Thursday, March 10, 2016

Blog tour: A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty ~ Interview and Review #loveozya

Long time inkcrush fans (hello!) will need no introduction to Jaclyn Moriarty. She is, in fact, my all-time, always and forever, favourite author and today she is here chatting with us about authorly life, creativity, her fun family, current writing projects, some of her favourite characters from her books (including her fave character crush) and more. After the interview I also have my review of the much anticipated A Tangle of Gold, the conclusion to the Colours of Madeleine trilogy (out now in Australia!)

Jaclyn Moriarty

Hello Jaclyn and welcome to inkcrush! I’m Nomes, one of your hugest most ridiculously enthusiastic fans and I am so thrilled to get to chat with you :D. I have loved your books and reread them all so many times and each one of them (and the characters inside them) have become highlights of my reading life (Cute fact, my own kids thought for a long time that Cassie and Celia were real-life friends of mine, having heard me talk about them in passing so often, lol). Thanks so much for coming by and having a chat :)  -

Nomes, you are so very, very lovely.  I’ve always been so grateful for your support of my books (and my sisters’ books too), and I love that story of your children thinking Cassie and Celia are real.  J x

1. Your Colours of Madeleine series is so creative with brilliant and unique world building, off-kilter, grin-worthy dialogue, and gloriously perfect, startling plot twists. I imagine your brain is whirring and buzzing as you plot and write and create.  How do you manage living in such a creative space? Do you find it easy to get in a creative flow, or hard to switch off once the lights are out? How do you balance creating and living in your fictional world and coming back to regular life?

First, thank you so much for your very kind words about the trilogy, and second, thank you for this great question!  I really like the idea of myself as the kind of person who lives in a mad, creative space, rather than the kind of person who walks around wondering what has happened to the second sink strainer. (It was missing for two weeks. I honestly think I’ve spent the last two weeks wondering about that sink strainer.  It turned out that it was inside the other sink strainer all along. Right there in front of me.  I was so excited to find it last night that I tweeted about it, and I never tweet.)

I guess I have always been a daydreamer, which means I am always getting lost or losing things or tripping over.  If I don’t feel especially creative I go for a long walk, especially a walk near water.  Or I listen to music.  When I was a lawyer I had to train myself not to wake in the night and start worrying about a case, but I always like to think about story and characters as I’m falling asleep, or if I wake in the night.  I find it soothing, and maybe it’s like a bridge from awake to dreams.

2. I have developed such a deep and real affection for so many of the characters in Cello. You write your characters with heart, humour, quirks, intrigue, charm and passion and even passing cameo-characters shine brightly on the page. Yet, despite so many grins-per page, there is a lot of heart-ache and tragedy that many characters face (longing and sorrow and injustice and sadness, to name a few). I would love to know any writing tips on how you to create such real and nuanced characters.

Thank you again: this makes me very happy.  I think the characters come alive for me when I spend time with them inside my head.  I like to let my mind wander, following a character around and seeing what they do and listening to their thoughts.  I once read that the author Joan Aiken started a manila folder for each of her characters and carried these around collecting thoughts, interests, quirks and attributes for them.  So I started doing that too.  I also choose favourite music for the characters and listening to that music always seems to open up various unexpected dimensions of the character for me.

3. I LOVED A Tangle of Gold. It was an exhilarating, genius, daring and utterly happy-making, totally absorbing wild and winsome reading experience. I feel nostalgic thinking about my time spent in Cambridge and Cello and will definitely be going back (in rereads and my imagination) in coming years. Now that Colours of Madeleine is finished I know you are working on a pirate book: “it’s about a girl whose parents ran away to have adventures with pirates when she was just a baby.  They left her with her aunt.”  Already I am thinking it sounds just like the kind of book you would write (and the kind of book I would love to read!)! Have you got any more little tidbits you can share with us about what you are working on (although, it’s okay if it is all very top secret!) or on how the writing is going?

You are a dream.  Thank you so much for such generous words.  

You are right that I’m working on a pirate book (which so far has nothing to do with pirates except that the main character’s parents have run away with them) and I am really enjoying it.  I’ve decided to write the whole thing in many different cafes.

I’m also writing a novel about a woman who signs up to take a series of seminars on the secret of human flight.  It’s about missing people, the self-help industry, single motherhood, and flight. And I’ve written the openings of a time travel novel, and a new Ashbury-Brookfield book.  

I was so excited for this opportunity to have you come and visit on my blog that I have been telling many people about it and amongst all the anticipation and excitement, I extended a tiny invitation for two other long-time, equally crazily-in-love fans to sneak a question each into this interview (I hope you don’t mind!).

First is Flannery, saying hello from Seattle:

My favorite Jaclyn Moriarty book is Finding Cassie Crazy (or The Year of Secret Assignments as it's called in the US). Jaclyn is one author who is consistently funny and it doesn't feel forced. I think it is especially hard to convey emotional subjects in epistolary format yet she manages to do it. Plus, to be completely honest, I love Jaclyn Moriarty's books (as well as a select few other Aussie authors) because they remind me of wonderful friends I've met online while discussing their books. I have a lot of fond memories connected to her books.

4. My question is whether she thinks having siblings sharpened her wit and sense of humor because her dialogue, especially in her epistolary books, is hilarious and on point.

That’s a brilliant question (partly because it incorporates praise and I like praise).  On the one hand, I find myself reluctant to share the credit for any sense of humour that I might have; on the other hand,that makes no sense.  I guess everybody’s sense of humour is developed by the people around them - as well as the books they read, the movies they see, the strange experiences that they have - but at the same time is an intrinsic part of their nature.  (My 9-year-old has found very specific things to be hilarious from the time he was a baby, even when other babies did not get the joke.)  

My family and I laugh together a lot, and being together is usually about trying to make the others laugh.  My dad tells hilarious stories, but he’s also very discerning with his laughter: you know how little kids tell a dumb joke and grown-ups laugh obligingly? My dad never did that.  He only laughed if he actually found you properly funny.  He is still the same and it still makes me feel proud if I can get Dad to laugh.  I think that kind of audience really helps you finesse your humour.    On the other hand, my sister Liane is quick to laugh a big, beautiful laugh, so you want to try to keep being crazy around her so that you’ll keep hearing the laugh.  She’s also very funny herself, as are all my other siblings.  My mother is sensible and kind and more of a straight man, but she has sudden darts of wicked humour that are so much funnier because they’re unexpected. 

I was just thinking aloud there so thanks for the interesting question.

And my second interviewer-guest is Deborah saying hi from Brisbane:

5. You write so many fascinating characters who have extraordinary adventures. So my questions are a bit like one of those online quizzes where you usually have to nominate your real-life friends as an answer to each question, but on this quiz, you have to nominate one of your book characters as an answer to each question (and explain why/elaborate if you feel like it):

1. Character who is most like you:   

Elizabeth Clarry (because I imagined myself into her shoes a lot of the time), Listen Taylor (for the shyness) and (I really hate to admit this, and I hope I am not too much like her but marks were way too important to me in high school and I often felt a strange, passionate disconnection from other people:) Bindy Mackenzie.  But every single one of my characters is like me in some way, because I imagine myself into all of them at least a little bit.

2. Character who would drive you the most crazy if you were their mother:  

Bindy Mackenzie (it’s when you recognise your own flaws in your child that they drive you maddest); Keira (when she’s in her dark moods - but you can’t blame her for her moods)

3. Character you would most like to have as your best friend: 

I’m finding this one strangely difficult because all the main characters have too much of me in them, so I feel like I’m imagining being friends with my reflection.  Maybe Sergio  - actually there’s a Sergio in Bindy Mackenzie and a Sergio in the Colours of Madeleine trilogy and I like them both.  So I will choose Sergio.  I’d also like to be friend with Gabe from Tangle of Gold as he is great at farming and can predict the weather.  

4. Character who would be your teen crush:  

Elliot Baranski (also Finnegan Blond from  Bindy Mackenzie)

5. Character you would like to switch places with for a day (a la Freaky Friday)....and which day in their life you would pick:  

Keira, when she and the others are in the Turquoise Rain in Cracks in the Kingdom (but without having the particular backstory issues that are getting her down that day).

Thanks so much for coming and I hope you’ve enjoyed chatting on here :) And I’ll be looking out for you as you continue visiting other blogs on the tour (so exciting!). I wish you all the best as you keep writing and finding cool cafes and colours everywhere you go!  

Thank you, again, Nomes - that was a lot of fun, and like I said, you are lovely.  Thanks also to Flannery and Deborah.

Ahh, isn't Jaclyn the best!!?! Thanks for answering our fangirl-y questions so wonderfully! Check out the breathtaking cover for A Tangle of Gold and also my review below... (and also, even further down ~ new editions for the Colours of Madeleine series. So much love for the new covers!)

Cello is in crisis. Princess Ko's deception of her people has emerged and the Kingdom is outraged: The Jagged Edge Elite have taken control, placing the Princess and two members of the Royal Youth Alliance under arrest and ordering their execution; the King's attempts to negotiate their release have failed. Color storms are rampant, and nobody has heard the Cello wind blowing in months.

Meanwhile, Madeleine fears she's about to lose the Kingdom of Cello forever. Plans are in place to bring the remaining Royals home, and after that, all communication between Cello and the World will cease. That means she'll also lose Elliot, now back in Cello and being held captive by a branch of Hostiles. And there's nothing he can do to help his friends unless he can escape the Hostile compound.

Worlds apart and with time running out, Madeleine and Elliot find themselves on a collision course to save the Kingdom they love, and maybe even save each other.

A Tangle of Gold found it's way into my greedy hands and, as to a hot buttered bun in a spinning tea-cup, it was beyond amazing. Look, this series is stunning and creative and wild and heart-felt and deliciously winsome. Those who have read A Corner of White and The Cracks in the Kingdom and have fallen in love with Madeleine and Elliot and Cello know just how brilliant this series is. 

What you may not know is that the final book reveals a whole new level of genius-like revelations that will leave you in suspense and awe. There are twisty-twists I did not see coming, suspicions and heartbreak, and reveals that take the series as a whole and raised it, to, like, the next 100 levels of plotting-artistry and flair. I knew I would be blown away by the conclusion to the series, but I was still unprepared for the sheer scope and awesomeness of pretty much everything.

 When I find a book that is so brilliant and falls into my absolute fave (of all time) category, it's hard to do justice to the entirety of the book and my feelings for it. So, I just want to say: this book made me so happy. It provided everything a bibliophile could ever possibly crave from a reading experience. It captured my imagination, had me in suspense, left me reeling and grinning and staying up all night turning the pages. I fell in love with the characters and their world and spending time with them enriched my own life (LOL, corny, but true!).

It felt so nostalgic, going back to Cambridge and Cello. I'm actually rather bereft that the adventures of Cambridge and Cello are over for now (although I do plan on revisiting all my mates there often). A Tangle of Gold was brilliant, it whisked me away and a tiny piece of my heart kind of believes Cello is real - I just need some smoke and mirrors...

Thanks to Jaclyn Moriarty for gifting me with one of the literary highlights of my reading life with The Colours of Madeleine <3

My reviews of

Jaclyn Moriarty's website (looking very new and snazzy!)
Jaclyn Moriarty on instagram
Jaclyn Moriarty on facebook
Jaclyn Moriarty on twitter
Jaclyn Moriarty on tumblr

Have you guys seen these must-have editions!!?! WOW <3 See them in giant form @ Jaclyn's website (or click on this image).
Jaclyn is blog-touring all over the place so check out where else she has been (and where she is still to come!)

Monday, February 22, 2016

First & Then by Emma Mills

Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

I really, really enjoyed this debut title. I loved the fresh prose right from the start but there was a bit of a lull in the first half of the novel where I just wasn’t sucked into a central pivotal event. But the second half was deliciously brilliant and had more of an unputdownable vibe (by then the characters had grown on me) and I could see the character arcs and complications and it was clear that Mills has skill in drawing out themes in subtle, natural ways that perfectly take you back to those teenage years.

My fave parts of this were the totally-worth-every-moment pay-off in the crush department. I love novels where less is more when handling romance and this is so awesomely done.

I loved the cousin/sibling relationship. So much goodness and depth.

The secrets different characters had -- all felt so genuine and true -- no melodrama, just real and relational and perfectly well handled.

I am impressed with this book, you guys. I am hoping Mills has more contemporary YA coming up because I am thinking she and I are going to be a great fit (give me more!). I think if you have missed out on this book in 2015, you should bump it up your TBR for 2016 because it was a stand-out read for me and I know so many of you guys who love good contemporary YA are going to fall for this novel and it’s characters like I have. I think fans of Emery Lord would love Emma Mills style. One of my fave contemporary YA reads of 2015 <3

First & Then @ goodreads

Have you read this? What did you think? Isn't the cover THE BEST!?!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Faves of 2015 ~ Top Twenty Reads

I'm bringing my fave reads of 2015 to you in January (month of the sleepy and sunny summer holidays!). 

Before i get to the books, 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: 92
Number of rereads: 15
I don't make numerical reading goals but my reading has been in the 90-100 books per year for the past 3 years, which is just shy of 2 books per week ~ a good amount for managing my bookish life with my other life commitments.

Young Adult: 59
Adult Fiction: 33
Australian authors: 33 (really happy that over a 1/3 of my reading was Australian ~ although I often feel like I am never going to read all the Aussie titles on my TBR ~ there are so many that came out in 2015 that I still have not gotten to...)

I love celebrating the discovery of new favourite books and this year I have 20 new faves (plus many more books I enjoyed my time with).  Some are literary masterpieces, some are brilliantly written and plotted, some are just plain fun or addictive comfort reads. All 20 of these titles have one thing in common: I was hooked and addicted. These books provided my favourite reading experiences of 2015 and I hope you find something here that you might also fall in love with. 

As always, many thanks to these amazing authors, who brought so much goodness to my reading life last year xx

Aussie YA Faves

Brilliant and sexy and addictive and genius end of to an all-time forever fave series of mine. So much love for this one, and yes, I've reread it already! My review.

Absolutely amazing and creative and genius and just completely perfect. This conclusion to the series blew my mind <3

The latest Fiona Wood was a perfect fit for me, all the Fiona Wood Aussie YA goodness we all love plus a gorgeous touch of whimsy and loads of heart. Review for this beauty to come!

Slightly bizzarre and deliciously surreal, this one is a new total fave for me. I loved it so much, I swallowed it whole. My review.

Smart and smiley and refreshing original. Loved so much about this: the premise and the twisty, brilliant and daring way everything some together. Williams is an outstanding author marching along to the beat of her own drum. This one is marketed as YA but with 4 POV's (some young adult age) it's perfect for fans of adult fiction, too. 

This was dazzling and unique and unexpected and wholly enjoyable. This is one underrated Aussie YA gem that I would love to see more people get swept up by this captivating and fun book. Also, really excited for Fornasier's sophomore title coming out in 2016! My review

Contemporary YA Faves

This one is for fans of good, relentlessly addictive books. And for people who are not afraid of heartache (blended just perfectly with the right amount of hope). So so good. I read this on 2 sittings, over one day <3

This book really is a stand-out in contemporary YA -- easy to sink into, heart-felt without ever venturing into melodrama, relate-able, fun and emotionally moving. The pacing is great and, if the mood hits you and you find your groove, you just may read it in one sitting (like I did!). Review to come! :)

Haha, this book was so fun. I loved the UK vibe, the dual POVs. The awkward moments, humour, and so very teen vibe about it all. I couldn't put this one down and finished it at 3am, with a ridiculous grin on my face. 

This book felt fresh and genuine and true and is my favourite brand of contemporary YA. I enjoyed the first half, but LOVED the second half, where I suddenly found myself caring deeply for the characters. What a gorgeous book!

I really enjoyed this one: fun and clever and full of emotional depth. This book broke a reading drought for me and had me smiling and invested the whole way through. My review

The conclusion (maybe? I'm hoping for more!) to a fave contemporary YA series of mine. It was very unexpected, the direction this book went in. It felt brave and sad but true and not without hope. Despite some sorrow, it was still sexy and fun and angsty and so good! I really do love this series and would love for it to keep going, somehow, to revisit the characters in a few years and see how they are doing x

Fave New Adult

I don't actually normally read this genre. Well, I do attempt it (but mostly abandon new adult titles part way in) but for some reason this really worked for me! Look, it was not without it's moments of melodrama (a staple of the genre?) but it also had a lot of heart and soul and characters I was totally rooting for. This was swoony and hot, with loads of tension and slow burn. So, check it out if you're a fan of the New Adult scene and hopefully you'll find this as deliciously addictive as I did :)

Fave Fantasy & Fairy Tale Retellings

I adore this series. Seriously DYING for The Winner's Kiss. This second book did everything right and I loved it. LOVED IT. 

Wow ~ I loved this. So much atmosphere and intrigue and a gorgeous foreign-vibe fantasy setting. The tortured and mysterious hero really worked for me, too, LOL. I've asked for this book for my shelves for my upcoming birthday, along with the sequel ~ it's a duology (April, you feel so far away!). 

 This re-imagined fairy tale is lush and intricate and full of mysteries, sexual tension and unique mythology. This book wins the up-all-night prize, keeping me turning pages into the squeaky hours of the morning, finishing with that rush you get from being completely absorbed by a good tale. I loved it, so much <3 My review.

Bonus book: a tiny short story (I wish it had been a full length novel!) A Cinderella re-imagining that was haunting and swoony and pretty much perfect!

Adult Fiction Faves

Oh my gosh. What an outstanding and haunting and gorgeous Aussie debut. I loved this so much and I have a half written draft review but all the words I say feel inadequate to capture this beauty of a book (so my review has been languishing unread :( ). All Aussies who belong to a library ~ track this one and sink into it <3

I don't know what it is about this book (at times I wasn't even sure what the central plot was), but it was just absorbing and felt so true to life. I loved it and am so glad I read it. My library has all of Anne Tyler's backlist, which is exciting after finding a new author, but I have no idea where to begin, so if there are any fans out there, I'd love to know your fave title of hers!

This had what I now think of as Clarke's signature features: wide open seas, wanderlust, mysteries and secrets, and swoon. It was addictive (so cleverly written, blending two timelines and leaving small timely clues). I am excited for anything Clarke writes! I am not entirely sure, but this may be my fave of hers yet. Really worth your time!

Such a charming, off-beat Irish vibe, a kind of chick-lit magical realism that was just fun and slightly ridiculous (in the best of ways). What  a gorgeous and fun and completely memorable read. Much, much love! My review. 

What a gorgeous looking bunch of brilliant books! 
Have you read and loved any of these? 
I'd love to know a couple of your faves from 2015 (link me up to a blog post if you have one or comment with a recommendation below)

Round-up of my previous end of year faves posts:

2013 Top Ten
2012 Top Ten
2011 Part One (the books) Part Two (characters) Part Three (scenes) Part Four (faves)
2010 Faves  and Aussie YA faves