Mini Reviews: Crazy Guys and Artists in Cherry Blossom Dreams

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

24500090The Guy, The Girl, The Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams
Released: 1st April 2015
Published by: Allen and Unwin
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 256
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Dymocks | Bookworld
A rock chick.

An artist with attitude.

A girl with a past.

A party animal.

Four lives collide when one of the world's most famous paintings is stolen. It's a mystery that has the nation talking, but while Picasso's Weeping Woman might be absent from the walls of the National Gallery, in other parts of Melbourne the controversial painting's presence is being felt by Guy, Rafi, Luke and Penny for four very different reasons. Life, love, art and one giant party intersect in this offbeat comedy about good intentions, unexpected consequences and the irresistible force of true love.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

I'm usually quite the fan of these charming YA novels with an almost eclectic mix of characters, and The Guy The Girl The Artist and His Ex definitely delivers on creativity. This is a book which takes the mystery surrounding a stolen artwork, and uses it to showcase how different people can be affected by one event in a myriad of ways. Guy, Rafi, Luke and Penny all have their own struggles to bear in their flawed selves, though ultimately develop as people throughout the story.

The only other book I can recall that deals with an art-focus and its power is I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson which I really loved. Though in the case of this book I couldn't engage with it as well in the beginning, I did find that in the end I warmed up to these kindred spirits. The comedy in throughout and lighthearted tone interspersed with an exploration of the self added an extra dimension which added some depth. Each character has their own perspectives, though when they come together it really is quite clever. So in the end, while they were somewhat stereotypical archetypes, this cleverly crafted book did for the most part win me over.


While not as moving as I'd hoped, The Guy The Girl The Artist and His Ex is a book that will make you think, and is satisfying when it all comes together. 

25209519Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy
Released: 23rd April 2015
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 656
My Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists! Darren hasn't had an easy year. There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing. Then one Thursday morning Darren's dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.

Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy's debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is: 1. painful 2. unavoidable 3. ridiculously complicated 4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

This year seems to have heralded the age of YA with unique formatting coming through - telling stories in ways which pushes the envelope and is unconventional. Me Being Me (as the book will be referred to in this review since the whole title is a mouthful) is told entirely in lists and provides insight into the life of Darren - a fifteen year old teenage boy dealing with the bumps in the road which life offers. His teenage drama is outlined within the 600+ pages of this book, though there are some more serious issues of acceptance and finding your way which come through as well.

I can't say I've ever read anything told like this before, and it was refreshing at the start to have a novel told so uniquely. Lists are something which don't mess about and tell it like it is, getting to the point. Or so you would think. Okay, so most of the book has lists which yes, give insight into how Darren is feeling when the big 'bombshell' is dropped and his world is seemingly falling apart. However, there did come a point where I did long for an opportunity to really delve into his character further and find him more likable. 

His general attitude and passive-agressiveness, and tendency to just have an instant attraction to one girl before falling for another was a bit of a turn off, and there were some explanations lacking as to some of the secondary characters and his choices which I wanted. 


This is a YA contemporary told unlike many others which was a big plus, and the concise writing style makes for a relatively quick read when you take out some of the boring bits in the middle. 

24737368Cherry Blossom Dreams by Gwyneth Rees
Released: 4th June 2015
Published by: Bloomsbury
Genre: MG Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 272
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Goodreads | Dymocks | Bookworld
Sometimes, something happens in your life that changes everything. When Sasha was six, her dad died suddenly and the world changed forever. Now she's twelve, it feels like things are changing all the time: her twin brother hardly talks to her any more, her mum's dating a teacher from school, her best friend Lily keeps going on about boys ... and Sasha doesn't feel ready for any of it. Why can't things just stay the same?

The one place she can escape is Blossom House, her secret place – an old, echoey, overgrown, beautiful, empty mansion, where the only thing that changes is the weather and the flowers in the garden. There's just one problem: it isn't hers. And even a house can have secrets ...
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Cherry Blossom Dreams is a light and fun read, which middle graders should enjoy. This is a book that for older readers, is easy to skim read - though there are still some lessons which everyone can take out. Sasha is dealing with the tween issues of family situation changes, friendships shifting and of course, crushes coming into the picture. Told from the perspective of a twelve year old girl, be prepared for things that may seem melodramatic, but in the end there is a good message at heart. 

If you've read books like Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan, you'll get to see how the style is quite similar - light, simple prose with a few big events, and denouement where supposedly everything works out. In this case, the plot was admittedly predictable, but even so - the fact that there were some moral lessons did save it for me. This is about the mushy, 'cheesy stuff' like mending friendships, finding your own identity, accepting change and adapting to new situations with an open mind. Sasha was for the most part a character who thought things through and saw things with her own eyes - not just those of the people around her. 


Cherry Blossom Dreams is a delightful story of one girl's coming of age as she straddles the line between childhood and the whole new experience of being a teenager. While I'm not the target audience, I can see the appeal to those who are - and I think there are many younger readers out there who will relate to and enjoy this. 


  1. Gosh I'm so insanely jealous! How do you posses this amaxing ability to be able to read so darn fast?? Gracious. Teehee I'm digging the cover in all of these boois and hope you had a lot of fun with them girl!♡♡

    1. Haha once I get out of a reading slump *then* actually write all the reviews, this is what happens! I like the covers too, they all have a unique charm :)

  2. Yeah, Gabrielle Williams' book was a bit...hard to connect with. SO CLEVER THOUGH. And I kind of accidentally DNF'd Me Being Me after about 40 pages because I just hated it so much. Oops O_O

    1. It was clever! And that was the redeeming quality I think, I love it when it all weaves together.


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