Book Review: Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty

Finding Cassie Crazy (Ashbury/Brookfield, #2)

Title: Finding Cassie Crazy (Ashbury /Brookfield #2)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Epistolary
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date: November 2003
Pages: 383
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Told entirely through letters, diary entries, emails, and other writing, Moriarty’s novel introduces us to Emily, Lydia, and Cassie — all students at Ashbury High — who begin writing to their Brookfield High counterparts through the schools’ organized pen pal project. Readers learn quickly that each girl has her own writing style and that at two of the Brookfield boys (Seb and Charlie) seem to be smitten with Lydia and Emily. The only trouble is Cassie’s pen pal, Matthew, a shady character who first sends her short, threatening letters and then becomes strangely sweet toward her. Nobody can figure out why Cassie keeps writing to him, but after she has a crushing meet-up with Matthew, Cassie discovers — with the help of her friends and the Brookfield guys — that he hasn’t been honest about his identity. All could be ended there, but when Charlie helps take revenge and Brookfield High gets mysteriously vandalized, the group comes together to deliver justice and save the endangered pen pal project.

This book is also published under the title: The Year of Secret Assignments

My Review:

Mr Botherit is at it again with his attempt to join Ashbury and Brookfield through a pen pal project. Trying to engage his year ten class with the Joy of the Envelope, Finding Cassie Crazy is an epistolary novel featuring best friends Lydia, Cassie and Emily. Diary entries, letters and the odd noticeboard announcement tell the story of Lydia’s secret agent adventures, Emily’s dating coach advice and how Cassie is keeping it all together after losing her father to cancer a year ago.

What I liked most about Finding Cassie Crazy was how different and distinct the characters were through their writing. Emily is the girl with stars in her eyes and has a unique gift of making up words. As as self-appointed girl guru, she’s not shy in giving pen pal Charlie advice on dating. Lydia is both creative and sarcastic. She plans on becoming a writer and comes up with brilliant secret assignments for the girls – and Brookfield pen pal Seb – to complete. Poor Cassie gets stuck with Matthew as her writing buddy – but she perseveres and doesn’t let threats or creepy love letters dissuade her from writing back. Moriarty interwove the stories fantastically and there was never a doubt as to which one of her characters was writing at any time throughout the novel. The guest appearances of Elizabeth and Christina from Feeling Sorry for Celia was a bonus!

As unique as the girls are from each other – there’s also a definite strength in their friendship. They are their own people and yet, when it matters most, they’re there for each other. Whether it be breaking into a teacher’s car, painting over hideous orange walls or getting revenge and justice for one of their own – despite their difference they share a deep bond.

After reading (and loving) Feeling Sorry for Celia, I was thrilled to have enjoyed Finding Cassie Crazy just as much. Moriarty’s style is so much fun to read and I loved the mixture of fun, romance, mystery and friendship that was combined to make up the plot.  

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon || Book Depository

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors Who Deserve More Recognition!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

So here are some of my favourite authors who I think deserve more recognition.

A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeleine #1)Shadows (The Rephaim, #1)Between the LivesStormdancer (The Lotus War, #1)Saving FrancescaSpeechlessEleanor & ParkThe Summoning (Darkest Powers, #1)Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1)Death and the Girl Next Door (Darklight, #1)

Jaclyn Moriarty (Aussie Author!) – I’m currently working my way through her Ashbury/Brookfield series and I love her writing style. I’m also a huge fan of A Corner of White which is a bit more fantasy but still fantastic.

Paula Weston (Aussie Author!) – I didn’t know about Paula or her Rephaim series until a few months ago but I’m delighted that I discovered them. One of my all time favourite YA angel series.

Jessica Shirvington (Aussie Author!)- Between the Lives is one of the coolest concepts in a book I’ve read in a while. One girl who lives each day twice as two different people. How cool? And her Violet Eden series is pretty great too.

Jay Kristoff (Aussie Author!) – Just finished Stormdancer and I’m on a mission to pimp it. It’s great. Japanese Steampunk? How could you not want to read this book and push it onto all your nearest and dearest people?

Melina Marchetta (Aussie Author!) – Okay, so she’s getting to be a fairly big name but I’ve adored her books for over a decade now (yep… I read Looking for Alibrandi back in 1999…. and it’s been true love ever since)

Hannah Harrington – Fantastic realistic contemporary writer. Speechless and Saving June were both powerful and made me think.

Rainbow RowellEleanor and Park was such a beautiful novel. And her adult book, Attachments, was a fun read that I enjoyed despite my reservations about the ethical issues the main character seemed to ignore.

Kelley Armstrong – I loved her adult urban fantasy series, Women of the Otherworld and adore her YA series that are set in the same universe. The Darkest Powers trilogy is amazing.

Kresley Cole – This author is a must buy for me. She’s more known for her adult paranormal romance series, Immortals After Dark, but has started writing for the YA crowed with Poison Princess. I loved this book. So much.

Darynda Jones – Another that I love for her adult series (Charlie Davidson) but she also writes YA! I’ve read Death and the Girl Next Door and loved her transition to the younger audience.

That’s the top 10 authors that I think need more recognition. Read them! And even if you don’t like them as much as I do, at least then we can discuss them! 😀 Hope you all have a fantastic week!

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Book Review: Feeling Sorry For Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

I thought that after I was RAVING about this book I better try and get my feelings down in a somewhat coherent review.

Title: Feeling Sorry For Celia (Ashbury High #1)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Epistolary
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date: May 2000
Pages: 288
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Life is pretty complicated for Elizabeth Clarry. Her best friend Celia keeps disappearing, her absent father suddenly reappears, and her communication with her mother consists entirely of wacky notes left on the fridge. On top of everything else, because her English teacher wants to rekindle the “Joy of the Envelope,” a Complete and Utter Stranger knows more about Elizabeth than anyone else.

But Elizabeth is on the verge of some major changes. She may lose her best friend, find a wonderful new friend, kiss the sexiest guy alive, and run in a marathon.
So much can happen in the time it takes to write a letter…

A #1 bestseller in Australia, this fabulous debut is a funny, touching, revealing story written entirely in the form of letters, messages, postcards—and bizarre missives from imaginary organizations like The Cold Hard Truth Association.

Feeling Sorry for Celia captures, with rare acuity, female friendship and the bonding and parting that occurs as we grow. Jaclyn Moriarty’s hilariously candid novel shows that the roller coaster ride of being a teenager is every bit as fun as we remember—and every bit as harrowing.

My Review:

Feeling Sorry for Celia is a story told though letters and notes – both real and imagined in Liz’s head showing a very small snapshot of what life is like for somewhat typical Australian teenage girl. A scatter-minded yet well-meaning single mother, absent father and a best friend who runs away to join the circus are all parts of Liz’s life but somehow she keeps it all together.

Liz is a great narrator as such. Most of the letters within this novel are letters to her from organizations such as The Association of Teenagers. And then there’s Christina – the pen pal Liz’s teacher assigns her from a local high school. I loved the letters exchanged between these two. They’re honest and random and yet perfect. This is one of those books that make me remember just how much I love reading books set in Australia by Australian authors. There are things so intrinsically HERE about this book – things that I can’t even describe to people from overseas and yet I feel like other Aussies would know exactly what I’m talking about. I could relate to Liz in a way that feels bizarre consider how little we have in common and yet I felt like this book was a window into my teenage soul. Oh my… that sounds a little trite but I’m keeping it in because that’s exactly how I feel. 

One of my favourite things about this book is how relevant it still is. This book may have been first published over thirteen years ago but you wouldn’t know it. The concept of letter writing makes perfect sense within the constructs of this novel and I never once thought that the addition of technological advancements (such as email or text messaging) would have added anything extra to the novel.

This is a great novel that I can imagine appealing to young and old – and I can’t wait to make a trip to my nearest library and check out the rest of the books in this series!

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Book Depository

2012 End of Year Book Survey

I stumbled upon the End of the Year survey from Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner. This is her third year of compiling a list of bookish related questions to share with her readers and she encourages anyone who wants to join in and take part.

I love making lists and taking surveys so I jumped at the chance to share my thoughts regarding books and whatnot for 2012.

best books read in 2012

Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)

Contemporary: A Fault in Our Stars by John Green (just finished it today and need to wait a few days before writing a review or it will just be one big fangirl gush-fest)

Fantasy: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes or Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic: Divergent by Veronica Roth or Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Adult Fiction: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Undeadly by Michelle Vail. I felt a little let down by this one. It had a lot of promise but just missed something in the execution.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 


Probably Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I wasn’t expecting to like it at all – I mean it’s a Cinderella retelling set in New Beijing and Cinderella is now a cyborg. Sounds absolutely crazy – but it works and I can’t wait to read the second book in the Lunar Chronicles – Scarlet – when it’s released early next year.

 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

A lot of the ones I’ve mentioned so far – Divergent by Veronica Roth, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Delirium by Lauren Oliver and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I love recommending Aussie authors to people I know as well so I’ve been pimping A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty and Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

I discovered Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead this year (and her adult paranormal series, Georgina Kincaid). I’ve found a new favourite paranormal author. I also discovered Wool by Hugh Howey and Mythos Academy by Jennifer Estep and completely enjoyed them too.

 6. Favourite new authors you discovered in 2012?

This is turning into a bit of a love fest for me… sorry! But there are so many authors I’ve not read prior to 2012 that I adore now. Veronica Roth, John Green, Maria V. Snyder, Richelle Mead, Stephanie Perkins, Brigid Kemmerer… my list would go on all day if I don’t stop myself now.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I’ve usually steered pretty clear of fantasy. It’s not something I’ve read a lot of but this year I read a few books and I’ve discovered a new appreciation for the genre.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

I love unputdownable as a word. I usually call these books my “cereal for dinner” kind of read. They’re the kind that I get so engrossed in that I can’t stop for something as mundane as cooking something to eat. No – I must keep reading and manage to pour a bowl of cereal and some milk with one hand whilst holding my book with the other – no time wasted!

This year I remember doing this with a few books. The most recent was Poison Princess by Kresley Cole. I wasn’t trying to make my self a meal whilst reading this one but I was on a plane. I was the last person off the plane because I was trying to get to a point in the story that I felt I could take a break and not go mad with the anticipation of what was going to happen next…

This also happened with Only in Spain by Nellie Bennett. Only in Spain is a memoir about a woman who was fed up with her day job and essentially ran away to Spain to learn flamenco dancing… I don’t read a lot of memoirs but I loved Nellie’s narration and her complete disregard for her own safety!

 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

Very hard to say. I don’t re-read very much at all. There’s so many books out there that I’d love to read that making time to re-read an old favourite doesn’t happen very often. If I was going to re-read any – it would probably be Crewel by Gennifer Albin. This is one that I think I would benefit from reading the ending of before the next book in the series comes out. 

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1)

This is one of those covers that means so much more to me after I’d finished reading the book. I thought it was cool before but after – it just fit the story so perfectly that I kept liking it more and more every time I see it.

I also liked these covers – for entirely different reasons. Finding Mr Darcy is adorable… and cravats are instantly likeable. The building, the font, the colours – I just adore everything about the cover on my version of A Discovery of Witches. And the cover of Only in Spain completely embodies the spirit of the story.

11. Most memorable character in 2012? 

Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass. Or Chelsea Knot from Speechless. Both completely different but I found them memorable for their strength.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

I thought the Fault in Our Stars by John Green was beautifully written. As was the Lovers Dictionary by David Levithan. 

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – I had a lot of problems with this book. Not the writing or even really the plot. It was more how it made me look at the issue of suicide and blame. I probably have an unpopular opinion regarding my thoughts and feelings that the book brought up but it’s probably the book that made me think the most.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.

 15. FAVOURITE Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 

I am terrible at remembering quotes. Even the ones that at the time of reading I thought were brilliant for all sorts of reasons. All these ones are from books I remember highlighting passages from but then promptly forgot all about.

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.”
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

“Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.”
― David LevithanThe Lover’s Dictionary

 16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012? 

Longest — A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness at 690 pages

Shortest — Probably Fearless or Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer – but they were both novellas which are intentionally exceptionally short 

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Rapture by Lauren Kate. Most of this book was a bit of a WTF moment for me. I just… couldn’t rationalize their actions. They were just so stupid! They would risk the one person who held the fate of the world in their hands on stupid stuff.

18. FAVOURITE Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

I liked the romantic relationships of Anna and St Clair in Anna and the French Kiss. Also the instant connection (even if it pushed at insta-love but considering the title that has to be expected) of that between Hadley and Oliver in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. 

But for all relationships – I liked that between Hazel and her parents in The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.

19. FAVOURITE Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter. I read some of her adult paranormal series before and some were a hit but most were a miss with me. Alice was fantastic and I’ll be taking another look at some of Gena’s other books.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

A Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

I have friends who are Nerdfighters who kept insisting I read this book – since before it came out. I’m glad I did. I loved it.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstein. And Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor… and about a thousand other books.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

I made a list of ten that I can’t wait to be released a few weeks ago.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

In the past 7 or 8 months that I’ve been blogging I’ve learnt a lot. I’m happy with how my blog is developing so far. My main goal for 2013 is to start learning how to do more with graphics and develop the overall look of my blog (I still have the default picture… which I do like but I think I need to develop the necessary skills to personalize it a little more).

Reading wise I think I need to branch out a little more. Read a little more extensively with regards to genres. There’s a lot of paranormal romance in my repertoire and I endeavour to cover more variety in the next year.

Survey done! And it was both harder and more fun coming up with my answers than I thought when I started.

There’s probably a dozen books that I have forgotten about but I consider myself lucky to have read so many fantastic books this year and “discovered” a lot of authors I’d never had the opportunity to read before.

2012 was great and now I can’t wait what 2013 will bring. 🙂

Book Review: A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

Title: A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeline #1)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Adventure
Publisher: Macmillian Australia
Publication Date: October 2012
Pages: 432
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie’s Tea Shop.

Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours.

They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white – the slim seam of a letter.

A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.

My Review:

She knew this.
That philematology is the science of kissing.
That Samuel Langhorne Clemens is better known as Mark Twain.
That, originally, gold comes from the stars.

The summary both perfectly sums up this book and at the same time doesn’t begin to touch on why I enjoyed reading it so much.

A Corner of White is a tale of two cities – or more appropriately, a stories of two worlds. Madeline Tully, a fifteen year old who lives with her mother in the English city of Cambridge. After running away from her father two years ago, the two of them have made a life for themselves in the colourless and drab college town.

In a parallel world where seasons change moment to moment and the rare Butterfly Children with magical powers appear in glass jars, the Kingdom of Cello is home to a boy named Elliot Baranski. Having lost his uncle and father to a purple attack, Elliot has made it his mission to track down the colour who took his dad away and bring him home.

Madeline and Elliot stumble upon a crack in the fabric between the worlds and start writing to one another. With lives so different and yet eerily similar, the two come to grips with the voids in their own lives and try to live full lives again.

I loved the Kingdom of Cello. I’ve read a few novels with parallel universes but never have a read a world that is so similar to the present day in which I live – and yet at the same time so incredibly different. The idea that colours can cause blindness, brutality or influence one’s thoughts and feelings so tangibly is such an interesting and brilliant concept.

Madeline and her comrades at Cambridge in the World are characters that I enjoyed reading about. Belle and Jack are believable as slightly eccentric sidekicks with their own little quirks. Elliot is a likeable hero too. He’s strong and brave but he has enough flaws of his own to keep him interesting. I loved how Madeline and Elliot were so different and yet so similar.

This novel is interesting, imaginative and beautifully written. The colours – real or flat, in the World or in the Kingdom of Cello – were interwoven throughout in a way that made the worlds collide in such a way that made me believe in the existence of Cello. I thought it was so clever how the author managed to combine the real with the imaginary, magic with science, whilst still delivering a story that kept me interested right up until the last page.

With thanks to Pan Macmillan and the Reading Room for the review copy.

Amazon / Book Depository