Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Interview with author Pip Harry #LoveOzYA

I am so happy to introduce Pip Harry to inkcrush. Pip is a #LoveOzYA author who writes contemporary novels for young adults. Her award winning novels are not just faves of mine, but of readers everywhere around the globe. She shares with us a bit about her inspriation for her lastest novel Because of You, her writing process, advice for writers, recent favourite reads and more...
Author Pip Harry

Hello and welcome to inkcrush, Pip Harry :) It's so good to chat with you on here right after the release of your 3rd YA novel Because of You. (I feel honoured for you to be stopping by!)
Hello and thank you lovely Naomi for having me!
You've mentioned before that your best writing comes when you can personally relate on some level to the story. Can you share some of your own life experience that sparked Tiny and Nola's story?
I definitely need to emotionally click into the story on some level, so that’s always a big part of choosing what to write about. It takes me a couple of years to complete a novel, so I have to care deeply about the characters and story to stay interested and engaged!  In my own life I met many tenacious, funny and intelligent homeless people while working as a volunteer once a week in a shelter, helping to facilitate a creative writing program.  My experience with that program and those incredible writers sparked the story of Because of You. We even took our group to the Sydney Writers’ Festival to perform, which echoes a later scene in Because of You!
[N: I think the way you care for your characters reflects in the way readers also come to deeply care for them! And I am so thrilled that the later scene in Because of You was sparked by real events ~ incredible!]
I love both Tiny and Nola, who have not only different backgrounds and circumstances, but have unique voices and ways of looking at the world. Did the voices of Tiny and Nola come to you strongly formed or did it take a while to get to know them before you were able to flesh out their story?
Tiny and Nola couldn’t be more different, so their friendship initially presented me with challenges. How would they first talk? What would they talk about? In the end, I realised they are still teenage girls, so initially they talk about boys and eat baked goods!
Tiny came to me pretty much fully formed and ready for action – but Nola was a problem child. In early drafts, she was coming off as very self-centred and whiny and my beta readers said they couldn’t relate to her as much as Tiny. They were right! I kept a little of Nola’s spoilt side in the final version, but explored her home life and relationships more deeply to give her more edge and depth.
[N: Haha! Yes to boys and baked goods! ;) ]
One of my favourite things about your writing is meeting and falling in love with -- and being inspired by -- your characters. You write characters who are flawed, make mistakes, and struggle with all kinds of conflicting emotions and insecurities. At the same time, these characters are courageous, brave, true, and have moments of startling empathy, wisdom and honesty. How do you approach crafting your characters? (Plus any tips for budding writers?)
Oooh, that’s such nice feedback, thank you! I’m a very flawed person myself and I make all kinds of mistakes and I’m incredibly insecure at times … so all that goes into my characters! You will never find me creating a perfect human in my books, because they just don’t exist. I’m especially careful to write parents who have their own problems and inconsistencies, as I think that’s true to life. Tips for budding writers: don’t be afraid to be honest and get your character’s flaws down on the page, but also allow them to have moments of true courage and emotion. Allow them to be vulnerable and true.
[N: That is so true about parents ~ being one myself ;). It's your vulnerable and courageous characters that make your stories resound long after reading the last page]
I know you're more of a pantser than a plotter. Can you tell us a little bit about how that works for you? Do you get a lot of surprises along the way? (Any awesome surprises while writing Because of You?) Do you fly through your first draft and then face massive structural edits once you have found the story, or do you feel out the story over lots of versions and then plan once you know where you're headed?
Oh yes, always a pantser. I enjoy the surprises along the way, some of the things my characters do are SO unexpected. That keeps it interesting for me. In Because of You, I had no idea Mari (Tiny’s friend) was going to show up in the city. She just popped up! And the poetry was a bit surprising, I’d never really written poetry before.
I do not fly through any stage of writing books. 😉 More accurately I plod along, sometimes speeding up, sometimes dragging my heels, until I can type ‘The End’. I always print out the first draft and force myself to read it in raw form (and it’s usually pretty terrible) then I radically edit and polish before sending it to a few trusted readers. I do feel out the story as I go, and Because of You was changing right up to the final days before printing.
[N: Oh! The poetry was definitely one of the fave elements of Because of You for me. I reread some of those passages a few times over. You definitely have a poets way of capturing moments and sharing secrets and emotions through verse]
What is it you love most about writing? Was there a writing highlight while working on Because of You?
I love being in another world with my characters and taking them on a journey, and then I love sharing that journey with readers. My highlight while working on Because of You was taking the manuscript to the Djerassi Artists Retreat outside San Francisco. There, I did a YA workshop with 11 other writers and facilitator Nova Ren Suma. It was magical, and set the book on the right path and made me believe in it again.
What is something you struggle with as a writer? 
Starting the first draft is difficult for me, and I always put it off until the characters are screaming at me.  
What is one of your favourite things about writing for teenagers?
Teens are so open to new ideas, so engaged with the writing and super smart. I feel really privileged to write for and about them. I really, really love school visits.
[N: As a teacher-librarian I know how much students love author visits! At a recent author visit for Book Week, one student told me (after talking to the author in a writing workshop) it 'was the best day of his life' :) ~ and students always leave so inspired and affirmed.]
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? 
Do not ever give up or listen to the voice that says you’re no good. That voice is wrong. Keep at it, keep learning and keep writing.
Can you share some of your favourite books? (Everyone loves a good book rec!)
Ooh, yes please! This year I have been blown away by the wonderful romances and relationships in Gabrielle Tozer’s Remind Me How This Ends, Steph Bowe’s Night Swimming and Cath Crowley’s Words in Deep Blue.

[N: Three gorgeous #LoveOzYA novels! Speaking of author visits, my daughter met both Cath Crowley and Steph Bowe in July (a couple of weeks ago!) at a readers/writers festival and came home very inspired and full of excitement. Of course, I made her nearly repeat their sessions verbatim ~ hoping to catch just a sprinkle of their magic!]
What did you do to celebrate the book birthday of Because of You?
The weekend before my book came out I flew to Bali and stayed in a villa with four girlfriends. We raised many a cocktail glass in celebration!
Thank you so much for sharing with us! 
Thank you Nomes! I’ve had so much fun.
[N: Me too! All the best with your writing projects, school visits and continuing to celebrate!]

Pip Harry is the author of YA novels I'll Tell You Mine, Head of the River and Because of You (Aug, 2017). A freelance writer and editor Pip has worked on a stack of women's magazines like Woman's Day, TV Week, New Idea and NW as well as for non-profit organisations. She currently lives in Singapore with her family and eats way too many noodles. When not at a keyboard her favourite things to do are swim laps (really), try variations of eggs and toast in hipster cafes, unravel on a yoga mat and read fiction. Her favourite hashtag is #LoveOzYA. (source: goodreads)

Q & A at #LoveOzYA

Because of you @ UQP (incl. Teacher's Notes)

My reviews for Pip Harry's novels:

Have you read Pip Harry yet? ;)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

#LoveOzYA Giveaway & Survey

Just a heads up for everyone ~ you can be a part in helping to gather data on the reading habits of readers of Young Adult fiction.
The #LoveOzYA crew are giving away over $1000 in books to 5 lucky winners as an incentive to particpate in a survey regarding your reading habits. The survey data will be collated into a report which will be invaluable in informing on the reading habits of Young Adult readers. Obviously, the more who participate in the survey, the more the data will reflect the reading community ~ so check out the link below to take the survey and find out more info. 
#LoveOzYA is a community led organisation dedicated to promoting Australian young adult literature. For your chance to snap up a share of over $1000 worth of books, simply fill out this survey all about your reading habits
(the survey is open until the end of September ~ plenty of time to pass on the link to any other YA readers in your world)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Because of You by Pip Harry ~ Review

‘Books can save anyone. If they’re the right ones.’ 

Meet Tiny and Nola. Two very different girls with two very different stories who are just trying to find a place to belong. A powerful and compelling novel about friendship, love and acceptance.

Everyone has a story.

Tiny is an eighteen-year-old girl living on the streets in Sydney, running from her small-town past. At a temporary homeless shelter, she meets Nola, a high school student on volunteer placement. Both girls share their love of words through the Hope Lane writing group. Can they share their secrets, too?

Told through the eyes of both Tiny and Nola as they negotiate their way through homelessness, shifting friendships, betrayals, addiction and a little bit of romance, Because of You explores the vastly different coming-of-age stories of two girls who are learning to find their individual strengths

Wow ~ Pip Harry's latest novel Because of You felt real and, by the end, it took my breath away. I read because I love being transported into another time and place, into another persons shoes, and I love being pulled into and swept up into a story. But occasionally, a book will come along that ends up being more than just a good entertaining read, and it leaves me feeling moved. Because of You is one of those books that resonates long after the last page and has transformative power to challenge a readers viewpoint and empathy.

Things to love about Because of You:

  • the budding friendship between Tiny and Nola was so refreshing, tentatively organic and precious. I love how they both made mistakes and needed forgiveness (from others and themselves) and how, despite their different circumstances, they had more in common than they would've first thought. 
  • awesome parents (who are brilliant characters in conjunction with complicated relationships and issues).
  • writing group ~ writing and books and reading and creativity and finding your voice ~ all this is celebrated and adds a fun dynamic with bursts of humour and unexpected treasure
  • some gorgeous, really affecting and powerful snippets of writing from the writing group. I loved the poetry and humour and was absolutely floored by the honest and captivating writing the characters shared. Harry, through the voices of her characters, was able to capture emotion beautifully in so few words <3
  • hidden backstories and surprises, with tender and heartbreaking reveals. Nothing is as black and white as things may first seem.
  • a real mix of unique characters, both teen and adult, to care for ~ all with their own voice and story
  • a really inspirational and smiley climax and resolution ~ which just had me beaming from the inside out

Harry has nailed the art of letting her characters breathe life into the themes so that the message of the novel is fresh and authentic, never wandering into didactic or saccharine territory. Because of You is an absolute gem of a novel ~ hopeful and true, timely and challenging, with a genuine powerhouse message of empathy and resilience. I fell in love with the characters, and will be wholeheartedly recommending it to the teens and adults in my life. 

My reviews for Pip Harry's previous novels:

Because of you @ UQP (incl. Teacher's Notes)

Many thanks to UQP  for my review copy :)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Three Fave #LoveOzYA Contemporary 'Feels' Books

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

I spent a good, relaxing while perusing my shelves and noting that pretty much all my Aussie YA books match this fortnights prompt, haha. In the end I picked three faves where my heart totally broke for the characters ~ so much love for these three books!

My Big Birkett by Lisa Shanahan

(my review) ~ My Big Birkett is one of those hilariously comedic novels but with a sweet dose of unexpectedly hard-hitting feels, packaged up in one very cool, bad boy, Raven De Head. I still ache when I think about him and his brothers and the whole De Head family. Excerpt from my review: 

He is one of the coolest fleshed out love interests ever. He is so unpretentious. Somehow, his bad boyness is not at all cliché, but rather heart-wrenchingly honest. I loved the scenes with Raven and the De Head family. The whole De Head family really struck a chord with me. One of those families that have a bad reputation, multiple wrecked cars on the front lawn, a brother in jail and the whole town against them. I actually ached for the boys, so sweet, but all tough exterior. 
The Big Birkett is still one of my all time fave books :)

The Protected by Claire Zorn

The Protected is so tender and captivating. My heart just ached for Hannah, and grew in ache throughout (if that even makes sense, ha) and by the end I was crying actual tears (I rarely cry while reading). My heart was in my throat so many times and I just wanted to reach through into the book and hold Hannah close for a little while. 

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

Carly </3  ~ This tough and vulnerable surfer girl ~ and her achey and hopeful story ~ has stayed with me. Raw Blue is one of those books that gives you all the feels ~ rips you up and turns you inside out, plus then some. I was holding my breathe for Carly throughout the whole novel, madly wanting her to be okay.

Which Aussie YA book(s) gave you all the feels?

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:
August 14: SciFi
August 28: Series

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Top 15 Most Anticipated Books for the Second Half of 2017

Here are 15 young adult books all releasing in the second half of this year that I am most crazily excited for. All but two are straight up contemporary. All (except one which is a companion novel) are stand alone titles. Some I have been waiting on for what seems like such a long time (I'm looking at the new Paula Weston ~ can you believe it is almost here!) and others I've more recently stumbled upon and have high hopes for. 

I am also so incredibly out of the loop regarding upcoming titles, both Australian and international, so I am sure there are other books out there that I really want too, haha, but these are my fave ones waiting on my goodreads TBR. 

It goes without saying that if Jaclyn Moriarty's new book suddenly gets a pub date in 2017, that will be my number one ;)

They are listed here in order of release date. All links (in the titles) go to goodreads.

What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

July 11

Why I'm excited: Absolutely loved Julie Buxbaum's YA debut Tell Me Three Things. I got my sister to preorder this for me as a bday gift (even though my bday was in January, haha, it's a belated gift I am very excited for).

The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan

lake effect | n.

The effect of any lake, especially the Great Lakes, in modifying the weather in nearby areas

It’s the summer after his senior year, and driven, focused Briggs Henry is ready to leave behind his ex-girlfriend, his comically aggressive grandmother, and his parents’ money troubles for Lake Michigan and its miles of sandy beaches. He’s lined up a summer job working as a personal assistant and living in a gorgeous Victorian on the water—exactly the kind of house Briggs plans to buy his parents once he’s a multi-millionaire. But when he arrives, his boss, the eccentric Mrs. Bosic, tells him to get dressed for her funeral. Uh . . . It’s the first of many funerals they’ll attend this summer—to hilarious and eye-opening effect. Add to this a new set of friends-cum-enemies-cum-friends-again, and Abigail, the mysterious girl next door on whom Briggs’s charms repeatedly fail, and “the lake effect” is beginning to take on a whole new meaning.

July 11

Why I'm excited: I really liked I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by McCahan (which had a refreshing and unique voice and premise) and this cover is pretty much perfect

Lucky in Love by Kasie West

In this new contemporary from YA star Kasie West, a girl who wins the lottery learns that money can cause more problems than it solves, especially when love comes into the picture. 

Maddie doesn't believe in luck. She's all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment --

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie's life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she's talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun... until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn't sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn't seem aware of Maddie's big news. And, for some reason, she doesn't want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

July 25

Why I'm excited: Kasie West!!!! I adore her books (her sassy, smiley characters and her boys!) and her cruise-y, feel good reads usually end up being fave reads of the year for me. I love how prolific she is becoming and will be reading this immediately upon release.

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea...

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn't himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn't know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn't let him kiss her. But she can't resist, and when they're caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it'll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?

August 1st

Why I'm excited: Uh, that title - can you go wrong? haha. Well, it just looks and sounds cute and the early reviews are so promising. This is a wild card read for me (new author) and I love the possibility of finding a new writer to love. 

The Undercurrent by Paula Weston

Eighteen-year-old Julianne De Marchi is different. As in: she has an electrical undercurrent beneath her skin that stings and surges like a live wire. She can use it—to spark a fire, maybe even end a life—but she doesn’t understand what it is. And she can barely control it, especially when she’s anxious.

Ryan Walsh was on track for a stellar football career when his knee blew out. Now he’s a soldier—part of an experimental privatised Australian military unit that has identified Jules De Marchi as a threat. Is it because of the weird undercurrent she’s tried so hard to hide? Or because of her mother Angie’s history as an activist against bio-engineering and big business?

It’s no coincidence that Ryan and Jules are in the same place at the same time—he’s under orders to follow her, after all. But then an explosive attack on a city building by an unknown enemy throws them together in the most violent and unexpected way.

Paula Weston, author of the much-admired Rephaim series, returns with a standalone work: a futuristic thriller that is only slightly futuristic—but utterly and undeniably thrilling. Great writing, heart-burning characters, probing questions about where technology is taking us—and a plot that zips and zings like an electrical current itself


Why I am excited: From the author who brought as Gaby, Jude and Rafa! I love Weston's Rephaim series so much and am so thrilled to have more characters to meet and fall in love with. 

Because of You by Pip Harry

Tiny is homeless. Nola has everything she could ask for. They meet when Nola is forced into volunteer work for the writers’ group at the homeless shelter where Tiny is staying, and at first it seems impossible that two people who are so different could ever be friends. But despite her initial prejudice, Nola quickly learns that there isn’t much separating her from the people who live on the streets. And Tiny begins to see that falling down doesn’t mean you never get back up. Because of You is a story about homelessness, prejudice and the power of words to provide a little hope. 

At its heart is the friendship between Tiny and Nola, and how this relationship changes both girls at the core. Pip Harry doesn’t shy away from some heavy topics—Tiny’s story is heartbreaking and the details about life on the streets of Sydney is horrifying—but Because of You is ultimately a hopeful story about human resilience and the life-changing power of discovering your best friend. YA readers aged 14 and up who loved John Larkin’s The Shadow Girl and Cath Crowley’s Words in Deep Blue should be diving for this powerful coming-of-age story.


Why I am excited: I love Pip Harry. Her characters have always seemed so real and managed to crawl under my skin (not in a creepy way, lol). Also, how awesome does this blurb sound? I am ready to have my heart broken and patched up again. 

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes 

Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, her father is a convicted murderer, and his execution date is fast approaching. For another, Molly refuses to believe that her mother is dead, and she waits for the day when they’ll be reunited . . . despite all evidence that this will never happen.

Pepper Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with epilepsy, serious girl problems, and the most useless seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer . . . or fail out of school.

And Ava Dreyman—the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall—is unlike anyone you’ve met before.

When Molly gets a package leading her to Pepper, they’re tasked with solving a decades-old mystery: find out who killed Ava, back in 1989. Using Ava’s diary for clues, Molly and Pepper realize there’s more to her life—and death—than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.

August 22

Why I am excited: From the author who brought us The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. That book broke me, and kept me up all night - so good. Pumped to read what else Stephanie Oakes has in store for her readers. 

Freshers is a YA novel about love, sex, and friendships in the first two months of college.

August 3rd

Why I am excited: I adore this duo! Lobsters and Never Evers are both fave books of mine. They are absolutely hilarious and I love the UK YA vibe. 

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price. 

September 19

Why I am excited; Kristin Cashore!!! And, it also sounds intriguing :)

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process. 

September 1

Why I am excited: Time travel, Berlin Wall, red balloons... This sounds unique and will hopefully be something special. 

Kate, a quiet boarder, making some risky choices to pursue the experimental music she loves.
Clem, shrugging off her old swim-team persona, exploring her first sexual relationship, and trying to keep her annoying twin, Iris, at arm's length.
Ady, grappling with a chaotic family, and wondering who her real friends are; she's not the confident A-lister she appears to be.
When St Hilda's establishes a Year 10 Wellness Program in response to the era of cyber-bullying, the three girls are thrown together and an unlikely friendship is sparked. One thing they have in common: each is targeted by PSST, a site devoted to gossip and slander that must have a source within St Hilda's.
Who can you trust when rumour is the new truth?
Take Three Girls is a collaboration between award-winning, internationally published authors Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood. With its themes of friendship, feminism, identity and belonging, it is honest, raw and funny, a novel that will strike a chord with young readers everywhere.

August 29

Why I am excited: Three of my fave authors <3

A gorgeously written and deeply felt literary young adult novel of identity, millennial anxiety, and first love, from the widely acclaimed author of The Mystery of Hollow Places

In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now, she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.

That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person stirs up the moat Vanni has carefully constructed around herself, and threatens to bring to the surface the questions she’s held under for so long.

With her signature stunning writing, Rebecca Podos, author of The Mystery of Hollow Places, has crafted a story of first love and of the complex ways in which the deepest parts of us are hidden, even from ourselves. 

October 17

Why I am excited: I loved Podos's debut The Mystery of Hollow Places. It was a great match for me and I'm really keen to read more of her work. Also - working as a mermaid sounds cool, haha. 

I ran away on a Tuesday afternoon in late March. Six pm and I was headed south-west in a train that smelt stale.

Seventeen-year-old Adelaide is sick of being expected to succeed on other people’s terms. She’s made a new plan: drop out of her fancy boarding school to read and dream. She just needs to stick it out at home for one more year and then she’ll be free.

But before she can work out her next move, Addie’s grandad offers her a job at the local historical society. It’s dusty and messy, like her hometown, like her new life. Then she accidentally kisses Jarrod, the boy who spends his days getting into trouble. But he’s as stuck as she is and Addie starts to wonder that maybe when you really want something in life, you’ve actually got to do something about it.

A heartfelt story about love, friendship and untidy towns.


Why I am excited: Sounds like my kind of read, and I've long since followed author Kate O'Donnell's blog and she has the most gorgeous and impeccable taste in books. I love this cover, too <3

The First To Know by Abigail Johnson

Don't miss the second gripping and heartfelt story from the author of If I Fix You! A girl's plan to find her father's birth family turns potentially devastating when the secret DNA test she has done reveals that she has a half brother her age she never knew about. 

Dana Fields's father never knew his parents. When Dana secretly does a DNA test for her dad, hoping to find him some distant relatives for his birthday, her entire world implodes. Instead of a few third cousins, Dana discovers a half brother her age whose very existence means her parents' happy marriage is a lie.

Dana's desire to know her half brother, Brandon, and the extent of her dad's deception, clashes with her wish not to destroy her family. When she sees the opportunity to get to know Brandon through his cousin, the intense yet kind Chase, she takes it. But the more she finds out about Brandon, her father's past and the irresistible guy who'll never forgive her if he discovers the truth, the more she sees the inevitable fallout from her own lies. With her family crumbling around her, Dana must own up to her actions and find a way to heal the breach—for everyone—before they're torn apart for good.

November 7

Why I am excited: I unexpectedly loved Abigail Johnson's debut (If I Fix You) so I'm thrilled to be able to follow it up so quickly with her second novel release :)

 Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson

The sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest.

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer. 

1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer's going to be great.

November 21

Why I am excited: I loved The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You. This sounds just as awesomely good and I really am holding out for it!

Just putting this post together has gotten me pretty excited about the rest of my 2017 reading life, tbh, lol! 

Are any of these books on your wishlist for 2017?
What upcoming books are you most excited for?

Hope all is well in your world,

:) Nomes