Review: Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Release Date: September 7, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 400
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

They think I hurt someone.
But I didn’t. You hear?
Cos people are gonna be telling you
all kinds of lies.
I need you to know the truth.

Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years, and it’s for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row.

But now Ed’s execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think …

From one-time winner and two-time Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this poignant, stirring, huge-hearted novel asks big questions. What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye?

MY THOUGHTS

Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s no secret that I love Sarah Crossan’s books and Moonrise was definitely no exception. It might actually be my favourite of all of Sarah Crossan’s books. It involved such a hard-hitting topic and the way that Sarah Crossan’s writing made me feel has definitely skyrocketed the book into one of my top five favourite books of the year so far. In fact, it affected me so much that I couldn’t bring myself to write a review until now.

This novel is about 18-year-old Joe whose family has been torn apart since his older brother, Ed, was arrested 10 years ago. Joe hasn’t seen Ed since he was arrested but now finds himself moving alone to Texas after Ed’s execution date was set. While staying in a filthy apartment and trying to work to keep himself alive, Joe finds himself visiting and spending time with Ed, all the while wondering whether Ed is innocent or guilty… and whether he can live knowing the answer. It’s a story about family, loss, and life and death, and Sarah Crossan definitely does all of these themes justice with her story. I thought the topic was handled brilliantly and the importance of having conversations about issues like these really came through. I loved how raw and emotional the novel was and how much it made me feel. I definitely had a big ugly cry fest at the end of it but the story was just that good.

I loved all of the characters in the book and how they were all flawed in some way. There is Joe who may be too forgiving, according to some of the other characters in the book, but is also willing to do whatever it takes to have a roof over his head and food in his belly. There’s Ed, who Joe remembers to be a warm and loving brother, but may have committed a crime worthy of the life penalty. There’s Aunt Karen who may have given up on Ed too soon. All of these characters added something to the story, no matter how badly you wanted to hate them or love them. And there’s really nothing I love more than when every character is integral to the story.

‘Be happy,’ Ed says.
‘It’s your duty to me, man.’

As always, the verse poetry as beautiful and added to the emotion of the novel. There were so many poems that I absolutely loved and wanted to share with everyone who would listen to me. Every page that you flip to contains a wonderfully quotable poem. Sarah Crossan’s writing is just so impactful and beautiful to read and I cannot wait for her next release.

AUS GIVEAWAY: We Come Apart, One, & The Bombs That Brought Us Together

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We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan was released in Australia a few days ago and I have a full review of the book here. It’s a book about immigration, racism and bullying and I absolutely fell in love with it.

Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia, I am giving away a copy of We Come Apart, along with One by Sarah Crossan and The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan to one lucky Australia-based winner. One is the winner of the 2016 Carnegie Medal and is a story written in verse about conjoined twins. It was a highly emotional book and I have a full review of it hereThe Bombs That Brought Us Together is the winner of the 2016 Costa Children’s Book Award and is a sci-fi dystopian novel about war and friendship.

GIVEAWAY RULES

  • This giveaway is only open to Australian residents.
  • The giveaway will until Sunday 19th March at 11:59pm AEDT.
  • There will be ONE winner who will win all three books listed above. The winner will be randomly drawn and contacted through email. If I don’t receive a reply within 48 hours, I will randomly draw a new winner.
  • You will be required to provide me with a shipping address if you win and Bloomsbury Australia will be shipping the prize to you. If you are under 18, please make sure you have parental permission to share your address.
  • I will be checking all entries so no cheating please.
please click this link to enter through Rafflecopter.

 

Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan

we-come-apartPublisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Release date: March 1, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Goodreads || Book Depository

Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?

For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have no words for how much I love this book. It was raw and honest and I could not have asked for anything more from it. I loved the themes of racism, immigration and love in the novel and it was just one of the most poignant stories I’ve read in a while.

We Come Apart is a story that is written in verse and from dual perspectives. If you’ve never read anything by Sarah Crossan, you must because her ability to tell stories in verse is out of this world. I’ve previously read One and The Weight of Water and they were both amazing. I haven’t read anything by Brian Conaghan but this book made me really excited to check out his solo work. I really loved the two perspectives in this book and I thought they worked wonderfully together. The book alternates perspectives every few pages and I really enjoyed this because it gave me a really good idea of what they were both thinking about a certain situation or event. The book doesn’t have headers telling us whose perspective we’re reading from but it’s completely clear who is speaking because the voices were so different.

Nicu, our male lead, is an immigrant from Romania and speaks in very disjointed English. I particularly loved his voice and never found it to be difficult to understand. The reason why I loved his voice so much was because he expressed every thought and feeling in a pure and honest manner because of his inability to speak English fluently. The way that he tried to describe his thoughts was just so unflinching and relatable that it was impossible not to love his voice and his character. I also highly enjoyed Jess. Her voice wasn’t as ‘meaningful’ to me as Nicu’s but I thought she was still a very relatable character and even though, she’s very different to who I am as a person, I still connected with her story and empathised deeply.

i was extremely taken by the story of We Come Apart. Jess and Nicu meet at a Reparation Scheme for juvenile offenders. They are both having trouble with their families and this draws the two of them together. Nicu’s family is staying temporarily in North London so that they can earn enough money to pay for teenage Nicu to take a wife back in his village in Romania. Despite his repeated protests, Nicu’s family has no interest in what Nicu wants and are determined for him to return to Romania and get married as soon as possible. Nicu wants badly to stay in London and get an education, but at school, he is severely bullied by his classmates and teachers for being different and a person of colour. Jess lives with her mother and abusive stepfather, who regularly forces Jess to video record while he beats up her mother. Jess’s mum doesn’t seem to have any intention of leaving and Jess isn’t strong enough to do anything about it either. She spends her days lashing out by stealing and engaging in behaviours that would be frowned upon. But when she meets Nicu, the two of them open up to each other and are there for each other. What I appreciated about this friendship and relationship was that there was a very natural and gradual development. The two don’t start off as fast friends but gradually develop into two people who understand each other. I loved the development in their characters and Jess’s change from being a prejudiced teen like her schoolmates to being a more tender and empathetic person.

If I had one small criticism, it would be that the ending of the book was a little bit rushed and not very resolved. I finished the book feeling like the authors left me hanging a little and would’ve liked more resolution. However, I was still extremely satisfied with how the book played out and how relevant the issues it explores are to society today. It’s an important story that needs to be read!

We Come Apart is released on March 1st, 2017 by Bloomsbury Australia. It is available at Australian retailers for $17.99.

Wrap Up: November 2015

November15wrapup

Welcome to another monthly reading wrap up. I had a really great reading month and I read a lot of high quality books. I have so many new favourites! A lot of the books that I read this month were really chunky too (e.g. Winter, Carry On, Chaos Walking). I read a total of 6739 pages!

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Reading summary header

The books appear in the order that I read them and my reviews are linked. I am a co-blogger at Happy Indulgence and I also post reviews there.

1. Siege and Storm – Leigh Bardugo  4 stars

The second book in the Grisha Trilogy. It was a step-up from Shadow and Bone but it lacked action and plot. While enjoyable, it was a filler book and we didn’t really learn anything new.

2. Ruin and Rising – Leigh Bardugo  45 stars

The final book in the Grisha trilogy, Ruin and Rising was by far the best book in the trilogy. It had more action and the pace of the book was more consistent. Also, the epilogue was amazing!

3. The Intern – Gabrielle Tozer  25 stars

An Australian YA novel about a shy and awkward girl who gets an internship at a popular fashion magazine. It was much too cliched and full of contemporary YA tropes for me to enjoy.

4. Faking It – Gabrielle Tozer  25 stars

The sequel/companion to The Intern. I felt exactly the same way about it as I did about The Intern. It was a novel that made me feel like I was too old for YA…

5. Carry On – Rainbow Rowell  5 stars

An amazing, amazing fantasy novel. It is Rainbow Rowell’s take on the Simon Snow series that was introduced in Fangirl. The characters, magic system and world were all phenomenal!

6. Love and Other Perishable Items – Laura Buzo  4 stars

Another Australian YA novel. This book is set in Sydney, Australia and explores self-discovery, growing up and first love. It is very realistic and relatable and I loved it!

7. Winter – Marissa Meyer  5 stars

The fourth and final book in the Lunar Chronicles series, which is my favourite series of all time. It was an epic, action-packed conclusion and I’m so sad that the series is over. I could read 10 more books set in this world, about these characters.

8. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo  5 stars

A new fantasy duology set in the Grishaverse. This is an epic and intense heist story that features a cast of complex and interesting characters! I absolutely loved all of the characters and the setting and world building in the book was amazing.

9. Denton Little’s Deathdate – Lance Rubin  4 stars

This is a contemporary novel with some sci-fi elements. This book is set in the near future, in a world where everybody knows their deathdate. The book takes place over 48 hours, starting on the day before Denton Little is scheduled to die.

10. What We Saw – Aaron Hartzler  45 stars

A deep and thought-provoking story about doing the right thing. I have written a review of this that will be going live on Wednesday.

11. Night Owls – Jenn Bennett  4 stars

A cute and sweet contemporary romance featuring two artists that fall in love through their art. It involves a realistic and honest relationship.

12. A Step Towards Falling – Cammie McGovern  35 stars

This book features characters that have developmental/learning disabilities. It also explores the idea of doing the right thing and not judging people by their appearances.

13. The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness  45 stars

The first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, this book is fast-paced, unique and terrifying. It has some very realistic but strong individuals and the relationships and character interactions in this book will give you all the feels.

14. The Ask and the Answer – Patrick Ness  45 stars

Book 2 in the Chaos Walking trilogy. It was a fantastic sequel, full of action and politics.

15. Monsters of Men – Patrick Ness  5 stars

This is the final book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy and it was an amazing conclusion! For me, this was the best book of the trilogy, and if you haven’t read Chaos Walking yet, I highly recommend it! A review of Monsters of Men will be up on Sunday.

16. The Weight of Water – Sarah Crossan  45 stars

A novel that’s written in free-verse and extremely quick to read! This is an emotional coming-of-age story about a 12 year old Polish girl who moves to London with her mother in search for her father who has left them.

T10T

I posted four Top Ten Tuesdays in November:

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BTCYA (HARPERCOLLINS YA EVENT)

HarperCollins Australia held a YA event in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in November and I went to the Sydney event on November 20th. We looked at upcoming 2016 HarperCollins YA releases and also took home a VERY generous goodie bag! I have done a full event recap over at Happy Indulgence (along with Jeann, who went to the Brisbane event), with photos and all that good stuff.

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Photo credits: HarperCollinsAU

SARAH J. MAAS AT KINOKUNIYA, SYDNEY

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I went to the Sarah J. Maas event in Sydney last week on the 25th and got to meet her and have some of my books signed. It was an AMAZING day and she was so funny, bubbly and nice! I was also lucky enough to snag a front row seat!

Sadly, there was a 3-book signing limit and only one of them could be personalised so I got my copies of Throne of Glass, Queen of Shadows and A Court of Thorns and Roses signed. Initially, it was a 5-book limit, but they had to change it to 3 in order to keep it consistent across all of her Aus/NZ events 😦

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We weren’t allowed to film or take posed photos with her (they threatened to kick us out if we did – there were a billion other rules too) but I did manage to get a candid shot with her. When she was signing my books I asked her if there’s a character she’s ever regretted killing off (e.g. my beloved Sam). Her answer was no, because the character deaths had to happen in order for the story to progress. But she did say that when she was writing Queen of Shadows, she wished Sam was still alive and that she misses him.

Photo 25-11-2015, 4 51 28 PM


See you next month, and happy reading!

Wrap Up: August 2015

August15wrapup

August was another great reading month for me. I read a total of 18 books, with a good mix of female and male authors (and a lot of David Levithan!). There was also a mix of books that I did and didn’t enjoy. I have written reviews of almost all of these books. Click on the links to read in-depth reviews of each book!

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Reading summary header

1. The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak – Brian Katcher  4 stars
A fun, nerdy and fast-paced contemporary about Ana and Zak who are searching for Ana’s brother at a sci-fi convention.

2. After Dark – Haruki Murakami  35 stars
A thought-provoking story following a couple of characters on their ‘adventures’ in the middle of the night. Slow-paced with a hint of magical realism.

3. Sunkissed – Jenny McLachlan  3 stars
A fun, summery, coming of age story set on a Swedish island.

4. The Shadowhunter’s Codex – Cassandra Clare & Joshua Lewis  3 stars
A guide to the Shadowhunter world, with illustrations and commentary from Clary, Jace and Simon.

5. Every Day – David Levithan  5 stars
A great diverse book about A, who wakes up in the body of a different person each day. He falls in love with the girlfriend of a boy whose body he inhabits and he has to find his way back to her each day.

6. Two Boys Kissing – David Levithan  45 stars
Another great LGBTQ+ book from David Levithan. This book is poignant and important. It explores different aspects of what it means to be gay, comparing previous generations to the current generation.

7. Sinner – Maggie Stiefvater  25 stars
A companion novel to The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. This could be read as a standalone but I would recommend reading the trilogy first.

8. Six Earlier Days – David Levithan  4 stars
Six short stories about six days in A’s life, before the events in Every Day. I’d highly recommend these if you enjoyed Every Day.

9. A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab  45 stars
Set in parallel London’s, this book follows Kell who is able to travel between the different Londons, and smuggles items from one to another.

10. Polarity in Motion – Brenda Vicars  35 stars
When a nude photo of Polarity emerges online, she has no recollection of how the photo was taken. She finds herself yanked from her family and entangled in a world she knows nothing about.

11. The Sleeper and the Spindle – Neil Gaiman  45 stars
A wonderful reimagining of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, with beautiful illustrations by Chris Riddell.

12. Snow Like Ashes – Sara Raasch  5 stars
A brilliant fantasy world, with some great characters and a fascinating magic system. This was a fantastic first book to a trilogy.

13. The Boy Most Likely To – Huntley Fitzpatrick  45 stars
Another great contemporary book from Huntley Fitzpatrick. This is a companion to My Life Next Door, and can be read as a standalone. I’d recommend reading MLND first though for all of the character building (and also because it’s a great book)!

14. Wonderland – Robert McKay  4 stars
A sci-fi retelling of Alice in Wonderland. This book was fun and crazy in the best ways.

15. One – Sarah Crossan  45 stars
A story, written in free verse, about conjoined twins and what it means to share a body and a soul with somebody else.

16. Risk – Fleur Ferris  2 stars
A serious and dark Aussie YA book about online safety and the dangers of meeting strangers online.

17. Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella  45 stars
This is Sophie Kinsella’s first YA novel and it was so great! It was a heartwarming and funny story about family and finding yourself again after adversity.

18. The Lover’s Dictionary – David Levithan  4 stars
Written as a series of dictionary entries, this is a story about love. It’s a non-linear story, written in second person, and explores the positive and negative aspects of love.

T10T

This month I did four Top Ten Tuesday posts. You can check out my posts by clicking the links below.


If you’ve done a wrap up for this month, I’d love to see what you’ve read.

Review: One by Sarah Crossan

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Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release date: August 27, 2015
Format: eARC via NetGalley
ISBN: 9781408863114
Pages: 448
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia (AUS)

Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

I received an electronic copy of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing UK & ANZ via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a powerful book – heartwarming, heartbreaking and just incredibly poignant. Sarah Crossan has created such an important book about family, relationships and soul mates. This novel definitely made me think about things that I had never thought about before. It’s a little bit hard to put together all of my thoughts about this book, because I’m still processing it even now (and I probably will still be days from now). But hopefully this is a review that will make sense.

First, I need to comment on the writing in this book. This novel is written in free verse, which I had some qualms about initially. But after a couple of pages, I thought it was a fantastic and incredibly effective way of telling the story. It was fast-paced (despite being 400+ pages, I finished this book in about 2 hours) and it added more emotion to the story than if it had been written in prose. Each line was so well thought out and everything was there for a reason.

One is such a well researched book. It was extremely informative and I learnt so many things about conjoined twins and how they experience the world, which is actually not that different to how a singleton experiences the world. I think Crossan did a brilliant job at normalising the issue. The message that I took away from the book was that, there’s nothing freakish or tragic about them and there’s nothing particularly inspirational about them either. They’re just normal people who may go through some extra hardships because they share a part of themselves with their twin.

This book explores some of those hardships, such as expensive medical bills, lack of privacy and free will at times, and the difficulty of forming romantic relationships. But this book also has a heavy focus on the relationship and bond between conjoined twins and the fact that there is someone who you can be One with. It emphasises the idea that it isn’t always necessary for conjoined twins to have separation surgery and many never want to be parted. For me, the author did a great job of showing us how ordinary conjoined twins can be, while also highlighting that they don’t have it easy either.

It was difficult at times to read about the physical struggles that Grace and Tippi had to go through. They both needed to stay in bed even when only one of them had the flu, and the negative effects of drinking and smoking affects not only the person doing it but the other person too. It was tough but also heartwarming watching them trying to be seen by others as two individuals but going through the realisation that they were not only partners in life but also an integral part of each other.

She’s me entirely
and without her
there would be
a gaping space
in my chest,
an expanding black hole
that nothing
else could
fill.

There was some romance in the book but it wasn’t the main focus on the story, which I liked a lot. It was there to highlight the difficulties that conjoined twins experience with having romantic relationships, but it wasn’t a crucial aspect to the story. I appreciated that the book focused on the connection and love between twins and explored that in detail rather than throwing in a whole bunch of issues that could have been underdeveloped. The book could have easily gone in the direction of focusing on bullying and nonacceptance from peers, but I’m glad that it chose to emphasise the love between twins and the love between family members. And importantly, I could also feel all the love that Sarah Crossan put into writing this book. I can’t wait to pick up something else by her.