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Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

I was introduced to Kirsty Eagar’s beautiful writing through Raw Blue, which I read and loved way back in 2011. Wowza, I didn’t know it’s been that long! I was pretty excited when I found out that she has a new book this year and with such a bright and fun cover too. I saw Aussie bloggers raving about Summer Skin, and I knew that I needed to have my own copy sooner rather than later. Thankfully, Book Depository now has stocks of some Aussie titles and I was able to order Summer Skin from their store. I couldn’t resist reading it as soon as my copy arrived. I was reminded of how good Aussie fiction is, and now I want to read ALL THE BOOKS.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Summer SkinJess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even.

The lesson: don’t mess with Unity girls.

The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold… and smart enough to keep up with Jess.

A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig – sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they’re at their most vulnerable?

It’s all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy’s stuff. Just your typical love story.

It was a good thing I started reading Summer Skin just as the weekend started because I was engrossed from start to finish. I stayed up way too late (or too early depending on your definition) on a Friday night to read it. I would have gobbled it up in one go if I didn’t have plans to go out with a friend. As it is, I devoured it as fast as I can. I’m going to try and be coherent in this review, but I basically just want to say, GO FORTH AND READ THIS BOOK. Summer Skin is the kind of book that makes me want to go back in time so I can give it to my teenage self. I think it would have changed my life back then. The Aussie college experience described in this is different from my own experience in the Philippines in a lot of ways, but strangely similar in certain aspects, especially in the emotions involved. Like the feeling of having more independence than you had in high school, without the responsibility that comes with being an adult in the workforce. And also trying to make sense of things but feeling clueless. I felt that Kirsty Eagar did an amazing job of describing the crazy roller coaster ride of college days, when the highs were so high and the lows were so low.

Jess intrigued me from the first scene. I thought she and her girlfriends were all awesome. I kept wanting to cheer them on, YOU GO GIRLS. The four of them have such distinct and varied personalities, and it was fun to see how they balanced each other out. I felt that they have just the right mix of flaws and strengths for teenage girls. They were far from perfect and they made mistakes, but they also tried to learn as much as they can from those mistakes. And they showed their strengths in ways that suited their personalities. They’re in that stage of their lives where they’re still trying to figure things out, and they’re starting to gain more awareness about themselves. It was helpful that all throughout that process, they have each others’ backs. It’s always a pleasure to read about strong female friendships because that’s always something that I would be able to relate to. I met some of the best friends that I have during college, and I can’t imagine life without them.

It’s obvious from the book’s summary that Summer Skin has romance in it, and I thought it was very well-written. I seriously could not get enough of Jess and Mitch! I loved all of their interactions, and I kept waiting for scenes that had the two of them together. I’m normally not a fan of drama in a romance but everything that Jess and Mitch went through felt necessary. They needed to experience all of it to grow and develop both individually and as a couple. I wouldn’t call their romance slow burn because sparks fly the moment they meet and they do act on it, but the depth in their relationship is earned the hard way. Also, I thought it was really cute that their family and friends were invested in their relationship. One of my favorite scenes was Jess and Mitch’s brother trying to get to know each other better. The adults in this novel were pretty great, they treated the younger characters with respect – giving advice whenever necessary but ultimately letting Jess and Mitch make their own choices.

As an aside, there’s a lot of music mentioned in the novel and while there isn’t a playlist found at the end, it can be found here. Summer Skin is the kind of book that you would hug to yourself after you turn the last page. I have a feeling I’d be sorely tempted to reread this sooner rather that later. Definitely one of my best reads in 2016, I’ve already started book pushing this to all my reader friends. Immensely readable, Summer Skin deserves to be read by anyone interested in realistic fiction about college experiences. I will be anxiously waiting for Kirsty Eagar’s next novel.


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Comments are like chocolate

Blog comments are like chocolate! Which is saying a lot given how much I love chocolate (dark chocolate in particular). I’ve had blog discussions about comments before, but I realized that my posts were in 2011 and 2012 so I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the topic again. I think it’s always fun to receive comments because hey, it’s a form of validation… someone is reading my post and is interested enough to say something about it!:) I think commenting is great in the way that it encourages discussions and conversations with people who read the same kind of books that I do. And for me, that’s what makes blogging interesting. This is why I always reply to the comments that people make in my posts.

Comments are like chocolate

Or like potato chips covered in dark chocolate

Over the years, I’ve noticed that people’s commenting habits have changed. I don’t have any stats to prove it but I feel like I used to receive more comments in the earlier years of my blog. Now that could be due to a number of reasons like some of my blogging buddies going on hiatus. But I also cross-link my posts on Facebook and Twitter, and I’ve noticed that some people are more comfortable leaving a Facebook comment or a tweet rather than writing down a comment on an actual blog post. Totally understandable because it’s easier to do that, especially when you’re on your phone. I also do the same thing when I’m going through other people’s posts while I’m on the go. It also makes it easier for me to reply to someone when they do that, it’s just that it’s more difficult to keep track of the discussion when it isn’t being saved on the blog.

I know that some people tend to prefer to lurk, instead of writing comments. This is also something that I could relate to since I was a lurker before I started my own blog. There are also instances when you’ve read the post but you don’t feel like you have anything substantial to add so you skip leaving a comment. That happens to me too. But I hope visitors and followers of my blog feel like they can comment anytime, even with something random like just saying hi.:)

I also used to comment on other blogs a lot more. Back when I used Google Reader to keep track of blogs that I follow. Nowadays, I usually just leave comments when I have some time to check out the blogs I’m interested in, or to visit other blogs participating in a meme. If you ever come across a blog post that you think I’d be interested in, feel free to share a link so I can check it out.

I’m basically thinking out loud here, and sharing some of my thoughts about blog comments. What do you think about comments? Do you also enjoy receiving and replying to them?


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Ten Aussie YA Books I Love But Feel Like I Haven’t Talked About In A While

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is books we’ve loved but we haven’t talked about in a while. I’m choosing to focus on Aussie YA in my post because I recently read Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar and was blown away by how good it was – I’m not making any promises but I’ll try to review it soon. Anyway, that reading experience reminded me of how awesome Aussie YA is so I want to revisit some of the titles I fell in love with. If you haven’t given YA written by authors from down under, you should start with these books:

Contemporary:
Jellicoe Road Australian cover for The Piper's Son Raw Blue UK Graffiti Moon Wildlife - US cover All I Ever Wanted

Specfic:
Touchstone Trilogy Illuminae Sabriel

Historical fiction:
The Book Thief - UK

Have you read any Aussie YA books that you’d like to recommend? I really don’t know why I haven’t been reading more Aussie YA lately, when I’ve been hearing good things about a lot of them. I have a couple of books in my TBR pile and I should really try to bump them up:

LoveOzYA - March 22, 2016


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Meet Up with Aussie YA author, Pip Harry

Last Saturday, I met up with Aussie YA author Pip Harry for brunch. I’ve been meaning to blog about our meet up but have been busy with work so I haven’t gotten around to it until now. First, I have to thank another Aussie YA author, Kirsty Eagar, for helping Pip and I connect. I wouldn’t have known that Pip has moved to Singapore if Kirsty hadn’t mentioned it! (As an aside, I’m trying to be patient while waiting for my order of Kirsty’s latest book Summer Skin, I hope it arrives soon.)

Pip and I decided to meet at one of PS Cafe’s branches, she took a pic of the place and posted it here. While I took a shot of the food that I had and the copy of I’ll Tell You Mine that Pip generously gave me, uploaded here. I told her that Filipino YA isn’t as well-developed as Aussie YA so I gave her some Filipino romance instead. We both forgot to take a pic together though!

Pip Harry's signature

We started chatting away the moment I sat down and we barely came up for air. We talked about books, life, and everything in between. We discussed Aussie YA books, of course. Who are the authors we loved, and which titles we’re both looking forward to reading. Some of the authors we talked about: Kirsty Eagar, Melina Marchetta, Vikki Wakefield, Fiona Wood, Justine Larbalestier, Melissa Keil, Ellie Marney, Amie Kaufman, and so many others. She said the community of Aussie YA authors is such a tight-knit and supportive group, which I thought was so nice. I mentioned that the way she describes that community seems similar to how the Filipino romance is developing now. And I also mentioned that I wish that Filipino YA would grow just like Aussie YA did. I also remember she asked me how I first got into reading Aussie YA, so I mentioned book bloggers who got me into it like Nomes and Maggie and a couple of others who have gone on hiatus. I can’t even remember who first recommended it but Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road was my gateway book into Aussie YA. Meeting Pip made me realize that I haven’t been reading that much Aussie YA books lately, which is a shame because I have more than a few of them on my TBR pile. I will try to bump them up! Aside from books, we also chatted about random things about living in Singapore, the Philippines and Australia.

Good food, great conversation and a personalized copy of a book that I’m looking forward to reading… Makes for a fun Saturday, right?:) I hope this wouldn’t be the one and only time that Pip and I would get to meet.


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2016 International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!:) In honor of this day, I would like to share books that I’ve loved that feature some of my favorite fictional ladies. I liked these characters because I feel like they’ve shown their strengths in various ways. Also, these books are written by women. I came up with a list like this way back in 2012, and I know I should have made it a yearly thing but I kept forgetting. I’m glad I remembered to do it today! Since the last time I did this was in 2012, I’m going to include books that I’ve read starting from 2013.

Speculative fiction:
Uprooted Bone Gap Archivist Wasp Black Dog Pure Magic Tempting Danger

Touchstone Trilogy Medair Burn for Me Rat Queens Vol 1 Sass and Sorcery Nimona

Adult Contemporary:
Girl Before a Mirror Nowhere But Home The Chocolate Temptation A Wish Upon Jasmine The Story Guy Big Boy

YA Contemporary
I'll Meet You There Wildlife All I Ever Wanted

What about you, who are some of your favorite fictional female characters?:)


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Book Haul: Vikki Wakefield

A few weeks ago, I posted about two Aussie YA titles that will be published in the US. Vikki Wakefield contacted me because of that post and generously offered to send me copies of her two books, all the way from Australia. I thought All I Ever Wanted was a great read and it was in my best of 2013 list. I’ve heard nothing but good things about her two other titles so I was more than happy to receive copies of them. It totally made my day when the packaged arrived:

From Vikki Wakefield

Aussie snail mail

From Vikki Wakefield - Inbetween Days, Friday Brown

Beautiful Aussie editions

From Vikki Wakefield - signature

Aww signed and personalized

Receiving signed copies of books from an author never gets old. It always feels like a special treat! These two books look even better in person. I think the covers are pretty. And I’ve always liked the standard paperback size of Aussie editions. I can’t wait to dive into these. Thank you so much, Vikki!😀


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Graphic Novel / Manga Challenge: The Wicked + The Divine

graphicnovelmangachallenge by espressodream

Image designed by my friend Kim of Dreaming of Espresso. Thanks for letting me use it!

The only book challenge that I signed up for this year is the 2016 Graphic Novel / Manga Challenge, and I went for the Modern Age level. This means I need to read and review at least one graphic novel per month. On the reading part, that’s definitely not too difficult to accomplish! The reviewing part is more difficult. I received Vol. 1 of The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (Illustrations), Matt Wilson (Colorist), Clayton Cowles last Christmas and I bought the next two installments right after. I read all three volumes together so I’m consolidating mini reviews of them in this post.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.

The Wicked + The Divine - The Faust Act The Wicked + The Divine - Fandemonium The Wicked + The Divine - Commercial Suicide

Vol. 1: The Faust Act – So many people were gushing about WicDiv and it kept being mentioned whenever I asked for graphic novel recommendations. I was excited to get started on Vol. 1 because I thought the concept for the series was brilliant. I was intrigued when I read the premise, and immediately wanted to find out more about these young men and women who turned into gods, and manifested their powers by performing concerts. They thrived on these performances, and the audience loved them. Kind of similar to how much influence rock stars and pop stars have in the real world, just a little bit more intense. I thought the artwork was gorgeous and reminded me a bit of Jem and the Holograms, one of my favorite animated shows when I was younger. Vol. 1 served as a quick introduction to the series, showing readers a wide range of characters. I enjoyed reading it but I was mostly confused by the time I reached the end. I felt like I couldn’t get a clear grasp of the storyline. Good thing I already had a copy of Vol. 2 with me so I could dive right in.

Vol. 2: Fandemonium – Vol. 2 continues with the story that Vol. 1 started and introduced a few more of the gods. I went through Vol. 2 pretty quickly because I wanted to understand what was going on. And yes, I did get some of the answers that I wanted but even more questions were raised. Just when I thought I would finally see everything come together, BAM! Something else happens that I can’t figure out. I know I’m being very vague here but I don’t want to accidentally mention any spoilers. Similar to how I felt when I finished Vol. 1, I wanted the next installment ASAP. I was lucky I started reading these just as Vol. 3 was released.

Vol. 3: Commercial Suicide – I was so glad Vol. 3 was readily available in Kinokuniya Singapore. I didn’t have to wait too long to find out what happens next. Going into Vol. 3, I had no clue that the illustrations would be different from the earlier two installments. Each chapter was illustrated by a different artist. While the idea may seem appealing to other readers, I really liked the original artwork and wanted the story to continue in that way. I found the abrupt changes jarring. On top of that, I still felt mostly confused even if I was already in the third book in the series. Sadly, it was a disappointing read for me. I just wasn’t invested enough in the story or the characters.

After reading three volumes, my conclusion is that WicDiv isn’t a series for me. There’s too much violence, too many questions, and not enough answers. I wouldn’t have minded the violence if I loved the story, but sadly, that wasn’t the case here. As always, I’m glad I tried something new. But I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that I would have a better experience with my March graphic novel read.

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