Books you need to read now – a.k.a. my favourite books of 2018

I’ve read a lot of great books this year but there have been some that have stuck out as being pretty darn special. Over the next two weeks I’ll be sharing my top 5 favourites. Have you read an exceptional book this year? Let me know in the comments or on social and I’ll add it to my list.


Today I’m going to kick things off with a book that really struck me as something quite exceptional. It’s The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan. If you haven’t read it, you must.

The book tells the story of teenager Leigh as she grapples with her mother’s suicide. Guided by a mysterious red bird, Leigh travels to Taiwan to visit with grandparents she has never met. There she enters a world of colour and mystery where she tries to fit together all the jigsaw pieces of her life into something that helps her to unlock her family’s secrets and make sense of her immense loss.

Pan weaves in the story of Leigh’s best friend Axel and recounts key moments in their unfolding relationship. Moments that are sweet and nostalgic, moments that sometimes seem to be the only things that are tethering Leigh to reality. Their relationship is one built on a mutual appreciation of music, creativity and art – especially the distinct colours used to describe how they are both feeling.

Pan has this beautiful, visceral way of describing the dream-like world that Leigh escapes into. A world of heartbreaking loss that is painted with these vivid colours.

“We watch the sky turn to purple turn to black, watch the winds ushering the clouds overhead. I wonder: If you peel away all that darkness, would you find that deep YInMn blue? Maybe that’s where all the other colours are hiding – in a dimension of the world we just can’t see, between our sky and the rest of the universe.”

Suicide & mental health

At the core of the story is the suicide of Leigh’s mother and the effect her mental health had on Leigh and her father. Mental health, and suicide, are topics that we as a society need to destigmatize and some of the best ways of doing this are by talking about it, writing about it and reading about it.

As a society we can no longer afford for suicide to be something we don’t talk about and seeing it written about in such a gentle, yet thought provoking way gives me hope that the younger people reading books like this one will be more tolerant, open and accepting to people who may be battling the same demons as Leigh’s mother was.

Final thoughts

Read this book and be prepared for a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss and acceptance.

Make sure you follow Emily on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram and Twitter.

Book review – The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless

Even though I love books, I hadn’t read much this year. I won’t horrify you with the number of unread books that I have scattered all over the house but let’s just say there are a lot. I’d been in a reading funk but the drought has broken and the book to do it was The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless.

The Dream Walker tells the story of sixteen-year-old Lucy Hart. It’s set in a small Queensland fishing hamlet called Diggers Landing where fish is the local currency. But the fish aren’t biting and some of the local ‘characters’ think they know why and who is to blame. All Lucy wants is to finish high school and head to the city with her best friend Polly and her crush Tom and make a new life away from the river but untangling herself from Diggers Creek proves harder than she thought.

I like this book for a lot of reasons. I like how Carless weaves the river throughout the narrative so that it becomes another character – and rightly so considering it’s importance to the town. I like the unique town characters that she captures without turning them into caricatures of ‘country’ folk. I love how Lucy navigates through the strained relationship with her father after her mother’s death.

But most of all, I love the language Carless uses. She has a way of describing the languid, late summer days and the oppressive heat that here, in the late throes of winter, I could feel its smothering weight. I could almost smell the heat on the corrugated lean to and it felt like I knew, and always had known, the people of Diggers.

“Everything about this place appears weary and bemused. Folks have been here forever but they walk around like they’re not sure how that came to be. It’s rumoured that we all came from four original families. It’s best not to think too much about that.”

I have so many page flags and post-it notes sticking out of this book marking clever turns of phrase or passages that speak to me. For me, that’s the mark of a good book, and Carless is an exceptional storyteller. In this book she weaves a magical tale about hope, life and love that is well worth a read and sure to captivate.

The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless is available on Booktopia as a paperback and an eBook.


Read like Rory Gilmore – part one

I don’t know about you but I am really excited about the upcoming Gilmore Girls reunion shows. I love that show so much and am so excited to see what has happened in Stars Hollow.

I created the Read like Rory Gilmore board on Pinterest a few years ago so I could work my way through her extensive on-screen library. The original list of 339 titles was collated by Patrick Lenton – I just took his list and added some pretty pictures! I thought it would be fun to share some of my favourites from the list in honour of the reboot. The first books I’ve chosen to feature are ones that I consider to be classics. Do you have any favourites from the list?


Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen | On the Road – Jack Kerouac | The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton | Howl – Allen Ginsberg | Complete Tales & Poems – Edgar Allen Poe | The Godfather – Mario Puzo

Book Review – The Wrath and the Dawn – Renée Ahdieh

wrathWhen I bought The Wrath and the Dawn and began reading it was like I had stepped into a new world. I’ve never read One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) – the book upon which this story is based –  so I had absolutely no reference point but Ahdieh is a masterful storyteller. In this book she weaves a magical tale of the relationship between a courageous young woman and a damaged King, supported by a cast of characters so rich and diverse that I felt I was sharing the same air with them.

There are countless examples of Ahdieh’s brilliant writing in this book, I mean, the whole thing is outstanding. But there are gems scattered throughout which I highlighted with abandon. I think my favourite line out of the whole book – and it’s not anything profound, I just think it’s simple and beautiful is “And he smiled a smile to shame the sun.” That line makes my heart soar.

You won’t be able to put it down, I promise. I gave The Wrath and the Dawn 5 out of 5 stars

Book review – Thicker than Water – Brigid Kemmerer

I finished reading a great book called Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer last week. It was actually a recommendation from a brilliant writer – Sarah Ayoub (follow her on Facebook too).

Thicker Than Water is a paranormal YA but the paranormal stuff develops in the last third of the book which I found really interesting. Usually the paranormal stuff is kind of in your face right from the get go. The first two thirds of the book were about getting to know the characters on a really personal level. I think developing this connection, particularly with the main male character Thomas is pretty important; you’ll understand why when you read the book.

Oh and the emergence of the paranormal stuff was so well done – it had me really questioning the feelings I’d developed for Thomas in particular. Was he a good guy or had he fooled us?

Thicker Than Water is an easy read and is perfect for when you want something quick but engaging. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

The Destiny of Violet & Luke, by Jessica Sorensen

It’s book review time. Thanks to resident reader and reviewer Casey for her time and words. Today we are sharing another book from New York Times bestselling sensation Jessica Sorenson. You can read another review of Jessica’s work here.

violetThis is a nice, easy read that gains momentum as the book progresses. Whilst it contains its fair share of cliches, such as the bad boy who never falls in love, naturally falling in love with the messed up girl in school – it is still a lovely book that keeps the reader engaged and hoping that these two unlikely love birds find peace and happiness together.

This novel is the third book of the “Coincidence” series, but the reader can easily follow the storyline without having read the previous titles. However, I do know that I will be purchasing the following “Violet & Luke” books to see how this twisted love story pans out.


Buy your copy of The Destiny of Violet & Luke by Jessica Sorensen.

Book review – Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

I’m going to start this post by telling you that you really must read Lost & Found by Brooke Davis. You must. It is a profoundly beautiful book and you should get your hands on a copy and read it post-haste. Don’t wait. Buy it now.

It took me a little longer to read this book because, well, I found some of it a little emotional. Davis created characters that got under my skin. They are all, in some way, broken and when I read broken characters their innocence/naivety/resignation/soul crushing grief seems to stay with me for a long time. It’s almost like a well written book can cause a transference of emotions – Freaky Friday-style. I feel emotionally sodden afterwards. Spent. Exhausted. Good fictional characters make you feel these things.

I took a highlighter to this book so many times. I just didn’t want to forget the importance and beauty of some of this writing. Here are two of my favourites bits.

She sat on the bed and cupped her knees with her hands. How do you get old without letting sadness become everything? Her mother had been young once, with her easy limbs and pretty fingers, but then she had saddened, and shrunk.

Maybe when you let out your last breath, you let out everything, your memories and thoughts and things you wished you’d said and things you wished you didn’t say and the pictures in your head of hot coffee steam and the last look on your dad’s face and the feeling of mud between your fingers and the wind when you run down a hill and the colour of everything, ever.

Thank you Brooke Davis for giving the world this book. It is such an amazing gift.

Follow Brooke on Twitter.
Thanks to Hachette Australia Books for my copy.

The Vintage Book Of the Month Club

Another entry in the ‘wish I thought of that’ folder (and gee the folder is getting bigger) is this simple, but awesome idea called the Vintage Book Of the Month Club.

I can’t contain my excitement about it!

Every month you’re sent a gorgeous hardcover book that was written and/or copyrighted prior to 1970. You can choose different options – Non-Fiction for Him/Her, Fiction for Him/Her, Children’s Books or a mixture of all options.

Sound too good to be true? Get your subscriptions from Ms. Jeannie Ology.

The Forever of Ella and Micha – a review

What’s up paper nerds? January is over and done – how crazy is that. 2014 certainly got off to a feverish start (I threw in the feverish part because I’ve had a fever/chest infection for the last bajillion weeks – my pathetic attempt at witty humour).

Today I am so stoked to be sharing a book review written by resident reviewer Bec. You’ll be seeing a lot more book and magazine reviews from now on so yay!

The Forever of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorenson continues the impassioned modern day romance of Ella and Micha originally set out in The Secret of Ella and Micha. While reading the first book in a series is always recommended, Forever is able to stand well enough on its own, as it delves into the difficulties of maintaining a long distance relationship, with Ella pursuing education and Micha touring the country with his band.

Both Ella and Micha are real people – the people you see in a café, at school or on the bus. They are characters with their own sets of very real problems that they need to handle and accept.

Sorenson has dealt with some deep issues is this book, and as such I would recommend it for readers aged 18+.

It is a story that is desperate and hopeful; somber and sexy; heartbreaking and beautiful.

Want to read The Forever of Ella and Micha? Buy your copy now!

Bec is a full-time worker, a part-time student, a when-the-occasion-calls-for-it drama queen and a forever-and-always booklover. Her love affair with books began when she was 3, and she hasn’t been without a book in her hand since. She is also a self confessed nerd and she embraces that title with open arms. She is very excited to share her thoughts with you and hopes you enjoy!