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The Ghosts of Ashbury High (2009)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Publisher: Scohlastic Inc.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 480 (hardcover)
Series: Ashbury/Brookfield #4

Summary (from )

Why I Read It: Next in a series. I'm all caught up in this series now. Yay!!

REVIEW: no spoilersCollapse )

Final Verdict: I loved this installment in the Ashbury/Brookfield series. I've read on Moriarty's website that this is going to be the last one for awhile (she's apparently planning on publishing a trilogy) which makes me sad, but at least she finished off with a bang, because this book was gothically delicious. Moriarty once again balances humour with heavy subject matter and does so in a totally unique way. Even if you're not a connoisseur of gothic fiction, the gothic elements in this book were so well done (and a lot of times funny) that I didn't need to be. Also worth noting is that this book may be the fourth installment in a series, but it can be read on its own (like the rest of the series) so even if you haven't read the others, don't let that stop you from picking this up.

Cover Commentary: I remember this first came out (when I knew nothing about the Ashbury/Brookfield series) and I thought it was uggglllyyy. And I also thought that it was a paranormal romance for some reason (the ghost part of the title I guess) which turned me off immediately. I think I read the blurb, but it obviously didn't tell me much because my belief that it was a PNR persisted until I looked into Moriarty's work. I like the Australian cover and and title more on an aesthetic level, but I don't think it gets the gothic elements that are prevalent in the novel across as well as the uglier US/CAN edition does.
books x 4
The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie (2006)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Epistolary, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 491 (trade paperback)
Series: Ashbury/Brookfield #3

Summary (from )

Why I Read It: Next in a series. I'm trying to read all the series that I've started in recent years as I have a nasty habit of reading the first boo in a series, loving it, and then not getting back to it for ages.

Beware of spoilers in this review. This book has a REALLY odd twist and I just need to talk about it!!

REVIEW: spoilersCollapse )

Final Verdict: This was my least favourite book of the Ashbury/Brookfield series thus far, but there's still a lot to like. Yeah, Bindy's initially an annoying character, but I could never take her completely seriously anyway, so she didn't seem that bad to me. The story itself seems like your typical "Annoying Person Learns a Life Lesson", and it IS that, but then ends up being something COMPLETELY different by the end. All the clues are there, but the ending still felt like it came out nowhere, which is still baffling me. I liked it okay, but it was WEIRD. I also wish this novel had been trimmed up a bit. There are some bits that are obviously important and needed to be there (even if they didn't seem important initially) but there was so much that felt like extra. Regardless, this was a good book and I can't wait to read the next book in the Ashbury/Brookfield series.

Cover Commentary: This cover matches the one for The Year of Secret Assignments, and I'm just not crazy about them. I love that there's a series of covers that feature fruit, and I keep mentioning them: this volume features a cherry. As I've mentioned before, these covers have NOTHING to do with the series at all, but aesthetically I think they're adorable.
books x 4
The Year of Secret Assignments (AUS 2003 / NA 2005)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Epistolary, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 340 (trade paperback)
Series: Ashbury/Brookfield #2

Summary (from back cover of the book)Collapse )

Why I Read It: I thought Feeling Sorry For Celia was hilarious and endeavoured to read the rest of Moriarty's books sent in Ashbury and Brookfield. I'll try to remain spoiler-free in this review, but there are some things that toe the line, so if you're paranoid, just skip to Final Verdict:.

REVIEW: possible minor spoilersCollapse )

Final Verdict: Moriarty has once again written an amazing epistolary novel (that makes me forget my hang-ups with epistolary novels) that balances humour and serious issues perfectly. The main characters were quirky, ridiculous, but completely lovable and I wanted to be a part of their wonderful little clique because their friendship was so enviable. This wasn't quite as funny as Feeling Sorry For Celia, but that book set the bar quite high, to be honest. Even if you haven't read Feeling Sorry For Celia, don't hesitate picking this up -- the book stands perfectly find on its own.

Cover Commentary: Mehh. I remember first seeing this book YEARS AND YEARS ago at Chapters when I first started working there and it (along with The Life/Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, the third book in the series) were super cheap, like $2 or something, and I didn't buy them because I didn't like the covers!! AND NOW I'M SO SAD!! I COULD HAVE HAD THEM IN HARDCOVER FOR SO CHEAP!! *sigh* I like this fruity one much more, and it matches the lemon one from Feeling Sorry For Celia (though fruit have nothing to do with either novel at all.. I'm speaking purely aesthetically here.)

Moriarty, Jaclyn: Feeling Sorry For Celia

books x 4
Feeling Sorry For Celia (2000)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 288 (trade paperback)
Series: Brookefield/Ashbury #1

Summary (from )

Why I Read It: I was perusing a "Best Australian YA" list a few weeks (maybe months) ago and this title was near the top. I've heard of some of Moriarty's other books but I've never paid much attention. However, since I've discovered that Australian YA is the best thing since sliced bread, I decided to check this one out. Awesomely it was at World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto in the Bargain section for only $4.99. So I snatched it up during my Reading Week and ended up reading it very shortly after because I ran out of stuff to read while at Jacob's anyway.

REVIEW: no spoilersCollapse )

Final Verdict: I loved this book. It was laugh-out-loud funny, but it was also sad (without feeling contrived), and it had lots of warm-and-fuzzy moments as well. I don't have much experience with epistolary novels, but I found that the style worked wonderfully for this novel and despite the confinements of it, all the characters felt developed and like very real, quirky people. Even though the other books in this series doesn't follow the same characters, I'm still so very excited to read the other books in this series.

Cover Commentary: The cover pictured above is the edition I own, and while I appreciate that I got it for so cheap I still can't get over how ugly it is. I hate that shade of pink with that shade of green -- it's a little too much for me. Also, and this is going to sound weird, I don't really like feet, so I'm none too fond of the ones pictured on this cover either. I'm much more a fan of this cover (even though it has feet on it too :P), or even this, though I don't really remember lemons having anything to do with the story; it IS very colourful though, and I like that.


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