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

Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye (#18) by M. C. Beaton

Published: 2nd October 2007 (print)/02 Dec 2011 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Minotaur Books /Audible
Pages: 234/6 hrs and 30 mins
Narrator: Penelope Keith
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Cosy Mystery
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Agatha Raisin is bored. Her detective agency in the Cotswolds is thriving, but she’ll scream if she has to deal with another missing cat or dog. Only two things seem to offer potential excitement: the upcoming Christmas festivities and her ex, James Lacey. This year she is sure that if she invites James to a really splendid, old-fashioned Christmas dinner, their love will rekindle like a warm Yule log.

When a wealthy widow hires Agatha because she’s convinced a member of her family is trying to kill her, Agatha is intrigued—especially when the widow drops dead after high tea at the manor house. Who in this rather sterile house, complete with fake family portraits, could have hated the old lady enough to poison her?

Agatha sets out to find the murderer, all the while managing a pretty, teenage trainee who makes her feel old and planning for a picture-perfect Christmas, with James, all the trimmings, and perhaps even snow.

It’s taken eighteen books before we get a proper backstory on Agatha and the story so far. Up until now there’s been little information on Agatha’s past and any recap on previous events has been minor.

The basic summary of this book is that Agatha is once again a horrible person in pretty much every situation she finds herself. She is racist, ageist, judgemental, and insulting in basically every description.

Agatha’s own issues about her age come through once more with Toni joining the team as she is considerably younger and why wouldn’t have the perpetual early 50s Agatha compare herself to a teenager in looks? Christmas doesn’t really come into play for much of the novel so it’s hardly a Christmas murder, but there is a festive mood if you count a Christmas dinner and Agatha pining once more for James.

Despite the bit of backstory provided there wasn’t much going on to capture any interest. The introduction of Toni provided some fresh characters and a new plotline to follow, though stereotypical at times seeing Agatha try and help the poor girl has its moments as the brash and horrible Agatha tries to show compassion and support to someone other than herself. The writing and descriptions are a bit turn off, and Agatha’s complaints are repetitive and now quite ludicrous as she bemoans the silliest things.

It has a murder in it that kept you thinking about so that’s something at least and the usual side characters bring some familiarity and relief even if they aren’t always the most in-depth people.

You can purchase Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Mini Rabbit Must Help by John Bond

Published: 25th June 2020Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harper Collins Children’s Books
Illustrator: John Bond
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Mini Rabbit has a VERY important letter to post.
Mini Rabbit is being VERY helpful.
Mini Rabbit will NOT lose the letter, WILL be very careful, and definitely will NOT be late…

This was an absolutely adorable book. Bond’s writing captures Mini Rabbit’s desire to help, as well as the innocent child logic that tries to problem solve and can end up creating more issues than solutions.

The illustrations are beautifully coloured and detailed, the colours are strong but not distracting from the story and Bond creates an entire world around Mini Rabbit with background detail and people for them to interact with.

It was the perfect length, with multiple problems and solutions for Mini Rabbit to explore and I loved how there is actually suspense on whether the letter will be posted. The humour is fantastic and is subtle in both the illustrations and the text, and I loved going on this journey with Mini Rabbit on the Very Important Job.

You can purchase Mini Rabbit Must Help via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

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

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