Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On The Fence by Kasie West

She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.

One of my huge sleeper hits of 2013 was The Distance Between Us by Kasie West which I reread in the weeks following my initial all-nighter read. This was followed by major excitement for her 4th book and 2nd contemporary YA title, On The Fence. I was sold from the first line of the blurb: She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door… sign me up (who doesn't love a boy-next-door contemporary YA?)

You guys, I am fast becoming a huge fan of Kasie West and suspect I will soon feel the same way about her as I do about Elizabeth Scott (who is one of my fave YA authors for swoon and comfort reads -- although completely different in style they both hit the spot).

On The Fence is my kind of reading escape: fun and swoony with the perfect combo of coming of age doubts and insecurities, fun and energetic family dynamic (with a few family secrets thrown in) and slow burn crushing complete with late night in the dark chats. Things are predictable but in that kind of way that you savour the anticipation of how things will unfold.

I love curling up with books like this. Complete happy-making escapism -- smiley teenage angst that's a perfect blend of light with just enough emotional depth to tug on your heart in the right moments. I am so sold on Kasie West and am officially insanely excited for her next title, The Fill-in Boyfriend. (May 5, 2015)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Head of the River by Pip Harry

'Flows fast and deep and occasionally treacherous. I loved it.’ - Simmone Howell, author of Everything Beautiful and Girl Defective

It's the most elite school sporting event in the country. Nine rowers, 2000 gruelling metres and one chance for glory in the ultimate team sport. Sit forward ... ROW. 

Tall, gifted and the offspring of Olympians, superstar siblings Leni and Cristian Popescu are set to row Harley Grammar to victory in the Head of the River. 
With six months until the big race, the twins can't lose. Or can they? 

When Cristian is seduced by the easy route of performance-enhancing drugs, and Leni is suffocated with self-doubt, their bright futures start to fade. Juggling family, high expectations, study, break-ups, new relationships and wild parties, the pressure starts to build. 

As the final moments tick down to the big race, who’ll make it to the start line? And who'll plummet from grace?

Head of the River by Pip Harry was a highlight of my 2014 reading year. It was absorbing and captivating, unpredictable and unique and is a brilliant addition to our much-praised and thriving Aussie YA scene. 

Pip Harry is one of those YA authors who capture the teen voice and experience so authentically and without condescension. Her characters are brave and true and flawed and the kind of teen who, were I to meet them in real life, have the power to inspire adults with their courage and intelligence (in spite of making some foolish decisions ;) ). 

One of the reasons I love contemporary YA is because it's a genre that lends itself so well to capturing emotion and placing readers in the characters shoes. Harry excels at this: the emotion and passion and pressure is captured so viscerally -- giving an immediacy and realness to everything Leni and Cristian go through.  It's incredible -- the kind of commitment and dedication it takes for teenagers to train and compete and perform. 

While Head of the River centres around Lani and Cristian's rowing -- there are just so many more themes that seamlessly blend into the work.  Though the themes could lend itself to something more heavy-going, Harry's prose reads effortlessly and I found myself sailing through, finding it all too easy to keep reading just-one-more-chapter. 

The strength of Harry's writing is how the characters are so honest on the pages. They have hopes and fears and keep secrets, they crush and swoon and are let down. This is a story that explores highs and lows.  One thing I loved: while some plot threads were heading towards obvious disaster or conflict -- nothing was predictable and everything played out so organically it felt real. 

So highly recommended. I hope many more readers have the chance to read Head of the River. Meanwhile, I'll be hanging out for Harry's next book :D

Head of The River @ goodreads
Pip Harry's site

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 Titles I am so very much looking forward to

I love a fresh start to my reading year and looking forward to all the goodness that is to come. I am considerably out of the loop in terms of even knowing what is coming out. I also find it hard to work out if some of my fave authors have upcoming books (particularly Aussie authors as the publishers often don't reveal upcoming titles until a month or two beforehand). Desperate for anything by Jaclyn Moriarty, Liane Moriarty or Nicola Moriarty (that sisterly trifecta of pure genius). And, as always, hanging out for Cath Crowley's upcoming (?) novel...

Here's ten picks that have me really glad 2015 is here already and that these books are not too far away (yay!). Links in titles go to goodreads.

Dying to get my hands on the final instalment. Desperate for more of Rafa (haha), and Gaby, too, obviously ;). I am planning to read Shadows, Haze and Shimmer in the week before Burn's release. Really looking forward to that, too. (I have been saving my reread up despite being tempted a few times)

I loved The Winner's Curse and am so hoping to continue my loving streak for #2 in this series (I do have a tendency to sometimes lose the love for series in between titles sometimes...I doubt that will happen here :))

I loved Hand's Unearthly trilogy, despite it not even being my genre (and I have looked past the fact that my fave guy was like picking Gale again, haha). Now she has written in my fave genre and I am so excited to check it out. I have a feeling I am going to love this book <3

It feels like I have been waiting on another Donna Freitas book for a long time and it's finally nearly here. I was hanging out for this before the blurb, which sounds not exactly my thing? (I'm not too fond of the Gone Girl comparison) but I am still aching to get reading as I love her characters and the way she cuts to the emotion (as well as brings some good contemporary YA swoon)

Kasie West is a perfect rainy day comfort read and I need those kinds of books like crazy <3

I love Lisa Scroeder and have read all her titles. This upcoming one has the best premise (24 hours left on earth until an asteroid hits and destroys all left behind ~ one guy and one girl have a day of possibilities). I am so drawn to the title, the vibrant cover and the premise = madly enthusiastic for.

I loved the first two books in this series. I need to see how Rose is going, and I def need another fix of Jamie Forta... haha. Also, I am loving the vibe and title of this cover. I'm thinking my girl Rose is going to whip it this time round, lol

I love Ockler and I love the sound of this: seaside town + inspired by The Little Mermaid. 

The cover is brilliant, the blurb sounds so fantastic. I think this could be a real hit.

Love Emery Lord's writing in her debut so really hoping this is another book to keep me up all night. And I definitely need some more contemporary YA faves in 2015 ~ I've placed some hopes on this one.

I am pretty much hoping all these titles will be seen again here on my blog in my faves of 2015 list :D
 Are any of these on your radar? 
What are you most looking forward to that I need to know about?

x Nomes

Edit: For a hugely exciting and comprehensive list of 2015 titles to get excited about definitely check out Alpha Reader's post. It's epic and awesome and took me half an hour to go through ~ added so much anticipated goodness to my radar and TBR. I had already drafted this post before reading Alpha Readers' so I haven't changed my intial picks here but there are some o fher list that I definitely would have added. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Fave Reads of 2014 ~ Top Ten Reads

So far I've had my faves of 2014 Part One, Faves of 2014 Part Two and now I attempt to refine all those awesome books down to my absolute-favourite top-ten list for 2014. Before I get to that though: here's a few stats from my personal reading for pleasure. I have not included books I read with my kids or books I read for uni.

Books Read: 94. Less than previous years but a happy-making good amount that is in balance with other life goals (although I had many more DNFs ~ 94 is the number or books I completed)
Number of rereads: 10 (I'd love to do more rereads in 2015, at least one per month)

Young Adult: 60
Adult Fiction: 34
Australian authors: 23

Of the 60 young adult titles only 26 were contemporary YA (this is my lowest year ever in my fave genre ~ so planning to make up for that in 2015)

Stats on how I got the books I read in 2014:

Bought: 8
Bought ebook: 4 (2 of these were short stories)
Gifted: 5
Library: 39
Library ebook: 17
From publisher/netgalley: 9
Own collection: 11 (these were mostly my rereads, lol)

I barely grew my own personal library this year: 13 new books all up, including the ones that I received as gifts. I usually only buy books I am ridiculously excited for and think I will absolutely love and need want to keep. Of the 8 I bought myself, I've already given away 3 that I (sadly!) didn't fall in love with.

Since moving to a larger city I definitely buy less books and get a ton more from my library. (My last library was regional and didn't have as vast a collection). I also love my library's ebook collection. Since starting uni I am blogging so much less and as a result prefer not to receive review copies and wait for my library to purchase the books instead. While I'd love to own many of the books I just feel too pressured with review deadlines to justify asking for review copies. (Also, assessment deadlines provide enough stress already!)

My top Nine Picks for the year (I just couldn't fill that 10th spot!)
In no particular order...

My absolute fave read <3

So much love. Always unputdownable, hilarious, clever and lingering.

By choosing the first in the series as my fave pick, I really mean the whole series ;) 
Creative and epic and haunting

You all know how much I love this series <3

A surprise favourite, it came and broke a torturous book slump. 
A lot of love from me <3 

I can't go past this. 
This holds a special place in my heart, truly eye-opening and heartbreaking but also hopeful.

After contemplating for days, I've decided I like this second book in the Sevenwaters series even more than the first. And I loved the first! BRAN <3

Here's the first. Gorgeous and lyrical and heartbreaking and brave and romantic. 

I have to include Honey Brown as she really grabs me and has me staying up all night, flipping those pages and entirely sucked into the story. Also, I could not guess where this psychological thriller was headed ~ love that!

I have struggled to fill my 10th spot. I'm pretty much tossing up between about 6-8 contemporary YA titles, all of which I loved reading, but none is a clear stand-out absolute fave read of the year. So I decided to end the agony and finish with nine picks. The contemporary titles I was considering have been mentioned in my prior two posts: Faves Part one, Faves Part Two. (Although I am truly shocked that an end of year fave reads list from me is missing a single contemporary YA fiction title!) 

Interestingly, 6 of these 9 are by Australian authors. Or should that adverb be predictably? Haha, who knows?

Hope you've all started out your 2015 reading year strong! I've been adding books to my TBR like mad after reading through my blog feed. Here's to another awesome year of reading (and to smashing through reading slumps!)

x Nomes