Saturday, April 30, 2011

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of Riding Lessons.

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.

Beautifully written, Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford.

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was first published in 2006 and was a best seller ~ due to an upcoming movie release it's having a new popularity BOOM

I am not particularly a fan of Rob Pattinson or Reese Witherspoon but I was intrigued to check out a best-selling critically acclaimed book set in the 30's back when circus's were a pretty big thing...

My thoughts?

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS is a frame story opening with Jacob as an old codger (in his 90's) in a nursing home ~ but the bulk of the story is set in the 1930's when Jacob is in his first months with the circus (in his 20's). I did find the present day story (nursing home) kind of boring* and interrupting to the flow of the circus stuff ~ but as a whole, I appreciated the added dimension this gives the story once I'd finished ~ gave it a more melancholy feel, which I liked. *(although I have heard that it is this part of the story that strongly resounds with people ~ great "book club discussion" issues about nursing homes and quality of life, etc...)

I was really impressed with the whole circus world Gruen created. This is one of those books where you feel transported to the time and place and at the end you are left feeling like you experienced the world. It was vibrant and messy and you can nearly smell, taste, feel and hear everything going on. 

My edition had photos from the old circus days ~ of animals and setting up the tents and of the train and of the sideshow "freaks" and I LOVED that. 

I also LOVED TO DEATH all the interesting little stories that were woven in from real circus trivia and events (Gruen talks about her months of research in an author's note at the end of the book). Stuff like the toothless lion, the way a few of the characters die, some of the animals antics, freak show people, the dead hippo on display as alive, etc. My son is always showing me stuff out of his Ripley's Believe It or Not books (mostly the gruesome freakish things) and in places this book was a little reminiscent of that ~ especially if you take time to read the author's note at the end ~ which I recommend, hey)


Despite a gorgeous and intriguing era and setting...

I felt a more than a smidgen let down by the characters. Some were colourful and endearing and felt genuine, but most felt cliché or almost caricatures ~ like over-the-top cartoon characters. 

I was particularly Bored To Absolute Death with Marlena (Reese Witherspoon's character in the film). The romance was obviously a key plot point ~ but I just couldn't buy into it. Marlena seemed to have no personality ~ so I really wasn't rooting for her, you know? I was disappointed as I always like a bit of a funky/star-crossed romance ~ so major 'eye-rolling' let-down there.

Also ~ a discussion point: ~ I didn't like the prologue (a key scene from the climax of the novel ~ which gives away aspects of the ending). I would have preferred to not be clued into it at the beginning. And I felt in hindered me from that initial absorption into the story. You had to read a past tense chapter (but a future scene in the past), then present day chapter, then the past tense in the frame story. Ugh. What an opener. 

And as for the present day ending. LOL. Really? Ah, well, I guess some people dig a really cute hollywood ending ;) 

Okay, okay. So, overall ~ I am glad I read this one. I think the whole experience will stay with me. I recommend it and my tip is to give yourself a few chapters to settle into it. I did enjoy it but I cannot say I care about the characters. Harsh, but true, haha. 

As for the movie? It's not a hugely plot driven novel so I'm thinking it may be a tad either boring/overly sentimental or (depending on the screenplay) too melodramatic love story for me. It's not calling out to me but when my library gets the dvd I'll possibly check it out.

Here's the movie trailer:

Water For Elephants @ goodreads (it's booming there and rated much more highly than I gave it ~ I went with 3 stars).
Water For Elephants @ Rotten Tomatoes (OUCH! It's bombing out a bit, hey).

Have you read the book?
Seen the flick? (recently hit the big screen in the US ~ not yet in Australia)
Planning on doing either?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Queen's Lady by Eve Edwards

1584 – Surrey, England When Lady Jane Rievaulx begins service to the Queen at Richmond Palace, she is thrilled at the court’s newest arrival . . . Master James Lacey. Despite her previous courtship with his older brother, James is the man she truly loves. And for his part, he cannot deny his fascination with her. However, James is setting sail on a treacherous journey to the Americas, seeking absolution for what he sees as past sins. But when Lady Jane is forced into a terrible situation by her own family, there is only one man to save her. Will Master James return to his lady ­- before it’s too late?

Oooh ~ here we have a historical YA set in the Tudor period ~ which is a fantastically vibrant era rife with conflict and dramas to throw a few teenage characters into. 

This is the 2nd book in a new YA trilogy.

The Queen's Lady's an intricate story ~ multi-POV and plot threads that criss-cross through different characters lives.  I initially found it hard to keep track of all the characters and their histories and shenanigans ~ it is the second book in a series and I imagine if you had read the first you'd be able to dive right in with that kind of eager familiarity of knowing (& loving) the characters. Despite my initial brain strain ~ I really admire how it is an intelligent novel ~ never condescending to it's readers ~ throwing you alongside the drama and emotions of the period without wasting passages on being tell-y (which would take you out of the story).

Edwards just IMMERSES you in the world. It's actually pretty spectacular, the way she creates such a sensory experience of Tudor England. I think that is what IMPRESSED me the most ~ those beautiful little passages of description so finely wove into the plot that make you feel as if you are in the era right there alongside the characters

It really is one of those books that have it all: intrigue, romance (much of it forbidden/angsty & also a little risque), action, danger, political drama, war, court (& royalty) and it shows a range of class and lifestyles of the time. 

Amongst this ambitious plot ~ is a sturdy little group of characters. I did enjoy Lady Jane and James but my favourite couple in the book were Diego and Milly ~ I looked forward to their scenes and enjoyed them oh-so-much. Some of the banter between the characters is deliciously grin-worthy. The angst was just perfect ~ it was easy to get caught up in the complications of the relationships ~ speaking of complicated relationships...

I LOVED reading the book from the different view points of the central cast of characters as it added so much more insight and depth to the events. I really think Edwards used the multi-POV thing to her best advantage ~ it layered the plot and added tension between the characters.

Historical YA is not my preferred genre but I had a pretty good time reading this ~  I'd maybe start with the first one ~ not that I did ;) (although I did get the hang of the second ~ after reading  few reviews of the first to clue me in...) 

Recommended: Is historical YA your thing? Are you into the Tudor era? A you a fan of action, betrayal, political intrigue and forbidden (angsty) and swoon-worthy romance? Hey ~ this book is for you.

(okay ~ my recommendation was cheesy, LOL, but TRUE :D)

The Queens Lady is currently available.

Oh! and the cover. I am not a pretty dress cover kind of person ~ but this one is truly stunning in the flesh. It has these bronze shimmery bits which are absolutely mesmerising.

The Queen's Lady @ goodreads
Author's site for heaps more info

thanks to penguin australia for sending me this review copy :)

Oh oh! and completely unrelated BUT thank you for your awesome comments on my blogoversary post! You guys are amazing and some of your comments had me in stitches, haha.

Much love, Nomes xo

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wahoo! Blogoversary Giveaway...

time to PARTY (& share a little bit of cake...)
A little smidgen ago inkcrush turned ONE!


And it's been a pretty snazzy year hanging out with all you guys and chatting about books.

I feel pretty much humbled to be a part of this book blogging community and to have made friends (Aussie and international buddies) and also interacted with some of my author idols (!)

It's been BRILLIANT, yeah.

And I have a give-away to celebrate. Both give-aways will run until May 10

Open internationally via The Book Depository:

TWO winners can spend $15 @ The Book Depository*
(or around about ~ a smidgen over is fine...)

(I was going to make you choose between all my fave books, haha, but I know you guys have great taste anyway)

* or Better World Books if TBD doesn't ship to you (or you're after some second hand books)

Aussie only
courtesy of Penguin Australia
I have one sparkly new copy of 
to give-away

It received a 5/5 review from the brilliant Alpha Reader: "I love ‘Strange Angels’. This is a dark, kick-ass young adult paranormal series." Danielle says if you love Vampire Academy you will love this series.

Along with DEFIANCE, I'll include an ARC* (if the winner is interested) of either:  

*NIGHTSHADE ARC is silver with dark purple swirly font. 
I AM NUMBER FOUR is an exclusive hard cover with a special slip case to keep it inside.

Thanks for celebrating with me guys :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hard Cover v Paperback #3

a kind of semi-regular (whenever I feel like it) feature ~ all links go to goodreads ~ a couple this time are the US hard cover V the up-coming UK new release paperback. none of these paperbacks are available yet but all are available for pre-order... (oooh ~ except the Robin Benway one which was recently released in PB)

hard cover     V    paperback

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway

Hard cover: I really thought it was striking when I first saw it ~ the three sisters and the colour gradients. I thought it stood out and it definitely had my attention. Okay, it's a little weird, but it works for me :)

Paperback: This one is not as visually arresting (as in, stand out in book shop factor) for me. However ~ I love it. it is fresh and lively and a little bit funky. I love the title all wonky and a little bit quirky.

My verdict? I would be happy with either but given the choice, I'm digging the vibe of the paperback...

hard cover (US)   V    paperback (UK)

Hard Cover: I like it. It's giving off a slightly hypnotic vibe with the heart tilted and the light and shadows make it look all shiny and metallic-y. I also think the writing inside the heart is a cool idea.

Paperback (from UK publisher): Ahh, such a similar design concept but it doesn't appeal to me as much :( It looks like lower YA and lacks a bit of class that the hard cover has. Although it is still a fun design...

My verdict? HARD COVER (which is from the US)

Hard cover       V      paperback

Hard Cover: It's cute, hey? I've always liked it. For some reason it grabs my attention and holds it. I like how the coil of ribbon changers from pink through to purple through to blue. I like how it looks like a funky romantic contemp. I like the lower case title and the simplicity of it. Nicely done.

Paperback: wow. It's really different. And I am really liking it. Occasionally I like people on my covers and I am into the models on this one. First, it appeals to me b/c it feels upper YA (which, as an older reader, is my preference with contemp). As for the pose: it looks fun and breezy and relaxing and romantic. Apart from the picture ~ I really like those butterflies (even though they could be considered tacky. Whatever ~ it works for me)

My verdict? I'm happy with either. Really. But I'm pretty keen to read that paperback one...

hard cover US    V    paperback UK

(the US paperback is due out soon but I am unsure if they are using the same design as the hard cover. Here's the UK paperback about to be released)

Hard Cover: I've always had mixed feelings about this cover. It's pretty, sure, but those lips? The overall feel is pretty and a little mysterious and maybe melancholy? I do like the breath which swirls out over the title and the little decorate-y touches. It's probably one of those covers that look more stunning in the flesh?

UK paperback: such a similar colour scheme but it's not melancholic at all. It feels vibrant, fresh, flirty and fun, which, from reviews I've read, seems to match the tone of the book. I like the little bubbles and despite it being a close-up of a face, it works for me. I think it will look fantastic on the shelves.

My verdict? Ahh, torn. But ultimately, I like vibrant over pretty so I'll go with the UK paperback

What about you?
Which covers here would you prefer to own?

Previous posts @ inkcrush:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Split by Swati Avasthi

Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret.

At least so far.

Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. First-time novelist Swati Avasthi has created a riveting and remarkably nuanced portrait of what happens after. After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split—how do you begin to live again? Readers won’t be able to put this intense page-turner down.

I have always had a thing for books which feature redemption. They emotionally grip and resonate strongly with me. Many of my personal favourite books usually have a sliver of redemption running through them: 

Think THE PIPER'S SON by Melina Marchetta, Carly in Kirsty Eagar's RAW BLUE, Francine River's REDEEMING LOVE, Sherryl Jordan's (amazing) WINTER OF FIRE which all had me weeping and aching and so drawn in with the protagonists story/search/ache for redemption.

And, boy, does Jace from SPLIT join their ranks.

Jace is someone who is so conflicted. He has the weight of guilt on him, a shroud of claustrophobic fear, doubt, self-loathing and then through it all he harbours a tiny spark of hope that flares and gets stamped down. Again and again.

He is someone who has been abandoned by those who should love him the most.

And yet his capacity for love is huge. And painful to bear witness too.

Sorry for starting my review out so intensely, but this book causes an intense response. 

I have read stories of abuse before (fiction and non-fiction) and this one is truly exceptional. The whole scenario is beautifully, achingly portrayed from all sides of the story: the abused, the abuser, the mum, the two brothers and how it impacts them in different ways.

Not only does the story seem true and impeccably well researched and presented, but Avasthi is a gifted writer: her prose is stunning, her ability to create atmosphere,  to bring light into darkness, to add levity to intensity, and to draw a reader in and build a story towards a gripping rising climax. 

Despite the hard punch this book packs I do want you to know it is not just one big tension-filled, heart-aching angst.  Jace is a captivating character. His male POV is one of the finest examples I have come across in YA literature. It is as genuine as Tom in THE PIPER'S SON and Adam in WHERE SHE WENT.

I adored Jace: his love of books and soccer/running, his sweet attempts at cooking, his sarcasm and intelligence and his bruised but enormous capacity for love. He's utterly endearing despite his rough edges. He often made me grin and also swoon. His POV is easy to slip into, compelling and addictive. 

Also, while the romance was not the main plot thread ~ it is just wonderfully done. It's as if Avasthi has  pared it down to the finest, most choice tender and conflicted moments so that the scenes that are portrayed are like a picture that paints a thousand words. I was so rooting for him and his new interest (be on the look-out for some tender and swoon-y scenes that will make you ache ~ and keep your fingers crossed).

Avasthi has a character who is so conflicted in himself, having secretly endured a nightmare and also having done some despicable acts himself. Yet he is not beneath redemption. And I teared up as the story was coming to a close ~ touched and moved and just blown-away by what he endured and who he had become and what he was becoming. 

I want to shred my own skin, yank every thread of DNA out, and give it to her as an offering. But would that be enough? Is there any way I can fix this? I shouldn't even apologize since that will shove the burden of forgiveness onto her. Who the hell am I to ask for her forgiveness? Who the hell am I to twist her into someone who could forgive the unforgivable? I know exactly who I can turn her into. (jace. page 109)

Recommended: An exceptional story that will stand the test of time. I think you should read this.

SPLIT was chosen as the YA book of 2010 by the Cybils Awards. (read what the judges have to say)
Also: the seven 2010 finalists for the Cybils which include some other outstanding books for teens such as Summers SOME GIRLS ARE, Christopher's STOLEN, and Kelly's HARMONIC FEEDBACK

Also: can you see the two faces in profile on the cover?

Split @ goodreads
Read the first chapter @ Amazon (I was hooked from the first chapter. Completely SOLD)

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Lot Like Love by Julie James

Jordan Rhodes is invited to all of Chicago's best parties, but there's only one the FBI wants to crash. To get her brother out of jail, she agrees to take Agent McCall as her date. But when the mission gets botched, requiring their "relationship" to continue, it starts to feel less like an investigation-and a lot like something else.

Okay, so this is not YA. Worse, it's one of those embarrassing covers that naturally repel me (with a title to match).


I am a fan of Julie James and her rom-com  and romantic-suspense novels  and recently read her newest release... I managed to make it past her cringe-worthy covers and titles and am glad I did ~ her books are a perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon:

Things I love about Julie James novels: 

witty/snarky banter between the two main leads
the dual POV which adds to the experience
the build up of sexual tension/attraction which ends in some HOT (but not too smutty) bedroom scenes
the rom-com feel
the fact that it's a light breezy smiley kind of read
it's fun chick-lit vibe without being too chick-litty...

HOWEVER this book did not live up to my expectations... 

This is my least fave Julie James novel so far. I still enjoyed reading it and breezed right through it ~ but I was disappointed (even shattered, having expected greatness). Ultimately, it was just an okay read for me.

I don't mind a cliché set-up: the love/hate vibe between two main characters, the typical rich but misunderstood herione, the "alpha male" FBI persona, etc. I actually can go into a book looking forward to those ingredients making it a fun ride. 

BUT the characters fell flat for me. 

Jordan was fairly bland. She lacked the snark or feistiness and pizazz of Julie James' other female leads such as Taylor in Just the Sexiest Man Alive or Payton from Practice Makes Perfect

Nick lacked the charm of some of her former male leads ~ so that there wasn't much too him other than him being hot, buff and an aggressive, horny male. (although, you know, he was still hot :) 

The book gets off to a slower start and I felt a bit bored wading through the set-up. While I liked the premise, I was waiting for sparks to fly and, sigh, they never really did. Most of the romantic tension (which drives a lot of the book) relied solely on lust and sexual temptation. The flirting, rather than being character driven banter, relied mostly on sexual innuendo (this may appeal to some people in a light read but I need more substance, even in a light rom-com)

PLUS: I do remember being pleased in her former books at the tastefully done sex scenes ~ which were just heated enough to satisfy the build-up of the sexual tension ~ but never turned into a smutty play-by-play. Not so in A Lot Like Love. The sex scene arrived with a BANG and laboured for a good chunk of more detailed content which may satisfy some readers but makes me either scoff, chuckle or roll my eyes (sometimes all three). I much prefer the thrill of tension rather than the actual nitty-gritty of characters "finally succumbing", haha. 

Despite my mostly negative sounding review ~ I still did enjoy this book (a smidgen) for what it was but I would recommend her earlier books as a much more fun and satisfying read. My fave of hers is Practice Makes Perfect. (which I loved. It was also my first Julie James experience. I chose Practice Makes Perfect to read first purely as it was the least cringe-worthy title and cover combo out of her books)*. I have recommended Julie James to a fair few friends who read in this genre and they have all universally loved her. 

Recommended: Ahh, well I don't know what to add here in summary (I think you get the gist from my review). I do recommend Julie James. Absolutely. But I wouldn't start with this title :) I recommend Practice Makes Perfect and Something About You as my favourites of hers. Despite not loving this one I am still going to give her next books a go (they are all trade paperbacks and quite cheap)

* sorry if you love her covers :D

Also ~ this is not my preferred genre of reading ~ so my reviews purely reflects my experience with the book. I think most people who read a lot in this genre rate Julie James among the best

A Lot Like Love @ goodreads (where everyone else loved it a lot more than me, haha)

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite

Sarah Howard's first year at the university is everything and nothing she expected especially when a very cute boy named Ben in her Art History class starts to show interest in her.

Sarah feels like she's an average, normal, everyday girl. So, when Ben (to whom she secretly refers as Adonis because she thinks he could be a Greek god) begins to take interest in her, Sarah is in denial. For one thing, last year she was deeply crushed and humiliated by Jesse James a guy who she thought liked her.

She's determined not to get burned again. But in her heart of hearts, what she really wants is a Jane Austen kind of romance. Ridiculous, right? That kind of romance doesn t exist anymore . . . or does it? Sarah is smart and fun to be around and even pretty, despite her Medusa-like red curls. She even plays the guitar. (So does Ben!) Yes, Sarah is everything Ben has wanted. He's crazy for her, but Sarah is just not getting it. She's playing hard to get, and if she s not careful, she s going to lose a real hot gentleman -- her 21st-century Mr. Darcy
. (from goodreads)

So ~ this book just sounded completely awesome: older YA protag (check) cute guitar-playing love interest (check) book setting = uni/college (check) romantic comedy vibe (check).

It seemed like a perfect rainy day snuggly read so I was looking forward to escaping the world with something light and swoony.

My verdict?

My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions is a charming, breezy read for people who love their romances light (occasionally cheesy ~ but not overly-cute-cheesy, more swoon-cheesy ~ you know, if that clarifies it ;), flirty and clean. 

Sarah has a thing for romance novels and is the kind of girl who daydreams about love and romance. The main plot line is about Sarah wanting to be "the heroine" in her own romance story. She dated a jerk in the past which has left her feeling insecure and like she is always destined to be the leading girls side-kick friend without her own man. Enter Ben ~ "hot as a Greek god" but completely lovable and flawed ~ who readers will easily see is captivated by Sarah. Sarah is oblivious yet hopeful and makes some stupid assumptions along the way. 

At 180 pages it's a light and fast read. The pages just fly by. There's not too many surprises in the plot ~ it's one of those books where you know the outcome but read it to enjoy the ride. And it is enjoyable ~ there's little bursts of humour and cute embarrassing scenes and also plenty of little swoon-y 'awww' moments. 

I was drawn to this title looking for a chick-lit, fluffy read ~ but I was pretty keen due to the fact it is set in college with older YA protags who have finished school. However, it felt very innocent and still similar to high school aged reads. (I think I am still so enamoured with Psych Major Syndrome that I could have possibly be holding my expectations too high...)

I was a teensy bit disappointed, hoping it would fit more into the older YA bracket. I don't mind the occasional sweet-romancey book ~ but this one really does match the title: it has a fun 'ridiculous' quirky vibe, and it really does centre around the romance side of things. At times, it was a bit too cute for me (but if fun, flirty romance is your thing you will ADORE this book). As a love interest Ben was a regular nice grinning guy ~ a gentlemen and a little bit charming but not particularly memorable as a leading male for me (and he's another YA guy who plays the guitar :D). He was brilliant while reading the book, but hasn't entered my YA guy hall of fame (what? you guys don't have your own stash of fictional guys who you adore stored away somewhere? :D)

I enjoyed the funny little narrations comparing her life to romance novels and discussing meet cutes and "what would happen right now if I was starring in my own rom-com scenarios." 

I would have *adored* this book as a teen ~ and think it's a perfect fit for girls who like cute, charming romances. It also has a fab (but not preachy) little message with confidence and being yourself.

Recommended:  I was pretty impressed with the "voice" and effortless style that Becca Wilhite writes ~ a little bit funky, a little bit sweet and with lots of heart. It was a smiley and enjoyable read and while it wasn't as upper YA as I had hoped ~ it fits in snuggly alongside my other comfort read type books.

I'll also oh-so-happily pick up any books by Becca Wilhite in the future.
*I also think the cover matches the vibe/tone of the book. Swirly and smiley and daydreamy and a little bit fun.

My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions @ goodreads

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Good Daughter by Amra Pajalic

Fifteen-year-old Sabiha has a lot to deal with: her mother’s mental health issues, her interfering aunt, her mother’s new boyfriend, her live-in grandfather and his chess buddy, not to mention her arrogant cousin Adnan. They all want to marry her off, have her become a strict Muslim and speak Bosnian.

And Sabiha’s friends are not always friendly. She gets bullied by girlfriends and is anxious about boyfriends, when she just wants to fit in. But two boys, Brian and Jesse, become the allies of this fierce and funny girl.

The Good Daughter is a coming-of-age novel written with sensitivity and humour. It confronts head-on the problems of cultural identity in the day-to-day lives of teenagers. Amra Pajalic has a wonderful ear for idiomatic dialogue and the dramatic moment.
(from goodreads)

Mate, Amra Pajalic's Aussie YA novel was such a good read.

I am always hesitant to compare novels but in this case I think a comparison is helpful to give you a good feel for the vibe and quality of the novel. When I think about The Good Daughter it is easy to compare it to Melina Marchetta's Looking for Alibrandi and Randa Abdel-Fattah's Ten Things I Hate About Me

It's not just because these novels also feature a non-Caucasian protagonist or a lively multi-cultural cast ~ it is the similarities in how Pajalic manages to thrust you completely into to characters lives and community with such ease and effortless humour.

I found it a bit ironic that the novel is titled 'The Good Daughter' as Sabiha struggles in her role of being a good daughter. She is sassy and often lets her mouth run ahead of her. She's flouncy and feisty and angsty and a perfect lead character ~ flawed and ache-y and confused and fiery all with a generous heart and a conflicted soul. She is a lot of fun. She had me grinning and also cringing ~ she's a whole array of emotions and Pajalic nails writing for teens ~ it was not condescending in any way, it felt like a real teen voice tearing through the pages.

Plot wise I was SOLD. I am always always fond of books that do not feature a OMG inciting incident to create conflict. Instead the conflict is largely internal and driven by the actions of all the people in Sabiha's life. It's about school and family and crushes and being torn between her Bosnian community and wanting to be like every other average Aussie. It's about identity and belonging and growing up.   

Some stuff:

  • Sabiha's mum had bipolar and I LOVED how it was represented in this book. She did an honest and amazing job (speaking from someone who has close personal experience with bipolar). It was not glamourised or used as a plot device to create dramatic conflict.
  • Sabiha's cousin Adnan. How funny is he? I really loved the guy. OH ~ and he gets on 'The Price is Right' with Larry Emdur. OMG, I was killing myself laughing.
  • I loved just how Australian this novel was. It is so easy to relate and settle into a book when the cultural references are about our TV shows and our celebs and our current events, etc. This is a novel that will resonate with Aussie teens.
  • I loved all the little details and funny dialogue. Stuff like Sabiha making a joke about Jesse having copies of the Twilight saga hidden under his bed :D
  • It is set in Melbourne. What is it with all these awesome Aussie characters roaming around the streets of Melbourne?

Recommended: The thing about this novel is it is just brimming with vitality. It's poignant and truly grin-worthy funny and absolutely heart-felt. Good good stuff. 

Amra Pajalic's site
The Good Daugther @ goodreads

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unearthly covers

So the brilliant Leanna @ Daisy Chain Book Reviews has done a cover reveal for the UK edition of Unearthly (<3 your blog Leanna!)

Mate, I LOVED Unearthly. And I don't even really read in the paranormal YA genre. If you're interested here's my gush rave  review :D

Unearthly has been blessed with some gorgeous covers 

Here's the US v Aussie v UK

Aussie edition
US edition
UK edition
They are all atmospheric and attention grabbing. I think the UK one is a blend of the Aussie and US. I'd be proud to have any on my shelves.

Which one is your fave?
Have you read Unearthly yet?

Portuguese edition
wait? you thought I was finished? 
I can't not post this Portuguese cover. 
which, ah, well, words fail. 

Eep! Looks like some kind of other-wordly shampoo commercial.
a luminous experience, eh?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2010 CBCA shortlists have been announced (& Notables)

I ADORE the Children's Book Council of Australia and have ferociously followed them and their recommendations since I was a youngster :)

The awards celebrate the brilliance of Aussie talent and writers and many of my all time fave Aussie YA books were once shortlisted with the CBCA.

And TODAY the shortlists were announced ~ on inkcrush I am only going to post from the Older Readers category but you can check their site for all the other Aussie categories and age groups.

On to the list... a HUGE CONGRATS to all authors who have been nominated!

Older Readers Short List 2011
Crowley, CathGraffiti MoonPan Macmillan Australia
Hartnett, SonyaThe Midnight ZooViking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Horniman, JoanneAbout a GirlAllen & Unwin
MacLeod, DougThe Life of a Teenage Body-SnatcherViking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Marchetta, MelinaThe Piper’s SonViking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Wood, FionaSix Impossible ThingsPan Macmillan Australia
These books are for mature readers

I have only read 4 books from the above list and ALL FOUR of them are BELOVED books of mine.

The six nominated books were narrowed down from the older readers catagory featuring 32 outstanding Australian young adult titles on their Notable Titles list.

Pretty much one of the coolest things about this list is that *most* Aussie libraries automatically add these titles to their catalogues. Including mine ~ so I'll have access to a whole new awesome batch of Aussie YA. If you're in Australia and have not checked in with your local libraries catalogue you really should check it out :)

Here's the notables list straight from the site

Abdel-Fattah, RandaNoah’s LawPan Macmillan Australia
Bavati, RobynDancing in the DarkPenguin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Blain, GeorgiaDark WaterRandom House Australia
Braxton-Smith, AnandaMerrowBlack Dog Books
Bursztynski, SueWolfbornWoolshed Press, Random House Australia
Burton, RebeccaBeyond EvieAngus & Robertson, HarperCollins Publisher
Buzo, LauraGood OilAllen & Unwin
Cooper, MichelleThe FitzOsbornes in ExileRandom House Australia
Cornish, DMMonster Blood Tattoo Book 3: FactotumOmnibus Books, Scholastic Books AustraliaCrowl
Crowley, CathGraffiti MoonPan Macmillan Australia
Eaton, AnthonyDaywardsUniversity of Queensland Press
Fitzpatrick, Deb90 Packets of Instant NoodlesFreemantle Press
Flanagan, JohnRanger’s Apprentice: The Emperor of Nihon-JaRandom House Australia
French, JackieOracleAngus & Robertson, HarperCollins Publishers
French, JackieA Waltz for MatildaAngus & Robertson, HarperCollins Publishers
Gardner, ScotHappy as LarryAllen & Unwin
Golds, CassandraThe Three Loves of PersimmonPenguin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Hall, LeanneThis is ShynessThe Text Publishing Company
Hartnett, SonyaThe Midnight ZooViking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Hawke, RosanneMarrying AmeeraAngus & Robertson, HarperCollins Publishers
Herrick, StevenSlice: Juicy Moments from my Impossible Life!Woolshed Press, Random House Australia
Hilton, NetteThe InnocentsWoolshed Press, Random House Australia
Horniman, JoanneAbout a GirlAllen & Unwin
MacLeod, DougThe Life of a Teenage Body-SnatcherPenguin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Marchetta, MelinaThe Piper’s SonPenguin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Matthews, PennyA Girl Like MePenguin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Murray, KirstyIndia DarkAllen & Unwin
Plüss, NicoleScoutPenguin Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Pryor, MichaelThe Laws of Magic: Moment of TruthRandom House Australia
Roy, JamesAnonymity JonesWoolshed Press, Random House Australia
Westerfeld, Scott
Ill. Keith Thompson
BehemothViking Books, Penguin Group (Australia)
Wood, FionaSix Impossible ThingsPan Macmillan Australia

I have only read 12 of the above titles (out of 23) and am really looking forward to checking out a bunch of ones I haven't yet read.

What favourites of your made it on here?

Which books on here haven't you read that you're really wanting to?

(I was thrilled to see both SLICE and GOOD OIL on there ~ two other recent faves of mine)