Long Lost Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Published: 1st August 2010
Publisher:
Pan Macmillan Australia
Pages: 264
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★  ★  ★ – 4 Stars

Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist.

Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose.

Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn’t the best way to show it.

Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other.

An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be.

Crowley has written a sweet and intriguing story of 24 hours of adventure and discovery and what I love about it is there’s established relationships so instalove isn’t a real issue given no one is professing love quite yet, but there are certainly connections and second chances.

Crowley captures the teenage friendship and interactions well, the story highlights that teens can have deep thoughts and dreams and ambitions. They aren’t just the outward persona they project to the world.

I liked the alternating points of view because it shows how the same experiences are seen through different eyes. I liked being in Ed and Lucy’s head and seeing their perspectives. The recapping on chapters was interesting. Often you’ll see with alternating voices the scene flips instantly but the small recap is repetitive but I didn’t mind because it brings a new perspective to the latest moment or event and then follows through with a new voice.

This story cemented my love for 24 hour stories. Stories and lives evolved and changed by a mere 24 hours can be so profound and powerful and Crowely does something phenomenal with this story in exploring the lives of these kids and their intricacies, passions and their friendships.

I would reread this in a heartbeat because it is short but powerful and getting to explore the city of Melbourne through the eyes of these characters again would be wonderful.

You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guilllaume

Published: 11th August 11th 2020 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Pan Macmillan Australia
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

The day I created a boy started out like any other.

Katie didn’t mean to create a boy. A boy like a long-lost Hemsworth brother: six-foot tall with floppy hair and eyes like the sky on a clear summer’s day; whose lips taste like cookie-dough and whose skin smells like springtime.

A boy who is completely devoted to Katie.

He was meant to be perfect.

But he was never meant to exist.

I was expecting a lot from this after having fallen in love Guillaume’s other book What I Like About Me and while it isn’t as fabulous as that, it does have heart and a fun story to enjoy. It was an interesting concept and one I think Guillaume does well making it light hearted with a little bit of strangeness, not to mention some humour, teen relationships as well as some more serious issues too. The characters are diverse and unique in their voices and personalities; Guillaume captures the teen voice and the impulsivity, the hormones and the heightened emotions come across with a simple but solid storyline.

I think I quite liked the lack of explanation about everything that happens. The unexplained magical realism was interesting because it’s so easily accepted that a person has been created and so much time and energy is spent containing him that there’s no need to find any real answers about how. Not that things are left completely in the dark, naturally the characters discuss where and how this could even be possible, but it isn’t an issue when no solid answers come up.

I liked the format of having two key characters chatting in the story as if they were writing it out in front of each other and including their conversations as well as the recount. It gives the story a great conversational feel and gives us easy access to Katie’s thoughts and feelings as she writes out what happened. The use of formatting is also played with to help distinguish between voices and they are nice breaks around the more traditional format of the rest of the book.

There are a few comments in other reviews about the girls sounding young and juvenile but while I can see this perspective, it’s also refreshing not to have them be too grown up, too mature or adult like; they are young girls, they are best friends doing weird, fun things together and being complete dags about it. It’s great. Yes they are growing up and exploring their feelings and relationships but that doesn’t thrust them into completely mature minds automatically.

Overall this is a nice light hearted teen romance that has pining and unrequitedness, plus all the key players in a teen drama but with a lovely Australian feel. It isn’t too deep either, despite the heavy topic of cancer and parental death which Guillaume navigates around wonderfully.

You can purchase You Were Made For Me via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

A Bittersweet Murder by Kaz Delaney (#1)

Published: 22nd March 2022 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Tule Publishing
Pages: 294
Format: ebook
Genre: Cosy Mystery
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

In the small town of Airlie Falls, Texas, everyone knows everyone’s business, and newcomer carer and wannabe-baker Rosie Hart may be surprised to find herself the sole attendee at the funeral of her client, Miss Alice Auchinschloss, but she’s shocked when she discovers she’s also Miss Alice’s sole heir. When reports confirm Miss Alice was actually murdered, Rosie becomes the potential small town hero for killing off the unpleasant woman–and prime suspect in her murder.

In a chance meeting with a helpful and handsome cowboy, Rosie discovers her newly-inherited home is ransacked, and someone is going to great effort to conceal their search. Rosie has no idea who is involved, or why, or what they were looking for, but when she’s questioned by the town’s sheriff, it becomes obvious that if she doesn’t prove her innocence, nobody else will.

With the help of her new friend, Jonah, his family, and a nosy but canny group of snack-loving ladies in the local retirement home, Rosie conducts her own investigation to clear her name and reveal the true identity of the murderer. Discussions over mouth-watering treats bring the motley investigative team closer together – and closer to solving this intricate puzzle, but when another elderly person winds up dead, it becomes apparent that this small town is full of secrets that someone is prepared to kill for in order to keep buried. Rosie must sift through her list of clues in order to serve up the truth – before she becomes the next victim!

Note: A Bittersweet Murder was previously published under the title Chocolate and Lace. I was provided with a copy of the new edition for review.

I have adored Delaney’s young adult novels in the past and now I can confirm that I adore her mystery novels as well. This was a delightful cosy mystery and one I finished in a single sitting. There is a great narrative voice and you fall into the story quickly, pulled along page by page with endearing characters and numerous twists and unexpected nefariousness.

Delaney’s writing style is to be commended. There is humour and warmth, and her ability to shift a scene with a few words means you are always being surprised and intrigued by what’s to come. The mix of twists and surprises is balanced perfectly with great characters and well established settings. From the beginning we are drawn into Rosie’s life and her current circumstances and it’s not long before we are caught up in the unexpected situations and evolving drama alongside her, eagerly turning pages to see where it’s all headed.

There are wonderful moments where we understand the significance of something Rosie has yet to connect which is always a satisfying feeling in a mystery. The urge to rush ahead and see where your own theories lead is high but like any great mystery writer Delaney leaves it to the very end to make us realise we missed a myriad of other clues being left behind. The mystery itself is unique and detailed in a fantastic way, and seeing Delaney pull all the threads together at the end was marvellous as you realise how even with the answers in front of you, there are still surprises in store.

Delaney has balanced the mystery and small town charm perfectly that brings a lot of light heartedness to this mystery which is what you expect from your cosies. The characters feel well rounded and even the few minor characters felt like they had depth and their own lives outside the pages. Being the first in a series getting to come back to this town and these people is inviting and Delaney has established enough that we can see Rosie making a future in the town. Having thoroughly enjoyed Rosie’s first crime solving misadventures in Airlie Falls I am primed and ready to jump into the next one.

You can pre-order A Bittersweet Murder via the following

Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple Books

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Check Kaz Delaney’s website for further purchase sites once released

AWW 2021 Wrap Up

So my AWW plans for 2021 derailed so far there isn’t even a good analogy or example to describe how badly it failed. NEVERTHELESS! Originally I thought I only had 7 but I went through my reads of last year and found a few more bringing it up to a grand total of 14. Yay… They’re also mostly picture books which is a weird one, wasn’t expecting that. But from my plan of reading 40 and reviewing 35 I am just glad I’ve gotten something. It was a shame too because 2021 was the last year of the challenge (the official challenge, you can still do your own AWW challenge) and it would’ve been nice to go out on a win. I have included some that were read previously but I reviewed in 2021 so blurring some lines there but at this point I need to take what I can get.

Coinciding with, but not as a result of, the AWW ending I’m pulling back my challenges this year. I’ll still have my bingo card, but a less official AWW, plus I’m going to see how long I can go not having a Goodreads challenge and try not to stress myself on my reading habits. Even though having these challenges has helped my reading, I am curious to see how I go without them.

So many unread Aussie women are on my shelves and I have got to find the push to make me pick them up. It frustrates me so much to have the desire but never actually picking them up. I think it’s still the fact reading a physical book seems harder than audios, but even they have fallen by the wayside of late. Who knows! But enough depressive talk, these are my beautiful 14 books I read for AWW 2021.

 

AWW 2021 Books Read and Reviewed

Heart and Soul by Carol Ann Martin

Hello to You, Moon by Sally Morgan

Hello, Honey Bee by Felicity Marshall

The Artist by Alison Binks

Joey and Riley by Mandy Foot

Who Cares? by Krista Bell

Alphabet Dating by Monique McDonell

The Flywheel by Erin Hough

Rusty by Chrissy McYoung – Review

The Fire Wombat by Jackie French

Theodore the Unsure by Pip Smith – Review

Darkest Place by Jaye Ford – Review

Meet Me at the Intersection ed. Rebecca Lim and Ambelin Kwaymullina – Review

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil – Review

 

 

Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

Published: 1 May 2013 (print)/1st May 2013 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Macmillan Australia/Naxos Audio
Pages: 336/8 hrs and 5 mins
Narrator: Matilda Reed
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★  – 2 Stars

Sabine isn’t like anyone else. For as long as she can remember, she’s had two lives. Every twenty-four hours she “shifts,” living each day twice. In one life, Sabine has everything: popular friends, perfect grades, expensive clothes, and the guy everyone wants. In the other, Sabine’s family struggles financially, and her friends are considered rebels. But then she meets Ethan. He’s gorgeous and challenging, and he makes her feel like she’s never felt before.

All Sabine really wants is the chance to live only one life. But when this finally becomes possible, is she willing to risk everything – including losing the one person who might actually believe her – to make it happen?

CW: self harm, drug use, overdose, physical abuse

Note: This review contains minor spoilers

This is a reread of a book I first read in 2014 and I’m surprised that I’ve gone from a 5 star rating to a 2 star review. I think at the time I was amazed at how Shirvington created this world. Her creativeness of how Sabine shifted between worlds, how the rules were changing, what it meant for her life and her decisions caught me more than the problems I can obviously see now.

I did this as an audio second time round and to be honest it was hard to get through it. I had it on the fastest speed I could still understand and I was tired of this story fairly early. Once you see the problems it is hard to see past them.

I feel like having lived for essentially 36 years instead of her single 18 she should be more mature, smarter, and sensible than she is. Sabine has managed her two families and lives well enough — she can live two lives and not get them mixed up, has never forgotten which world she was in, but having lived twice as long as anyone else she is still acting foolishly.

No wonder she is sent to an institution because she’s clearly gone to the extreme self-harm approach instead of doing normal less extreme tests. The blasé attitude she has towards it as well is concerning. She can’t see anything wrong with it, she doesn’t think it’s a big deal and in a YA book especially, to show it as “no big deal” is incredibly troubling.

The abuse of power by Ethan when he was acting as her “nurse” while she was in the hospital crosses a lot of boundaries and whether Sabine wants him or not is no issue, but Ethan crosses a line, whether it’s because he believes her story and knows she isn’t mentally unstable is beside the point. I’m sure somewhere in there there’s an ethical issue as well, and a breach of privacy but I’m not sure on that one. It’s a vague set up Shirvington has going on.

It isn’t a bad concept to be fair, as I say, I did give it five stars the first time around. The ideas are interesting, I liked the fact we have no explanation of why and really the mystery isn’t the point of the story. It is what it is and we follow the change in Sabine’s life as suddenly the rules have changed.

As you read you make your own judgements about which life Sabine should live in and which one would benefit her. Both sides have pros and cons but as the story goes on you can see how the idyllic world may not always be what it seems. On a lighter note, I was annoyed Sabine didn’t use her two lives to her advantage more often. It would have been a great way to test out the consequences and the effects a lot better too.

Where Shirvington fails is that she included these Big Issues and she treats them as if they mean nothing. Not only the detailed description and flippant self-harm, but also abuse. Minor spoiler, but you can’t go from being assaulted to kissing and sleeping with someone else. It just isn’t possible – especially given the examples we’ve seen of how the mentality of the other life comes across. How Sabine is not still reacting from the other life when she shifts is unbelievable when we’ve seen her still reacting from a lot less.

I feel bad having such a shift in rating but I think it’s a good look at how upon initial readings you can get blinded by the overall artwork and not see the cracks that make up that artwork.

You can purchase Between the Lines via the following

 BooktopiaDymocks

 Amazon Aust | Audible

Previous Older Entries