UltravioletUltraviolet by R.J. Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In every novel worth its name there is an abundance of figures of speech such as metaphor, simile, oxymoron. They are part of the texture of the narration and are employed to enforce the first rule of Writing 101, which is to show and not to tell.

I remember quite distinctly having studied rhetorical figures during my high school years in Italian classes and I knew synesthesia from such classes. I still remember one example quite distinctly taken from a poem by Pascoli: “un pigolio di stelle” – a chirping of stars. In a synesthesia you juxtapose two terms which belong to two different sensorial plains, ex. “a bitter smell”.

I never, ever knew it could be – actually, the figure of speech probably comes from – a neurological condition.

In this book, at least in the first part, such figures of speech not only abound, but are the foundation on which the whole novel is based.

Alison wakes up in a mental ward. She barely remembers what led her to being committed, except that she’s had a mental breakdown and that she probably has murdered her high school nemesis by…. disintegrating her.

With the help of Faraday, a fascinating therapist, she will discover the truth behind her unlikely condition and what really happened the night she does not remember.

This book is, without a doubt, the weirdest I have read in a long time. It starts off as one genre and then, three quarters into it, completely turns into something else. And when I say weird I mean that it’s like you’re reading a scene from  Wuthering Heights and Martin McFly on the Delorean comes stealing the scene. That kind of weird.

But I’d rather not talk about the plot or the characters any more because it’s really better if you go into this book by not knowing anymore that what I already said.

I am still not sure I completely appreciated the plot twist and probably never will make up my mind. I really, really liked the first part and for me it was a 5 star all the way but all of a sudden… the plot takes a weird turn, the register drops, the figures of speech disappear and… you might or might not like it. It still deserves a solid four stars in my opinion, the writing is extremely good, well worth reading this original story but I have to confess that to me it kind of stopped making sense from a certain point on.

In fact, the question that was in my mind while reading and that honestly I still haven’t completely discarded is: is Alison an unreliable narrator?

To me this question is still open, and since I am pretty sure there is going to be a – or maybe multiple – sequel/s to this YA book which certainly deserves a special attention and that deviates from “the usual”, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.

Definitely recommended, the writing is exceptional.

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Deadline (Newsflesh #2)

Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy)Deadline by Mira Grant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

It's been difficult to formulate coherent thoughts after finishing this book yesterday. There's a tangle of things I liked and things I didn't like. Sometimes these things even overlap and I both liked them and didn't at the same time. How odd.
The one sure thing is that I liked this book a little less than Feed . First of all because this book had me less emotionally involved than its predecessor and secondly, because of some elements in the plot which did not convince me fully.

It is very difficult to write a review without giving away major spoilers for Feed, so I think that if you haven't read it, you should just stop reading this now, do yourself a favor and go get yourself a copy. It's worth it, I promise, even if you're not a zombie lover.






The story picks up one year after the tragic events which led to Georgia's death. Shaun has become the head of After the End Times management but is still undeniably mourning for his sister and might be well on the way to losing his sanity. He's a broken man. Not only does she talk in his head but she appears to him, giving him a piece of her mind. And we all know how bossy Georgia was - I would have lost my mind, too.
Things get complicated when, at the AET headquarters' doorstep, appears Kelly, a CDC scientist we met in Feed and who is supposed to be dead to the world. She brings with her disconcerting news about the suspicious mortality rate of people with reservoir conditions of KA - namely, people like Georgia.
Through a series of startling discoveries, the guys start to unveil a humongous intrigue that goes well beyond Georgia's death and the events of the Rhyman campaign and who are doomed, once again, to change their lives forever - if they are going to survive at all.

The first main feeling after reading a Mira Grant's book for me is to feel like a total idiot. Not because of the sobbing or because the books are intense - which they are - but because I just feel totally ignorant and with a headache. When reading, I feel like I am always a step behind, both with the info provided and with the plot, never quite catching what is actually going on until it's clearly explained by one of the characters and sometimes... not even then. My random thoughts would be: WHAT??? but...HOW???? WHY? *pulls hair and starts flipping pages back*
You might be smarter than me and keep up perfectly with everything and link everything to sentences written 100 pages earlier but I didn't and boy, did I get a headache. It was like doing Sudoku for me. I'm a lost cause.
Also if you, like me, thought that you were done with the infodump after Feed, think again. This time, the virologist in you will be delighted by the amount of info on Kellis-Amberlee that you will have to digest. Very educative. Very detailed.
It is because of this level of detail that the whole cloning matter stands out like a sore thumb.
I really, really wish Grant had dedicated a bit more time to explain how cloning works. Aside from the fact that it is illegal in this futuristic world as well as in ours, how do they get to grow an adult person in a year? How come the clone retains the memories of the person it's been cloned from, how is that possible?? The body is new but the mind is the same?? The soul migrates? Didn't it say that the "original" holds the copyright on the soul? (and that's BS by the way but I won't even go into that).

The other main gripe I had about the plot are the two totally pointless suicide missions the guys took to the CDCs. I didn't see rhyme nor reason in these two events, especially the first. It felt like they were just doing stupid things, no plan, just to drive around and then go back to Maggie's place - which also brings out the question of how nobody ever thought about looking for them there. Because in their blogs they said they were somewhere else? That's all?

I also said, in the beginning of this review, that I was less emotionally involved with this book. Feed caught me unaware and left me desolated. I felt so sorry for what happened, it's incontestable Grant knows what she is doing when she wants to make you feel like sh*t. This time around though, apart from one dreadful revelation fairly early in the book that Georgia could have been saved, I was left rather... politely interested, that's all. Not even the end stunned me.

Finally, and this annoyed me to NO end, if in the next book I will find more references to a) coffee, b) the acidic sweetness of Coke and c) that bloody motorcycle, I might as well start screaming. Enough said, you know what I am talking about if you've read the book.

These are basically the reason why I hacked off 1 and 1/2 star from the rating. Truth is, I liked the book close to very much and you bet that I am going to read Blackout when it comes out next year. Actually next June can't come soon enough. I invested so much of my brain cells in these series that I HAVE to see what happens. I consider this middle book a transition and I am eager to see what Grant is going to concoct for the final installment.

A must-read if you enjoyed Feed.

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Spider's Web (Elemental Assassin #1)

Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, #1)Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

They call Gin Blanco the Spider. She is an assassin, the female version of Jason Bourne. She is also a Stone Elemental, with the power to manipulate a particular element. She is the best at what she does. When she gets framed for a murder she did not commit and becomes the far-from-helpless victim of an intrigue to overthrow the city head honcho, the real murderers are not aware that they've signed their death warrant. Because Gin is pissed and she won't stop until she gets justice and revenge.

There isn't much to say about this first installment in the Elemental Assassin series which I already bought as a whole thanks to Maja, who pointed me in the direction of these books and who can actually stop running across half Europe because I did, in fact, like Spider's Bite.

So I'll be bried and I'll just point out the two things I liked and the two I disliked the most.

The good:

-plot: I liked the intrigue, it was well planned and fast-paced, foreseeable but not terribly so and the romance-if it can be called romance-was quite secondary.

-main character: I like Gin very much. One of the few real badass heroines of UF at the moment (yes, Kate Daniels, you're another one), I found her intelligent, disillusioned, snarky and even though she is a victim and a byproduct of her own past, she is not a whiner and that is much appreciated.

The bad:

-world building: underdeveloped is an understatement because it is totally absent. This city, Ashland, clearly situated in America, is populated by vampires, giants, dwarves and elementals. There is no explanation as to when or how the supernaturals came to be, nor what powers they exactly have, apart from the elementals. From what I could deduce from the story, vampires have no apparent powers, they drink blood but they can die of a slit throat and can have families - Roslyn has a niece, how can that be? Do vampires become vampires because they're bitten or they were born that way? Why don't they have regenerative powers? Estep should have invested a little more in her world building and less in recipes for making good sandwiches (they do abound in the book).

-writing style: not too bad but I got a bit annoyed at the repetitions. The adjective sloppy must have been repeated at least 50 times throughout the book. As soon as I started noticing it kind of bothered me. No Thesaurus at hand?

Same thing goes for Mmm when Gin was having her "impure thoughts".

All in all, a good read I would definitely recommend if you like your UF with a strong, sharp-tongued heroine, with a lot of action and are allergic to sappy love stories. Apparently the series gets better and better and this first installment was not bad at all.

Looking forward to reading the sequels.

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Wisdom's Kiss

Wisdom's KissWisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd like to start off by saying that this is the first book I've ever read by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. I have Dairy Queen on the way to my house, a book I ordered after reading more than enthusiastic reviews by fellow GoodReaders and which I know is YA. So when I saw Wisdom's Kiss on NetGalley, I decided to give it a try.
I'm pretty sure I can tell you that this is nothing like Dairy Queen, because this is a children's book. And a really weird one at that.

In the little town of Bacio lives Trudy aka Fortitude, a beautiful maid with a magical gift: she foresees events. Trudy is in love with Tips, her childhood friend who's left Bacio to become a soldier for the Emperor who writes her professing his love.
When Wisdom, aka Dizzy, princess of the kingdom of Montagne, arrives in the girl's town on her way to the Barony of Farina to marry the Baron, Roger, Trudy knows her life is going to change, and not for the better. Forced to accompany Dizzy and her Queen Mother, Ben, to Farina, Trudy will meet with Tips, get involved in a sordid plot to usurp the throne of Montagne and finally find her place in life.

Even though, in its essence, this book can be seen as your regular fairy tale, I think Wisdom's Kiss manages to break all rules in this genre. First of all it is a mix of adventure, magic, grotesque, comedy of errors and shakespearian play.
It's told in EIGHT different point of views, each different in its genre, format, writing style: an epistolary correspondence between Ben and her granddaughter Temperance, the recount of a narcissistic mentor, the "gentle observations" of the wicked villain, the letters of an illiterate beau, the urban-style diary of a rebel princess, the memoirs of a gentle maid, a playwright by anonymous and encyclopedic entries. All these elements, by means of flashbacks, definitions, storytelling and dialogues make up an original fairy tale as you've never seen it before.

I read loads and loads of YA lit and I wouldn't consider this book YA, even though it is categorized as such.
I'd say this is more middle grade level and therefore, when I started this book I had to leave behind my YA's forma mentis  and enter in children's mode to fully appreciate it. Albeit a bit recalcitrant to adjust to it at the beginning, I can say I quite enjoyed this book that has got some hilarious parts.
My favorite quote - the characters are talking about spellcasting - is Tips':

Yet I confess I do not follow Her Majesty's thinking. How does spelling lend assistance - have you no dictionaries?

Talk about a brooding hunk. This guy can sure be dense.

Also, I liked the love triangle, which is far from canonic. I can't describe too much without spoiling it, suffice it to say that the Happily Ever After in this book is unusual and original and I am kind of happy that it ended like that. Nice change.

The only thing that did not convince me entirely in this book is the jargon used by both Dizzy and Tips. It is typical of new generations to deconstruct language in text messaging and in the Internet but, in this case, I found it a bit over the top. But it might be me. This kind of urban style language might appeal more to middle graders who are, end in end, the target audience of this fairy tale.

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Feed (Newsflesh #1)

FeedFeed by Mira Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started reading this book with all the wrong expectations: I thought it would be YA and that it would be about zombies.

As already stated in endless reviews before mine, zombies do not represent the lion's share in this book.

Nor is it YA lit.

The year is 2039. Society as we know it has changed profoundly. Due to the combination of two potent "vaccinations", one meant to cure colds and the other cancer, a new virus had developed and has affected the whole world population. Side effects? Once you die, you become a zombie.

Georgia and Shaun Mason are bloggers, which in the new society is equal to journalists. When they are chosen as official press to follow the Republican candidate for the presidential campaign, they think they've won the jackpot, the possibility to become popular Alpha bloggers.

Except that someone is trying to sabotage the campaign and, as their popularity increases, so do the risks of being involved in a dangerous political intrigue which might be more than what they've bargained for.

As I said, this book is not strictly about zombies. To me, it felt more like a legal thriller à la John Grisham, except with journalists instead of lawyers. The world-building is very detailed and complicated, both in relation to the insurgence and development of the virus and to the blogging tech details. So much so that this book really made feel like a Neanderthal of computers and tech devices, I felt like I still haven't discovered the wheel.

Directly proportionate to the detailed world building, is the infodump. There's a lot of info in this book to digest and I'm not sure I always liked the way the author introduced it. As the story develops, she throws in names and events - especially court cases, laws or names of public people - as if they're taken for granted, letting the characters explain later on the references she made. I have to admit this strategy she used was a bit unnerving. (And by the way, is the Cruise in the Cruise -Gore previous presidential campaign who I think it is?)

Also, but probably this was mainly my fault, I thought this book was YA. Automatically, I inferred my main characters to be teenagers. Wrong. They're closer to 25 years old. As I realized this, I was already well into the story and I had a hard time readjusting all my "visual picturing" of the action. I think the author should have probably made it clearer from the beginning. Probably, I got tricked by the fact that Georgia and Shaun were still living with their parents, a normal fact  for the place where I come from, but maybe not in the US - though post-apocalyptic. Also, Shaun totally acts like a teenager (a 24 year old man acting like a kid? Never heard of one before. Never. I swear).

Georgia. Georgia is our main character for about 90% of the book, as the story is told from her POV. And I spent 90% of the book deciding whether I liked her or not. Most of the time she is so badass she turns into an arrogant bitch. She resents her adoptive parents for exploiting them (hate to break it you, Georgia, but there's much, much worse), she is cold but whines in her head.

Other times though, she would surprise me with her unconditional loyalty to Shaun (and was it only me who thought their relationship bordered on morbid?) and her moral integrity or she would win me over by citing Shakespeare out of the blue - "something is rotten in the state of Denmark" is one of my favorites quotes ever.

Reflective of her personality, the tone of the narration is pretty aseptic for a good part of the book. Her character is based on truth, and truth we get, but not much emotion.

But don't think that this book will easily make forget itself. As the intrigue unravels, the plot will suddenly turn and punch you in the face unmercifully. The narration will become so intense, you will feel miserable and unable to put down the book. Believe me, I shed some tears and I rarely do.

So. I strongly recommend reading this book because I liked it very much and I think that so will you. It's not for everybody. It's not romance. There is not really a HEA. But even if you're not a zombie lover, this book is one of the good ones.

The sequel Deadline is already out.

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Mercy (Mercy, #1)Mercy by Rebecca Lim
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 stars and I am pissed.
This book could have been SO much better.

Let's see: the concept is interesting. Mercy is an angel who, for reasons unknown, possesses bodies of women for purposes unknown. That means that all of a sudden she wakes up in a body that is not hers and she has to live with that body for a certain period of time. In this continuous process, she tries to get to Luc, a mysterious man who she seems to want to be with.
When we meet Mercy, she wakes up in the body of Carmen Zappacosta, a timid, tiny and unattractive girl who is also a soprano and who is going with her school to an annual (?) concert hosted by another school in the tiny town of Paradise. Her host is a family, the Daleys, who's suffered a terrible event: the disappearance of their daughter two years before, Lauren, also a soprano. When she meets Ryan, Lauren's twin, Mercy quickly realizes she needs to help him search for Lauren, whom he believes to be alive. What happened to Lauren? Will Mercy unusual powers be helpful in discovering the truth? and WHO is exactly Mercy?

I'm giving this book 2.5 stars mainly for two reasons. The first is because Rebecca Lim is a talented writer. She can definitely write and her style is way, way better than most authors of paranormal YA out there. You have to check it out to know what I mean but she has a way of describing things which is really evocative and effective, even lyrical at times.
Second, Mercy is a good main character. She evolves in the course of the book, she is strong-willed and we're not really sure whether she is all good. It feels like she has a dark side and I am interested in knowing what's going to become of her.

BUT. But.
My main gripe is about the plot. Aside from the fact that she states on page 1 that when she wakes up she no longer knows anything and then, right on page 7, she starts telling who she was in her previous lives, there were a couple of passages where logic eluded me.
On their first attempt to discover where Lauren could be hidden, Ryan and Carmen/Mercy break into a reverend's house. The reverend's family is sleeping inside and they nonchalantly stroll into the house and start checking out rooms. Finding nothing of interest, they decide to look for Lauren, who nobody has seen for 2 years, in the couple's bedroom. Since the reverend and his wife are inside, they decide they need a diversion to get them out of the house. They start bickering about who should go and distract them (family still sleeping inside the room) and Ryan decides to go. So, while Carmen lurks outside the room waiting for the couple to come out, Ryan goes and.... blows up a tree!!! He pulls out a gun and sets a f*cking huge tree on fire! WTF? Isn't it, like, a bit, excessive? But it doesn't end there. Once Carmen has made sure that Lauren is not in the house, she runs out of the house. The reverend SEES her, shouts to his wife to run after her but Carmen escapes, eluding the swarm of firetrucks that are amassing outside the house. Well, this incident NEVER gets mentioned again. Carmen strolls home and that's it. No news next day, no talks in school, no police trying to apprehend the girl the reverend saw. Again: WTF?
And it goes on. At karaoke night, Carmen slurps down EIGHT cokes laced with bourbon in a couple of minutes. Sorry, but I can't believe that. She faints and while everyone wants to, obviously, take her to hospital, Ryan picks her up and takes her home. Another WTF?
But most of all, when at the end of the book, the culprit is discovered, it turns out he had a track record for stalking and harassing a soprano girl. So when ANOTHER soprano girl disappears, why nobody EVER thinks to check on him? Unbelievable.

Sorry to say these facts among others - calling Lucifer and Uriel with lame nicknames LUC and URI is just plain... lame - just irked me to no end.
So if the author could please STOP trying to channel American paranormal YA and be herself a little more, the book would have been so much better.
Because the author is Australian and this was the main reason why I picked up this book. Do we realize the story is set in Australia? NO. It could be the US. We even have a Tiffany bitchy nemesis.

I'm seeing potential in this series and I am willing to read what comes next. We all agree that, at the moment, Australia is like the hen that laid golden eggs in YA lit, so why not exploit this advantage to its fullest instead of trying to be something else?

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Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5)

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5)Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I would like all authors of urban fantasy and paranormal romance out there to stop for a second their feverish scribbling and take a look at this series. THE proof that YES, series don't necessarily need to go down the drain after 4th installment, that YES, series can STILL be interesting after the two romantic interests in the story "do the deed" and that YES, plots do not need to become unbelievably twisted, punctuated by improbable events and where mythology gets slaughtered just to get out of the bloody unplanned mess that became your story's outline.

Now, instead of giving you a synopsis of the book, I'd rather tell you why this book in particular, but the whole series in general, deserved 5 stars:

- because the plot is interesting, well developed, makes total sense, each book is tied to the other but still stands on its own without painful, mean and useless cliffhangers;

- because romance in this book is not the vital core of the story but rather like a planet orbiting around a much substantial and well-founded plot - so much so that in the first book there is NO romance and we're still all here, inhaling every single word Andrews is writing;

- because vampires, in these books, do not sparkle;

- because the Andrews, when they decided to put mythology into their world, did their homework well and decided to stick with what they knew: in this book, they stuck with Russian mythology and used it in a great, clever way - there is no Russian kid who hasn't heard of Baba Yaga that I'm aware of;

-because Kate is simply and undeniably the baddest UF heroine out there at the moment; she is clever, disillusioned, snarky and she kicks ass so much that I wish I was her;

-because the dialogue is so full of snark, banter, sarcasm and great comebacks that I am SURE everybody has highlighted some part or the other of the book;

Finally, the main reason why I think this series is so fortunate: because the Andrews are two. So what? Even P.C. Cast are two. No. I think the fact that a man and a woman have written this series together has given it a great balance. Thanks to Gordon Andrews being present, the books never get cheesy, overly romantic or dangerously stupid. On the contrary, you can see where he puts in his knowledge of weapons, fighting strategies and so on. He gives the books a masculine angle that only helps making Kate even more of a badass. The fact that the authors are husband and wife shows in the dialogues between Kate and Curran, I think.

In all this awesomeness, I am not saying that the book - or the series - is perfect. There are flaws: some that have to do with proofreading - a "door bursts open" immediately after having fallen into the room - some with the plot - I think there is a certain confusion at times about the form the beasts take, half form, warrior form, full animal. There is a passage where Mahon shouldn't have been able to shift into warrior form yet he does - and some have to do with excessive detailing - those who followed and understood the whole coefficient and proportion thing about probability of loupism please raise your hand. Also, I was pretty sorry that Raphael was not in this book, and I expect him in the next one.

Still, somehow, these imperfections do not detract from the general state of satisfaction I was left in after I read the last page of the book.

Dear Ilona and Gordon Andrews, if you keep on writing like this, I will gladly buy Magic Whatever # 15.

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Slave to Sensation (Psy-changeling #1)

Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling, #1)Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars.

In this first installment of her Psy-changeling series, Nalini Singh introduces us to this reality where Psy - superior being with psychic powers who have been conditioned to become emotionless - and Changelings - shapeshifters - rule the world. Regular humans are inconsequential in this book.

Sascha Duncan is a Psy with the task to infiltrate the Changeling community to glimpse more info about its structure. Her cover is a joint venture with the RiverDark clan's construction company to build new houses for the Changelings and that's where she meets the head of the clan, hunk Lucas Hunter. The Changeling's secret agenda is to discover a Psy serial killer who is decimating their female population and they need the help of cold-as-ice Sascha Duncan to find the responsible of the killings. Except Sascha is not as emotionless as she seems and has a secret she needs to keep safe, a secret that could cost her her life.

Unfortunately, as soon as I started the book, Nalini Singh immediately got on my wrong side, for personal reasons. See, when I was living in Russia a few years ago I had a good friend whose name was - is -Nikita. I love that name. So much so that I always thought I would call my son like that, did I get to have one. Yes, my son. Because in Russian speaking countries, Nikita is a masculine name. Unfortunately, in the rest of the world this name seems to have mutated - thanks also to a fortunate French movie and to a British song - to the feminine gender. So, when a few years later my son was born, much to my chagrin, I had to give in and I called him Noah (which, by the way, here in Italy still gets confused as a feminine name).

So, even though it is not solely her fault, I resent the author for perpetuating this misconception that Nikita is a proper female name by calling Sascha's mother like that. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that Nikita Duncan is the daughter of a Dmitri Kukovich, clearly a Slavic name, which would make it very unlikely for her to be christened like that. End of personal rant.

Aside from the above mentioned annoyance, I expected this book to be of more substance. I like paranormal romance books and I enjoy steamy sex scenes but these people were thinking about sex from page one till back cover - when they were not doing it. I'm not saying that the plot was thin or uninteresting, I actually appreciated this new race, the Psy, as a change from regular old vampires, but it certainly got obliterated by the continuous sex dance between Sascha and Lucas, followed by the sappy scenes you're-my-mate-for-life-we're-two-bodies-and-one-soul when I actually had to go brush my teeth. Seriously, some paranormal romance books beat YA literature when sap and happily-ever-afters are concerned. This is one of them

I'd say this would be a sure must read book for lovers of J.R. Ward and her Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

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Looking for Alibrandi

Looking for AlibrandiLooking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I knew it. I just knew that my complete love for Melina Marchetta was clouded only by her 3rd person POV. And this book is the proof that I was right! I'm relieved I got that out of my system.

I loved this book. Loved it. It's up there with Saving Francesca and Jellicoe Road. But possibly, I loved this book even more than the others. Now I'm going to tell you why.

In 1956, my grand-uncle was 16 when he kissed his mum and dad goodbye, jumped on a boat and took off for Australia in search of fortune with his aunt.

My grand-aunt, his future wife, was 3 when her whole family left the teeny tiny village of Caltrano, Italy, got on another boat and set off for the same country. They met there, married there, had children there and I'm pretty sure that's where they will die one day. They come visit once in while and, very rarely, we visit too. Last time I went there was eons ago, I was 16 and stayed with them for a whole summer.

I got to be sucked in the Italian community in Melbourne, was mesmerized by their inbreeding, shocked by their Sunday clubs where they gather and gorge on gargantuan amounts Italian food, I was rendered speechless by sold out concerts of bad, bad Italian singers who nobody in Italy wants to see ever again and that mysteriously gather huge crowds in Australia.

We're not like that in Italy, I thought. Not even close. Especially not us, in the North. When my cousin comes to Italy, he comes looking for his Roman roots, he says. And I reluctantly remind him that our family is actually more likely to have descended from the barbarians than from Romans. You think he cares? His eyes glaze over and I know he's dreaming of panem et circenses.

So that's not Italy. Except... when I really think about it, it actually is. Just... less. Emigrants in the 50s and 60s left the country and took with them all those mores and folklore that belonged to us. But then, they isolated and... mutated, in a way. But all of it is true. When I was in Australia with my relatives, all I could see where exasperated features of Italian culture, many of which belonged to the past. They even developed their own language, a mix of regional dialects and made-up words borrowed from English. Amazing.

The tomato day thing in the book? I have crystal clear memories of my gran and aunt doing that during my childhood just... in a less colorful way. And my mother in law still makes tomato sauce exactly that way every year, with tomatoes from her garden.

So.... yeah, a good part of my family are actually wogs. If you put that together with Marchetta's perceptive rendering of human emotions, her impressively smooth writing style and her usual excellence at characterization, you might see why I am actually fascinated by this book.

I swear I will read each and every word this woman will ever publish. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

No wait! I have to add this favorite quote from the book:

"I just don't trust people who have bodies that change with their moods."

Boy, was this me as a teenager.

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