Monday, July 31, 2017

July Favourites

I love July with it's 2 weeks of awesome winter holidays (which is not so winter-y on the Sunny Coast ~ an average of 24C/75F during the day). I also love how July is like a mid-year reflection period and a new start to the second half of the year. I have so many books I'm looking to reading in the rest of 2017 and still so many on my TBR I have not gotten to yet... Having said, that, I've read 87 book so far in 2017, and 20 of them I've marked as new faves (I'm so happy with nearly a 1/4 of my reads being perfectly matched to my reading tastes and moods)

July was an awesome reading month. I:

  • discovered 2 new fun authors to follow (Ingrid Paulsen and Lia Weston)
  • read new books from 3 fave authors (Kasie West, Lucy Clarke, Mhairi McFarlane)
  • read a long-standing TBR backlist title (a classic Meg Cabot! ~ The Guy next Door)
  • reread an old fave (P.S I Like You ~ on a glorious Saturday sleepy lie in bed morning)
  • listened to a fave book in audio format <3 (The Piper's Son!)

July Book Total

Books: 11
Audiobooks: 1 

Adult fiction: 7
Young Adult fiction: 4
Australian fiction: 2
Rereads: 2

Fave Young Adult Read

Ingrid Paulson's debut Why I Loathe Sterling Lane was totally fun and full of things made of win:
  • boarding school and pranks
  • genuine loathing with barbed and witty banter and revengeful scheming
  • Veronica Mars-style sleuthing
  • steamy, swoony pay-off
My review elaborates on why I loved this book and I am so hoping more people find and fall in love with it too <3

Fave Adult Read(s)

Australian author Lia Weston's Those Pleasant Girls is a cool, ridiculously smiley, seriously funny, awesome read with a wild sense of humour and just the right touch of whimsy. I really loved this and you can read my full review here (with bonus mentions of The Gilmore Girls, Jaclyn Moriarty and Anne of Green Gables).

I love Mhairi McFarlane so much (her books have such a brilliant, funny UK vibe, with characters I genuinely care for). My two fave books of hers are You Had Me At Hello and Who's That Girl ~ so I was ridiculously thrilled to see Mhairi released a novella sequel to You Had Me at Hello (I've read YHMAT three times, I love it so). After Hello was pretty much perfect and I grinned my way through it ~ so happy to be back with Rachel and Ben (BEN!!!) and the gang. Mhairi's books bring a whole heap of addictive light and life and smiles into my life <3

Fave audiobook

Being back with Tom and Georgie and the gang was just perfect. I didn't even realise how much I missed them until I was listening. The audiobook was a really compelling format and my work commute was a definite highlight of my day for the week I spent listening to this. 

Fave reread

Oh, mate, some of the tropes in this book are my personal kryptonite: the whole secret identity/letter writing thing (which never gets old to me) and also a good old fashioned hate-to-love antagonistic romance. Even on the reread (when I knew where things were going) I struggled to put it down. I love this brand of cute, funny and smiley contemporary YA. I think this book is up there as one of my fave Kasie West titles ~ along with The Distance Between Us.

So there's my happy-making faves of July titles
What about you? What's one book you've read recently and fallen in love with?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Those Pleasant Girls by Lia Weston ~ Review

Evie Pleasant, nee Bouvier, is back in town. In a figure-hugging skirt, high heels and a pin-up hairdo, she's unrecognisable from the wild child who waged war on Sweet Meadow in her youth.

She's made a promise to herself: 'No swearing. No drinking. No stealing. No fires.'

Trailing a reluctant 16-year-old daughter and armed with cake making equipment, Evie's divorce and impending poverty has made her desperate enough to return to Sweet Meadow to seduce her former partner-in-crime and start again.

But the townsfolk have long memories and the renegade ex-boyfriend is now the highly-respected pastor. Evie's cakes have a job to do.

Those Pleasant Girls is one cool, ridiculously smiley, seriously funny, absolute blast of a book. Lia Weston is gifted at creating disastrously perfect comedic scenarios, delivering snappy, witty observations and capturing the quirky side of small town country life. 

This book reminded me of The Gilmore Girls ~ following both Evie (in her 30's) and Mary (aged 17 years). I loved Evie, whose wild child/teen memories of mishaps, shenanigans and outright bedlam-ish nature endeared her to me straight away. She is in the process of reforming herself, but is (to her chagrin) still so wickedly-inclined (the best kind of accidentally Anne Shirley kind of wicked). Mary is just as awesome ~ more pragmatic and with a wry sense of humour ~ she was a delight to read. With dual POVs of mother and daughter, Those Pleasant Girls is really accessible for fans of both YA and contemporary adult literature. Of course, there's a full cast of quirky and lovable characters ~ including some swoony goodness from one dude in particular, haha.

There were so many small lines of dialogue, sneaky introspective thoughts and mini comedic scenes that had me chuckling my way through this. I could see this as a perfect rom-com flick on the Big Screen, and like most chick flicks ~ it was a perfectly cruisey, feel good, fun read. My only drawback was a kind of mid-book lag where the plot seemed to slow down a little, but then it picked up again and I was finishing it off in the squeaky hours of the morning, grinning like a Cheshire cat into the darkness of my bedroom.

Weston has her own astute, ridiculously awesome and wicked sense of humour ~ but if I had to pair her with similar authors I would say she has a blend of Sophie Kinsella/Meg Cabot/Ellie O'Neill and a touch of the Moriarty sisters* wild whimsy. And you all know that's a winning combo for me :). Such a happy making, sunshiney, delicious book ~ perfect for those lazy days when you need to relax, smile and swoon along with the craziness and delight that Those Pleasant girls are. 

* I'm grouping those 3 faves together ~ I love them all so (Liane Moriarty, Nicola Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty)

Those Pleasant Girls @ goodreads

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Three Fave #LoveOzYA Fantasy Series

Today I'm participating in the #LoveOzYABloggers fortnightly meme. This fortnight's topic is: Fantasy ~ OoOohhh. (See meme details and how you can participate at the end of the post)

I've picked three of my fave Aussie YA fantasy series, all very diverse! 

  • A fantasy/contemporary series by the brilliantly creative and original Jaclyn Moriarty
  • Urban/paranormal fantasy that's unputdownable with classic Aussie characters and loads of mystery, intrigue and sexual tension
  • And the gorgeous historical-Ireland-vibe fantasy series by fantasy legend, Juliet Marillier. 
Jaclyn Moriarty's Colours of Madeleine series is my fave series of all time and it's wildly whimsical, hilarious and completely unexpected. (I've reviewed the whole series on inkcrush: A Corner of White, Cracks in the Kingdom and A Tangle of Gold).

Paula Weston has created a believable, action-packed and addictive world with characters who I truly fell in love with. I am not a huge fan of urban fantasy, but the Aussie vibe in this series really made the Rephaim world a place I wanted to spend my fictional time. Waiting for each installment was agony and finishing each new release was a bittersweet rush.  (I've reviewed the whole series on inkcrush: Shadows, Haze, Shimmer and Burn).

Juliet Marillier has written so many gorgeous fantasy novels and retellings. My fave of hers is the Sevenwaters series and my two fave books in it are #1 Daughter of the Forest and #2 Son of the Shadows. Both were initially a slower pace than I was used to (especially as I am not a huge fantasy reader), but they lured me in, and it was 100% worth taking my time with because by then I was just so in love with everything about the world. Just thinking about them now has me hankering for a reread...

Have you read any of these series?
What is your fave Aussie YA fantasy novel/series?

Bonus: Kingdom of Cello Map ~ lovelovelove

About the meme

#LoveOzYABloggers is hosted by #LoveOzYA, a community led organisation dedicated to promoting Australian young adult literature. Keep up to date with all new Aussie YA releases with their monthly newsletter, or find out what’s happening with News and Events, or submit your own!

You can link your post up here.

Upcoming themes:
July 31: Feels
August 14: SciFi
August 28: Series

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid Paulson

Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking back, framing her for his own infractions. Worst of all, he’s charmed the administration into thinking he’s harmless, and only Harper sees him for the troublemaker he absolutely is.

As she breaks rule after precious rule in her battle of wits against Sterling and tension between them hits a boiling point, she’s horrified to discover that perhaps the two of them aren’t so different. And maybe she doesn't entirely hate him after all. Teaming up with Sterling to save her brother might be the only way to keep from breaking the most important rule—protecting Cole.

This was totally fun and full of things made of win:
  • boarding school and pranks
  • genuine loathing with barbed and witty banter and revengeful scheming
  • Veronica Mars-style sleuthing
  • steamy, swoony pay-off
Harper is so rigid and controlling and watching her unravel and finally feel free to give herself permission to test who she might be (without her self-imposed rules) was really well done. She can come across as judgmental and stand-offish, but I loved the little peeks we got at her vulnerabilities, and the way she let down her guard to make unexpected friends and allies. 

Sterling Lane is Harper's perfect match. He riles her up, gives as good as he gets and does not back down. He has his own secrets and, despite his confidence and bravado, he has a hidden soft side which round him out into a perfectly swoon-worthy love interest. 

This antagonistic/hate-to-love trope was not just a cute premise. They really do try to tear each other down and it's vicious, haha. This was a solid, amusing read for me until the last third, which really bumped it up into an unputdownable, grinning, swooning finale. I am so in for whatever Ingrid Paulson writes next :)

Why I loathe Sterling Lane @ goodreads

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope. 

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past. 

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

What an absolute riveting gem of a novel. I expected to enjoy this but had no idea how much this book would affect me. Four things I loved:

Surprises - The plot did not follow a typical path. It felt like the characters really drove the plot forward with their decisions creating an organic reading experience (rather than one that followed typical beats for the premise.

Deep bellyaches ~ This happened to me. Those sharp intense stomach pangs when you suddenly feel the characters pain and see their hopes dashed and have your heart in your mouth just knowing there is more pain ahead before they can find their way out.  The whole wanting to reach into the book and hold them tight <3

I love how the author managed to peel away layers on all of her characters so we see them so differently to how people may automatically perceive them. The characters were all beautifully flawed and wonderfully diverse.

Also, can I just say how much I *love* the secret-identity-letter-writing motif? I've read a few books recently with variations on this and it's fast becoming and fave trope (bring on more, please). So much suspense and mystery and anticipation of either the reveal/the characters realising the identity. In Letters to the Lost this was done so well I seriously felt like I could barely out the book down because I had to see how it would all unfold.  

I cannot recommend this enough. Another fave read of the year for me :)

Letters to the Lost @ goodreads

Saturday, July 1, 2017

June Favourites

June has meant glorious summer-like days on the Sunny Coast with just a smidgen of a winter-y vibe in the evenings. Beautiful reading weather although I hope July brings some real snuggle up under the covers and read weather. I had a fab read count in June with two new fave books and a reread which I loved more than the original time I read it (it was perfectly timed and deliciously addictive).

June book total: 17
Books: 14
Audiobooks: 3

Adult fiction: 7
Young Adult fiction: 10
Australian fiction: 3
Rereads: 1

Fave young adult read

If I Fix You by Abigail Johnson

If I Fix You totally took me by surprise (both with how much I ended up liking it and in the direction the story took). It felt messy and real and I couldn't put it down. Really excited for Abigail Johnson's sophomore novel The First To Know which is out November of this year.

Fave adult fiction

Dinner at Roses by Danielle Hawkins

So, so good! I love Hawkins's effortless style that makes me feel like I am a part of the (fictional) family. Hawkin's dialogue is so superb, and her comedic timing lifts the book in places where there is sorrow and loss. The relationships and interactions are genuine and nuanced and the romance is all the more swoony for it's understated slow build and reveal. Love the New Zealand setting and I am so happy to have a new fave contemporary adult author to follow.

Seriously ~ if you like contemporary adult fiction with small town settings, a bit of swoon, a lot of heart, effortless humour and unforgettable characters you need to be looking up Danielle Hawkins ASAP.  

Fave reread

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Perfectly delightful: funny, slightly ridiculous, swoony, feel-good fun. With the most smilingest of footnotes. LOVED.

What's your recent most fave read? 

Hope all is well in your world :)

xo Nomes