Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Cecilia Fitzpatrick, devoted mother, successful Tupperware business owner and efficient P&C President, has found a letter from her husband.

For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick
To be opened in the event of my death

but Cecilia's husband isn't dead, he's on a business trip. And when she questions him about it on the phone, Cecilia senses something she hasn't experienced before, John-Paul is lying. 

What happens next changes Cecilia's formerly blissful suburban existence forever, and the consequences will be life-changing for the most unexpected people. 

I love the premise and inspiration for this novel:

Two years ago Liane Moriarty stumbled upon a fascinating article about real life deathbed confessions. She learned about Christian Spurling, who confessed on his deathbed to faking a notorious photo of the Loch Ness Monster. There was a famous songwriter who was dying of cancer and wrote a letter admitting, after years of adamant denials, that she had plagiarized a lullaby melody. Then there was the hapless man who, after suffering a stroke, confessed he’d killed his neighbour thirty years earlier. The only problem was that he didn’t end up dying. After he was released from hospital he went straight to jail. 
This article helped inspire Sydney-based Liane to write her latest novel, The Husband's Secret which we are publishing in April.  
Cecilia Fitzpatrick, Sydney wife, mother and P&C President, discovers her husband has a secret so dark it could destroy her blissfully ordinary suburban existence. We all have secrets. But not like this… The Husband’s Secret is a stunning, complex novel guaranteed to cause debate and controversy. This book will have everyone asking, “What would I do?” (taken from Pan Macmillan's press release)
Some of the best highlights of my reading life over the last 7 years (it was in 2005 that I stumbled upon Three Wishes, an all time fave) has been snapping open a new Liane Moriarty. My love for her prose and characters and unique stories brings with it high expectations. You guys, I am SO EXCITED to be sharing my review of this book with you as there has never been a better time to get with the program. The Husband's Secret was so divinely awesome, so surprising, so deliciously funny and genuinely heartfelt that it seriously blew me away, me - a devout fan with sky-high expectations.

So you think you know what this book could be about? Think again. It is so mysterious  and even after the Big Reveal (ie the reading of the letter) it's even more unexpected and surprising. Even more addictive. How does she do it? Liane has a niche on the market for intelligent women's fiction ~ utterly original, superbly creative and just so good, so good.

This book had the magic combo for me: that feeling of wanting to rush ahead and devour it all, desperately hanging out for the reveal, and also wanting to slow down and savour all it's brilliance. (confession: I decided to savour this book. 24 hours after cracking open that first chapter I was done. I couldn't stop thinking about when I had to tear myself away, and I'm still thinking about it now.)

I love so much about Liane's books. But I often find myself in a scatterbrained mess trying to articulate just how brilliant they are. Here's a few points :)

1. The storytelling! Moriarty is a master storyteller weaving together three perspectives which eventually criss-cross each other paths. It has that gorgeous touch of whimsy, coincidence and fate. It's also insanely addictive storytelling - reveals in just the right places, humour sprinkled in perfectly alongside the heartbreak  the tension building and the climax exploding. 

2. The humour is so delightful, it's wicked and empathetic and intelligent and smiley and it just nails it, every time. 

3. The characters. They come to life in such a way that they are lovable even in their unlovable moments. I truly was invested in them. I felt their sorrow and ached alongside them <3

4. Those swoony moments. With a few deft sentences, the romance in this book just had my heart, it also left me bereft (but hopeful) at times. Which is the perfect kind of love stories, all good and bad and swoony and unpredictable.

5. The Sydney (and Melbourne) setting. Just gorgeous. So spot on, I could feel myself walking along those streets and doing the school run. 

6. The more I was drawn into the book, the more I got caught up in the shades of grey. And wondering just what was the right thing to do? How was Liane going to make this whole thing turn out? The answer is: in an unexpected and unforgettable way...

I recommend this book so much. I am excited for it to be out, excited for everyone to read it. And already hanging out for my next Liane Moriarty fix.

The Husband's Secret is available in Australia now :)
The Husband's Secret @ goodreads
The Husband's Secret @ Pan Macmillan 
(Also available for preorder from The Book Depository for non-Aussies)

Thanks ever so much to Pan Macmillan for the review copy

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sanctum by Sarah Fine

“My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple.”

A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance—hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone—she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife. 

As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t—the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.

True confession: I had never even heard of this book. And I saw a two star review of it on goodreads which, for some reason (?), had me intrigued.  I downloaded the sample onto my kindle, and at the end of the sample I clicked the buy-now-and-continue-reading-thingy. I am still baffled at myself. I don't even read this genre, guys (me? Urban fantasy?).

I know nothing about this genre, so it's not like I can compare, all I know is this: I was drawn into this world and spent most the day finding excuses to sneak up to my bedroom and knock off a few more chapters. I read it in under 24 hours and so completely enjoyed myself.

It's hard for me to differentiate between whether this was a good book or just a good reading experience. Does that make sense? At the time, it was so compelling and unusual and swoony and different and just so unexpected. Anyway, I am a fan of a good reading experience and am still stunned at how much I got caught up in this book (sometimes I know I am reading a good book, but the reading experience is just not doing anything for me, so I much prefer a good experience, you know?).

Sanctum is dark. It is set in a kind of Hell-place (you can tell I am out of my depth talking urban fantasy, haha) and so many scenes are vivid in this horrific, scary-intriguing, can't-look-away-way. It's imaginative and compelling. You would think a setting like this would not be the nicest head space to crawl into. Not so. It was strangely fun, like I was inside my own lucid dream, where things felt real but were just horribly, squirmishly wrong. 

Alongside this creative and fully-fleshed out world, Sarah Fine created this kick-arse crew of characters. Complete with mysterious (and ultimately heart-breaking) back stories. I am all about characters, always. It's characters who sell me on a book and in Sanctum I was sold. Lela is tough but relatable, she's unbelievably determined and has just the perfect, tiny amount of sweetness (hidden away in a lovely vulnerable way. And Malachi. OKAY. He is probably the kind of stuff urban fantasy male leads are made of: hot (given), tough and capable (in that warrior way, muscles and kickarse fighting and all that), hard and intimidating (at first...) sensitive and so absolutely vulnerable (okay, secretly, but those hints of vulnerability add to his appeal). These two have chemistry and just LOADS of appeal. People who liked to get carried away and swoon while reading, will be able to swoon away in this book ;)

Sanctum is not the book you think it is. I finished it and even then was like, woah, what did I just read? I am a still a little stunned at the way I gobbled it up, and I am recommending it to people who are in the mood for something different. And to people who don't mind being taken on a strange, and at times dark, journey alongside two beaten down, but still fighting, characters (what a sentence  heh). I'll be reading the next one (the ending of this had an awesome twist, so much so that now I have no idea what to even expect of number two...)      

Does this review even make sense? I am flummoxed. 

This books is shelved as: unexpectedly liked. what did I even just read? swoon. page-flipping frenzy. 

 Sanctum on goodreads

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ten More Books I'm Hanging Out For in 2013

A week or so ago, I got all psyched for ten books I can't wait to read in 2013. All of those books I am so excited for (and am thinking they'll be on my fave reads of the year list). All of them are from authors I already know and love.

I am also getting excited for books from unknown-to-me authors. Which is the best kind of feeling, having something to look forward to. Books with awesome premises, gorgeous covers and that just give off this vibe that I am going to totally love them. 

So here's ten books I am also itching to check out this year, all from authors I've never read before (most are debuts)

[links in the titles got to goodreads]

1. Leap of Faith by Jamie Blair 
Sept 3

Now that Leah Kurtz has a place to call home, there’s no way she can tell the truth.

That her name is Faith, not Leah.

That she’s seventeen, not nineteen.

That the baby isn’t hers—she kidnapped her.

She had to kidnap Addy though. She couldn’t let her newborn sister grow up like she did, with parties where the drugs flow all night and an empty refrigerator in the kitchen holding nothing but pickle juice and ketchup packets inside.

She can’t risk losing Chris—the only guy she’s ever given herself to completely—by telling him she’s been lying. He’s the most generous person she’s ever known, and he’s already suffered the tragic deaths of his mom and infant sister.

But being on the run with a newborn catches up with her when a cop starts asking questions, and Chris’s aunt finds a newspaper article about Faith and a missing baby. Faith knows it’s time to run again—from Chris and the only place that’s ever felt like home.

I am seriously ALL OVER THIS ONE, you guys. I love the synopsis and the cover is my kind of mesmerising. I have so many hopes for falling in love with this book.

2. Canary by Rachele Alpine
August 1

Staying quiet will destroy her, but speaking up will destroy everyone.

Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete. 

But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.

Canary is told in a mix of prose and verse.

Canary has me so intrigued with the high stakes premise. And it has me hooked with the mix of prose and verse. I love verse novels, hey. Also, what an utterly stunning and evocative cover. 

3. The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar
March 21

He can grant her wishes, but only she can save his life.

Margo McKenna has a plan for just about everything, from landing the lead in her high school play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in possession of a genie's ring and the chance to make three wishes, she doesn't know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else's hands?

But Oliver is more than just a genie -- he's also a sophomore at Margo's high school, and he's on the run from a murderer. As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than three wishes to save him.

A whole lot more.

Basically this just looks cute, sounds fun and is pretty different to my usual kind of read. I'm in. 

4. Wild Awake by Hilary T Smith
May 28

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.

I love the blurb for this, pitched to get me smiling already. Love the premise and that cover is just screaming to be read. Also, has some so very favourable early reviews <3

5. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
April 30

A charming and laugh-out-loud novel by Lauren Graham, beloved star of Parenthood and Gilmore Girls, about an aspiring actress trying to make it in mid-nineties New York City.

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates-Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material-and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works. 

Meanwhile, she dreams of doing "important" work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It's hard to tell if she'll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won't call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet. 

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job.

Guys, doesn't this just sound like the perfect rainy day comfort read? And it's by Lauren Graham! <3 I really love breaking up a YA streak with a good adult novel and this one sounds just like my kind of thing. 

6. Premeditated by Josin L McQuein

A week ago, Dinah’s cousin Claire cut her wrists.

Five days ago, Dinah found Claire’s diary and discovered why.

Three days ago, Dinah stopped crying and came up with a plan.

Two days ago, she ditched her piercings and bleached the black dye from her hair.

Yesterday, knee socks and uniform plaid became a predator’s camouflage.

Today, she’ll find the boy who broke Claire.

By tomorrow, he’ll wish he were dead.

I've heard so much good stuff about this one. It's not my usual thing, but I am thinking that could be a good thing, hey. I'm pretty keen to check this one out. 

7. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

I am not all burnt out of dystopia/post-apocalyptic stuff (largely due to the fact that I have steered clear of many... haha). This sounds good. Great, even. I'll be picking this up, for sure. Anyone read Yancey before? My library doesn't stock him, but I've heard he is rather brilliant. 

8. Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

Meet Anne Dowling – a fresh, original, and funny new YA heroine whose knowing, irreverent voice will remind readers of Pretty Little Liars and Private

Anne practically runs her exclusive prep school on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she burns part of it down. Accidentally. Her lawyer father decides to send his not-quite-so-innocent only daughter to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to reform her bad girl ways and make it back to New York, making friends at the Wheatley School is the last thing Anne cares about. There is one girl Anne is able to stand, though—her roommate Isabella. That is, until Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.

Anne is convinced someone knows what happened to Isabella the night she was viciously murdered—but no one is talking. That’s when Anne starts to notice how old and creepy the Wheatley School really is. When she meets Isabella’s twin brother and learns he also thinks the school might be covering up the truth about Isabella’s death, Anne can’t help it…she starts poking around. Utilizing her lock-picking skills, unmistakable charm, and the help of a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping around in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

You guys, I am not usually into the pretty little liar scene (or Kate Brian's series) but I have more than a feeling Kara Taylor's debut will be something fresh and unique. Once upon a time I read an earlier manuscript of Kara's and I loved it so. Her voice and humour was amazing and she brought this really dreamy swoon in the form of a hot Aussie muso = love. If this premise at all intrigues you, you should definitely be adding this to your wishlists. 

9. If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
August 1

Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...

The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy.

I am intrigued by this one. I love a good sad, haunting kind of contemporary. And I have always loved exploring what ifs. Also, the cover is so simple but has this perfect emotive vibe, like wishing in the rain.

10. Meet Me At the River by Nine De Gramont
October 15

Stepsiblings Tressa and Luke, close as children, fell in love as teens, and neither the disapproval of those around them nor even Luke's death can keep them apart as long as Tressa needs him.


Nina De Gramont's book, Every Little Thing in the World, is one of my fave contemporary YA reads of recent years. I would have had this on my earlier lst, but only just discovered it. YOU GUYS. I don't even care that the blurb is so short, I am completely sold and insanely excited to finally read more of Nina's work. So wanting this. Such  long wait... 

So, tell me, are any of these books on your wishlist?
I would also love to know which books you're dying to get your hands on (I am a teeny bit out of the loop with upcoming reads...)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

All This Could End by Steph Bowe

What’s the craziest thing your mum has asked you to do? 

Nina doesn’t have a conventional family. Her family robs banks—even she and her twelve-year-old brother Tom are in on the act now. Sophia, Nina’s mother, keeps chasing the thrill: ‘Anyway, their money’s insured!’ she says. 

After yet another move and another new school, Nina is fed up and wants things to change. This time she’s made a friend she’s determined to keep: Spencer loves weird words and will talk to her about almost anything. His mother has just left home with a man who looks like a body-builder vampire, and his father and sister have stopped talking. 

Spencer and Nina both need each other as their families fall apart, but Nina is on the run and doesn’t know if she will ever see Spencer again. Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy, once again explores the hearts and minds of teenagers in a novel full of drama, laughter and characters with strange and wonderful ways.

Some fact-ish stuff:
All This could end is narrated by both Nina and Spencer, in alternating POVs.
There is a love story. 
And bank robbery's. With guns and stuff.
And intriguing family secrets, and sad family secrets, and secret secrets as well. 
It's about families and friendships and wanting and hoping and dreaming and growing up. And everythign complicated in between

Steph Bowe's second novel is an absolute breath of fresh air. Despite the original and delicious premise (a family of bank robbers) All This Could End is much more of a character driven than plot driven novel, . And this is where Bowe shines. Her characters are brimming with life and insecurities and intelligence and hope and just the perfect amount of truth and charm. 

The other thing I loved about this book is that it is this gorgeous blend of the real and the slightly surreal. This book is so grounded in real life, yet has the whimsiest* touches of creative licence. While reading I was reminded of a post Steph Bowe wrote where she talks about her 'love of the slightly ridiculous'. 

"I don't think ridiculous and genuine have to be mutually exclusive, or that literary fiction has the monopoly on affecting and brilliant stories. I think as long as there are characters the reader can empathise with, a ridiculous plotline will work (and some degree of self-awareness and irony helps)."

This quote really stood out to me when I first read the post (as a reader, I completely concur), and afterwards while reading All This Could End. All This Could End isn't all that ridiculous, at all, it's completely genuine and the characters are grounded and perfectly relate-able and achey. But. There are these perfectly delightful little anecdotes, memories and idiosyncrasies that just make the reader smile. It lifts the story and gives it this charming and fun edge. 

This is the kind of book you sink into and savour the vibe and small moments. It's narration is often full of internal dialogue. Fast-paced, it is not. I found it so easy to engage with both Nina and Spencer, but at times wished there was a bit more of a tug in the plot, that little bit of something that would keep me sitting a little bit tighter, keep me a little more glued to the pages. 

Most of all, this book is just full of soul with the right dash of whimsy. It's also the teensiest bit surprising, teetering on the edge of certain heartbreak, the climax and resolution and little mysteries unknown and revealing themselves at just the right moments. 

It has it's own utterly unique heartbeat. It's the kind of book that, when placed in the right set of hands, turns out to be a perfect kindred spirit kind of book.   

I have mentioned before how I so love Text publishing and a lot of the books they are bringing to readers. All This Could End is another gem of theirs and I would be so pleased to see this book picked up by international publishing houses. For those in Australia, this is not to be missed out on.

All This Could End is available now :)

* so I invented a word, what of it? ;)

All This Could End @ Text Publishing

Thanks so much Text Publishing for my review copy