Tracking the Tempest (Jane True #2)

Tracking the Tempest (Jane True, #2)Tracking the Tempest by Nicole Peeler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm already halfway through the third installment while writing this review so I'll just make some quick considerations and go back to Tempest's Legacy and my work in progress.

Strong points:

-This series is seriously addictive. Considering three books are already published and the fourth is coming out soon, I just could not let the next book be. I have to know what happens. Especially in the romance department, I think all readers who, like me, have gone through this series, at this point were just waiting for the serious hooking up to happen.

-I just love the sense of humor and the pop culture references in this book. I am aware many people might find it idiotic but then shut this book and go read War and Peace for god's sake. This is, as I already said in my previous review of this series, Urban Fantasy that actually makes fun of its own clichés and doesn't take itself too seriously.

-Jane is a great character. I love the way she doesn't know what she is doing most of the time ("I've always been of the turn tail and flee persuasion"), how she is easily sidetracked by her own romantic thoughts and libido ("I wanted to pass Iris notes signed Jane Barghest. I wanted to write ANYAN LOVES JANE on my geography book, if I were still in geography classes. I wanted to play MASH with him as my only "husband" option".) but I also love how her character is developing or to use her words once more "I still had a lot to learn, but I was really, really excited to grow into the woman I glimpsed lurking on the horizon"

And then this gem I can't help but quote:

"The thing is Iris, I've never liked the idea of compromise. In films and in stories, people who love each other - really love each other - make horrendous sacrifices. They give kidneys, they move across the world, they DIE. Or become the undead, because you know I like that sort of book. Basically, the heroine's lover calls, and she answers. Which is stupid. You know why?
Iris shook her head.
"Because he's always fucking calling."

Weak points:

-The romance, which is also strictly tied to the third point of the above list: Jane. I grew more and more irritated with Jane in the course of this book because of the way she was handling her relationship with Ryu. I mean, we all knew that Ryu wasn't there to stay and we all know who the next beau is going to be. Still, I thought Jane was a bit of a bitch to Ryu. True, he's got his own agenda and he is not a "diamond in the rough" character (yes, we're STILL watching Aladdin) but I didn't think he deserved all the accusations that Jane threw at him, considering the fact that she is ALSO totally taking advantage of him.  I need, once again, to quote Ryu from Tempest's Legacy to express accurately what I think of Jane's behavior:
...Because I think you're using what I did to get rid of me for reasons that have nothing to do with actually happened. You say I play games. Fine, I know I do; it's who I am. But I think you do, too. You're just not aware of them. For once, be honest with yourself. Even if you can't be honest with me.
Eloquently put, she is being a bitch.

-The sense of humor and pop culture references are still there, albeit LESS. Contrary to all other fellow reviewers, I think I still like Tempest Rising slightly better than this book, as this one is a bit more in line with the classic parameters of other UF novels.

Ok my considerations weren't so quick after all. Back to Tempest's Legacy

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The Harlot

The HarlotThe Harlot by Saskia Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Advice to all husbands whose wife's libido has gone down the drain and are experiencing a dry spell: go get this book and give it to your woman NOW.

First off, I should make clear straight away that this is not my usual genre. Or rather it is but slightly less. I do enjoy me some good steamy paranormal romance (I'm thinking Cat and Bones here) but I had some really unfortunate experience with PRN bordering on erotica (I'm thinking Beyond the Highland Misthere). This is mainly erotica with romance and a bit of paranormal added. It shouldn't be my cup of tea.

But I have to confess that this was done rather well.

I recently read a passage from Tempest Rising that summarizes the genre I am referring to and which I do not like:

"She liked a very particular kind of plot: the kind where the pirate kidnaps some virgin damsel, rapes her into loving him, and then dispatches lots of seamen while she polishes his cutlass. Or where the Highland clan leader kidnaps some virginal English Rose, rapes her into loving him, and then kills entire armies of Sassenachs while she stuffs his haggis. Or where the Native American kidnaps a virginal white settler, rapes her into loving him, and then kills a bunch of colonists while she whets his tomahawk."

This is not the case, as Jessie is certainly not virginal.

The Harlot is basically an 18th century version of Pretty Woman. Jessie, known as the Harlot of Dundee, gets spotted during a catfight (imagine various anatomic parts on display here) by Gregor, a man with an agenda of revenge.

Arrested for witchcraft, Jessie gets imprisoned and is bound to be burnt at the stake. But Gregor has other plans for Jessie. He wants to recruit her and employ her fine arts to seduce his long time enemy, the one who caused his father's death and defrauded him of all his properties. Of course, the plan does not go as devised because Gregor and Jessie hopelessly fall in love with each other (and each other's crotches).

But make no mistake. Despite the Pretty Woman motif, this book is no fairy tale for teens. The sexual content abounds and is as varied as it gets: there's m/m and f/f action, all kinds of imaginable positions and some minor bondage.

While I have to confess that the sexual scenes, though... emh, interesting are not something I would read on a daily basis, in Walker's case I appreciated the fact that she kept the weird metaphors and awkward terminology to a minimum, still maintaining the scene highly flammable. If you want to know what I'm talking about you might want to check my review of Beyond the Highland Mist.

I also liked Jessie pretty much. Even though she is a total nympho and the secret dream of 99.9% of the male population on Earth, she is no damsel in distress but a determined woman set to achieve her goals and who will resort to any possible means to do it.

All in all, certainly an entertaining read, well written and less clichéd than usual.

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Graffiti Moon

Graffiti MoonGraffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars.

Last week, as I was strolling with my two little ones around town for our morning promenade, I happened to pass in front of our neighborhood's church. In its front yard there was quite a congregation of young kids, their instruments and a lot of out of tune music, as they were preparing to rehearse for some parochial event. Of course my daughter, who's 4 and knows the whole Aladdin soundtrack by heart, begged me to stop and listen to whatever they were going to play.

When I said "young kids" I forgot to mention these kids where more on the 12 to 14 y.o. range than on the 16 to 18, so imagine my amazement (and my daughter's dismay) when the notes they started to strum on their instruments didn't belong to either Walt Disney, Justin Bieber or Tokio Hotel but to "Smoke on the Water"... these kids were practically born the day before yesterday, they could easily be MY kids and they were playing Deep Purple, for god's sake.

So I got to thinking that I generally tend to underestimate teenagers and think their brains work only on Wii waves, text-messaging and angst. But there are also some very talented and artistic kids out there whose sole interest in life is not limited to a remote control.

The Graffiti Moon crew, despite being a bit older, is composed by such kids. Slightly eccentric, artistic, urban teens whom author Cath Crowley still manages to depict in a very believable way, complete with teen dorkiness and false romantic ideals.

There's Lucy, the glassblower, who when asked by her best friend Jazz to compile a list of guys she would "do it with", writes down only fictional characters. Enamored with a mysterious graffiter's work called Shadow, she is determined to find him, convinced they can't be but twin souls.

Ed. Part Adam Wilde from If I Stay, part Tom MacKee from The Piper's Son, Ed is a high school dropout, a graffiter and thinks he's a total loser. After having lost his job at a paint shop, he embarks in an illicit adventure with his friend Leo which involves a pink getaway van, some bad men and some "travel plans" with Lucy.

Daisy and Dylan, trait d'union between Lucy, Jazz, Ed and Leo, are going through a relationship crisis and are, apparently the only ones who can lead Lucy and Jazz to Shadow and his friend Poet.

I loved this book. The story, told in alternating POVs by Lucy and Ed with some of Poet's poems thrown in for effect, is brilliant. It recounts the happenings of one night (a bit à la Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist) and it is just great. I loved how the two POVs overlaps so the reader can be inside both heads for the same scene, I loved how, throughout the book, roles get reversed and misunderstood, like in a comedy of errors. I loved the dialogues, the characters' sense of humor, the banter: this book is just downright hilarious.

Dylan's words:

"If my like for you was footy crowd, you'd be deaf cos of the roar. And if my like for you were a boxer, there'd be dead guy lying on the floor. And if my like for you were sugar, you'd lose your teeth before you were twenty. And if my like for you was money, let's just say you'd be spending plenty."

And finally, I loved the author's writing style. Another talented author which manages to give us a realistic, cute, hilarious teenage story, coupled with believable and well developed characters with great personalities, all encased in pretty words, a bit flowery but not too purply.

I'm hacking half a star off just because I thought the ending was a bit too Gone with the Wind style. But this is, definitely, definitely, a book that needs your attention.

Another great Australian author, another great YA story.

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Tempest Rising (Jane True #1)

Tempest Rising (Jane True, #1)Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think it is important to approach this book with the right expectations.

If you think you will read some kick-ass Urban Fantasy with a strong heroine à la Kate Daniels, forget about it and go pick up something else with a lot of steel and leather on the cover because, really, what did you expect from a book with THIS cover?

On the contrary, if you like rather grotesque stories with a twisted sense of humor and the OPPOSITE of a kick-ass heroine, this might be just right up your alley.

Jane is from Rockabill, Maine. She works in a bookshop, lives with her father and is a swimmer. She is well-known in town because she is the daughter of a woman who suddenly disappeared 20 years earlier, abandoning her and her father, and also for being involved in the death of her boyfriend Jason, in a weird suicide-rescue attempt case.

But when, during a swim, she finds the (murdered) body of a villager she knew, she becomes unwillingly involved in a mystery which will lead to the truth about her (supernatural) origins and which will make her fear for her life.

This is a book in which the Main Character is fundamental. If you don't like her persona, her continuous internal monologue or her sense of humor, you will not like this book. I liked her very much. She is very different from all heroines I've encountered so far, but in a good way for me. She is a goofy character who talks about herself in a very self-deprecating way and she makes the lamest jokes. To which I laughed, of course. To me she is a very enjoyable character to whom I could relate. Thinking about the most absurd, superfluous and just downright stupid details during either highly dramatic or romantic moments? Story of my life. So I totally got her in all her goofy moments. This is also why, during the first sex scene, one of the most "off-turning" (am I making up words here?) I have ever read, I was laughing my ass off at the mention of "chesticles" and "undercarriage". I felt like I was watching The Naked Gun.Totally comic.

On the other hand, I didn't care much for Ryu. Something felt off about him and I didn't like his veiled condescending attitude towards Jane, treating her like a rare specimen of some exotic plant that he needed for his collection. But then again, it is pretty obvious Ryu is not going to stay so the author is clearly trying not to make us sympathize too much with him. I'm curious to see how she develops that.

What I liked less about this book and which led me to the 4 star rating has to do with the plot which can be summed up in two words for you: Sookie Stackhouse.

While, in my opinion, the two heroines bear close to no resemblance to each other, Jane's role in the plot, the plot itself and all that political-intrigue-at-court mumbo jumbo strongly reminded me of the Southern Vampires Mysteries.

In the second part of the book, BECAUSE of the mumbo jumbo, the narration lost a bit of its verve, and I realized that my eyes got the tendency to glaze over occasionally. Fortunately the finale, although quite predictable, opens up new territory which I will be glad to explore in the next books of the series - which I have been guaranteed that get better and better.

All in all, a good first installment to what I hope will be a fresh, filled-with-humour, supernatural-with-a-twist series for people who, just sometimes, don't like to take themselves - and what they read - too seriously.

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Lips Touch: Three Times

Lips Touch: Three TimesLips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been eager to read Laini Taylor for a while now, after reading more than gushing reviews about her books here on GoodReads.

Now that I'm done I have to confess that while on the one hand she did not disappoint, on the other I didn't fall in love with this book.

I knew next to nothing about this book before starting it, only that it was a collection of three short stories and that the leit motif is kissing.

What I didn't know is that the author, in this collection, has taken various elements of fairy tales, literature, mythology and much more and stirred it in a big cauldron with a rather nice effect.

First of all, let's get something important out of the way. Taylor writes Wonderfully with capital W. You know the "show, don't tell" rule? This woman probably invented it. As I might have mentioned in many other reviews before, I am a very visual person. Well, this book played like a movie in front of my eyes. I could hear, smell and taste with the characters, with pretty, pretty words fluttering all around me. She is very, very talented. Period.

Goblin Fruit is the first short story and the one that made me think the most. I knew it's based on the poem by Christina Rossetti Goblin Market. So, imagine my shock when I started reading the story and somehow it felt familiar.... where have I read this before? But...but... this is TWILIGHT!

Aside from the obvious abyss in writing skills, the similarities are undeniable: from the physical description of Jack Husk, the analogies in the metaphor of the forbidden fruit up to the end and the choice that Kizzy makes.

I think that, in this case, - and you might think I am crazy - Taylor took the archetype of all contemporary paranormal YA literature nowadays (our beloved or dearly hated Twilight) and reinterpreted it, mixing it with other elements and Rossetti's poem. And you know what? There is even a line in Rossetti's poem: "Twilight is not for good maidens" that sounds just too much of a coincidence to me.

When I noticed, of course,  I rushed to read more accurately the reviews of those who gushed about the book and do you want to know what I noticed? None of the 5 stars reviews I read even mention Twilight. ALL of the 1 star reviews do. I'm not trying to make any point here by saying it is either good or bad (after all, I am one of those who did enjoy Twilight), I am just weirded out that so few people mentioned it. To me it was very obvious.

My main gripe with this story - but it applies in general to the whole book - is the shortness of it. To me, there simply wasn't time for the characters to really become three-dimensional, they felt incomplete and underdeveloped and I was left with lots of questions whirling in my mind about Kizzy, her friends, her family, Jack.

The second story has a completely different, exotic taste to it. Set in colonial times in India, Spicy Little Curses tells the story of a beautiful girl, a terrible curse and a spiteful demon. I found this to be the more fairy-talish among the three, detecting elements from well known fairy tales mixed (well) with Indian mythology. And being a fairy tale, as a fairy tale it ends, with love conquering all and the bad guys defeated.

Much more to my taste was Hatchling. The longest of the three, this is also the darker one. Based on Zoroastrian mythology (I had to go look that up) with a pinch of Irish folklore, Taylor inserts her own set of creatures turning the concept of Druj into something that is midway between fae, shapeshifter and vampire. The body-snatching part was pretty disturbing to me but also perfectly adequate to the dark tone of the narration.

In conclusion, as said before, my main problem with this book was the short story structure, in which I could only catch a glimpse of Taylor's skills at characterization. To me it felt more like three instances of an exercise in writing than the parts of an organic unity.

I will, without a doubt, check out her novel Daughter of Smoke and Bone as soon as it comes out.

And one more thing: if you're planning to read this book, I strongly suggest you buy the paper version rather than the electronic or you'll be missing out on all those pretty illustrations that precede each short story as a sort of background and that make the book a more precious experience.

3.5 stars.

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Front and Center (Dairy Queen #3)

Front and CenterFront and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I want to make clear from the start that despite having rated all three books in this series with 4 stars, I really think the series as a whole deserves 5 stars.

I haven't written a review for the second installment and I won't write a review about this last book either.

I'd rather tell you why the whole trilogy is great and you should go start reading it right now.

DJ Schwenk is just about one of the best characters in YA lit I have had the fortune to encounter lately. Written in the form a sort of diary the Dairy Queen trilogy just oozes DJ's hilariousness, simplicity, naivete, snark, wisdom and teen-age.

And talk about character development: in the course of the books I got to learn to love so much all characters in DJ's universe that I am really reluctant to let them go: from her father, who I disliked in the first book and that, end in end, is just a big, fluffy teddy bear who loves his children fiercely, to Curtis (Murdock should totally do a spinoff about Curtis, by the way) her super shy and brainy baby brother, to Brian, the love interest, who is a jerk but maybe not and just needs to grow up.

The books felt REALLY American to me, American sports playing a huge role in this series but it didn't bother me one bit, the fact that I knew close to nothing about them. Actually I was marveling all throughout the third book at this completely foreign concept that is getting a scholarship to college for athletic merits. Like, we don't even have sports here at Uni. And the meritocratic system I completely admire, which we also do not have.

So to me, it was really interesting to have this window opened on an instance of rural America, populated by cows, pickups, coaches, football players and hoops.

It felt very real. DJ's voice sounded very realistic and honest to me and very, very funny. I couldn't help but sympathize with her throughout the whole series.

This is a very refreshing and light read but in NO way shallow. Highly recommended.

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Story of a Girl

Story of a GirlStory of a Girl by Sara Zarr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Abandon all hope -Ye who enter here.

This is what I wanted to inscribe on a plate and stick on the front page of the book as I was reading the first half.

Have you read my profile description? Well, I state that I read only what relaxes me. This book is NOT relaxing. It's depressing. At least for the first part. So if you are all about flowers and puppies, happy thoughts and happily ever afters, I warn you that this book will not make you feel better.

Deanna is 16 lives in the blue-collar town of Pacifica, where her parents work some pretty low-paid jobs. She is well-known in town because, at age 13, she's been caught by her father in the backseat of a car having sex with Jimmy, her older brother's best friend. Even after 3 years, her life still seems to be defined by this pivotal moment, by this incredibly stupid mistake she's made and just has to live with the slut label.

Being realistic YA fiction, this book is not about action. It's all about characters. The first thing that bugged me is that it's really hard to find a likable character, starting with our MC, Deanna. Deanna is your typical teenager with "father" issues; unable to receive attention and love from the figure she looks up to the most, she throws herself in the arms of the first person that makes her feel somehow special, even though she is too young and this person is all wrong. This is not uncommon.

What irked me was her initial - not so initial because it lasted three years but initial for the book - inability to snap out of it. This event becomes a big deal because she lets it become one and lets it define her. I also thought the whole resonance of the matter in town was a bit exaggerated, that after three years people would still be mean to her about it and adult people would still talk. I come from a small town too and, over the years, there have been a few people who have made some embarrassing mistakes and they got public but I thought this was a bit blown out of proportion, especially by her father. 13 is definitely too young to have sex but, unfortunately, not very uncommon nowadays. It's a mistake but not the end of the world.Aside from Deanna, her whole family is dysfunctional, with the exception of Darren who, even though a father at only 19, seemed to be the only one with a bit of grain in his head.

But the sense of terrible social degradation that permeated the whole story is what struck me the most. The mess in the house, the house falling to pieces with Christmas lights still out and nobody even caring about it, the diner where she works, the descriptions of which made my stomach churn with disgust, her squalid encounters with Jimmy, all left me with a sense of despair and hopelessness I wasn't really willing or ready to get into. I know the problem is me doing the ostrich in this case but, when left with a choice, I'd rather not read about other people's unhappy situations in life.

Fortunately, throughout the second part of the book and to the end, Deanna slowly starts her path towards a partial redemption, finally trying to communicate with her family, confronting Jimmy and salvaging her friendship with Lee. Zarr doesn't leave you completely hopeless but tries to resolve issues in the interpersonal dynamics of the characters, introducing forgiveness, mainly.

This to say that while I was pretty much hating the first part of the book I have to admit that, end in end, this deserves a little more than 3 starts for me and that, in fact, I did like it. The story is very well written and very intense, the characters are well developed - though unlikable - and the ending is in tone with the rest of the book, not overly optimistic and unreal Hollywood-movie-like but more subdued, with little hints that it can get better.

I cannot give it a higher rating because this book is probably not for me. Or maybe it is, because I almost read it in one sitting but it's just that I don't want to read about this. The feeling I had that the characters have limited free will and that are, in reality, victims of their social conditions just leaves me with a bitter taste in the back of my mouth I don't want to have.

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The Reapers are the Angels

The Reapers Are the AngelsThe Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Reapers are the Angels is one of those books which I find extremely difficult to review because whatever I might say about it, it is never enough and it sounds banal.

Right from page 1, it was clear to me that this book stands in a category of its own in respect to YA lit - but then, can it even be considered YA lit? One sure thing I can say is that this is literature.

In fact, one of the traits which make this book really stand out is certainly the quality of its writing: metaphorical, evocative, set to convey, step by step, through flashbacks, Temple's mal de vivre.

Temple is our main character, she's 15 but she is no teenager. Born in a post-zombie world, she is a master of survival and a lost soul and she can't stay away from violence. She doesn't know a world before the advent of the zombies and to her, they're not even a problem, they're just a nuisance with which she has to deal on a daily basis, like an explorer living in the jungle and having to be careful about dangerous animals.

At the beginning of the book, we find her living on an island, isolated from the rest of world. After a zombie tries to cross the channel to get to her, she decides to look for a safer place to live and she goes on the road.  Of course, Temple's quest for a safe haven is only useless, because what she is really looking for is some interior peace from the nightmares that torment her inside and of which she cannot get rid of. Life has been unfair to her, has set her aside from society, yet when given the chance to redeem herself and be a part of a commune, she refuses.

The story reminded, in more than one occasion, of a Tarantino movie, particularly Kill Bill, only with zombies. Its brutality and violence bordering almost on grotesque, represented as a part of daily routine and of human nature stridently clash with Temple's supposed age of innocence, which you can still detect in some part of her personality and behavior but that has been shattered by gruesome and traumatic events in her life.

As I am re-reading this review I notice I am starting not to make any sense here so I'll keep it short.I recommend this book because it is excellently written, because Temple is an extraordinary character you will not easily forget, because the story is simple but simply amazing and this is, in my opinion, the best zombie book out there at the moment.

My favorite passage from the book (but truly, there are many) to give you a taste of Bell's writing:

She leaves him sitting there, glancing back just once before she goes through the stairwell door and observing how the cloud of smoke from his cigar gets pulled in wisps out the dark gaping hole in the glass wall - as though it is his soul, too large for his massive frame and seeping out the pores of his skin and wandering circuitous back into the wilderness where it knows itself true among the violent and the dead.

Excellent book, I think I'll read pretty much anything this author publishes.

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Dairy Queen (Dairy Queen #1)

Dairy Queen (Dairy Queen, #1)Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

....why couldn't Murdock just continue to write YA instead of delving into middle grade? Sorry, Ms. Murdock, I am not saying Wisdom's Kiss was bad but this is SO much better. Actually it was pretty great, as soon as I finished it I went online to order the other two books in the series.

All because of DJ.

DJ Schwenk is no Barbie doll. She is tall, big, strong and runs her family's farm. Despite being in high school, she is overwhelmed by the daily chores required for the normal upkeep of a farm, a burden she acquired after her father injured himself and is therefore unable to do hard work. Aside from being farmers, the Schwenks are also good at playing football and DJ is no exception. So when Brian Nelson, the quarterback of a rival school is coerced by his coach to show up at her doorstep looking for training and to help with the farm, DJ cannot but accept, hoping to teach the guy a lesson. But, as it turns out, it will be DJ to learn more than she bargained for out of this lesson, about herself, her family and the importance of communication.

So after a brief surfing interlude with Raw Blue, here goes another typical Italian national sport, football.

NOT. Football is, in Italy, just about as widespread as Mountain Dew and Starbucks (yes, you can start pitying now, we have none of those here). Consequently, my knowledge of either slang or rules related to this game is... close to zero, I'd say (I only know names of players that the Kardashians have dated so... pretty many actually).

BUT, in Dairy Queen, it didn't matter. To be honest, I have to confess that my interest got piqued and I am developing a certain attraction towards the game. But again, I think it might be all because of DJ. This book is so good primarily for its main character.

Written in first person, DJ is a truly amazing voice in the ranks of YA heroines. She is neither beautiful nor particularly brilliant but she is so honest, authentic and just.... genuine that it was impossible for me not to sympathize with her and with her predicaments. And cheer for her all the way. I mean, this girl plays football, how cool is that?

And while I would define this as a great, fresh and fast summer read (I read it at the beach and I have to say the cow cover perfectly matched with the surroundings), it is far, far from shallow. DJ's dysfunctional family and friends guide us through the rules of personal communication, familiar love and friendship beyond social strata, giving it a depth hidden behind the simple, yet clever tone and writing style.

I really enjoyed it, it pleasantly surprised me and I'm looking forward to knowing what happens to DJ next! Definitely recommended.

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Raw Blue

Raw BlueRaw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 to 5 stars.

Another great writer delivered to us from Down Under. And NOW I understand why even at McDonald's they are so adamant on putting on the wrappings "100% Australian beef", it must be something they're putting in the food there. Aside from having the most poisonous snakes and the most dangerous animals, it wouldn't be wrong to say they also have the best YA writers at the moment. Kirsty Eagar is, without a doubt, one of such writers.

Carly is 19 and she is running away from her life. She has dropped out of Uni, reneged her family and is trying to forget a painful event in her past. Her only love is surfing and so she's relocated on the Central Coast, got a job as a cook in a café and works the night shift to surf during the day. Carly is surrounded by some truly amazing characters: Hannah the Dutch neighbor, a kid who surfs with her with synesthesia and Ryan, a guy she is interested in but who also she seems unable to let into her life. There isn't really much to say about the plot because this is one of those books, just like Melina Marchetta's books, which are founded on characters, rather than on the plot. And if you liked Marchetta, you won't be disappointed by Raw Blue.

To be honest, I didn't love this book from the beginning. My main problem, but this is probably mainly MY problem, was the surfing-related jargon. I come from a country where surfing is not really the national beach sport seeing how we have a puddle rather than an ocean here and I know NOTHING about it. Add to that the fact that I am a non native English speaker and it's easy to understand how I was really struggling with the surfing descriptions and slang. Like, REALLY struggling. I know a wave is called a wave, I know nothing about its "body parts". It made me think of that exam in sociolinguistic I took in my first year at Uni where I read that the Inuit have something like 18 different ways of describing snow. To me snow is snow. It's powdery or wet at the most. Same thing with waves. So yeah, I felt a bit on the ignorant side there and slightly bored. I definitely understood that surfing is not as easy as it looks, though.

But what I most loved about this book, aside from the amazing characters, is that it sounds so truly Australian. I complained in my review of Mercy by Rebecca Lim that I couldn't find Australia in that book, that it could have been written by an American author. Well, that doesn't happen here. This book is 100% Australian (beef). You find Australia in the scenery's descriptions, in the language (a bit too many bitumens there by the way) in the character's dialogues (I guess if husbands and wives in Aussie land call each other mate?)... everywhere. And that's what I wanted to read actually. Australian author? Australia has to be in it.

So even though I got a rather bumpy start, by half book I was in love with it. Eagar excels, like Marchetta, at describing emotions and this book is so, so realistic and honest it completely blew my mind. I'm taking away half a star only because I felt the ending was a bit rushed for my taste, I would have wanted the situation with Ryan resolved more extensively and also with Shane but I have to say that this book deserves five stars only for its writing. I hope they publish it internationally very soon because it completely deserves it - much more than other Ya authors out there nowadays.
Highly recommended!

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