Sunday, June 30, 2013

Highlights of my reading year so far (Top 6 Faves)

Yesterday I shared a bunch of highlights from my reading year so far. I tried to make a top ten, but I found it so hard to narrow things down and my list kept overflowing all over the place. However, I wanted to highlight six books that I just really loved:

Two Aussie YA Books


My review of Haze I just love Gaby and Rafa and the way Weston has created her world. So much sexual tension and mystery and reveals and twists and emotion. A really fun, addictive read.

My review of Wildlife Wood's writing is amazing. I fell in love with her character's and I know this book will be a lifelong fave <3

Two Australian adult fiction


My review of Paper Chains I loved the whimsy and the depth of sorrow all mingled up in this one.

My review of The Husband's Secret Oh my gosh, this book by Liane was just so. good. She's amazing and brilliant and my perfect kind of writer.

Two debuts <3 (One contemporary YA and one UK contemporary)


My review of If He Had Been With Me LOVED. I've already reread this.

Swimming at Night. (haven't reviewed!). I love how Clarke captured this story. The travel. The sisters. The travel journal. The surf. Australia! Bali! The foreshadowing and twists and mystery and reveals. A gorgeously written debut, can't wait for more :)

So there's my top 6 faves so far. I also have a post coming up this week on books I am really looking forward to in the second half of this year. So much goodness coming up!

If you had to pick one book you loved this year to recommend to me, what would it be?



Saturday, June 29, 2013

Highlights of my reading year so far (Part One)

I've finally got my groove back as reader (please, don't go away again!). I have read more books so far this year than all of 2012 (a really sad reading blip, last year was)

I was trying to make a top ten list, but there were just too many books I want to shout out about. And I suck at making decisions. So I am just here chatting about some books I really enjoyed reading so far this year.

And I'll be back on Sunday with my TOP SIX* reads so far of 2013

*None of my top six are mentioned in this post

Contemporary YA recommendations



I mentioned how much I was looking forward to Meet Me At The River and I've now read it and loved it and plan to review it before release date. Nina de Gramont is such an amazing writer, I love what she does with prose and how real her characters feel.



Series I am into



Boundless was not my favourite instalment, but I have loved the series as a whole and enjoyed reading the final book with my good buddy, Nic (from Irresistible Reads). If you haven't yet started on the Unearthly series, now is a great time to come on board (you can read all three in a row! Lots of fun and angst and gorgeous writing and humour and heartache and swoon in those pages).

I am loving Tessa Afshar, who, after reading her second historical novel, is up there with Francine Rivers for me. Very much recommended to anyone who enjoys Christian (or historical) fiction.

The 5th Wave was an absorbing read and one of my fave YA dpost-apocalyptic novels in a while.

And Prodigy! LOVED! Love Marie Lu's series. Love June and Day and am immensely excited that the third book is coming out this year! (mini review of Prodigy here)


Surprisingly liked a lot
I hope this category does not sound condescending ;)




The Best Man
I enjoy Kristan Higgins books in that breezy, cruise-y, chick-lit way. The Best Man is, IMO, her best book so far. It has taken me from being a casual fan of hers to really hanging out for whatever she writes next. It even had me teary in parts, and there was real swoon. If you haven't read her yet, I'd start with this one <3

Sweet Damage
I struggle a little with psychological thrillers. I want to like them more than I actually do. I picked up Sweet Damage and was hooked by the second page: gorgeous, evocative writing (in parts reminding me of Kirsty Eagar), an effortlessly likeable Aussie male protag, gothick-y and twisty plot (I did not guess the reveal), above all this book does what it's genre should do best: sucks you in and keeps you up all night. James knows how to plot and how to keep those pages turning. 4am finish for me <3

Between The Lives
I did not read Jessica Shirvington's paranormal series (not my genre, guys) and I wasn't sure if Between The Lives would be my thing. I read it over one holiday weekend on the Gold Coast and it was perfect holiday reading. Breezy and compelling. The writing is so effortless it's like the pages just turned themselves. I love what she did with her premise, it felt unique and fresh (note: some characters/scenarios were a little 2D/cliche, but that did not distract from my overall enjoyment). New fan here :)

Aussie YA I've really enjoyed




I've mentioned all five of these on here before. I like that all these are contemporary, but they are all vastly different in tone/subject/style. Still in awe of our Aussie YA talent here -- there's always something different, and of high calibre.

Reading outside my comfort zone/guilty pleasures

I can't not mention a new-to-me author who brought me many hours of fun/swoon/guilty pleasure. I had this rough and depressing patch of illness and I couldn't concentrate on my regular books and Kleypas' books truly brought me solace in complete escapism from my pain.

I had not read in this genre before and always assumed it wasn't for me. But Lisa Kleypas is just so much fun. She writes the best romantic tension/antagonistic romances full of swoon and sexytimes. Here's my fave three of hers that I've read.


(Mini review of Then Came You here)

I'll be back tomorrow with my Top Six Favourites of 2013 so far :)

Have you read any of these books? Planning to?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Accident by Kate Hendrick

A rainy night. 

A car crash.

After the accident Sarah moves to a new school. A new place where no one knows what happened to her or her brother—where she doesn't have to deal with the history that's pulling the rest of her family apart. 

Will is keeping his head down at home, just trying to get by. Then his sister Lauren comes back—as caustic as always but somehow changed. Will doesn't know what upheaval brought her home. But it's sparking some serious change in his life too.

Eliat's got no mother of her own, and she's way too young to be one. Looking after a two-year-old, trying to finish school—sometimes all that keeps her sane is partying as hard and fast as she can. Now the pressure's building and Eliat just wants to get away.

Just get into a car and drive.

In this impressive and beautifully written debut, Kate Hendrick sets the butterfly effect in motion. The moving stories of three teenagers going through crucial changes—before, after and around the accident—show how random actions acquire significance. How one pivotal moment could transform your life and you might never know; how what you do matters.


I started The Accident on the day it arrived and was rewarded with that elusive feeling all book lovers seek after: picking up a book you know nothing about and realising within pages that it is going to be a new favourite. 

The first thing I loved about the Accident was the prose. Hendrick's prose is gorgeous, literary and emotive, some phrases/ideas/sentiments are just so well captured I had to pause and read them again, let them rest with me, before moving on. Likewise, the dialogue is so authentic I felt like I was eavesdropping rather than reading fiction.

The characters are flawed and vulnerable and wonderfully layered. Hendrick knows how to up the stakes, raise the tension and she is not kind to her characters (things are tough, things get tougher). They just bleed onto the pages in such an intimate and unpretentious way it was impossible for me not to ache for them.

Right in the middle of my photo wall is a text collage I spent hours making from newspaper headlines.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
Gandhi said that; it used to fire me up, and now it only makes me feel tired. It's just not so simple anymore.  (page 9).

(A resounding yes to Sarah's thoughts, right down to my memories of making similar collages, things are not so simple after tragedy strikes.)


The plot: Things are not what they seem. The story is presented from three different POVs. Each POV covers a different time period. Sarah's chapters occur Later, Will's After and Eliat's Before. And the chapter's alternate so the story unfolds like so: Later, After, Before, Later, After, Before, Later, After, Before (and so on). Our three narrators paths are seemingly separate for the longest of times and I was continually trying to unjumble events, decode and predict everything. I think I made things more complicated for myself by trying to outsmart the book, haha. My advice: relax into the story and trust the author who has it all figured out. Also: the ending was not what I assumed it would be (loved that!). Once I arrived, I was able to look back and rethink things, figure things out. It's a smart and thoughtful book.

This is not a cruise-y, relaxing book for a rainy-day read. It's a little dark in places, introspective and beautifully hopeful. It is not a book full of cliffhangers, high moments of drama or raging tensions - yet it is effortlessly compelling, quietly, sneakily, powerful. Also, it feels so Australian -- the Sydney setting made it feel like home. 

I love the idea of three separate story strands coming together in a butterfly effect and I ended up loving this book. I'm really excited for it (and for other readers to discover it) and I think it's the perfect example of a crossover book -- The Accident will speak to teenagers and adult alike. Also, take a look at this quote from (fabulous and awesome author) Vicki Wakefield: 'A sophisticated, surprising and beautifully written novel about tangled lives and consequences. from the first pages, I knew how this story would end. I love being wrong.'

The Accident really struck a chord with me and I am still thinking about it. I'm really impressed with the quality and brilliance we keep seeing come from Text publishing. Readers of young adult fiction in Australia today are truly blessed.

The Accident comes out in Australia today :)

Thanks to Text Publishing for my review copy


The Accident @ goodreads
The Accident @ Text publishing

Author Kate Hendrick

Praise for Kate Hendrick and The Accident:

‘For me, it brought back the raw sting of familiarity of reading John Marsden for the first time. Like Marsden, Hendrick’s writing shows that sometimes families can let us down. Her vulnerable characters voice our secrets, remind us we are not alone and offer a light at the end of the tunnel.’
Australian Bookseller & Publisher


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Aussie YA Mini Reviews (Pip Harry, Melissa Kiel and Tim Sinclair)

 


I love the way Harry writes: fresh, with a lot of energy and soul. Her teen voice (and teen characters) felt so authentic and the story rang true. It also features boarding schools and mother/daughter relationships -- which are definite draw cards for me. 

I found myself liking Kate a lot more as the book went on (at the beginning she was a lot for me to take in. I am not normally drawn to darker/more edgy work, or girls acting out. But this book was so much more than that -- and I really felt Harry did an incredible job with Kate's character arc and with nailing the intensity of teenage feelings and relationships). 

I also found that the second half of the book was unputdownable -- by then I was very much drawn into Kate's world and wanted everything to work out okay for her <3 I love how the plot took me places I did not anticipate. Pip Harry has a fantastic voice for YA and I'm looking forward to reading more of Harry's work (Hopefully there will be another book soon!). 



Guys, this book was just so much fun and incredibly heartfelt.  Addictive and smiley and one of those books where you want to be absorbed into the pages and hang out with the characters. It felt like watching the perfect teenage movie, a rom-com with plenty of humour, with an offbeat romance and the best pop culture references ever. 

I was grinning from the first page (always a good sign!) and pretty much grinned and sighed my whole way through. I loved Sam as a narrator, a serious contender for a new fave male protag.

This book is perfect company for rainy days and sunny afternoons and cold winter nights (okay, pretty much for any occasion...). 

One tiny little observation -- for an Aussie YA novel, it felt American in parts (the schooling system, and the characters sometimes seemed more out of an imported book. Although this does not detract from the awesomeness, it's just an observation on the Aussie vibe -- or lack thereof). Plus, the cover is winning -- gorgeous. I'm planning on gifting this to a few friends -- I definitely recommend it :)




Wow. Tim Sinclair's debut verse novel on parkour is really something else. For starters, it's everything I like my verse novels to be: that delicious exploration of words and rhythm (not rhyme) and experimentation in typography variation. It's a visual masterpiece with so many pages set out in a unique and arresting format. Truly stunning, the pages are an artwork. There's an energy to the writing that drives it forward, at the same time, the words are put together so carefully that you have to stop and let the moment linger, before pushing ahead for more. 

I can honestly say I have never read a book like it: the subject (so much action and thrills and paranoia and also this whole underground world I had no idea about). It's exhilarating and vivid -- I found myself being tempted by parkour, (haha, I can't even walk down stairs without tripping over imaginary cracks).  I loved the Sydney setting and the relationships and the adrenalin in this book. 

Finely crafted, Sinclair breathes so much life into this book. I have seen not a lot about Run out there and I truly hope it gets the attention it deserves.  

PLUS: This book trailer is incredibly watch-able and well done. 
(I watched it before reading and it really helped me visualise the whole parkour thing)



Title links go to goodreads - add these! I recommend them all (I gave all of them 4 stars). I continue to be impressed by the quality and diversity of Aussie YA novels. So much goodness out there.

Have you read any of these?
Are you curious?

Hope your day is going super swell!
xo Nomes

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cover Reveal: Hate is Such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub

I am so excited to be hosting a cover reveal for an upcoming Aussie YA novel from author Sarah Ayoub. Hate is Such a Strong Word is coming out in September and it’s being pitched as 'a little bit Randa Abdel-Fattah/Melina Marchetta-esque' (I love both those authors). I know HarperCollins is so excited for its release -- and I am too. It sounds exactly like my kind of read -- see below for the blurb :)


Release date: September 1 

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?



Things I love about the cover: It's one of my very favourite dusty blue shades. I love when covers play with word placement and it looks really fantastic here. I love that it's initially arresting and then once it has your attention, it holds it (eyes wandering over the white words). I also really like the cover models -- in particular, Sophie. Her gaze is arresting and she has cool attitude without being overly teenage-angsty. Plus there's a guy - can't wait to meet him!
Coming of Age contemporary YA books are my fave and I love the sound of this. Add it to your wishlists. Can't wait for September!

What do you think of the cover?
What do you think of the blurb?
Are you as excited for this book as me? 


Hate is Such a Strong Word @ HarperCollins

xo Nomes

Friday, June 7, 2013

Haze Launch with Paula Weston


Last night I attended the launch for Haze the second book in the Rephaim series and had such a blast (so much fun). Marianne de Pierres (author of the Night Creatures YA series, among others) lead the conversation with Paula at Riverbend Books in Brisbane.

Paula opened with a reading from chapter two of Haze which involved bungee jumping and Jude <3

Paula Weston doing the reading

Marianne and Paula were so natural together and the conversation felt intimate and organic and fun.

Here's me, paraphrasing some of the things Paula and Marianne discussed:

Marianne opened by asking Paula about her writing life, habits and how she got started. Paula was writing stories all through primary school and high school. She shared that her mum even sent one of her primary school picture books into the Women's Weekly (LOL. Classic!).

It wasn't until Paula was in her early twenties that she decided to actually give writing a go as a serious pursuit (realising it was what she loved to do best). Paula sent off her first manuscript and received her first rejection in 1995. Over the next 16 years she went on to write and polish five full manuscripts.

She came very close to finalising a deal with an adult fiction world fantasy series and then it fell through. At this point, frustrated with the whole publishing and rejection stuff, she decided to just write for herself and Shadows was born out of this (yay!) She had never planned to write YA, or imagined that it would be her thing (trust me, it is very much her thing. Shadows and Haze are such a fab addiction to the upper YA market). And has since been careful to market her series as upper YA (due to the profanity and violence and sexiness).

The idea behind Shadows began with two characters: A girl and a guy. The girl had lost her memory but the guy hadn't. And they have a complicated history that he remembers and she doesn't and that history puts them on opposing sides despite their attraction between them (and. obviously, THE TENSION). When Paula was exploring this idea she tried to uncover what that history was and she entertained ideas of vampires, and other kinds of creatures but in the end the only thing that worked was angels. She had been trying to avoid fallen angel mythology.

Before Shadows she had only been familiar with a couple of fallen angels series, and they were all romance. And she knew she did not want to write romance. Well, there is some raomnce, but her romance is an antagonistic romance (a lot of people grinned/chuckled at this. Rafa and Gaby are so deliciously antagonistic. All that angst and sexual tension).

She also knew she wanted to create a complex society -- so finding/reading the Book of Enoch really gave her something she could work with (regarding the fallen angels and their history and their offspring).

It wasn't until Shadows was out and she saw it on a list of angel books on goodreads that she realised just how much angel fiction was already out there. Although Shadows really comes into the angel scene from a completely different angel (not as a forbidden romance, and not angels with a purpose).

Paula mentioned how vibrant the Aussie YA market is. How many Australian authors writing for teens are at the forefront in the world, leading with unique and brilliant and amazing writing (I so concur, I think we all do ;))

Marianne and Paula chatted a bit about the current publishing industry, and how things are changing and how hard it is for Australian writers to secure an international deal. Paula's series has been picked up both in the UK and the US. The series will all have the same titles and covers across UK, US and Australia (minus the original Aussie edition of Shadows -- though when it goes to reprint it will match the current UK cover of Shadows), although the release dates are staggered (Lucky for Australians we get the books first ;), then the UK and finally the US).

By day Paula works as a journalist for her own business. Yes, it's true, Paula is often still in her pyjama's at 11am :). This is what her day often looks like: Day job until 2-3pm. Then a couple of hours of writing before dinner. Then a couple more hours of writing after dinner, then finish the evening with a TV show or a bit of reading.

She says it is so important to write everyday, to keep the scenes flowing organically (and so to avoid needing rereading back her work to get in the mood). She does not have the luxury of time for writer's block. She can always write something -- even is it's crap. At least then she has something on the page that she can work with. (Marianne inserted here "It's a bit hard to work with a blank page." haha). Paula often has ideas bubbling away in her work hours so by the time she sits at the computer she is ready to go.

Her preferred writing place is in the recliner in front of the TV, her laptop balancing on the stable table. (That way her husband is blessed by her company ;) and she's not squirrelled away in some room).

She loves Buffy. (That's just a freebie I am chucking in. I can't remember the context...)

She also is obsessed with loves The Foofighters. (I think we all knew this already...)

Of the angel fiction she has read she recommends Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which is just beautifully written and compelling.

And she revealed to us the title of the third book in the Rephaim series: Shimmer. All the titles work together as a series, they are all plays on quality of light. The Rephaim series will be a four book series, of these Haze is Paula's favourite title :)

What else you should know: There was popcorn. And wine.

Paula was signing books and chatting and the atmosphere was great.
Michelle, Paula Weston, Amanda and me

I drove down from the Sunny Coast with my friend (and Shadows fan) Amanda. We met up with Michelle of Maree's Musings who had just finished reading Shadows on the ferry on the way to the event (she liked it! Also -- she can read while on a ferry. I am always envious of people who can read while in motion). We had dinner across the road beforehand. It's always so awesome meeting up with other bookish people and chatting books and hanging out. Michelle had just found out her application to be a judge for the inky's was successful! Yay! Huge congrats, being an inky judge is such an awesome opportunity. (Here's the twenty books on the 2013 inky longlist)

Amanda, me and Michelle. Under the breakfast menu at The Coffee Club, haha


Amanda and I got pulled over afterwards for Random Breath Testing. Amanda was quietly nervous (after we had been sampling the wine at Paula's enthusiastic urging) ... haha. It was all good :)

Any mistakes in the recap are all mine :)

And thanks to Amanda who took all the pics on her phone (sorry for poor quality...)

My review of Haze (which is out in Australia now)


UK and US edition
the series will follow this theme
for the upcoming covers 
Original Aussie edition

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

When all signs point to heartbreak, can love still be a rule of the road? A poignant and romantic novel from the author ofBittersweet and Twenty Boy Summer.

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.


Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?


Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?


Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.


Straight up: I love how Ockler writes her protagonists. This is her fourth book, and each protagonists has been entirely individual with a distinct voice and unique vibe.


The Book of Broken Hearts is about family, especially Jude's relationship with her dad whom she loves so dearly. It is also about falling in love. And about living in the moment. None of this comes easy to Jude.  


This book is so much I love about contemporary YA. It has the unputdownable sucked-into-a-story vibe. It has little unique elements that breathe life into the book (the history of the sisters, Jude's father's history), it has a love interest who is not only hot (and often shirtless ;)) but has his own back story and it is so easy to imagine him as the star of his own story, not just as the guy created to be the love interest for Jude. It has such an effortless narration: breezy -- the pages just fly by, and funny -- Jude has spunk and wicked little splashes of humour that lighten some heavy moments.


There is so much comfort in falling into a book where the author know where she is headed and she takes the reader there confidently. I am, first and foremost and always, a contemporary YA loving girl, and, for me, Ockler embraces everything I love about the genre. Her characters slowly bleed onto the page. her settings come alive, she brings the swoon (so much so) and she celebrates life and hope in the midst of hardships. I am all about that.


I so wholeheartedly recommend this book. I loved the time I spent with it, and it's one I will be revisiting for sure (while waiting for another Ockler book ;))


The Book of Broken Hearts is out now! yay!


The Book of Broken Hearts @ goodreads


Thanks to Edelweiss for the egalley -- and my sister for buying me my own hard copy ;)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Life? It’s simple: be true to yourself.
The tricky part is finding out exactly who you are…

In the holidays before the dreaded term at Crowthorne Grammar’s outdoor education camp two things out of the ordinary happened.
A picture of me was plastered all over a twenty-metre billboard.
And I kissed Ben Capaldi.
 


Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program – but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They’re extra-curricula.

Enter Lou from Six Impossible Things – the reluctant new girl for this term in the great outdoors. Fragile behind an implacable mask, she is grieving a death that occurred almost a year ago. Despite herself, Lou becomes intrigued by the unfolding drama between her housemates Sibylla and Holly, and has to decide whether to end her self-imposed detachment and join the fray. 

And as Sibylla confronts a tangle of betrayal, she needs to renegotiate everything she thought she knew about surviving in the wild.

A story about first love, friendship and NOT fitting in.


I have been anticipating this book for a long time (Six Impossible Things being one of my favourite books) but I did not anticipate how much this book would resound with me.I felt like Wood was peeking inside my soul, capturing feelings and thoughts, taking me right back to my teenage self . Taken those haphazard and chaotic feelings and brought them to life in such a poignant, heartfelt and smiley, achey way.

There is so much to love about Wildlife. I love the way Fiona Wood writes. She has taken her time with this. Words are carefully chosen, plots are weaved together, sentiments are nailed, dialogue is funny and sharp and pitch perfect.

I didn't realise Wildlife would incorporate two POVs. And I loved that about it. Lou's POV is shared through her diary entries, Sibylla's in present tense prose. I also loved the whole set-up. School camps were the best, and here we have a whole term school camp experience = winner for me.

A bit about Lou
I ached for Lou the most, wished she did not have to endure through the grief, and at the same time, I loved how she endured. She became so fierce and true to herself. Even in her grief, she is sharp and so likeable: After Fred died I divided my time between blind disbelief, blank chaos and therapy. (p7 Lou). Also, she brings to the book one of the best 'I love you' moments EVER. It nearly broke me, the swoon and all that was and all that was lost.

And Michael, how I loved him
Speaking of favourite characters, I loved Michael so much.

If I ever see Michael with a dreamyvague smile on his face and ask him what he's thinking about the answer is likely to be, prime numbers. (p 42 Sib on Michael) Michael really spoke to me. He was unique, just doing his own thing which was not like the crowd at all and teen years can be so hard for boys like him, but Wood really elevated him and he is such a stand-out and a new favourite literary character for me. I so like him, and I think he will resonate with many readers.

'Lou seems to have in common with Michael that thing of not caring at all about other people's approval. (p245 Sib) I wanted to go into the pages of this book and hang out with them, I wanted to go back to my teenage self and let Lou and Michael rub off on me and make me a better version of myself. 'The only person you should be is yourself. You can't control perception. All you can control is how you treat someone else.' (p 308. Lou to Sib. I love her.)

And, also, Sibylla...
I loved Sib as well, her narration and heartache was charming and honest and she is so beautifully captured. What am I even doing here? Me, an inner city girl. Ninety per cent of my life happens on one highly resourced page of the street directory. (p92 sib LOL)

I'm too tired and too sad to write home just yet.I miss them, even Charlotte. Who'd thunk? I don't think I fully appreciated how relaxing it is having someone I can be really mean to. It's going to be so hard being nice all the time. (p 51 sib -- I know that feeling :))

I am really sick of the people who need to tell me I'm unattrative. Somehow they feel duty-bound to put me down because I've been in that stupid advertisement. Surely my neon self-esteem/appearance sign is still visibly flickering on 'below average'. Nothing has changed here. (p289 Sib. Capturing how we have all felt, despite her confidence and shining personality).

Here I could mention all the themes and goodness and beauty of this book, there is so much depth and richness to explore. However, in thinking about my review, I really want to say, despite the ache and grief and exploring sex and friendship and classic coming of age stuff, just how much FUN the whole book is

Favourite things about Wildlife that I loved:
pranks
ghosts (Maisy and the charcoal man),
hikes
camping
elevensies
clinkers
'we intend to deliver the joy of grammar to wanderers in the alpine region.' p212 apostrophes of possession graffiti. That whole scene = love so much
redskins
sex and STDs and Lou's mum -- many LOLs
Looking for Alibrandi shout-out <3
snippets of awesome hanging out teen dialogue: What flavour would you say blue snakes are?' He asked (p 238 michael to Lou)

Also, finding out more about Dan and the gang from Six Impossible Things:
I look forward to sitting with him when he gets back and I am released. We will sit and not have to talk. Or we may talk. If we do, it won't be to reassure someone who doesn't feel as bad as we feel that everything is okay. (p147 Lou, thinking about Dan)

While I was reading Wildlife I loved it. I loved  the fresh and funny feel. Loved watching the character's interact. Loved the little anecdotes weaved into the narrative. After I finished Wildlife, I loved it even more. Once I saw the big picture I was in awe of how Wood did all that. How she crafted a story that was so much more than a linear storyline. Full of deep running themes (see Reynje's review for more theme discussion).

Wildlife is a beautifully written story that will stand the test of time and multiple rereads. A book for every teenager, and everyone who once was a teenager. A new absolute favourite for me.

I marked some of my favourite passages

Wildlife @ goodreads

Thanks to Pan Macmillan for my review copy :)

The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

How do you know if your friends actually like you? Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina try to catch up once a year for some days away together. ...