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

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Published: 4th June 2019 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Square Fish
Pages: 281
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★ – 1 Star

Alice had her whole summer planned. Nonstop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library-employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated–or understood.

I picked this up after the praise it got for being a good asexual book but it’s not great on a lot of other fronts. I know I am probably disliking a book based on character behaviours which are valid and not every character is perfect or likeable, but there are also structural and plot issues too.

I stopped and started a lot, there was a lot of eye rolling, and general confusion about the story. I don’t know what I thought this was going in, but it’s not what I expected.

In terms of the rest of the writing, it’s jarring – too many side comments in brackets, which obviously I do myself so I’m not faulting them, but there were a lot to the point of disruption. Plus a lot were less for commentary and more for things that either could have been explained better in narrative or were obvious and didn’t need additional clarification. I’ve seen a few comments that it might be the third person writing when it should be first which might have helped it flow a bit better, especially if Kann wants to include so many of Alice’s thoughts and opinions.

The repetition and overuse of “cute” makes Alice appear naïve almost childlike, and her dialogue is annoying in other ways as well. Whether it was because she was questioning her sexuality or lack thereof she couldn’t be mature, she needed to be regressed in some way and naïve I don’t know; even if it was unintentional that is how it came across.

I didn’t really care about any of the characters, except maybe Ryan and Feenie but they are side characters to Alice and the little bits we get are nice but only liking side characters isn’t really a wining feature of a book.

Alice is from a rich family but wants to make it on her own. Her family is overbearing and her mum uses her siblings to manipulate her into doing things she doesn’t want to do which is terrible but brings a nice complexity to the characters when there is little substance elsewhere.

Takumi is super sweet, perfect looking, and health conscious bordering on annoying if Kann hadn’t restrained herself. I took it as a character choice and judged Takumi A LOT but I accepted his unconventional behaviour. But as the story went on there were a few scenes that became so incredulous I felt Kann took Takumi’s philosophies too far in unrealistic and absurd directions.  I am unreasonably including his disrespect of Winnie the Pooh in my otherwise reasonable dislike of this book.

Far from the weird asexual rep, let’s discuss the bad library rep. Alice mentions the library she works at is better than the industrial boring academic library because it has wonderful nooks and colours and feels cosy. And then not long after Head Librarian Essie and her discuss how it’s boring and nothing is happening and she hates having a boring job. Can I say, no matter what level you’re at, there is always something to do in a library. Stop perpetuating these bad myths I beg you. Yay for librarian characters that aren’t old women with glasses and cardigans but stop saying the job is boring.

My second issue is having a head librarian who seems to dismiss any form of communication that is not library related because they’ve “clocked on” (I mean having to remember to clock on and off each day even at lunch sounds nightmarish let alone the ban on normal conversations during worktime). Plus watching a staff member do storytime and be chastised for it seems unfair.

Frustrated librarian opinions aside, it’s possible a lot of this is my early dislike of this book and I kept finding fault everywhere that no one else has even noticed. I struggled to get into this book from the start and essentially skimmed the last 100 pages. It clearly wasn’t meant to be with this story which is a genuine shame. It’s been listed on so many book lists for good Ace representation it must be deemed enjoyable to those who read it and find it good representation.  However, this is the eighth book I’ve read that has asexual characters in it and even those that don’t have their asexuality as a focal point portray a better asexual person than Kann has with this.

You can purchase Let’s Talk About Love via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Published: 17th January 2017 (print)/17th January 2017 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster/Recorded Books
Pages: 294/9 hrs and 35 mins
Narrator: Tom Picasso
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult
★   – 1 Star

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

When I realised Silvera had another book out I picked it up instantly because I adored They Both Die at the End, but it didn’t take me long to realise that this book and that book are vastly different in terms of enjoyment.

I kinda see the point. Theo is already gone, and we flash back and forward to how the memories Griffin has are all that’s left versus how he is living his life now. But on the flip side – it’s boring. Even listening to this at 2x speed did not help me get through this faster. Every time I thought I was close to finishing I still has ages to go.

It was definitely a combination of a few things. I didn’t have any connection to these characters, they weren’t one dimensional exactly but at the same time there isn’t any depth or emotion to them that I could find substance in.

There’s emotion of course, we get descriptions and experiences of their time together and how Griffin feels after Theo is gone but it only ever felt like words. The story takes place so close after his death yet I kept thinking it was months afterwards the way everyone behaves and how hollow the words felt.

There’s a little bit of “mystery”. Theo’s death is a slow reveal and we find out gradually what happened, all the different layers and circumstances, but at the same time it meant nothing. Even the eventual reasoning didn’t make sense and at times the circumstances and the behaviour between Wade, Griffin and Jackson felt unnatural and clunky.

Good points: Silvera portrays compulsions well with Griffin’s behaviour about counting and routines. His OCD is not a focusing factor, but it isn’t treated as a background feature either. It butts into scenes, affects interactions, and has flare ups based on experiences and events but being OCD isn’t the focus of Griffin’s story which was nice. It wasn’t about him having OCD and Silvera keeps the balance of it being a part of Griffin and not the point of the story well.

I cannot understand how someone who wrote They Both Die at the End, a beautiful, philosophical, amazing book also wrote this. I know this came first and writing evolves, but they both came out in the same year and the shift from this to that is drastic. I’m now wary with his other books because knowing it could go either way I’m going to have to do a little bit more research than picking up a book based on author alone.

You can purchase History is All You Left Me via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Published: 5th March 2019 (print)/24 March 2019 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 480/9 hrs and 59 mins
Narrator: Nile Bullock
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult
★  – 1 Star

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favourite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.

But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.

Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.

Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.

Lured in by the interesting blurb I’m annoyed to say this story had so much potential if I didn’t hate the writing. Also the main character, but I am blaming that on the writing because I think it’s not entirely his fault.

The issue I have with the writing is it’s cringe-worthy, long winded and often unnecessary. It’s painful to listen to I’m sure it would have been annoying to read as well. Having Jack’s narration spoken aloud in my ear made me realise how weird the sentences were and how the story is flooded with overly wordy similes and metaphors which go far beyond their purpose. Reynolds over explains things so not only are similes sprinkled in more often than necessary, he goes one step further adding explanations and examples of those similes which take away from the moment being described.

As a character Jack is annoying. I didn’t like his voice and Reynolds’ written him to be the “adorable dork” who gets the cool, interesting older girl but Jack is more on the annoying dork side of things and the weird, overly cute, eye rolling dialogue between the two was hard to bear.

I wanted to stop reading so many times but I was determined to stick with it at least until the first time travel, and then I kept telling myself to stay with it to see if there was an explanation for the Groundhog Day type situations. Thankfully Reynolds chooses a four month cycle which gives us time to explore the relationship and the impact it has on the wider friends and family group.

It was relatively interesting seeing the different actions having different outcomes, and yet despite the multiple cycles we spend with these characters, they still felt flat and one dimensional, like we never learn much about them past the things we need to know for the events in the cycle to occur.

Reynolds shows that Jack takes advantage of the knowledge he has of previous cycles but then becomes incredibly weird and the story shows multiple breaches of privacy and I have no doubt Kate wouldn’t have gone along with anything Jack did with his intrusive nature into her personal and medical life. Not to mention the ways he abandons and treats his friends with his choices.

Other downfalls of Jack’s character were the many sentences dedicated to talking about how attractive Kate was and there are even scenes where Jack is spending his time describing how attractive Kate’s face is while she’s talking to him but he isn’t actually listening to her tell him about her very serious illness. The line she was sexy when angry even happens which did nothing to help me warm to the writing, Jack or Reynolds.

Overall I was not a fan of this book. The story is a letdown, I don’t actually think Jack learnt anything substantial to make him a better person, there are great characters that are left on the sidelines until they’re required for the story and aside from a few moments of remorse Jack doesn’t change his behaviour in any real way to show he’s learnt from his actions over the time loop. Jack tells us it happened a lot more often than what he’s telling us, I can only be thankful that we weren’t subjected to having to read about them as well.

You can purchase Opposite of Always via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

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