Review: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

After absolutely adoring My Life Next Door, I was super excited to pick up Huntley Fitzpatrick’s companion novel: The Boy Most Likely To. Was it good? OH YES VERY MUCH SO. But before we dive into my (ah…flailing) review — I do think it’s important to read My Life Next Door first! While the companion novel is by the point of view of a different character, the first book does provide needful backstory.9781405280396

But onwards!

The Boy Most Likely To is about Tim who is, basically, a drop-kick. He’s been kicked out of school, he’s got severe addiction habits, and his own family doesn’t really want anything to do with him. But he’s cleaning himself up! He’s going to AA meetings and he’s living above the garage of his best friend’s house: Jace Garrett. The Garrett family has, um, a gazillion kids and they are just downright awesome. And Tim has a ginormous crush on the oldest daughter, Alice — although Alice is about as warm and cuddly as an iced over cacti. Good times! And just when things are looking up, Tim gets a HUGE BOMB DROPPED ON HIM that changes everything. Still more good times!

It’s such an adorably tragic story at time that my heart hurts. I was a fan of Tim already from My Life Next Door, but this just cemented my love for him. (Plus anyone who’s name is “Tim” automatically reminds me of Tim Tams and that’s just beautiful.) I loved how sassy and witty Tim’s comebacks were! Plus his character development is just amazing throughout the story. I loved being in his perspective! Although it was super sad at times…because even though he’s trying to kick his addictions, he still has so much baggage from them. Plus his family is 0% supportive. It would be so hard to be strong and stay on track with s little support.

Plus I really like how this book talks openly about addictions and recovery. Tim is a recovering alcoholic. I do see many YA books talking about falling into the addiction route, but rarely do I find one that is about getting out of it. So this is such a super important story! Seeing the fall is needful: seeing the recovery is twice as important.

But let’s talk about Alice! The book is actually dual-narrated by both Alice and Tim and I’m immensely pleased about that. Because while they like each other, they’re not entirely honest. Tim covers up his attraction to Alice with sassy jokes, and Alice is too sharp to admit she has intense feelings for Tim. Please, children. TALK TO EACH OTHER. Alice is also under a lot of pressure to look after her million-and-two-siblings after her father’s accident and her mother being pregnant again. Plus she’s had to divert her nursing course. Poor Alice. I get why she’s so sharp! But it was agony waiting for her and Tim to move past that and admit feelings for each other!

Also, of course, we must mention how awesome the Garrett family is! I love reading about big families! And the representation here is on point. Just the kids’ banter and the messes and dynamics…ahhhh! It was honestly perfect (and this is coming from someone who has first hand experience with large families: ahem, that would be me).

Of course there are plenty of plot twists that will keep you glued to the page. And there are a lot of pages actually. I thought, at 500-pages, it could’ve sped things up a little and not dragged so much in the middle. But considering these characters are adorable, I didn’t mind too much. Plus the plot twists were just WOAH and equal parts adorable and daunting. The story will definite have you feeling aaaall of the things.

Basically, The Boy Most Likely To is a new favourite contemporary of mine! It had feels! It had big families! It had tragic but adorable protagonists! Tim and Alice were far from perfect and their relationship was rocky to say the least, but it was so so excellently written.

 

[purchase here]

Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton is a debut YA novel — and wow is it an incredible first book from this author! I anticipated it so very extraordinarily highly that I was slightly nervous going in. Did it live up to my expectations? DEFINITELY YES. It was a glorious conglomeration of Persian fantasy, magic horses, sass, and guns…and I absolutely loved it.9780571325252

The story is about Amani, who is a sharpshooter living with extended family who despise her. She dreams of an adventurous life. So when a strange foreigner comes into town (and they companionably shoot each other and all that) she ends up joining in his adventure. Also there’s magic and guns and a volley of plot twists. Glorious plot twists.

It’s basically set in a dusty fantasy world with Middle Eastern influences. I was actually surprised because I rarely find modern fantasy. (It reminded me a bit of Blood Red Road actually, which I also abso-freaking-lutely love.) There are weapons factories and guns and shoot-outs — but there are also spirits and ghouls and terrible things lurking in the desert that like to rip your face off. Also sand. MUCH SAND. It actually had a cowboy western feel to it!

Amani is downright awesome. She’s the “tough heroine” who is a wicked good shot and dreams of running away from her abusive relatives to FIND HER DESTINY OF AWESOME. She’s really sassy. And she makes mistakes. Oh so. many. mistakes. But she had amazing character development too.

And of course there’s the love interest: Jin. Whom I adored. It could be because of the sass. Or that he slinks into a shooting game in the local tavern and competes against Amani and they’re so stinkin’ cute together. Or, it could be because he gets shot right at the beginning of the story and I do love a good book where everyone is bleeding. Ahem.

 

Jin was at my side…”Did you just shoot someone?”
“I got us hired, if that’s what you’re asking. And I only shot his glass.”
Jin hooked one arm around my shoulder, leaning on me. “I knew I liked you, Bandit.”

Also the actual storyline did not disappoint at all! It’s fast paced, too, and the fact that it fits an entire complex world into 330-pages is immensely pleasing to me. I love small fantasy worlds that pack a punch of awesome and don’t waffle on. This has epic world building. Epic mythology. Epic settings. (Although it did have a tendency to info-dump in the form of folklore tales occasionally.)

The plot twists are intense and exciting! Although I did predict the biggest one. Not sure if I’m a genius or it was too obvious (let’s assume the first one, right?!) And at times I did get a bit lost with all the characters and why they were killing each other. I hope more is explained about the wars in the next book!

All in all: This book was AMAZING and I cannot recommend it enough. I’m really thrilled about the Persian culture influences, too, because there aren’t enough books out like this! Plus magic and shooting cowboy-esque characters and intense action scenes?! What could be better!?

 

“You’re going to get us both killed if you go off looking for this on your own, you know. And if I was going to die on account of you, I’d rather have done it weeks ago before I had to do all this walking.”

 

[PURCHASE HERE]

YA Serious Finales I’m Looking Forward To In 2016

Apparently 2016 is the year of all the YA finales. It’s so exciting! And terrifying, honestly, because while I adore knowing how my favourite series ends….I also get thumped with nerves that it won’t be a satisfactory ending. Series finales need closure and tragedy and triumph. It’s such a hard blend!

But I shall be brave (huzzah!) and slowly devour these YA series that are finishing up in 2016.

(Also, helpfully, it’s a grand time to start these series if you haven’t already; since you won’t have to wait years for their completion!)


9781408858745The Winner’s Kiss ~ book 3 of the Winner’s Curse trilogy (March)

I’ve read this one already and am enormously pleased at how satisfying the ending was. The first two books were so full of emotional tension and angst as Kestrel and Arin played mind games and war against two countries bent on destroying each other. And ya know, wanting to kiss each other — but absolutely not doing it because forbidden love and all that. Perfect conclusion is PERFECT.

 

9780670017140Half Lost ~ book 3 of the Half Bad trilogy (March)

I full admit this book made me cry, and yet was still absolutely brilliant. The war between Black and White witches absolutely comes to a crashing climax. And it ain’t sweet tea parties and sugar cookies, let me tell you. Which surprises exactly no one after how brutal and violent the first two books were.

 

9781444759051Morning Star ~ book 3 of the Red Rising trilogy

This is technically a YA-Adult cross over series, because while Darrow was 16 in the first boo, he’s now 23 and leading a rebellion against the tyrannical upper-class: the Golds. This book is brilliant. It perfectly blends the high stakes with an enormous amount of humour. And the plot twists will blow your mind. And blow up planets. Basically everything explodes here and it’s glorious.

 

9781250091840Stars Above ~ book 4.5 of the Lunar Chronicles (February)

While the series technically finished with Winter, Marissa Meyer released a collection of novellas to help us say goodbye to this fantastical series. THANK YOU, DEAR AUTHOR. I haven’t read them yet, but it’s high on my to-do list. Apparently some are prequel tales (there’s a Thorn as a child story?!) and others are more epilogue tales. There have been teasers that someone has a wedding. Be still my shipping soul.

 

9780545424981The Raven King ~ book 4 of The Raven Cycle (July)

This is definitely my most highly anticipated book of, um, EVER. I’m so ridiculously excited! It concludes my most favourite series in the world and we get the reveal if the main character truly does die, as has been foretold on the very first page of book 1. Yes. That’s 3 books we’ve read in nervous anticipation. Maggie Stiefvater is a genius of words and reader torture. I cannot WAIT.

 

9780575104839Calamity ~ book 3 of The Reckoners Trilogy (February)

While I’m still only on book 2, I’m still monstrously excited for the finale! Evil superheroes and assassins out to bring them down? How is this all going to end?! I’m kind of hoping for a happy ending, but, ha. I doubt it.

 

9780062458421The Yellow Brick War ~ book 3 of Dorothy Must Die series (April)

This is the last book in the retelling of The Wizard of Oz, which is such a fabulous idea for a retelling by the way. I mean, imagine Oz…and now think of it super creepy. It’s deliciously wonderful! I want to know if sassy Amy takes down the evil Dorothy and whether she gets a happily-ever-after…or NOT. Mwhahaah. (I honestly have no idea how this is going to end. Do I have time for a re-read?!? Time to plot out some theories while I wait for the release!)

 

Review: The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

9780062380753The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig was a delicious book of ships and time travel and I THINK I AM IN LOVE. This is my first ever time travel book, and it was hugely successful.

But why did I adore this book so much? Oh oh, I’m glad you asked. I have a list of reasons.

All The Things You Need Know About This Book:

  • It is about time travel and pirate ships. According to the author’s note, the story was inspired by a pirate heist in the 1800s in Hawaii. The characters are somewhat modern, but the book is mostly set in the 1800s. (Although they do pop into modern New York at the beginning.) It’s basically about Captain Slate who is a time-travel-dude, and his daughter Nix, and their search to find the “right map” to take them back in time to save his wife from dying.
  • The maps are basically AMAZING. And since this book is built on maps (you have to have the “right map” to get you to a certain place)…I was destined to adore it.
  • Diversity. I love diversity and not only was Nix, the protagonist, half-Chinese…her best friend Kashmir was Persian, one of the crew members was African and lesbian, and there is an incredible variety of ethnic culture squished in here.
  • And let’s talk about the writing: Because it was decidedly delicious. Although I will confess it bordered on “saying too much” at times. I could tell the book was really enthusiastic about history. OF COURSE! It’s a time travel book! But sometimes with the pages of explaining a myth that didn’t really matter…I was a little bored.
  • Then there was Kash. Ahhhh, Kash. He is a little slippery fingered, silver tongued thief and basically my favourite character. So much sass. So much banter.

“You’re blocking the view.”
“I am the view, amira,” he said, framing himself with his hands.9781471405105

  • Which leads me to talk about the protagonist, Nix. I wasn’t enamoured with her because she didn’t have a lot of personality compared to the stunning secondary characters…but she was still strong and independent and keen to prove herself a capable time-traveller.
  • Which leads to the romance… You know what? This is NOT a very romantic book. It’s more about friendship, which I really loved! And although I rooted for Kash and Nix to get together, I more enjoyed their sassy and witty banter of friendship.
  • Overall? My expectations were more than met! For an intro into time-travelling, I’d say I’m officially hooked. (All the maps and ships helped, of course. Because MAPS.) It is definitely a highlight of the year so far and so exciting that it’s only a debut! I can’t wait for more by this author. If you want a story that involves ships and thieves and obsessions and diversity, then this is for you.

 

“The last thing we need is for you to go to jail.”
“For treason?” he said, running a comb through his touseled hair. “We wouldn’t go to jail.”
“Really?”
“We’d be shot.”
“You always know just what to say.”

 

[PURCHASE HERE]

Recently Released 2016 Aussie Books You Need To Read

So far, 2016 has already been an incredible year for new releases! And huzzah for Australian authors adding some fabulous titles for us to devour. I basically can’t read fast enough to keep up with all this genius, oh gosh.

Don’t know where to start? LUCKY FOR YOU — I AM HERE. I’m listing some recently published 2016 Australian home-grown YA novels that you need to get your clammy paws on. Like right now.

 

2 0 1 6     Y A   A U S S I E    R E L E A S E S   


 

my sister rosaMy Sister Rosa by Justine Larbelestier ~ purchase

This is a psychological thriller about Che who believes his 10-year-old sister, Rosa, is a psychopath. It’s absolutely brilliant. Like I-can’t-stop-reading-this-book-everyone-go-away-and-leave-me-to-shriek sort of brilliant.

It’s mostly set in New York, but Che and his family ARE Australian. Che is also a boxer, although he spends like 90% of his time freaking out over what evil Rosa is going to commit next. And the ending? OH YOU WON’T SEE IT COMING. But it will hurt.

 

9781743315897The Stars At Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard ~ purchase

Although this book wasn’t my favourite, I am definitely going to sit here and shriek “THIS BOOK IS BEAUTIFUL.” It’s partially written in verse, so if you’re a poetry lover? This book calls to you.

It’s basically about Alice, who’s suffered a brain injury and is trying to express herself through writing/poetry because her words don’t come out so well. It’s a very different book because we are seeing the world through an entirely new perspective. I can imagine it’d be absolutely gorgeous read out loud, too, by the way.

 

28798707The Family With Two Front Doors by Anna Ciddor ~ purchase

Okay so this isn’t set in Australia, but it’s by an Aussie author who’s recounting stories inspired by her Jewish grandmother in the 1940s! It’s all about this huge Jewish family and their culture and lives and it’s absolutely endearing and adorable.

It’s best for a middle-grade audience, by the way. And it’s also best on a full stomach because you’re basically guaranteed to be hungry after reading pages of food-prep for the Sabbath.

 

25535What I Saw by Beck Nicholas ~ purchase

This is a slightly thriller-y contemporary about a girl who witnesses a Fatal Punch and has to decide whether she’s going to confess who did it.

It features an unlikely romance between straight-A-in-school-perfect-girl, Callie, and the bad-boy Rhett (who is actually just a big ol’ burnt marshmallow who loves puppies and his family and only acts like a tough dude).

 

 

9781925240795Iris And the Tiger by Leanne Hall ~ purchase

This is, again, more of a middle-grade story, but so adorable and full of magical whimsy that totally reminded me of Alice in Wonderland! It was fantastic! It’s also all about paintings and art and magical feet-shoes…oh and it’s set in Spain. Did I mention that? Add in a zany great-aunt and a very serious 12-year-old girl (Iris, obviously) who’s determined to solve mysteries and figure out WHAT IS GOING ON in this crazy house.

 

 

R E L E A S E S   O N   M Y   T O – B E – R E A D   P I L E


 

9781925266924 8d6c45bd0241cbcd9b73da8cc3d7e790

  • Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar ~ purchase ~ I haven’t read this one yet, but I super luckily won a copy and all I hear is good things! I AM EXCITED. Apparently this is on the upper side of YA, heading into New Adult territory.
  • Yellow by Megan Jacobson ~ purchase ~ This is about a 14-year-old girl who gets a ghost to promise to make her popular if she finds his killer. IT SOUNDS AMAZING AND I NEED IT IMMEDIATELY.

 

#ByAustralianBuyAustralian

 

Best YA Novels for 2015 and looking into 2016

a single stoneAustralian YA writing is powerful, fresh and imaginative, creating spaces for thought and wonder. The finest novels from 2015’s field in my view are Meg McKinlay’s A Single Stone, an exquisitely written dystopia about lean girls who tunnel through stone. Younger readers in upper primary school can also read it and I hope that it finds a niche as a contemporary classic.

Lili Wilkinson’s Green Valentine is a hilarious tale about popular girl Astrid and how she and Hiro transform their ugly suburb through guerilla gardening. Humour is difficult to write and Wilkinson shines in this, as well as inspiring readers to beautify their surroundings with nature.

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams is another urban caper loosely based on the real-life theft of a Picasso painting. Books about the arts often rank highly with me, as do books with an interesting structure.

Fiona Wood’s Cloudwish centres on Vietnamese-Australian scholarship girl Vân Uoc Phan who adores Jane Eyre. The story becomes magically surreal when she wishes that she “fascinates” Billy Gardiner.

Truth about Peacock BlueRosanne Hawke (interviewed here) writes hard-hitting yet compassionate stories based on young people in dire situations, often in Pakistan. Her latest, The Truth About Peacock Blue follows Christian girl, Aster who is accused of blasphemy by her Muslim teacher. Her life is at risk. A number of topical issues are raised with sensitivity and balance.

Trinity Doyle’s Pieces of Sky is an exciting debut. Doyle is part of a group of female Australians who debuted with a splash in 2015. (I’ve interviewed many Australian authors on the blog.)

My international picks are award-winner Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which follows the kids who aren’t in the cool group.

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead is about Bridget whose friends seem to be growing up faster than she is. Stead always does something to surprise and parts of this novel are told in 2nd person. It’s clever and intriguing.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is a (mostly) feel-good story about a big girl who enters a beauty pageant.

Cat with the coloured tailHighlights for younger readers are Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars by Martine Murray, The Cat with the Coloured Tail by Gillian Mears, illustrated by Dinalie Dabarera, and Star of Deltora by living “imaginarium” Emily Rodda.

I can’t wait to read novels coming for young people in 2016, including Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall, A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee, Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman, A Tangle of Gold by the luminous Jaclyn Moriarty and James Roy’s new YA novel.