a Jeffrey Archer to balance it out... good times)

Since then, I have picked up all his new releases and loved the familiarity of his work. Though some of his books have appealed to me more than others. 

The thing about Jeffrey Archer is he is a Master Storyteller. He doesn't blow you away with lingering prose, or make you swoon or freak you out. Instead he starts with a simple story and just begins weaving it and as a reader I have always gotten caught up in the lives of the characters and how it is all going to play out.

Only Time Will Tell is the first book in a new series (The Clifton Chronicles) of five books. It follows the life of Harry Clifton from boyhood through to graduating school ~ and the lives of key characters in Harry's life. 

It's got the usual plot suspects and characters from Archer's novels: lower class protag thrust into privileged world, underhanded dealings from powerful characters, actions and secrets that snowball and come back to haunt, fortunes to inherit and exams to be aced, tragic events to good people who rise above the ashes and characters with the highest integrity/honour who are highly respected. 

This one is signature Archer ~ with a great opening followed by a slow-burner start (my advice is take a nice chunk of time to settle into the story). But it soon turns into an addictive read as more plot twists are hinted at and revealed ~ which then has you wanting to keep flipping those pages to see the fall-out and/or next twist/revelation. 

I was happily lounging around and then all of a sudden (when I was about half way through) I didn't want to put the book down. Which is an awesome feeling.

The thing that added another layer in Only Time Will Tell is how Archer changes narration as the story progresses so readers can follow events from the POV of key characters. Which often resulted in the reader being let in on secrets that certain characters were unaware of ~ and adds to the tension and that feeling of 'how is this all going to play out?' I really enjoyed this criss-crossing of POV's and events, hey. 

Archer is a brilliant storyteller with a kind of witty/intelligent narration style that doesn't necessarily reflect reality ~ but matches the epicness of the story. And The Clifton Chronicles are going to be an epic saga. It ends well for a first installment, kind of rounds off the phase of life Harry was in (just graduated) but also with a cliff-hanger (which I LOVED) that sets up where #2 will begin.

Out of all Archers works, I most enjoy his epic saga type ones (more than his suspense/mystery/crime/political novels ~ whatever they're classified as, haha). Only Time Will Tell is a strong comparison to Sons of Fortune (which is a fave of mine LOVE) and also reminiscent of his greatest and most popular book Kane and Abel (which completely blew me away when I read it as a teenager ~ and is featured on many top 100 books of all time lists. It's BRILLIANT).

Fans of Jeffrey Archer will not be disappointed :D 

Only Time Will Tell at Pan Macmillan Australia
Jeffrey Archer's website
Jeffrey Archers Blog
Only Time Will Tell @ goodreads

Author Information

Jeffrey Archer, whose novels and short stories include Not a Penny More, Not a Penny LessKane and Abel and A Twist in the Tale, has topped the bestseller lists around the world, with sales of over 250 million copies. The author is married with two sons, and lives in London and Cambridge.
Thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending me this review copy. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Books I'm lusting after

Here's a handful of YA contemp (of course ;) that I am absolutely craving.

and that I haven't seen a lot of buzz around for...

Some are débuts, others from authors I'm familiar with. ALL are not published yet

Links go to goodreads for blurbs and more info :)

As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott

Haven't seen much buzz around for this (probably too early?). BUT ELIZABETH SCOTT! I ADORE her ~ she is my must-read author.

The blurb of this sounds less contemp and more speculative fiction? OR, actually, I have no idea what this sounds like, haha. Very mysterious...

Sept 15

(And at first the cover freaked me out ~ or, at least, startled me ~ but it's definitely grown on me)

The Survival of Kit by Donna Frietas

Oct 11

From the author of This Gorgeous Game (which I loved). It's a heart-felt romance. Awww :D

And I want it.

Also, I'm really into the cover, hey.

There You'll Find me by Jenny B Jones

Sept 7

About a senior girl on a foreign exchange program to IRELAND !! (hooked right there)

Who meets hot teen actor at her host family's B&B (sold right there)

It just sounds fabulous and like my kind of read...

And Then Things Fall Apart by Arliana Tibensky

July 16

I just like the cover and the title and the vibe this gives me :)

It sounds like a wonderfully engaging coming of age story ~ romance, growing up, set over summer & Sylvia Plath :)

Sass and Seredipity by Jennifer Ziegler

July 12

Isn't it gorgeous?

AND from the author of How Not To Be Popular (how I ADORE that book!)

This one's about sisters. Sigh.

Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard

June 14

This one's set at a boys boarding school with a synopsis that sounds mystery/thriller-esque.

It just appeals to me for some reason? I haven;t heard much about it though... (it's a debut author)

My Beating Teenage Heart by C K Kelly Martin

Sept 27

It's by C K Kelly Martin. Who is fast becoming a must-read author for me.

As for the premise. Oh MY Gosh. I have no idea what it all means but it sounds original and fabulous and very must-have.

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E Pearson

August 30

Not contemp ~ but a sequel to The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

I'm intrigued...

AND next week I want to highlight up-coming Aussie releases that have me oh-so-very pumped

Which of these do you want to read?

Any of these you hadn't heard of?

Which is your favourite cover?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Alice is twenty-nine. She is whimsical, optimistic and adores sleep, chocolate, her ramshackle new house and her wonderful husband Nick. What's more, she's looking forward to the birth of the 'Sultana' - her first baby.

But now Alice has slipped and hit her head in her step-aerobics class and everyone's telling her she's misplaced the last ten years of her life.

In fact, it would seem that Alice is actually thirty-nine and now she loves schedules, expensive lingerie, caffeine and manicures. She has three children and the honeymoon is well and truly over for her and Nick. In fact, he looks at her like she's his worst enemy. What's more, her beloved sister Elisabeth isn't speaking to her either. And who is this 'Gina'everyone is so carefully trying not to mention?

Alice isn't sure that she likes life ten years on. Every photo is another memory she doesn't have and nothing makes sense. Just how much can happen in a decade? Has she really lost her lovely husband for ever? 

Oooh ~ did you read the blurb? Alice is whimsical, optimistic and adores sleep, chocolate, her ramshackle new house and her wonderful husband Nick. Don't you just LOVE her already? 

Before my review, here's what Liane has to say about writing this book (which is in lieu of me composing my own synopsis, haha):  
I had always wanted to write a story about time travel but I found the logistics made my head explode. Then I read a story about a woman in the UK who lost her memory and behaved like a teenager – she didn’t recognise her husband or children. I realized that memory loss is a form of time travel. So I came up with the idea of a woman, Alice, who loses 10 years of her memory. She thinks she is 29, pregnant with her first child and blissfully in love with her husband. She is horrified to discover she is 39, with 3 children and in the middle of a terrible divorce. It’s like the younger Alice has travelled forward in time. Readers tell me that what they liked best about this novel was how it made them think about the choices they’d made and wonder how their younger selves would feel about the lives they are leading now. (from Liane's site)

I know (!) I ADORE time travel novels as well (and amnesia stuff) ~ and the whole concept of this one is just so brilliant ~ travelling forward to meet yourself ten years in the future. sigh. And while a premise like that could get complicated and messy ~ it didn't ~ it's written so effortlessly with that genius Moriarty touch where all the plot threads come together just so cleverly.

It's not just the concept that had me falling COMPLETELY in love with this book.

It was pretty much EVERYTHING that has me gushing about it:

The writing. Oh ~ yes, Liane Moriarty is the sister of my fave YA writer, Jaclyn. They both have a GIFT with words. They write in a whimsical style which just has you loving the turns of phrase and sentiments. It's prose you can sink into and sigh about. it's also funny-clever-delicious writing. I am in awe and envy over the prose.

The characters. Liane is like some kind of anthropologist. She GETS people and their quirks and finds tiny truths in those little moments as if she's been inside your own head (and in your kitchen during the mad morning scramble).

Mostly ~ I ADORED Alice and all her family. Nick is the kind of HOT male lead that has you swooning one moment and completely in love with him and then the next he is an absolute douche bag, but it's his flaws that make him all the more endearing and real to life. The family scenes were stunning ~ I could read those kinds of anecdotes all day. I honestly fell in love with Alice's children ~ just delightfully done.

The mystery ~ things unravel as we try to discover along with Alice just all the things that happened in the ten years she lost. Some you can guess and others will surprise you. 

It's this whimsical blend of fun (sometimes incredulous, but none-the-less cool) but also has a deeper meaning under it all that makes you stop and consider your life and your priorities and all that stuff. 

Perhaps similar in concept to Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me? But whereas Kinsella's is commercial, stereotypical rom-com (a fun, guilty-pleasure kind of read), What Alice Forgot is gorgeously written, and a story that will resonate. (and just, you know, far superior in every way, haha)

I really couldn't put this book down and I love it hard.

Liane Moriarty is my favourite chick-lit type writer. And not only is What Alice Forgot one of my fave reads this year ~ it's on my list of all time fave books.

Recommended: this is one for people who love their chick-lit well written, breezy and fun and also a little bit deeper at heart. Also for fans of Jaclyn Moriarty who are looking for an adult read :D

ALSO: the film rights to this book recently sold (!!) It's going to be BRILLIANT!

OH! and the grandma has a blog and ARGH it's truly hilarious ~ and the comment section is laugh-out loud funny and there's even a commenter who's a secret admirer. Too funny. (very reminiscent of some of the blogging in Jaclyn Moriarty's Dreaming of Amelia)

Liane Moriarty is an Australian author and an international best seller. 
Her books are available internationally :D
Liane's website
What Alice Forgot @ goodreads

some international covers:

AND, unrelated to the review, I am going camping tomorrow (wahoo!) so will not be on-line for the next week ~ catch you all when I get back :D

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick

When Holly loses her virginity to Paul, a guy she barely knows, she assumes their encounter is a one-night stand. After all, Paul is too popular to even be speaking to Holly...and he happens to have a long-term girlfriend, Saskia. But ever since Holly's mom died six months ago, Holly has been numb to the world, and she's getting desperate to feel something, anything—so when Paul keeps pursuing her, Holly relents. Paul's kisses are a welcome diversion...and it's nice to feel like the kind of girl that a guy like Paul would choose.

But things aren't so simple with Saskia around. Paul's real girlfriend is willowy and perfect... and nothing like Holly. To make matters worse, she and Holly are becoming friends. Suddenly the consequences of Holly's choices are all too real, and Holly stands to lose more than she ever realized she had. (from goodreads)

Nothing Like You is a startlingly beautiful book.

It's written with such spare, honest prose which cuts right to the core.

I really responded to Holly's story ~ while the storyline is simple, the execution is superior and the emotional impact resonates. It's all the little details that pulled me into Holly's life that made me care immensely about her.

The story opens with Holly having sex in a car with popular guy Paul. And from there you're pulled into Holly's life. She lives with her dad and is still grieving the loss of her mum. She's suddenly in a sexual relationship (her first) without it being a relationship, and she's stuffing up while searching for something to fill an ache inside.

The cast of characters are all distinct and fleshed out: 
  • Her best friend Nils who hangs out in their childhood cubby house together, listening to records. They have a great chemistry together from years of familiarity but also mixed up with a kind of suddenly unsure relationship that is changing as they are getting older. 
  • Paul ~ who is not a stereo-typical popular guy, but enigmatic and complicated 
  • Saskia ~ Paul's girlfriend who becomes Holly's friend ~ in a new friendship that makes you ache and feel hopeful and also anxious 
  • Her dad, her teachers and even her mum (as shown in memories) are all characters in their own right ~ behaving with their own motivations and not just there to move the plot forward. 

I also appreciated the subtle tenderness in which Lauren Strasnick handles many aspects of this story ~ never once making a drama out of themes that so often become melodramatic in YA (such as sex and relationship entanglements between best friends/boyfriends and the death of a parent).

It's honest, ache-y, hopeful and mesmerising. 
hard cover

It's an older YA read with mature themes and an ending that feels like the truth and leaves you a little bit breathless and maybe even tear-y :) I absolutely recommend it to all fans of compelling, realistic contemporary YA.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hard Cover V Paperback #2

Here's another round of Hard cover verse Paperback

ALL these books are out in hard cover but have a paperback release coming up... (links go to goodreads)

Hard cover                    paperback   

Hard Cover: I was first very much attracted to Lindsey Leavitt's YA debut because of the cover. I LOVED the old school black board, the blue and the green, the graffiti-like feel. I'm a fan. A HUGE fan. I stood out to me, hey.

The paperback. Sigh. I don't know guys. What do you think? Someone convince me it's cool. Maybe I'm not a fan of the muted blue against a dark pink? I DO like the arrow/heart on his head idea but it doesn't have the same cool factor as the hard cover for me. Also, the guy on the paperback seems younger than the one on the hard cover ~ a fair bit younger, with a smaller head and not so broad across the shoulders. The paperback is also much more girly and is giving me an 80's vibe for some reason?

Verdict: I'm going for the hard cover all the way...

Hard cover        paperback

First off ~ this book looks completely awesome and has had the FIVE STAR SEAL OF APPROVAL from some trusted friends of mine. I really can't wait to read it, hey. (Paperback is available for pre-order now and is coming out in April)

While I like the hard cover (especially the text colours and design) I think the paperback ROCKS HARD. I love the images, the diagonal title and I am CRAZY about the cartoon-y/doodl-y/scribbles and graffiti on it.

Verdict: I'm loving the paperback.

Hard Cover        Paperback

I like both these.

Hard Cover: is impressively striking, visually arresting and PURPLE!

Paperback: has a completely different vibe BUT I still think it matches the book. I love the model and her shirt and the title all in lower case. I LOVED this book and while it is intense in parts ~ it's also beautifully written and ache-y and introspective and I think the paperback may reach a wider audience?

Verdict: I'm torn. I'd be proud to own either of these...

Hard cover             Paperback

Okaaaaaaay. Has anyone read this one? I'm semi-interested...

Hard Cover: while I like the concept and the actual image is fine the overall vibe has me thinking it's a book from the 90's, you know? I think it's all the white space and the black and pink stripe?

Paperback: Makes me think of The Chosen One (Carol Lynch Williams). And while it's fine as a cover ~ I have NO IDEA what it has to do with the actual book. Does it match the feel of the book? I'm thinking it's giving it a more literary/tragedy feel?

Verdict: I am more attracted to the paperback ~ but it doesn't particularly excite me

Hard cover            Paperback

Hard Cover: WOW. It's stunning and every time I look at it ~ I just get drawn into the girls eyes. They are completely arresting and haunting. The orange, yellow, black thing grabs me. It's pretty amazing. 

Paperback: I do lilke the symbolism with the burning feather, stark on a black background. It reminds me (just a smidgen) of John Green's Looking for Alaska cover ~ maybe just because of the design concept and the black thing?

Verdict: I can't go past the hard cover. 

Your thoughts? Any here you hate/love/are torn on?

Have you read and loved any of these?

I've read This Gorgeous Game and LOVED it (in a could not put it down way) and the rest are books that are hovering aroudn on my want-to-get-my-hands-on list)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Congrats to Melina Marchetta!

I am SO INCREDIBLY THRILLED to hear that Melina Marchetta is on the long list for the MILES FRANKLIN award with the most achingly, funny, BRILLIANT novel The Piper's Son (!!!) 

The Miles Franklin Literary Award is an annual literary prize for the best Australian ‘published novel or play portraying Australian life in any of its phases’. It is also one of Australia's MOST prestigious and honoured awards.

Here's the titles on this years long listThe shortlist for this year's award will be announced on 19 April in Sydney, with the winner announced at a special event at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne on 22 June.

Here's a list of previous winners (since 1957)
And previous short-listed and long-listed titles

I am really PUMPED and pleased as The Piper's Son is one of my all-time favourite books ~ on my BELOVED shelf.  I *just* got my copy back from my mother in law who said it kept her up WAY too late and had her both in stitches (laughing) and in tears. 

The Piper's Son is now available internationally (yay!)

I ABSOLUTELY 100% recommend it :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 NSW Premier's Literary Awards Shortlist

Today the short lists were announced (I am a literary awards junkie :)

Let's talk about the YA ones, yeah?

The Ethel Turner Prize ($30,000), named in honour of the acclaimed author of the children's classic Seven Little Australians, is offered for a work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry written for young people of secondary school level.
Previous winners of the Ethel Turner Prize include Mem Fox and Julie Vivas, Markus Zusak, Ursula Dubosarsky and James Roy (from site)

2011 shortlisted writers are...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rabbit's Year by Melissa Keil and Jedda Robaard

It was Rabbit’s special year, but Rabbit didn’t feel very special. All Rabbit wanted was a friend — but making friends wasn’t easy for shy Rabbit…
2011 marks the Chinese Year of the Rabbit. This book is a delightful and thoughtful gift for any littlies born this year. Bonus Chinese zodiac guide at back of book!
It was huge but cool surprise to find this book all packaged up in my mailbox. I ADORE kidlit (and majored in it at uni) ~ I teach primary school and have 3 primary aged kids of my own so I am always reading picture and chapter books.

My daughter claimed this straight away :)

Being an arty kinda girl, the first thing that gets me with picture books is the illustrations.

Gosh, I LOVE the ones in here. Rabbit and the rest of the animal gang are gorgeous ~ the illustrations are WHIMSICAL and EVOCATIVE ~emotions captured in a quiet and compelling way. Each little character (from Rabbit to the mischeivious Monkey to the Dragon and Snake) has it's own personality. The animals are just plain CHARMING

As for the story ~ it's about Rabbit who, despite being generous, creative and happy is a lonely little thing. It's through Rabbit playing music that he meets this gorgeous crew of animals who also play music.

The text is simple ~ lending a lot of the story to be told through the illustrations and the readers imagination. I would say this is written beautifully with restraint. 

The coolest thing is ~ as you meet each character, they all take their personalities from the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, I know ~ cute, right? And there's a chart and info about that on the back (FYI, I am a 1980's girl which makes me a Monkey: "Monkeys are very smart, and are gifted at everything they do. They are funny, curious, inventive and they love practical jokes" (from Rabbit's Year). The cute thing was, my daughter is a monkey too (2004) ~ okay, well, she thought it was cute, haha. (My boys are a Horse and a Snake... my daughter looked them up and was quietly smug about "being the cutest animal" haha.)

Soooo... Rabbit's Year has been released in time for 2011 ~ The year of the Rabbit. It came out in February and is available now. 

*also, you can enjoy this book in mere minutes ~ making it a tempting one to revisit at night when you only have a smidgen of snuggle read time...
Black Dog Books has kindly (yay!) allowed me to share some pictures from their blog: behind the scenes ~ the making of a picture book
These are some of the design concepts that illustrator Jedda Robaard played around with in creating rabbit:

Rabbit's Year @ Black Dog Books
Author: Melissa Keil
Illustrator: Jedda Robaard 
Publication Date: February 2011
Format: Hard cover
For ages: 2 - 7 (my daughter is 6 and a half :D)

Many thanks to black dog books for this utterly delightful book.

here's my girl @ Questacon in Canberra :D
(picture. just because)

some news and stuff :D

Markus Zusak on TV tonight (!)
Tonight on First Tuesday Book Club Markus Zusak* is part of a panel discussing Cult Reads that grip your imagination and never let go. Wahoo! I am pretty pumped for it: ABC @ 10pm (encore screening Sunday 4:30pm)

Anyone planning to tune in? Personally, I DON"T THINK YOU WANT TO MISS IT.

*Aussie author of The Book Thief, I Am The Messenger, etc...

Inside a Dog

I have LONG loved our Australian YA site Inside a Dog ~ and especially get all pumped up every year about The Inkys (even though I am too old to vote...)

If you hadn't heard, Inside a Dog has had a revamp and is looking very snazzy indeed and is also now the baby of Adele (of Persnickety Snark fame).

 Here's Adele having a chat about the site: "It's what I would loosely call a YA Goodreads, except titles can have book trailers, first chapter pdfs and audio book samples attached,  Users can also indicate if they want to read, have read or review any one title and that's indicated on their profile.  We also have a writer in residence every month - they write a minimum of 3 posts each week.  This month is Brian Falkner, next is Gayle Forman etc  There are forum boards and book clubs (public and private) as well as professional resources for teachers/librarians.  I've started posting my snapshot reviews on the site as SnarkyWench." 

It really is worth going and checking out ~ not only does the content ROCK ~ it is also completely been FUNKIFIED ~ for all Aussie and International book lovers :D 

Win some signed Aussie YA

The ever-so- funky Jess from the Tales Compendium is having an INTERNATIONAL give-away featuring three signed Aussie YA books. You should absolutely go check it out.

LOVED this post

Did you guys read Missie @ The Unread Readers post in relation to book blogging and negative reviews and the YA mafia shizz? I JUST LOVE HER and all she had to say.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

Between Shades of Gray is a stunning, unforgettable story that I really think should be on every readers must-read list (hint, hint ~ that means YOU ;)

It is the sort of book I sometimes think I have to psych myself up to read: because it looks intense and powerful and you know it's going to tug your heart strings. 

HOWEVER, it's not as daunting as you might think: despite the horror you know is about to be unleashed, it's quite effortless to read due to some gorgeous prose. It's a lovely blend of lyrical writing, teen voice and perspective and the scary stuff is lightened in parts due to some interesting characters. It will pull you in and hold you right until the end. 

It's brutal and heartbreaking and eye-opening and a testament to human endurance and the power of hope. 

It's not just a book with a powerful message ~ it's also a compelling story, sure to captivate any reader's heart. Once you start reading it's utterly addictive.  

I've been struggling with writing a review, so instead I am just going to share some personal thoughts about the book ~ hopefully you can get a taste of what I LOVED about it and get a feel for what you can expect:
  • I ADORED all the drawing scenes. I love art-y stuff in books and Lena is talented and often looks at the world through an artists eye.
  • I REALLY liked exploring right and wrong and morals and integrity against a back ground of survival, where often people have to make hard choice to ensure the survival of loved ones or themselves. Some characters made some tough choices in order to protect loved ones.
  • I LOVED seeing how when everything is stripped away (possessions, loved ones, dignity) how the human spirit can soar against that and also how it crumbles. 
  • The flashbacks to Lena's life before were awesome, adding some levity and painting a picture of all that had been stripped away. It added sunshine and a bitter-sweet nostalgia. The contrast was masterfully done.
  • I think not only did I find this book mesmerising, but it also made me appreciate life and all we have. And, I SO wanted to slip through the pages and share some of my food around. Especially when you see how grateful they are for 'food' that most of us wouldn't even consider eating.
  • I was very much compelled to see who would survive and how. It's a book that continually raises the stakes and beloved charcters do not survive no matter how hard you wish it to be so. I read this wide-eyed, equal parts dread and hope for the fate of characters I'd come to love
  • I've already loaned my copy out to my mother-law and an older friend and they loved it as well. It's a book you will treasure. It's a book I want my kids to read (when we've moved on past 'The Faraway Tree' etc ;)
  • The author's note in the back of this book will break your heart.
  • Why, yes, there is a love interest... Andrius, a few years older than Lena, who is arrested at the same time as Lena. I loved the ARC of their relationship and I really liked the guy, hey:
    'He had a strong profile, an angular jaw. A piece of his dishevelled hair fell perfectly against the side of his face. I'd need a soft pencil to draw it. He saw me staring. I turned away quickly.' p 94.

And it's a timely YA release. Although this is a historical novel (which makes it all the more haunting and powerful and memorable), it is a period in history where Stalin (and other world leaders) created their own DYSTOPIAN pockets of society, where people were stolen and hidden away and abused and killed and forgotten. Not only is this a MUST READ for all fans of historical ~ it has FANTASTIC appeal to fans of DYSTOPIA novels.
First Line: 'They took me in my nightgown.' 
Teaser line: 'Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch' p27
It's a beautiful beautiful book. Compelling and haunting and it's up there among my favourites. 

Here's a snippet from Nicole's review @ The Uncommon Nonsense (LOVE her blog insanely. Crazy about her reviews):
"sepetys had a message, simple though it may be, it said: don't forget. some moments were painful and horrible and inhuman.
some moments were inspiring and beautiful in their innocence."

And from Alpha Reader's review (which, I mean, how eloquent is she!!?! In awe...):
Sepetys has managed to replicate what Anne Frank did posthumously with her diary – she has humanized the war. Books about WWII can get bogged down in dry facts and politics. Sepety’s novel is phenomenal because of the human connection. Lina’s perspective is made all the more heartbreaking for her young years. She is a teenage girl who had the world at her fingertips – a talented artist who dreamed of going to university, and a daughter devoted to her family. Until the night her world is turned upside down and inside out. This isn’t just a novel of paradise lost – it’s about a young dreamer who is ripped away from her country and introduced to the harsh realities of an unfair world during turbulent times – but Lina has to realize that paradise is something she can build for herself. 
‘Between Shades of Gray’ is a sadly sublime, and an absolute must-read. You will pass it on to friends and family, and it will have pride of place on your keeper shelf. 

Between Shades of Gray Official Site  read an excerpt, watch a youtube (a tear-jerker!), etc :)

Between Shades of Gray comes out in Australia on the 28th of March. Wahoo!!
It is Ruta Sepety's début novel

Thank you thank you to  Penguin Australia for sending me a copy of this book :)