Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Free-Falling by Nicola Moriarty

Belinda's life is in free-fall after the sudden death of her fiancĂ© Andy. But then ghostly signs begin to appear which suggest he might not really be gone. And Belinda begins to tumble even further - until she finds his final parting gift. But will it be enough to save her? 

Evelyn McGavin, Andy's mum, is also struggling in her bereavement. She copes with her sorrow by shoplifting (once), hating Belinda (constantly) and jumping out of a plane. In her skydiving instructor, Baz, she finds an unexpected friend. But why is he so agitated when he hears how Andy died? 

Two women, united in their loss, separated by their sorrow. And yet still linked in a most unexpected way...

I shelved this book @ goodreads: 

Oh, so you can see I liked it. More than just a lot.

Every now and then a book comes along that just is the perfect fit for me.

A book that reminds me how much I love to read.

How much I love falling in love with characters.

How much I love gorgeous and funny and whimsical and perfectly put together prose.

A book that I cannot keep away from. And when I have to leave it, I am finding any moments in my day to squeeze in a few more sentences.

Even better, this was a book where, upon finishing, I went back through for the next couple of days. Just not ready to move on from the characters and the world.

I truly, sincerely, crazily loved this book. Just thinking about it now has me smiling and sighing, remembering the good times the book and I had together.

This book is just so utterly charming.

It had it all for me. I ached (surprisingly, a lot) with genuine sadness and regret. I swooned (oh my swoon!). I laughed. I felt inspired. I loved every single thing about this book. 

There's mystery elements, murder, sky-diving, manic-like shoplifting, grief, love, people behaving badly, mixed-messages, possible ghost-lingering, quirky coincidences and despair all wrapped up with humour, fun, sincerity and whole lot of heart. I loved the plot, original and true and slightly bizarre. But, more than that, I adored the characters. And when I fall in love with characters, that provides the ultimate reading experience, because for that moment, while I am with them, they are real to me. Very endearing flawed characters. 

What a gorgeous, life-affirming, moving, whimsical, original debut. With one book, Nicola has bounded on to my all time fave authors list.

Things you might want to know:

Free Falling is my favourite book this year (followed closely by an Aussie YA novel which I plan to talk about next week ;))

Nicola is one of five sisters, two of whom you may be familiar with: YA author Jaclyn Moriarty, and author Liane Moriarty. I love all three of these Moriarty girls, they are SO my kind of authors <3

I plan on rereading this very soon. In fact, I feel nostalgic about it every time I think about it, haha.

Oh, so, no review-type synopsis from me. You can find them in reviews on goodreads. I much prefer to just chat (or in this case, gush) about how much I loved this book so. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Guest Post (& Give-away) from the Divine Shirley Marr

This is an encore guest post from the lovely Shirley Marr, author of Fury, celebrating her sophomore YA release, Preloved :) Take it away, Shirley x

Thanks for having me on your drool-worthy blog today Nomes as part of my tour! (absolutely any time, Shirley :))

Today I thought I'd let you read one of the companion stories that go with Preloved. In the novel Amy refers to all these spooky stories that her mum tells her. Here is one of them in full. Enjoy!

Untitled Companion Story (Preloved)
by Shirley Marr

Amy? Are you listening to your mother? Don't try and edge towards the door. What friends? I told you already, you're not allowed to have any friends until you finish high school.

Anyway, you can't go outside. It's a full moon tonight. Do you need reminding not to point at the moon? There's a woodcutter who lives there with an axe who looks out for naughty children just like you. Your cousin Adam pointed at the moon when he was five and he woke up with cuts behind the ears.

Anyway, if you remember what I've always told you, the moon should be the least of your worries out there in the dark.

Do you believe in ghosts? I never used to either until what happened to your Uncle Alan.

Did I ever tell you that story?

He always complained he had a strict mother too. That's why he decided to get a motorbike. But not a helmet. And not turn on his headlights at night. Even though they worked just fine.

This is precisely how he got lost. It was just beginning to get dark and he had decided he knew the way instead of reading any of the signs. 

That was how your Uncle ended up in the middle of nowhere at a graveyard.

The first thought that came to his mind was his mother’s voice saying “you should never go into a graveyard. You might come across something you’d rather not and the dead don’t want you there anyway, disturbing their peace.”

Your uncle had been riding for a long time, he was tired and the grass inside looked tempting. He would only be there a little while. He wasn’t going to disturb anyone.

“I’m warning you!” His mother’s voice screamed at him. “If any of those gravestones have pictures of them, turn your face away! You don’t look at the dead and the dead won’t look at you!”

Alan laughed and he walked into that graveyard. He purposely stared at each and every headstone he came across. Read the names and the inscriptions. Not many of the stones had photos anyway; the few that did were black and white and very grainy.

Coming across a patch of grass that seemed to call invitingly in the evening wind, Alan plonked himself down. He intended to have a nap for a few minutes and then be on his way.

That was until the gravestone directly opposite him caught his eye. He could almost hear the alarm bells going off, but he pushed down on that mute button inside his head.

It must have been a new grave as the soil still looked fresh and so did the flowers, so many of them. 
This gravestone had a photo.

Unlike the others, it wasn't a black and white photo of granny and pop. It was in colour and it showed clearly, the face of a young woman.

She was so pretty. She had glossy black hair and beautiful almond eyes.

Thank you the wind seemed to whisper in a woman’s voice. Haven’t heard anyone tell me that for a while.
Alan looked around, but there was no one there.

That’s right. We’re all alone. I’m alone all the time now. So alone.

Alan got up immediately. He wasn’t feeling tired anymore. He quickly grabbed the keys out of his pocket and headed back to his bike.

Leaving so soon? You’ve looked at me and I've looked at you. You can't leave me now. You've disturbed my slumber. I will disturb yours.

Around him the grass and the trees rustled.

Alan ran all the way back to his bike, almost dropped the keys, managed to start the ignition and off he roared, fast as he could.

What happened at the graveyard spooked him. He kept turning back, expecting to see someone following him, but of course there was no one. He probably did fall asleep back there and had a nightmare. Even though he swore he had been wide awake.

"Phew," said Alan. "No kung-phew, Alan. You should go and make an offering at the temple and wash yourself in flowers," I said to him, as he stood shivering in my parent's living room. I made him a hot Milo, but he was too jittery to drink.

"Or else she will make herself your bride, I swear, Alan. She will disturb your peace as you have disturbed hers."

We used to be close, your Uncle and me. We used to talk about everything.

"I will," said Alan, but he meant he won't, as he drove off into the night, leaving me all empty on my parent's driveway.

Up ahead, a big freight truck was travelling slow. Too slow for Alan. He cut in front of the it and raced on ahead, he wanted to be as far away from the memory of that graveyard as possible.

Alan slowed down to check how far ahead he was. He wasn't. The last thing Alan felt was the crunching of his body as his bike got dragged under. The last thing he heard was his mother’s voice screaming “I told you!” and a woman’s voice saying “mum’s right.”

Until the rain washed it way, you could see the streak half a kilometre long, half red and half white like a ribbon. The white was bone, by the way.

That is how I got to believing in ghosts.

What's that? Because your Uncle told me he met one at the graveyard? Oh, no no.

It's because your Uncle is now one too. 

Because he told me himself.



Amy, are you even listening to me? How many times have I told you to respect your elders?

How many times do you need to be spoken to?

Now, turn around and answer your Uncle.

He wants to know when you'll be free to attend his wedding.

SHIRLEY! Haha, that was awesome. Kind of eerie but somehow it completely made me grin. I LOVE Amy's mum :)

I am thinking you could do a ghost story anthology... Hmm?

Thanks again for having me Nomes!

Shirley, it was absolutely my pleasure.

Shirley has been blessed by the cover gods :)

I would love for you guys to enter to win Preloved. Just need a name and email address. Bloomsbury has generously provided the copy and I will mail it out anywhere in the world

x Nomes

Preloved in the wild @ my local book shop
Snuggled up against the Tomorrow When the War Began series

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.
Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I loved the beginning of Grave Mercy. It’s harrowing, emotional, intriguing and grabs you from the start: horrific, yet emotionally compelling back story. Mysterious night trip to a nunnery on an island. Assassin nuns. Boarding school intrigue. Poisons. Masterly constructed weapons and gadgetry. Secrets and oaths.

Here I was all primed for a kick-ass medieval assassin, and as soon as Ismae is unleashed in the world... things sizzle right down. Instead of being a wild, brilliant sneaky little assassin, her potions and gadgets get less of a work-out as readers have to sit through pages of political intrigue. Did I say intrigue? It was not overly intriguing. Such a fantastic premise was coupled with such a bland political plot. Pages of council meetings and trying to keep up with which political dude wants what, what they really want and who is betraying whom, etc. It felt confusing, keeping track of everyone, yet the political plot itself was simple: the whole mid section of the book was about who the duchess should marry. 

This major political plot line felt like a waste of an assassin premise. Like I had been promised one kind of (exciting, original, dashing) story and somehow fell into a medieval political snoozefest instead.

It is not all just politics. There is, of course, some romance. And I have mixed feelings about this as well. It, too, began with promise. Compelling antagonism and a hint of chemistry bubbling away, but then it fell into a predictable format and by the culmination at the end, I felt nothing. I am not sure why it did not work for me? Perhaps because Ismae seemed out of character in the romantic scenes? Hmm...

The Climax: the author went the whole way, raising the stakes to the highest point. Yet, it was done in such a way that I felt zero tension and no anticipation. I knew the author would not be willing to sacrifice that which her story was threatening to ~ and so sat waiting back for the author to create her magical loop hole promising a happy ending. 

Overall, regarding my personal enjoyment of Grave Mercy: I started off engaged and intrigued. If I was to make a graph, my interest would start out deliciously high and then drop to a steady decline from the middle of the book to a fizzed out ending. Okay, add a a few blips of increased interest at intermittent romantic intervals (I am always on the look out for some swoon, it was slow building enough to add tension, but ultimately just short of bringing enough spark, for me).

Side note: Pet peeve: making YA villains not just evil in their intent, but also ugly, fat and repulsive to look at (and horny in that filthy underage way. Argh.). Why? So unimaginative. 

Also: did French women really paint their nipples with rouge? O.o

Oh: and I felt some confusion about what elements were fantasy from the author and which parts had historical basis? I am clearly not an expert on this genre.

Recommend for fans of historical, political intrigue in a lite manner ;) 

Thanks Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the ecopy 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Books of the Month: March and April

A HUGE (belated) happy mother's day to all those awesome mums out there :D
My husband and my eldest son came home Saturday night (after being away for two weeks) so I enjoyed mother's day very much so. Also, got a book from Reuben and Carissa. CHECK IT BELOW
Me and my Mother's Day present :)
The new Laura Buzo (!!). Slightly poor quality shot, it's called: Holier Than Thou. Extremely brilliant and 100% crushworthy. Speaking of Laura Buzo ~ I know you all know just how much I LOVED her debut, GOOD OIL which has previously only been available in Australia. So I am THRILLED it has an international release, different cover and title. Even more thrilled it is available on netgalley! If you love Aussie YA and new adult fiction, you seriously can't go wrong :)

Laura Buzo's debut novel Good Oil, being published as Love and Other Perishable Items.
If you're a netgalley user ~ fingers crossed Random House approve you :)

Speaking of belated...So, here's this feature/meme I started. And, while I've muffed up the time of posting, I am still  sharing with you guys what I have been reading. Brace yourselves (haha). Actually, it won't take you long to see what I have been up to...

I am *nearly* ashamed of my reading count for the last two months.

Books I read in March

It Had To be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Contemporary romance and guilty pleasure read. Perfect for when I had no energy for reading, but still needed something to do at night. 

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
YA historical. This one had a lot of hype and I think that raised my expectations too high. My review will be up tomorrow. 

Free Falling by Nicola Moriarty
Australian contemporary and all round brilliance. I loved this one, so much. SO MUCH. My favourite book of the year, so far. (on a side note, tried to buy this one for my mother in law for mother's day and went to every shop that sells books in Coffs and no one had it! A true travesty)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
A reread before seeing the film. Good times. (The book, actually, the film was also fun even though I didn't necessarily think it was good ;))

Books I read in April

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Oh, I so very much loved this. Truly my kind of contemporary. Gorgeous and compelling and touching and a tiny bit fairy-tale-esque. 100% recommended.

The Good Daughter by Honey Brown
Australian contemporary (adult) (Mini Review) My gosh, Honey Brown can write. I loved the feeling right from the first page of being in the hands of a gifted writer: words and sentiments so beautifully articulated, all my five senses were engaged in this novel due to Brown's talent in evoking, well, EVERYTHING.

From the outset I assumed I would love this: Kirsty Eagar lists it as her favourite Australian novel (oh! This had me running for it) It's won, like, a bazillion awards.

It's duel-y narrated by two high school students, one male, one female. Perfect for a YA-loving adult: an adult novel seen through teen protagonists. BRING IT ON.

I cannot fault the writing and delivery, which means my three stars are all about taste. Unfortunately this was a tad bleak, claustrophobic and harrowing for this girl who like a bit more sunshine and light in books. I needed to come up for air by the end, no doubt the authors intent. Whew. 

I Came To Say Good bye by Caroline Overington
Australian contemporary. I had been meaning to read this for a while, and it was oddly written but strangely compelling. The story has lingered but I still don't know if I really enjoyed it. Weird feeling :/ 


Incurable by John Marsden
Really loving the Ellie Chronicles on Audio. Very well narrated and i always love spending time with the tomorrow gang.

Tell me a Secret by Holly Cupala
The audio of this was truly brilliant. I saw this one recommended from April (Good Books and Good Wine) in a top ten audio list, so treated myself to it from Audible. As for the story itself, initially I loved it, but by the end, I was less enchanted. I think I found the last few months of the story a bit hard to buy? And somewhere along the line it lost it's charm. Odd, when that happens. not sure if my mood changed or if it was the book? Who knows?

So, it's been a quiet year for me so far, with more of a lean towards adult fiction than usual. So far, I've read three books this may (one Aussie YA, one Australian adult thriller and one YA dystopian), and I'll be chatting about them in a couple of weeks. I have also started a number of books and not finished them :/ Some I abandoned forever, others are on hold. 

See you guys around xo Nomes

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dusting off the blog

So, you may have noticed I had an impromptu announced hiatus... mainly due to work and life, but also stemming from the fact that I have barely been reading this year and, so, sadly lacking in inspiration for a book blog. (I won't take time to go into various computer/internet problems, which have also kept me offline).

I have missed you all so, although I've been, surprisingly, keeping up with you all on my reader (I use Flipboard [free app] on my iPod and COMPLETELY recommend it for reading blogs. I fly through my google reader on it). Although, I haven't taken time out to visit and say hi (HI!)

Keeping my post in point form so I don't drown you all with a monologue of my life

1. For those who are interested: I am moving! Completely out of the blue, as I ADORE living in Sawtell (so very much) and assumed I was here to stay... yet a series of events lead my husband to his DREAM job which happens to be in Maroochydore, on the Sunshine Coast in QLD.

Aerial shot of Maroochydore, where we are moving to
On the east coast of Australia

Changing states! Wah! By all accounts, it is an equally gorgeous place to live. And so far my friends here are in equal parts mourning my departure (heheheh) and jealous of our good fortune. 

If you're still reading ~ my husband will be working for Compassion Australia, an international world aid and child advocacy ministry. I've spoken on here before about his passion for world aid and eradicating extreme poverty, so I while I am slightly startled to be moving so suddenly, I am absolutely thrilled for the new direction in our lives. My husband will be travelling throughout Queensland and internationally and away from home a lot, which will be another change for our family.. Speaking of travelling, he is currently in Bali with my oldest son, Sam, holidaying and also helping to build water tanks for villagers who are dying for lack of clean water.   

My son Sam, cycling through Bali last week
My husband in Uganda with former child soldiers, taken in 2010

Are there any Aussie bloggers near the Sunshine Coast? It would be awesome to meet up one day :)

2. While I was absent on inkcrush, I guest posted on two of my fave blogs:

Over at Chachic's Book Nook where I raved on about a favourite Melina Marchetta book of mine for Marchetta Madness week. Can you guess which book?

a shot from my shelves...
This MM book was made into a movie :)
And I was here on The Readaventurer, talking about one of my ABSOLUTE FAVE HEROINES EVER. In fact, I love her so much, I even took pictures of myself trying to be her... 

I know! Can you guess who I am and what I am doing? haha

Maybe this will be a better clue?
3. I was scheduled to be a part of a Very Exciting Blog Tour: 

And I missed my stop! Never fear, I will be posting and encore guest post this coming week, including an international giveaway for a most wanted Aussie YA book. Be excited! 

Do you know who this Aussie YA author is?
Coming up on inkcrush

4. I have read a GRAND TOTAL of 19 book this year. Not many, hey? I'll be back in a few days to show you the books I read in March and April. A little teaser: my favourite books for those months were

Free Falling! YOU GUYS. SO good. On my hall of fame of all-time lifelong favourites xo

5. I cannot pretend my blogging is going to suddenly be super regular, but I am not going away. In fact, March marked my two year anniversary. I love the literary world too much, and my blogging friends just as hard, to disappear altogether. That said, this next month is looking crazy busy for me (finishing up work, packing and farewelling friends and all the fun stuff that comes with an interstate move). Thanks to all you who bear with me and are still hanging around. You make it worth it :)

6. Just have to say: my new library on the Sunshine Coast looks like a dream! Definitely the biggest library I will have ever belonged too and I have already scoured their catalogue for books I have had on my wishlist for a while and found a bunch ~ so pretty pumped to check it out. Can't wait to join up and get reading :)

On the flipside of that, my Coffs Harbour librarians are sad to see me go, a couple of them have become good friends of mine, I will miss them too. Love my librarians xo

7. If you have the time: recommend me a favourite book you have read this year. I am sorely in need of a GOOD READ to remind me how much I love reading. YA or adult fiction :)

See you all again real soon

xo Nomes