Wednesday, December 11, 2013

All The Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry

Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years later, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by her friends and family.

Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to her childhood friend, Lucas. He is the boy who has owned her heart for as long as she can remember - even if he doesn′t know it.

But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose - to continue living in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever.

Told in a voice that is achingly raw and intimate, this remarkably original novel will haunt and stay with you. It will fill you with Judith′s passion and longing, and its mysteries will keep you feverishly turning the pages until the very last one.

I didn't really know what to expect from Julie Berry's debut. the blurb is a little bit elusive (in fact, I got the impression 'aliens?' -- close encounters, etc, haha). I may not even have picked this one up if the lovely publicist hadn't sent me a copy. Which would have been nearly criminal as this book soared to the top of my favourite reads this year. 

It's written in 2nd person POV -- which has a mildly intoxicating, lilting vibe to it. The prose is gorgeous. At first, everything felt a little off kilter. I liken it a fraction to the experience of reading Jellicoe Rd: 'what's going on here?' tangled up with 'oh! I am really liking this beautiful prose and intriguing opening'. I was captured from the beginning and as the story wove around me I became deeper invested and more impressed. Until I pretty much just fell in love with everything about this book. 

It was the first book in a long time that gave me those delicious physical pangs in the gut ~ pangs of anxiety and hope and ache and just the right amount of swoon. There's heartache and sorrow and mystery and so many unexpected events. The characters felt so real and brave and lonely and they squirrelled their way deep in my heart. 

The story itself is not about aliens. or anything supernatural and freaky. It is set in an unspecified era that feels primitive-ish colonial America ~ small town/settlement vibe. 

It shifts between past and present, both timelines equally engaging. 

Judith is amazing. The love story is genuine. The swoons are not cheaply won -- and when they come they are all the more powerful for it :)

Everything is unpredictable. Things are genuinely freaky in parts - dark and yet somehow there's always hope. Sorrowful yet a promise of something good waiting somewhere on the horizon. 

I really truly cannot commend this book enough. It is definitely one to be experienced first hand -- and then shared with friends. I can't wait to revisit it already. Julie Berry is an amazing new talent that I think every YA lover should be checking out. 

Forgive me if my review is a chaotic rambling of thoughts. And definitely find yourself a copy of this book to try -- even if you're dubious like I was. And when you do -- may you love it just as much as I do x Nomes

I gave this 5 stars! I have only given SIX books 5 stars this year (out of 99 books read...)

All the Truth That's In me on goodreads

Check out these gorgeous foreign editions

US edition
UK edition
German edition

So many thanks to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this book!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hate is Such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub

I hate being invisible.

I hate that I still can′t fight my own battles.

I hate that I can′t keep up with the demands of high school.

Sophie Kazzi is in Year 12 at an all-Lebanese, all-Catholic school where she is invisible, uncool and bored out of her brain. While she′s grown up surrounded by Lebanese friends, Lebanese neighbours and Lebanese shops, she knows there′s more to life than Samboosik and Baklawa, and she desperately wants to find it.

Unfortunately, her father has antiquated ideas about women, curfews and the Lebanese ′way′. Bad news for Sophie, who was hoping to spend Year 12 fitting in and having fun - not babysitting her four younger siblings, or studying for final exams that will land her in an Accounting course she has no interest in.

Just when it looks like Sophie′s year couldn′t get any more complicated, Shehadie Goldsmith arrives at school. With an Australian father and a Lebanese mother, he′s even more of a misfit than Sophie. And with his arrogant, questioning attitude, he also has a way of getting under her skin...

But when simmering cultural tensions erupt in violence, Sophie must make a choice that will threaten her family, friends and the cultural ties that have protected her all her life.

Are her hates and complaints worth it? Or will she let go ... and somehow find her place?

Sarah Ayoub is a stand-out new Aussie YA talent with her debut Hate is Such a Strong Word 

The teenagers in this book are smart and articulate and brave and honest and ache-y. Full of hope yet enticingly tentative -- sometimes things seem more muddled than clear. I love when teenagers are portrayed this way -- even more so here as they had this genuine vibe that made them relate-able and fun and true and 100% compelling.  

Also, how open and gorgeously conflicted is Sophie in this quote (I really love her):

'I'm stoked that my barriers are finally coming down and I'm getting the chance to do something different. But something still gnaws at me, undermining my happiness  As I lie awake in bed that night it hits me: I'm seventeen years old and fighting for my freedom, but I've let my aunty do more of the fighting for me. How can I expect to stop being invisible if I'm not brave enough yo make myself heard? (p.65)

This book has such an Aussie vibe, which is testament to Ayoub's talent as she writes about being Lebanese in Australia, with a rich sense of Lebanese community flush against (and mingled up with) Australian culture. Nothing is as simple as it seems. I love books that do this well (Think Looking For Alibrandi and Randa Abdel-Fattah's work) and Ayoub is right up with that calibre. While the issue of identity and family and belonging are obvious themes that emerge, I don't want to focus on that as I want to highlight just how much of a touching and effortlessly enjoyable book this is. It raises some great topics, wonderfully articulated, but mostly I just really enjoyed being in Sophie's world. Seeing Australia through her eyes. She is a delightful and strong narrator, with loveable flaws. The thing I loved most about this was the voice, which made it an effortlessly enjoyable read, and it's the voice that makes me excited for more of Ayoub's work. 

Everyone gets excited when a fresh Aussie YA talent turns up on the scene -- and this is a book you should all be checking out -- and be sure to keep an eye out for future works by Ayoub. I am certain she is only just getting started as a stand-out Aussie author. This book was just gorgeous, smiley and brave.

Hate is Such a Strong Word @ goodreads

Hate is Such a Strong Word @ HarperCollins
Sarah Ayoub's website

Thanks to HarperCollins for my review copy <3

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hello! and coming up...

It's been so quiet on here while I have been studying my masters at uni ~ but! semester's finished! It's summer holidays! And I am very much looking forward to spending my free time with some really good books :)

Speaking of good books...

Here's a few I have read lately and I plan to have some reviews (or mini raves) up in the next week.

Loved all three of these (one chick lit, one Aussie and one historical-ish). The Margaret Wild one? My gosh, she is just brilliant and I am still gob-smacked. I love her terribly so.

I've missed you all and am also looking forward to seeing what you've been doing on your blogs -- and I love this time of year when everyone posts about the best books, etc -- looking forward to finding some gems.

x Nomes

(super short and sweet post to get things back in the swing ;) )