Wednesday, August 31, 2011

{intl' GIVEAWAY} Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

Kirsty Eagar appreciation week is the brain-child of Nic @ Irresistible Reads and Linds from Bibliophile Brouhaha  ~ for all the insiders info check out Nic's post <3

When Nic was brainstorming ideas I knew I wanted to be involved as Kirsty is one of my absolute favourite Aussie YA authors. I have already posted reviews of her two books on inkcrush (Saltwater Vampires and Raw Blue) but I really could go on talking about them ~ in particular the brilliance that is Raw Blue ~ because, wow, I love that book and Carly and Ryan like crazy). So here's what you'll find on inkcrush this week:

I have two Kirsty Eagar week posts  
  • this one, where I share some guest readers thoughts on Raw Blue and host an international giveaway O.o
  • plus a post this coming Friday about Aussie YA books which feature protagonists who are older than the average YA (there are surprisingly a lot of Aussie YA books set after school years ~ just like Raw Blue)

(For other posts and giveaways in the Kirsty Eagar week see the schedule)

Nic of Irresistible Reads sent one copy of Raw Blue around the world to pass through the hands of some very awesome girls in our book club. They have graciously allowed me to share snippets from their Raw Blue reviews so you guys can see how Raw Blue continues to impact and touch readers around the world. 

Here's five girlies chatting it up *welcoming round of applause*

Arlene: I can’t remember the last time a character made my heart bleed with paper cut precision. 

I’ve said this so many times before… Aussie writers have this gift. It’s a magical ability to catapult you into a fictional moment that feels so damn real and full of raw emotion that you can’t help but fully connect and when it’s over you feel like you fell on your ass because there’s no more pages left for you to grab onto. It’s like a tight embrace that makes you feel there… in the moment… and when it’s done and releases you, all you feel is the space around you and nothing comes close to that moment when you were in the story. Truly in the story. That my friends is what Raw Blue accomplished. from Arlene (in the US)

Flannery: Carly is 19 and Ryan is 26—their relationship feels more adult and this book definitely fills that awkward void of literature that exists between YA and adult. And Ryan? Swoon.

I think something I truly enjoyed about this one was that it honestly felt Australian
. The language, the personalities, the descriptions, just everything. I want this book published in the US but I want NONE of it changed or adapted. I had to look up with bitumen is and so can you. To change anything would rip the Aussie heart out of this book.

This book made me feel like I was reading a Melina Marchetta book. Sometimes the descriptions were painfully beautiful, the characters were delightfully flawed, and the dialogue was almost always spot-on.  I hope you can get your hands on a copy! 

I am beyond grateful that the lovely Nic shared this book and I will definitely be acquiring a copy soon. Hopefully Penguin USA will get with the program and publish this here.  From Flannery (in the US)

Olivia: Everything feels so honest, so real, everybody is painted with intrinsical, well-set strokes. There is a lot of old and new pain and hurt and fear and shame and brokenness. Hope glimpses through temporarily like a ray of sunshine in murky water: Mainly in the shape of people who care fo Carly inspite of her prickly exterior - Danny, Hannah and Ryan - and in the form Carly's contentment when the surf is good.

The writing style is superb, too.  From Olivia (in Germany)

Janina: Often dark and painful, but with just the right shimmer of hope in between. Fleshed-out secondary characters with lovable quirks and “special abilities” (how cool is the synaesthesia thing??) and a main character whose voice is raw with pain and desperation, but also so distinctly her. The Australian vibe is in every sentence, the writing beautiful – forming an unforgettable setting. From Janina (in Germany)

Tina: Raw Blue is such a powerful and haunting story. You can not help but be completely invested right from minute one till the very last page, hoping against hope that this character will eventually find the peace she so desperately needs.

Overall, I thought this book was simply amazing. It's intense and touching and heartbreaking and even though I usually tend to stay away from this type of heartbreak-reads, since it takes days to get over it, I'm still very happy to have had a chance to experience this outstanding gem. From Tina (in Canada) 

Oh ~ aren't those five girls lovely reviewers?
THANK YOU to Arlene, Flannery, Olivia, Janina and Tina 
for allowing me to share your thoughts about Raw Blue on inkcrush :D

I have, courtesy of the lovely Kirsty Eagar, a signed copy of (the brilliant) Raw Blue to give away

Isn't is gorgeous?
I will post this to anyone, anywhere

All entry requires is name and email 
However, this lovely signed copy was bought and donated by Kirsty herself, I have some additional entries available as a way of helping promote the awesomeness that is Raw Blue :D 
(for those of you who love the extra entry scene ;)

Open Internationally
Open for one week, closes Sept 7
Winner via random dot org

[Raw Blue is also internationally available through with free international postage]

In other, completely unrelated, news ... I have *just* returned from camping on the lovely Yamba River where I was blissfully lazy, technology-free, muddy (we spent a couple of stormy nights in the tent) and sunburnt (in between the rain, we had some sunshiny patches). I have missed you all and hope to catch up on my emails and bloggy world soon :)

x Nomes

Friday, August 19, 2011

CBCA Book of the Year Awards announced (2011)

Sonya Hartnett wins Book of the Year at the CBCA* Awards for 'The Midnight Zoo'
Children's Book Council of Australia

excerpt from my review of 'The Midnight Zoo':

What I mainly have to say about this book is it is simply astonishing, utterly gorgeous and deeply moving. It was a truly sensory experience, being transported to another time and place. [...] Hartnett's spectacular use of magical realism adds a new dimension in taking the story to somewhere truly gasp-worthy. I felt an ache and tremendous satisfaction at the end. It's life-affirming and a tear-jerker and achingly hopeful and a simply brilliant story to spend your time with.

The prestigious Children's Book Council of Australia Awards were announced this morning (LOVE these awards. Completely). I was very much so looking forward to the announcement this morning (and have been discussing it with my local librarians ;)

LOVED The Midnight Zoo: Read my full review (you know, if you're interested)

The Young Adult short-list looked like this:

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 

(I gave all four of these books 5 stars, all four are on my exclusive absolute favourites list <3).

HUGE congratulations to Sonya Hartnett and also to all those on the short-list (and notables).

Aussie YA is a genre producing such extraodinarily brilliant books. It really is a genre full of exceptional talent and incredible books. 

Have you read The Midnight Zoo?
(or plan to?)
Have you read any of the short-list?
And what would be your pick?

The Midnight Zoo is available internationally, with a different cover

International covers = gorgeous

Book blurb: Two gypsy boys are fleeing through a war-ravaged country-side during the night carrying a secret bundle. The boys stumble across a town that has been reduced to smoking rubble, and a zoo that is still intact. When the boys take shelter in the zoo, they discover a menagerie of talking animals. Both the boys and the animals tell their tales and their desire for freedom.  

Like The Silver Donkey and The Ghost’s Child, this is another beautiful fable-like tale that will move you to tears. It’s a story that will appeal to all ages-as with any fi ne book that merges history with fantasy, adults will enjoy reading this as much as children.
Like The Silver Donkey and The Ghost’s Child, this is another beautiful fable-like tale that will move you to tears. It’s a story that will appeal to all ages-as with any fi ne book that merges history with fantasy, adults will enjoy reading this as much as children.

I apologise for bloggers formatting. Which, is slightly out of control and entirely irksome. Ugh.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry

Aussie 2004 cover

Isn't it the *most* magnificent cover you have seen?

The girl on the car in her boots and dress and scarf.
The road lines into the sky...
The gorgeous title.

Us cover (circa 2006) VERSE original Aussie cover (circa 1997)

in lieu of pasting the blurb, read the actual blurb ;)

Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry is one of my most favourite nostalgia books &amp;lt;3

it came out when I was 17 and in my final year of high school. 

i loved it. 

my mates loved it.

i carried it around with me.

i wanted to be Rosie. i crushed on Asher.

i doodled all the little icons out of it into my journal.

i answered some of the profile-y parts in my journal, too :)

it's such a perfect teenagery book.

it's about crushes and first love. running away. a road trip. a kombi van. hippies. 
it sweet and quirky. funny and gorgeous. and very zen-alternative-byron-bay-esque.

it's gorgeously Australian.

it is experimental in structure: the story told from all POV's: Rosie and Asher and a narrator and their parents ...

Asher is all stream-of-consciousness with no punctuation.

other parts are all the little tidbits of their lives.

how much do i love it now? it was an ultimate favourite for me 14 years ago. it's still gorgeous and addictive and makes my heart swell when I flick through it. it reminds me of myself, as a teenager (not necessarily the characters, but how i felt and how i felt reading this book for the first time). i LOVE how different and arty it is (i do not know many books like it). it's still 5 stars from me ~ for being everything i wanted a book to be and more when I was younger. 

i re-read this last month. i just got it back on my shelf ~ yesterday~ after loaning it to two sisters: 11 and 13 years old who LOVED it. i recced it to an adult friend of mine (in the US) last year, and she adored it too &amp;lt;3

i think you should check it out, it's an Aussie YA cult classic kind of book :)

(it's also available internationally, and locally, of course)

this review is much more informal and chatty (although, it is my blog and i'll chat books in whatever format i like ;). 

as a bonus, i took some pics of random parts of the book so you could see how it is a little bit different ...

asher has dreadlocks :D
rosie tries to make them ~ by putting wax in her hair O.o

lily is rosie's mum. she is having her own little freak-out due to what lily has gone and done...

this is what asher and rosie did while they were on their road trip
(for part of it. for the bliss part... ;)

top of page: asher sending a post card to his byron bay friends
middle: a slice of character profiles, very awesome
bottom: a wednesday diary for rosie 

more of how the story moves forward in it's own funky/cool way
snippet from LIVING WITH TEENAGERS (which rosie's mum is reading. her and rosie are getting all rock in their relationship)
what asher packs to run away
sightings at the local bus station
strange signs they see on the way
rosie's thoughts while on the bus <3
(also ~ this is a typical-looking page spread. not written in the usual narrative)

what rosie and asher talk about, under a tree, while on their road trip
(next section, we see all their answers to the questions)

have you read it?
are you intrigued?
do you have favourite nostalgia books?
which cover is your fave?

oh, i love this book so

and i am extraordinarily happy to have it here on the blog &amp;lt;3

Guitar Highway Rose @ Allen and Unwin (including look @ first chapter)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Library Crush: my (awesome) local library

Library Crush is hosted by Just a YA Girl
(anyone can join in ~ check the link for details)

I LOVE the idea of raving about my local library.

Libraries have been such a HUGE part of my life and I love them to pieces :) My kids love libraries too, and I enrolled them from birth. I have been ever-so-fortunate ot live near awesome libraries ~ while they are not huge in size, they have an incredibly welcome atmosphere.

I have belonged to 5 public libraries before (because I am thinking you are all desperate to know my library history ;):

(feel free to skim right past this info, haha. It is a little self-indulgent :)

Blue Mountains City Library (where I lived until I was 13). My parents took me there all the time. When I was getting older my sister and I would walk to our local branch on a Saturday and bring home bags of books (I read every sweet valley high they had ;) I used to hoon around on the microfiche thingy even though i had no idea what I was doing.

Parkes Shire Library (all my teen years <3, and my kids toddler years ~ my early 20's) Parkes is a country town.

I went to the library a couple of times a week as a teenager. Until I got this job working every school afternoon and Saturday morning and by the time I finished work, the library was closed. It was distressing (to say the least). I had to get my dad to get books out for me (he was sweet, getting all my YA stuff). I also manipulated my little sister into doing my bidding... After a year I found a different job and all was right with the world.

Parkes Shire library was the reason I grew up on Aussie YA. More than half their YA catalogue was Australian and it was rare to read the imported stuff.

I took my kids there as soon as they were born ~ to story time, etc. They also have an awesome kids area with toys, computers, etc. I am still friends with the librarians there (a few are on my facebook list, haha). I was seriously sad to leave Parkes library behind. (I had been involved in helping them get a grant, had taken students there for work, and was a guest presenter during their summer holiday programs ~ running a cartooning workshop). IN a country town library, it feels  little bit like family :D

I found this old pic of my daughter and I at Parkes library in 2007
(taken by my sister ~ who is also a library fanatic)
They have a really great children's area <3

Penrith City Library (moved away from home to go to uni. Although I used my uni (UWS) library way more ~ they had an awesome fiction section)
 ~ back to Parkes after uni ;)

Redcliffe City Library (spent one year in Brisbane)
It was awesome to have access to different books but I was only there for a year and they had self check-out so I didn't really feel like I go to know my librarians well :/

~ back to Parkes after Brissie

Coffs Harbour City Library (current. been here 2 and half years)

So I snuck out yesterday and took some pics of my library. Coffs library has three branches, the main (massive) one being in the centre of Coffs. I *mostly* use the southern smaller branch which is less than 5 mins drive away. The main branch is an 8 min drive (what can I say? i am too lazy to drive that far :)

So there pics are of my personal little branch :)

This is a (very) dark pic of the building from the outside (with my car in the car park)
My main shopping centre is in the same block, so I go here, ahh, a lot ;)

There is a YA section at all three branches. The Coffs branch has twice the selection, though often they are multiple copies of popular titles. You can get them to bring any books you want for collection at any branch.

I am so fortunate they get a lot of new release dvd's, which you can borrow for a couple of weeks for free. My kids love getting out the audio books from here (their faves are all the Paul Jennings ones)

close-up of the (some of the) 'M section' ~ 

(thought you might like a better spy as the bigger picture is hard to make things out on)

if you are familiar with the spines you can spy three of my most ever fave books: 'On The Jellicoe Road', 'Finding Cassie Crazy' and 'Tomorrow, When the War Began'

I chose a close of of M as the 'M section' has long been a fave of mine. In my previous library, I was always checking it out first:

Melina Marchetta, Jaclyn Moriarty, John Marsden, Kirsten Murphy, Maureen McCarthy, James Moloney, David Metzenthen, Juliet Marillier, Kirsty Murray, 
(Now I could add Shirley Marr and Lara Morgan)
These are ALL Aussie authors  used to get out as a teen/young adult)

Now ~ I use my library all the time.Every week ~ sometimes I drop in 2 or 3 times. 

We have 5 cards between our family and they are always all reserved out to the max.
The cards are like GOLD ~ extremely valuable
I know other patrons would LOVE to have 5 cards at their disposal.  

I subscribe to their newsletters and go to any interesting events
(they have a lot of special functions, author visits, etc)
and awesome school holiday events for the kids

I have created a whole heap of 'alerts' so when they add new titles to their catalogue, I get emails letting me know they are on order (a lot of my alerts are for certain authors I follow). One of my alerts is for anything new to the YA section. So last night, for example, I had an email with links to 41 new YA titles they have just added. Those emails are some of my fave emails ;) Alerts are seriously awesome (I also get alerted to all new dvd's that come in, etc, which I can automatically reserve)

Here's some pictures of my daughter Carissa a couple of years ago at the Coffs library ~ a special Questacon event for preschoolers

Aww, she was so little then ... 
(she was 4 here and is 6 now)

I am SO pleased my kids love going to the library as much as I did when I was a kid. 
My boys now use the online catalogue to reserve stuff they want (so cute)

And, I'll finish there :)
Not sure how interesting all this was, haha. But I feel like I could talk all day about my library life, past and present.

Do you use your local library?
Wish you had one?
Have any fave library memories?

Thanks so much to Trish for being the genius behind this idea and for hosting it :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

"I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.
Taylor is the leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs- the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone who she thought she would never see again.
"And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother- who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.
(back blurb from original Aussie cover)

I first read 'On The Jellicoe Road' in 2006. I had been DYING for it's release ~ and can still remember how tingly and giddy I felt as I walked home with my copy. Back then, I had 3 kids under 5 and couldn't wait for them to get in bed so I could curl up and savour my new Melina Marchetta.

On The Jellicoe Road is notorious for people finding the beginning confusing ~ and I have seen lovers of the book urge people to persevere to find it's magic. 

It was not like that for me. From the first chapter ~ I was spellbound. I remember thinking it was beautiful and haunting and funny and so entirely utterly appealing ~ the prose and the mystery and the characters. I guess I did feel a little like: what is going on? But not in a distracting way. It was absorbing and engaging and mesmerising. And entirely unexpected.

I LOVED how gorgeously chaotic the story initially felt. I knew NOTHING about it ~ I even wondered if Santangelo would be the love interest in the early days (which quickly flew from my mind as Jonah's (JONAH!) story started unravelling).

I LOVE that I knew nothing about it. Not one review, not one opinion. I had my expectations of awesomeness (it was, after all, a Melina Marchetta and I had read (and re-read) her previous two books countless times. 

 Reading it blindly was a stunning experience: I felt like the whole world was just me and the book. That the entire experience was mine. That no one had gone before me. That the story was for me and I was a part of the story. I still feel like that, in a way. I see others discovering it and loving it and I am SO proud of it (as if, somehow, it is mine, haha) ~ but a small part of me feels like it belongs uniquely to me. More to me than anyone else (I know this is a ridiculous sentiment, but I still feel it). I almost feel private about it ~ as if it has become a part of me and talking about is like letting others peek into my soul.

That very first time: I read it all in one go. I was shattered and absorbed and breathless and incredulous. I fell in love with the characters and the prose and the setting. I still recall finishing the book and how I felt gutted and euphoric and in awe all at once. Too stunned to cry (even though it would have been lovely to weep), I lay in my bed for an hour, just thinking about it. And then ... I picked it up and started reading it from the beginning all over again. 

Since then, I have read it every year (sometimes more than once). It has never lost it's magic. It weaves itself deeper into me. It is my own personal cult book &lt;3

It seems ridiculous that I have a book blog and have not reviewed my favourite book of all time. I think I just feel entirely too inadequate to be up the the task. I also feel like it is such a part of me that I want to hold it close and not share it with the world. Yet another part of me feels like I could talk about it all day long and never tire of things to say and quotes to quote. 

This isn't a review, per se. 

It is me, humbly telling you, that 'On The Jellicoe Road' is my favourite book of all time. It is brilliant and hopeful and ache-y and truly soul-changing. It is the kind of chaotically gorgeous masterpiece that you only ever-so-rarely stumble across. It is perfect in it's brilliance. It radiates life and hope even as it is filled with grief and sorrow. It is everything, everything, I love about reading, in such a way that it almost ruined me for other books ;) I am completely undone for it. 

Aussie large paperback original edition, US edition, Aussie 2010 regular paperback edition

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Taste in Books <3

(blogger won't let me have a title :/ )

Before internet days, reading was a much more personal experience for me. It consisted of me roaming around my library/book shop and either:

  • randomly selecting titles that looked interesting
  • stalking my favourite authors section
  • re-reading faves 

I easily (without guilt) abandoned books that didn't capture my attention in the first few chapters (easy to do with library books). I completely ignored books that didn't look like it was my style.

And then ...

along came my blogging and goodreads days ~ where a lot more books began floating around my radar.

Some books are insanely hyped before they are even released (a lot of people add to the hype without even knowing if the book delivers). Hype has the opposite effect on me ~ it makes me tentative (and, weirdly, sceptical ~ even though I am so not a sceptical kind of person) ~ I much prefer genuine word of mouth as a tool to get me interested in a book.

But, I expanded in the kinds of books I trial ~ and occasionally (okay, rarely, haha) surprised myself with loving something I thought would not be for me. I started persevering longer with books I previously would have abandoned. I picked up books I previously would have disregarded.

I had a season where I was frustrated with myself for feeling out of the loop on so many books. Books beloved by others but blah to me. Hyped books that ended up being lame. Being annoyed at myself for slogging through books that I was not particularly enjoying, to get the end and think, "so what?"

Here's what I have learned: I know what I am drawn to and I know what I love.

I love books that are quietly awesome.
Melodrama irks me.
I always love the characters more than the plot.
I'm not looking for high concept premises or shocking twists.
I prefer characters that bleed onto the page.
I like reading the truth, being moved and authors who get under their character's skins.
I'm not interested in paranormal love stories that are more about the "forbiddeness" of the whole thing than the actual characters.
I dig lyrical prose and quotable sentiments.
I love a whimsical vibe and a quirky sense of humour.
I love grinning and characters with a unique voice and outlook.
I don't like try-hard edgy books.
I want a story that genuinely lingers. Authors who shine with genius-like brilliance. Themes that move me and challenge me.
I love hope and redemption and life.
I will swoon over a character's personality and dialogue rather than their looks (perfect looking characters are so blah).
I like books with a funky edge. Flawed characters. And a lot of heart.
I love books that somehow manage to peek into my soul.
I love reads that make me nostalgic, make me sigh and fill me with longing.
I like relaxing, smiley reads and also hard-hitting, ache-y stories.
I want to read books that have characters worthy of me spending my time with them. 

Lately I am feeling more and more sure of myself as a reader. More certain of what I love. I unashamedly rave about my favourite books ~ even if the hard and fast crowd think they're boring ;). I skip right past popular books that others are going crazy for. I don't feel bad if I fail to love a book that it feels like everyone is loving. I find magic in quiet hidden gems that seem to be overlooked by the crowd. I am proud of my favourite books and I am over guilt-tripping about my (extensive) graveyard of abandoned books.

No one has the same taste as me. No one will 100% love what I do. And, I like that :)

(this post was going to be about something else, but turned into an impulsive kind of reading manifesto, haha).

On that note: I am currently drafting a new page for my blog filled with my favourites. Books I insanely, crazily love <3 ~ books that are totally my thing ... yeah :D

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Victorian language of flowers was used to express emotions: honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it has been more useful in communicating feelings like grief, mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

 Now eighteen, Victoria has nowhere to go, and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. When her talent is discovered by a local florist, she discovers her gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But it takes meeting a mysterious vendor at the flower market for her to realise what's been missing in her own life, and as she starts to fall for him, she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, and decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness. "The Language of Flowers" is a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family, and the meaning of love.

Did you know? The Language of Flowers  is a debut novel which sparked a major international bidding war.  It sold at auction for over 1 million in the US (!)  ~ and for a six-figure sum in the UK and Commonwealth.

So, you know, I was dying excited to dig into my copy :D

Let me tell you a bit about it ... The blurb gives an awesome synopsis (see above). The story itself alternates between the present and the past,  a chapter at a time. 

In the present, Victoria is eighteen, jobless, homeless and sleeping in a park. She manages to get a job working for a florist (she knows flowers, in an obsessed kind of way :) She is reserved, quietly spunky and rather unlike any protagonist I have read for a while. She is not bitter and hardened by the system, but she is ever-so-guarded.

In the past, we see snatches of Victoria's childhood. In particular, her time spent as a ten year old with a carer, Elizabeth, who loved her. But something went horribly/catastrophically/spectacularly wrong (ie Victoria did something unforgivable... ).  The secret and mysteries of the past unfold in layers, subtle yet compelling.

In the present, there is also a guy ...  ;)

This guy, Grant, gets under Victoria's skin. And he is more than just a romantic interest. He is completely tied up in her past. Dun, dun, dun... 

As for how I enjoyed the book? It's gorgeously written. I love literary fiction, and Diffenbaugh knows how to turn a phrase and how to capture your senses and breathe life into her characters.  It's a lovely combination of a slow-burning character arc kind of book, while at the same time building the plot in such a way that at the end of each chapter you want to keep following the story to see what happens next (there's a bundle of secrets, and some foreshadowing that lets you know all is not going to go well.)

I am also a sucker for stories of redemption. They get me every time. Take a character who is broken, rejected, hurting and slowly, ever-so-gently offer them forgiveness and hope and a future and I always feel it on their behalf. Victoria's journey was at times painful to watch. She makes some bad decisions (O.o) and the present time spans around 18 months (and she goes through a lot. No spoilers but I loved the turn of events. Very addictive reading). However, this is ultimately a story of hope and love and it is never melodramatic (even in it's moments of drama) but rather feels triumphant and genuine.

The thing, I guess, that sets this apart (to cause that insane bidding scene) ~ is the whole flower thing. I am not a flower type of person but reading this opened up a whole other world for me. Flowers play a huge, shining role in the story (there is even a Dictionary of Flowers in the back) and they are richly described (you can nearly smell them through the pages), and the history and meanings are completely fascinating. Such an awesome premise, hey. 

I really enjoyed reading this story, and had many moments of quiet awe. 

Recommended: For lovers of flowers (seriously, this is like, flower-heaven in a book), for fans of YA crossovers (Victoria is 18), for fans of literary contemporary fiction and ~ for your mum ;) I completely enjoyed the time I spent with 'The Language of Flowers' and I am am quietly excited to see how it fares once it it released.

Is it worth the hype/buzz? It didn't blow me away/shatter me to pieces or become an absolute favourite, but I had a really good time reading it and absolutely recommend it :)

The Language of Flowers will be available from September 1 in Australia

The Language of Flowers @ Pan Macmillan
The Language of Flowers @ goodreads

What do you think of the cover? At first I didn't even notice the girl's profile (now it is so obvious I don't know what I was thinking, haha). I really like it. It's kind of literary but also fresh and a tiny bit funky with the title font.

About the author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh was born and raised in California. She has degrees in Creative Writing and Art Education from Stanford University. She is an activist and has worked in non-profits with "at risk" youth, including homeless and foster youth. She and her husband have three children, Graciela, Miles, and Tre'von and live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending this lovely book my way <3

Some international covers