Fury by Shirley MarrFury by Shirley Marr
Black Dog Books, 277 pages

Let me tell you my story.
Not just the facts I know you want to hear.
If I’m going to tell you my story,
I’m telling it my way.

Strap yourself in…

Eliza Boans has everything.
A big house.
A great education.
A bright future.

So why is she sitting in a police station confessing to murder?

If I can judge books by their cover (I know I can, I just don’t do that. Not too often, anyway), Fury by Shirley Marr is one book that I will judge positively. See that really gorgeous cover? I would’ve bought this book just for display on my shelf even if I don’t know if I will like it. I would even keep this book just for display even if I didn’t like it because the cover is just so morbidly beautiful. Don’t you think?

Actually, I don’t think I’d let this book go even so because it’s so hard to acquire — I had to ask my friend who flew to Australia to get my a copy because this is practically unavailable anywhere else. It is available from Fishpondworld, but it costs twice the normal paperback, too. It’s kind of a good thing I liked the book, so I won’t feel too guilty saving shelf space for its gorgeousness, and I feel like the price was pretty worth it.

Eliza Boans has everything: a huge house, great education and grades, and basically a bright future. Never mind that her hotshot lawyer mom (who deals with things besides insurance general) barely pays attention to her, or that she’s just really sick of everything in her life. Whatever Eliza wants, she can get — the perks of being born under privilege. So if she’s got everything and there is possibly nothing else she could ask for, why then would she commit murder?

At first glance, I thought this book is about some psychopath who just got bored about her life and decided to go on a killing spree. Other reviewers praised Eliza’s voice in the story, about how she seems to lack remorse and her wit and all that, so I was expecting to read about a girl who kills just because she had nothing else to do. But my expectations were far from the truth. Eliza is a witty narrator whose voice shines with authenticity, but even with that, I wasn’t sure if I would be friends with her. Come to think of it, I don’t think she’d even pick me as her friend, anyway, if I were one of the privileged students of Priory. She is without remorse for a reason, and despite knowing that what she did was wrong, as a reader I can’t help but sympathize.

The mystery behind Eliza’s confession and the things leading up to it unfurls gradually and naturally, and I was kept guessing to what exactly happened. For a moment there, I almost felt like I was Gossip Girl, being privy with the rich boys and girls’ lives, and seeing just how many things could go wrong with these things. I liked how each of Eliza’s friends were given enough spotlight but not too much that we know too much about them. I especially liked how the author built Eliza’s friendship with Neil — it was my favorite part of the book, and probably also the saddest, but it feels like there’s nothing else that can be done with it. I couldn’t connect with Eliza at first, when I wasn’t really sure what to make of her, but her honesty and loyalty won me over, making me want the best for ever even if I’m not sure what it is exactly.

Fury doesn’t really end in a happy note, if you’re looking for a happy ending. It leaves unanswered questions that readers are left to ponder. Books with an open ending are some of my favorite books because it leaves readers to imagine what could happen and to contemplate on what should happen based on their own beliefs and convictions.

This is my first Shirley Marr, but it will definitely not be my last. In fact, I’ve already asked my friend who’s going to Australia this month to get me a copy of her second book, Preloved. Ah the lengths readers go to get some books. :) I think Shirley Marr’s Fury will be a hit for readers who liked the friendships in Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall and the social hierarchies and complications of Courtney Summers’ Some Girls Are. It doesn’t have the drama or romance of the former nor the grit and intensity of the latter, but if those books are your thing, then Fury should be in your TBR pile. :)

Rating: [rating=4]

My copy: paperback, bought by a friend from Australia

Other reviews:
Back in the Midnight Garden
Book Harbinger


Pink by Lili WilkinsonPink by Lili Wilkinson
HarperCollins, 304 pages

Ava has a secret. She is tired of her ultracool attitude, ultra-radical politics, and ultrablack clothing. She’s ready to try something new—she’s even ready to be someone new. Someone who fits in, someone with a gorgeous boyfriend, someone who wears pink.

Transferring to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence is the perfect chance to try on a new identity. But just in case things don’t work out, Ava is hiding her new interests from her parents, and especially from her old girlfriend.

Secrets have a way of being hard to keep, though, and Ava finds that changing herself is more complicated than changing her wardrobe. Even getting involved in the school musical raises issues she never imagined. As she faces surprising choices and unforeseen consequences, Ava wonders if she will ever figure out who she really wants to be.

Humor, heart, and the joys of drama—on- and offstage—combine in Ava’s delight-fully colorful journey of self-discovery.

Ava is sixteen, and she has a secret. No, her secret is not that she’s gay and that she has a girlfriend. Her secret is this: she wants to be a normal girl. Ava is 16, and she has very liberal parents and she has an ultra-radical, ultra-feminist and ultra-cool girlfriend, Chloe, who she knows she loves. But Ava is tired of being ultra-cool and always wearing black. She wants to care about school. She wants to study. She wants to fit in. She wants to even try dating a guy. And, she wants to wear pink. So Ava works her butt off so she can get a scholarship to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence, so she can try to have a normal life without the knowledge of her girlfriend or her parents. She gets in, and she immediately wants to be a part of the popular crowd up until it was time for the audition for the school musical. Ava tried out for a part, but fails miserably, and ends up joining the stage crew, a group of “losers” according to the popular group. However, as Ava spends more time with her new friends — she is not even sure who are the real friends, if it’s with the stage crew or the popular kids — she finds it harder and harder to keep her secrets.

I have this weird compulsion to acquire pink things. Some people I know in real life are often amused at the number of pink things I own. Would you believe that even in acquiring a gadget, the availability of the color pink is a factor in my decision? :p I used to deny that my favorite color is pink because I thought it was too girly, but as I grew older I cannot deny the fact that I kept on gravitating towards that color. But that’s really not the reason why I wanted to read Pink by Lili Wilkinson. I borrowed this from my friend Celina after Chachic was done with it because I was curious with all the positive reviews that this book has been getting from other bloggers I know. That, and it was written by an Australian author, and based on experience, Australian YA books are always good reads. And so here we go.

I have to agree with almost everyone else that Pink was loads of fun. This book had all the ingredients of a typical contemporary novel: somewhat outrageous premise, popular and unpopular kids, parties and secrets, but I liked how the author made these elements more interesting with other details, such as the theater set up! I loved reading about Ava’s experiences as part of the stage crew. Back in high school, we used to produce stage plays for one class and I have always loved that time of the year when we had to do rehearsals, find costume and music and then stay up late in school to set up our stage and props and fix the music. I’ve never been one to want to be onstage — I tend to avoid that as much as possible. I love working backstage more. My favorite scenes in the book would have to be the ones when they were busy setting up the lights and their first run (their dress rehearsal, I think?), where Sam was in the main control room giving orders to everyone through their headsets. Our high school didn’t have that, but we had a main control room for the sounds, and I can remember how cool I felt when I wore a headset for a production for my church community with that scene.

I generally liked all of the characters, although I felt a bit lost with Ava. Ava was definitely confused, and I have to be patient with her at times because I have to remember she’s young and some stupid decisions are made when we do not know better. Some of her mistakes were not just stupid but downright mean, and I felt like sometimes I was just waiting for a car crash to happen. It’s not that I had a hard time connecting with Ava . I just wished she would not keep on swinging everywhere to please people and just try to look at what she wants. I also thought some of the characters felt a little bit cardboard, although they did gain more dimension in the end. And I know I was supposed to be on the Ava-Chloe team but Chloe really annoyed me with all her feminist/liberal/I’m-too-cool-for-these-things talk. Seriously? I had to sympathize with Ava there — it must be exhausting to keep up that kind of image if it does not come to you naturally.

I liked that the author did not go for a 100% happily ever after ending, although I felt like Ava did not really resolve all her own issues there. She seemed less confused in the end, but I’m afraid she ended up as one of those female protagonists that I would remember for that and not for her strength.

I also loved all the geeky Wikipedia talk, and the random facts that Sam blurts out in the conversations. This is a guy who would rather read than play Nintendo DS. I would definitely insert a character like that in my next novel. :P Despite my misgivings with some of the main character, I still thought Pink was still pretty entertaining read. And I’m not just saying that because my favorite color is pink. :)

Rating: [rating=3]

My copy: borrowed from Celina

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Steph Su Reads
Persnickety Snark
The Crooked Shelf

One Book, Two Book, Three Book, Four…and Five

I still have about four books left on my backlog of reviews (more to add soon, I think), but because I do not want to bore you all with just those posts, let’s do a combo breaker and answer this meme I got from Chachic, Janice, Angie and Nomes. :)

I should be writing my novel but you know how I love procrastinating sometimes? Maybe next year I should be a NaNoRebel and write a year’s worth of blog posts (or something like that) for NaNoWriMo. Hm.

The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey     Hallowed by Cynthia Hand     The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

1. Book I am currently reading:
The Curse of the Wendigo
by Rick Yancey. I was semi-bullied into reading this (haha, hi, Aaron and Tricia!), but if they did not do that, I probably would not have started reading this anytime soon. I really liked The Monstrumologist so jumping in to this one soon enough after reading that was actually a good idea because the characters were still fresh to me. So far this has been creepier than the first book, but also quite funny and sometimes heartwarming.

Also, Hallowed by Cynthia Hand (!!!). :) Got this from Netgalley and I’m reading it slow so I would get all the Tucker goodness. Seriously, if you ever read a paranormal romance novel ever again, pick Unearthly. It’s very, very good.

2. Last book I finished:
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. Thanks to Pinoy Book Tours for having this on hand and squeezing me in the tour. :D

Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos     Fury by Shirley Marr    Protection for Hire by Camy Tang

3. Next book I want to read:
Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos. I just got this my TBR, and it’s been calling out to me for a while. Hmm. Although I think I may have to read a classic novel to finish some challenges, but I really want something comforting amidst the novel writing stress. So let’s see. :)

4. Last book I bought:
Fury by Shirley Marr. My friend Katia went to Sydney last October and because we know Australian books are just awesome, I asked if she could get me a copy of this. And she found me one. :) Yay. As expected, it was expensive, but it’s not everyday I get to buy a book from Australia. :)

5. Last book I was given:
Protection for Hire by Camy Tang. Okay this one I got from Netgalley too, but since I am on the author’s street team (you should join it, too), I knew about this way back and was expecting to receive an ebook review for this. :) Plus, I got an email that Zondervan has auto-approved me as a reviewer in Netgalley. I’m not sure if everyone gets that, but it’s nice to get that email. :) I cannot wait to read Camy’s newest book.

The Piper’s Son

The Piper's Son by Melina MarchettaThe Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Number of pages: 336
My copy: US hardbound, ordered from Book Depository

The award-winning author of Finnikin of the Rock and Jellicoe Road pens a raw, compelling novel about a family’s hard-won healing on the other side of trauma.

Award-winning author Melina Marchetta reopens the story of the group of friends from her acclaimed novel Saving Francesca – but five years have passed, and now it’s Thomas Mackee who needs saving. After his favorite uncle was blown to bits on his way to work in a foreign city, Tom watched his family implode. He quit school and turned his back on his music and everyone that mattered, including the girl he can’t forget. Shooting for oblivion, he’s hit rock bottom, forced to live with his single, pregnant aunt, work at the Union pub with his former friends, and reckon with his grieving, alcoholic father. Tom’s in no shape to mend what’s broken. But what if no one else is either? An unflinching look at family, forgiveness, and the fierce inner workings of love and friendship, The Piper’s Son redefines what it means to go home again.

* * *

One of my favorite things to hear back during those high school graduation programs is the class prophecy. I think I heard my first class prophecy back in elementary, when our teacher read a prophecy of one batch for us. Then sometime during sophomore year in high school, I wrote an incomplete class prophecy on a whim, set about ten years later, one where I apparently lost contact with most of my high school friends and even crashed into my best friend’s car. And finally, during senior year, I was assigned to write our batch’s prophecy, which was kind of boring now that I remember it. Boring compared to the sort of morbid prophecy that the higher batch had before us, anyway.

But again, I love those things because it has that infinite feel to it. I can write practically anything about what our fortunes will be (and because it’s going to be read to everyone, I have to make sure all of us were successful, sort of). It had all those possibilities for all of us, giving all of us in the batch hope that we could all fulfill that prophecy that I had penned.

That’s what The Piper’s Son read like for me — a class prophecy. It’s been five years since Saving Francesca, and the little group that I have grown to love in that book has changed. Will is now an engineer in Singapore, and having a long-distance relationship with Frankie. Frankie’s parents are in Italy and she now works in a local pub with Justine. Siobhan is in England, Tara is in Timor, Jimmy is somewhere out there. And Tom. Tom Mackee is lost. Ever since his uncle died in a terrorist attack in London, Tom’s life had fallen apart. When he finally hit rock bottom, he finds himself living with his pregnant aunt Georgie, who’s also deep in her own grief. Tom is going to have to start picking his life back up again, but will the people he’s left behind be there to help him?

What can I say about The Piper’s Son that the other readers haven’t said yet? Once again, Marchetta shines in this book. This is one of the best spin-off novels I’ve read ever. Like I said, it reads like a class prophecy, so I was thrilled to read about what happened to my favorite group of fictional friends five years down the road. It wasn’t the same as my “we’re all so successful” prophecies though, because Tom is broken. And it’s with Tom that makes this book so heartbreakingly good. There were so many layers to him and his relationship with his family and friends. I think it was Aaron who once said that he had more personality than Will had in Saving Francesca, and it’s true. I liked that this book gave us a way to know him more than the smart-aleck seemingly bad guy character he had before.

To be honest, I had no idea where this book was going and a part of me keeps on wondering where. But I think the beauty of contemporary novels, especially that of Marchetta, is she makes even the most ordinary seem extraordinary. Tom’s days in the pub, his encoding work, his family, most especially his emails to his sister and Tara made this book so much more emotional than I expected. His aunt Georgie’s point of view also gave us a different perspective. It wasn’t opposing, but just different, and it gave a certain depth in the story that made us understand just how much they all lost when Joe Finch Mackee died in that explosion. Oh, but it’s not completely sad, though — there’s still humor, especially when the Tom and his friends banter, and even with their grudge on Tom’s abandonment, it’s clear that they all still care for one another. Oh, and the band scenes — they’re not really a serious, serious band like the ones who will know about fibracell reeds at wwbw, but I like that music brings them together. My favorite moments include the one with Lord of the Rings, Tom playing with Callum, the one with “I think we’re getting our Tom back”, and Tom telling Frankie to stop listening to the news. Oh, and of course, the reunion scene — I’ve been an inexplicable fool / A thousand times, yes. :)

I had to marinate on this book for a while before I decided on its final rating. It’s not exactly an easy read, especially with all the issues it tackled. Somehow, this made Saving Francesca seem like a sunshine-y happy book, even if it also tackled pretty serious issues. I guess it’s because Tom was dealing with harder ones, and being a guy, he handles it differently. But after a few days of thinking about it, I finally got to the point where the beauty of this novel has finally settled deep into my bones, and I am just in awe of how Marchetta can keep me thinking about her story and her characters long after I’ve finished reading. If that isn’t a sign of a great book, then I don’t know what is.

The Piper’s Son is not an easy book to read, but it’s one of those books that you’d want to read. Because a story such as this deserves to be read. It just wraps itself around your heart like that. If you’re off to read contemporary YA books, do yourself a favor and put Melina Marchetta high on your list. I promise you won’t regret it.

Rating: [rating=5]

2011 Challenge Status:
Required Reading – September

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Persnickety Snark


Want Books: Fury by Shirley Marr

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now.

I cannot remember where I first heard about this book I’m featuring this week, but I know I confused it one too many times with that other book with the same title and almost the same cover. Only, I knew it was the book’s blurb that got to me. I lost this book from my radar for a while until one of my Goodreads friends reviewed it. That’s when I understood why it was a bit hard to remember: not only is there another book with the same title, but there’s also another author with the same surname. Eeps. Anyway, my Goodreads friend sang praises to this novel, and that just really made me want this more.

Fury by Shirley MarrFury by Shirley Marr
Black Dog Books, Released May 1st 2010

Let me tell you my story.
Not just the facts I know you want to hear.
If I’m going to tell you my story,
I’m telling it my way.

Strap yourself in…

Eliza Boans has everything.
A big house.
A great education.
A bright future.

So why is she sitting in a police station confessing to murder?

How intriguing, right? This is Aussie YA fiction, and you know what they say about Aussie YA books.

Anyway, I checked Book Depository for this, but it’s currently unavailable, and I haven’t spotted a copy of this anywhere yet…so it may take some time before I get this. Unless someone would be nice enough to send me a copy. *bats eyelashes*

Oh well. I don’t know if that begging works, but I can still wait. I’m pretty sure I’ll stumble over this book sometime when I’m not expecting it. :D In the meantime, I’ll content myself with reading this short Fury reader sample.