Saturday, 7 March 2009
For Charlie, having a parking fairy is worse than having nothing at all - especially since she's not old enough to drive. Enter The Plan: swap fairies with her archenemy! But Charlie discovers that you ought to be careful what you wish for - and she'll have to resort to extraordinary measures to set things right.From the author of the acclaimed Magic or Madness trilogy, this is a delightful story of friendships, fairies, and figuring out how to make your own magic.
Review - I admit to having many preconceptions prior to reading this book based on the title, the cover art and the blurb. I thought the fairy would be a corporeal being, one that Charlie would interact with. There wasn't and I think I was mourning the loss of it throughout.
Charlie is a pretty self-centred, sports-driven fourteen year old who's trying desperately to ditch her car parking fairy. You see, in New Avalon everyone has a fairy that manages one specific need or skill. This is a very interesting town where they are scarily insular, not thinking outside their city's boundaries, worshipping those without talent and attending sports specific schools. (I think there might be some societal commentary there lol).
The entire plot requires you to sympathise with Charlie's predicament. I didn't. I don't think she really had it all that bad. On the other hand, Fioreze does - a fairy that attracts all like aged males is in a scary predicament. This is the first Larbalestier novel I have read and I am impressed with her style; the plot moved quickly, had a deft touch and hefty doses of humour. But I was ambivalent and sometimes annoyed with Charlie and that was an issue. (I am very willing to chalk that up to my age, rather than JL's writing). I think some great concepts were integrated, that being too focused on your goals can have positive and negative connatations.
I had some problems with all the kid snatching - Danvers would have had a restraining order on him so quick his head spun in real life. The aggresive means in which the guys would approach Fioreze and then Charlie also troubled me but I do think it was supposed to. Fairies possess amazing powers. I think there are many concepts in this tale that sometimes bog down the flow but it is an entertaining read.
I love the use of an alternate universe setting and would to have seen some expansion upon it. In my interview with Larbalestier this week, she said that she was finished with New Avalon so a sequel does not look like likely. The vocabulary of New Avalon was interesting too, I have always had an affinity for aged language and we see that with words like pulchritudinous peppered throughout the dialogue. It took me awhile to adjust to it but it definiely added to the feel of the narrative.
How to Ditch Your Fairy is an interesting look at an insular, magical society combined with the selfish wants of a teen. Humour is prevalent and it's definitely worth checking out!>
AYA featured HTDYF this week, there you can find; a Justine Larbalestier interview, the AYA ReviewChat and other features. Coming soon ... Charlotte McConaghy's Arrival.
Published: March 2009
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Publishers: Allen and Unwin, Australia
Friday, 6 March 2009
In my new book Something More, out at the end of the month, the main character, Isla has a ‘Custard Pie’ Theory.
(Thanks for the idea all those years ago, Brian).
Literally it’s this: Just when you’re dressed to the nines and feeling super good about yourself, someone will rush at you from the wings with a custard pie.
Unlikely-unless you know some odd people.
Metaphorically speaking the CPT can be applied to any situation and you can easily Custard Pie yourself.
Isn’t it just another name for Murphy’s Law or Sod’s Law? I hear you ask.
Yes, it’s similar but there’s one important difference:
With CPT there’s always the element of someone being put back in their place or taken down a peg or two. Usually that someone is me.
I have been storing delicious samples of custard pie in the freezer for years.
I was just trying to squash this one in there too, but thought instead I’d share it with you.
As I don’t write full-time I always find it difficult to think of myself as a writer. Just yesterday I met a friend for lunch. Her mother -who I haven’t seen for years – was with her. She was on holiday from Melbourne. She has a very thick European accent.
At one point she was telling me she once worked in a library and then I sort of lost the thread for a second before I heard her say ‘and I just so happy I get to meet a real writer.’
‘Oh, who was it?’ I asked, excited by the possibilities.
They both looked at me and laughed.
‘She means you,’ my friend said.
I was quite disappointed.
Anyway, what I’m saying is that if you usually don’t think of yourself as a writer and have a job that’s got nothing to do with writing, it’s a really great feeling to come home one day and receive the very first copy of your new book.
This happened to me last week. I opened it with trembling fingers, hugged it, ran to the fridge and poured a glass of wine and sat there like Miss Author of the Year. But no one was home and pretty soon waving it in front of the dog wasn’t enough.
So I turned on my computer and clicked on ‘photo booth’ a program that lets you take pictures of yourself. I held the book up to the camera and took the shot.
It was ready in an instant but you could only see the book. That wouldn’t do. My face had to be there. I was the writer. So I did it again. I looked terrible, so I went off to the bathroom, put some eyeliner on and fixed up my hair.
Then I took the photo again. It looked okay but I was the celebrating author, I should have been holding the wine too.
I tried again, and again and again until finally I got one that I liked. I copied it into an email to all my family in Scotland and to anyone else I thought might be even half interested.
Then I waited for the onslaught of electronic congratulations.
The first one arrived. It was succinct. ‘What the hell is it called?’
I went back and looked at the photo I’d sent to everyone to show off my new book.
LMAO! Thank you so much Mo for your great debut into blogging! I think it's only fair that we now all share our custard pie moments...anyone?
Thursday, 5 March 2009
What made you decide to write from a male teen perspective?
Several things really. The fact that I was teaching in an all boys’ college was a major influence on Boofheads. I wanted to write a book about friendship from a male perspective. I think there are a lot of books out there about friendship for girls but not so many for boys.
In addition my only child is a boy who has grown up with twin mates since they were three. Many of my friends have sons and my sister has two boys. I seem to be around males a lot.
What were the main challenges in writing in that voice?
Keeping Tommo’s thoughts masculine but still sounding sensitive to suit his characteristics. His dialogue was easy for me. His thoughts were much harder because though he is a fairly sensitive, thoughtful boy but he couldn’t be allowed to express his thoughts in a way that was too emotional. Fortunately my editor, Sue Whiting kept me right there.
There aren't many YA books that I have read that feature the relationship between a teenage boy and his mother. What was your motivation in having Tom and his mother's interactions be key to the narrative?
I didn’t do this deliberately at all. It just happened. I wrote the kind of relationship I’d like to have with a teenage son but tried to be realistic about how each character’s flaws would impact on this.
She’s not very maternal and quite selfish when it comes to having her own space. He thinks he knows it all. But they share a lovely sense of humour and respect, and when push comes to shove, her role is very defined in the relationship. She is never tempted to be his friend first and a mother second. She’s always his MUM! In the end this is exactly what he needs from her. She’s an atypical mum whose balance of indulgence and authority have raised a smart alec who still needs his mum in the end.
What has been the reaction of your former students to the novel?
‘Am I in there?’
‘Can I be in the next one?’
‘That was really good.’
‘That was funny.’
And a general sense of shock that their year coordinator to whom they were reported for sometimes using bad language had used bad language.
There is a party scene where Tom has to make a choice - what motivated that scene and how difficult was it to write?
The whole party scene was motivated by my experience that boys that age often make split second decisions. The consequences are often entirely based on luck. They make these decisions under the influence of drugs or alcohol for the dumbest reasons. The party scene was a combination of wrong and right decisions being made by people who were really all quite good at heart. Even the 20 year-olds were just young silly guys propelled by drink and peer pressure. Nothing too drastic happens just like at most teenage parties today, but it could have.
The hardest part about the series of scenes that made up the party was getting location right in my head. I had to rewrite the rose garden scene several times because the garden kept changing in my head.
When you were a teen, would you have been interested in Tommo, Ed or Casey?
Definitely Ed. The boys on the cover were actually three boys whom I’ve never met but were neighbours of my editor. Turns out one of their mothers taught my son in Year 3. I digress but those models were exactly right for the characters. The colour shots of them were fantastic. I would be in love with all three of them if I was a teenager again. In my head, as you look at the cover, Ed’s on the left, Tommo has the direct gaze in the middle and Casey is on the right.
As their adult ‘mother’, I don’t worry about Ed. I think he’ll be a great adult. I am excited to think about what Tommo might go on to do with his life. He has so much potential as a leader. Casey worries me. I fear he may become a tragic statistic some day but I think if he gets through his early 20s he’ll be fine.
What is your next project?
Something More will be released on March 31st. It’s # 11 in A&U’s Girlfriend Fiction series.
I have a picture book called Noah’s Garden coming out with Walker Books later this year or early next.
My next YA novel is called the Coast Watcher. I’ll be working more on that later in the year when I take up the May Gibbs Children’s Literature trust fellowship in Brisbane in October.
In between writing short books and articles for the Education Press I am currently writing the biography of Olympic and Commonwealth marathon runner Kerryn McCann, who died of cancer last December. Kerryn was my friend and we had been working on the book for several months before she died.
So the deal is I list five things I am addicted or obsessed with...
1. Diet Coke - it's manna from the gods and the sustenance which keeps me alive. I even suspect that were you to take a blood sample, a brown fizzy liquid would be dispensed instead.
2. Gmail - I check too many times a day. I love seeing Alexa, Beth or Gayle's names zing up in the inbox. Or a note to say someone commented on P Snark. Or that a publisher is sending me some books. It's the ultimate narcissistic experience.
3. Josh Jackson - Charlie from Mighty Ducks / Pacey from Dawson's Creek / Peter on Fringe - nuff said.
4. Books - hello I have a book review blog. Particular sources of obsession are currently Jenn Echols and Penguin's new classics range with the embossed covers - I want some of them bad.
5. Inari - David Jones' (a department store) basement, sweet rice parcels of absolute delight!
Now I need to pass on the fabulousness:
2. Just Listen
3. Look at that Book
4. My Favourite Books
5. Gayle Forman
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Author: Charlotte McCononaghy
Teaser 1 -
"Well, Harry, you haven't answered my question - what are you doing in my bedchamber in the middle of the night?" demanded Satine.
Teaser 2 -
"You must leave here at once - they'll kill you if they find you!" she exclaimed."
How could I say no?
She's an amazing ambassador for the UK, friend to the magnificent Karen Mahoney and all round blogtastic individual. Adele's Guest Blog
As some of you may know, there are a few Aussie bloggers in the YA blogosphere. What we don't have in numbers, we make up with fabulous good looks!
Allie (Just Listen), Lisa (Look at that Book) and I have formed the Aussie YA Alliance to draw attention to Aussie YA authors and Australian releases. It's with great honour that I announce our official launch today with a great Justine Larbalestier interview. We are celebrating Justine and her new release, How To Ditch Your Fairy, in Australia all this week. We have the interview, a character profile, quotes, cover discussion and the AYA ReviewChat!
This is the first of many authors and books that we will bring to your attention, so become a follower!
Monday, 2 March 2009
Niya Moto is the only one-legged Samurai kid in Japan, famous for falling flat on his face in the dirt. None of the samurai schools will teach crippled Niya, until an offer arrives from the legendary samurai warrior Ki-Yaga, sensei of the Cockroach Ryu. Together with the other Cockroaches, Niya must defeat the fierce Dragon Ryu at the Samurai Trainee Games.
Review - So this is my second Middle Grade review ever and I have been trying to keep these one's shorter. Wish me luck! Of all the novels I have received in the past two months, this one got the greatest reaction from my class. The combination of the Samurai theme with the amazing artistry seemed to immediately capture their imaginations.
Sandy Fussell is an author with the talent of simplicity. She is deceptively descriptive as she paints images so effectively that kids access their imagination while not being overwhelmed by verbose, flowery sentences that so many authors use.
Samurai Kids: White Crane is the first novel of a series that follows the adventures of a group of kids studying to be Samurais under the tutelage of Ki-Yaga, a wizened and tough Mr Miagi type. Each of the students face hardship; whether missing a limb, blindness, fear or the absence of skin pigment (yes there is an albino character). This had the makings of being a cliche but it wasn't at all. None of the characters are self-pitying, each are continually encouraged by their teacher and one another that they can achieve anything. I think this is a great message for young readers. At no point is it clunky or preachy, I think this is why it's reached its targeted audience so effectively.
Of course there is plenty of adventure, sword play and the Trainee Games to keep your interest. Fussell's created a strong world, she's obviously spent significant time researching the way of the Samurai. She effectively shares that knowledge in a way kids (and myself) can process while integrating it clearly and strongly into the narrative.
I would like to make special mention of Rhian Nest James' beautiful artwork that favours the cover and many pages of this novel. They fit the novel so well as they too are deceptively simple while conveying meaning. I especially love the sidebars that grace each chapter's beginning.
Young readers will really enjoy the exploits of the Samurai Kids!
Format: Paperback, 252 pages
Publisher: Walker Books
_ _ _
Sandy Fussell's Website
Sandy Fussell's Blog - brand new!!
The Samurai Kids Website - really amazing as Sandy's a computer whizz
You wear bright jumpers,
You are hirsute.
But I don’t care,
You’re awfully cute!
Sophomore Undercover’s out this week
Though I haven’t got my hands on it just yet.
Your blogs are funny, your cat jokes suck
But your book’s fantastic I am willing to bet.
Your jokes may be lame,
As does this rhyme.
But best wishes for your debut,
I’ll get it in good time.
1. Which book is memorable from your teen years?
The Go Between by LP Hartley. I was just caught up in that book. I still feel a myriad of emotions when I read it. And oh how I wish I’d written the opening line: "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."
2. Describe your high school English teacher in three words...
I had six high school English teachers so to answer your question I found myself thinking about the one who inspired me most in Year 10 and I cannot remember her name but see her clearly in my mind’s eye as a ‘silver haired bun’.
3. Your book of the moment?
Tamar by Mal Peet.
4. What do you use to mark your page when reading?
I’m a dog earer.
5. Favourite place to read?
In bed, when it’s raining, with a bowl of mashed potatoes and a glass of wine.
6. Favourite word?
Ethereal or Inscrutable, neither of which apply to me, unfortunately.
7. Favourite book store?
Meg Ryan’s ‘Shop Around the Corner’ in the movie You Got Mail. In real life it’s Bloomin’ Books at Caringbah, Sydney because it’s totally dedicated to Children or Lesley McKay’s Woollahra, Sydney because they have a really inviting children’s section where you just want to stay all day.
8. Character you wish you had created?
This is so hard. I would change my mind on this every day but I’d always consider Hairy MacLary or Alex Rider from children’s fiction or Bridget Jones or Jack Reacher from adult fiction.
Bonus Question: Which Aussie-ism completely boggled your mind when you first arrived from Scotland?
‘Bring a plate.’ The first time I was asked to a BBQ the invite said ‘BYO chair, alcohol and plate’. The first two I could almost understand but then I thought, if the people throwing this party are short of crockery and can’t solve the problem by buying paper plates, they’ve no business having a BBQ.
When my Aussie husband explained what it actually meant, I found myself wishing my first idea had been right. I thought the whole idea of going somewhere else for dinner was that you got a night off cooking.
After 18 years in Oz, I quite like the ‘bring a plate’ thing. It means you can invite more people and share the load. It’s especially good if any of the guests have a special dish that everyone loves.
Boofheads may be released in the US later as it is currently under consideration with Candlewick Press, I think if they are smart they'll sign Mo quick smart. Boofheads is released in Australia by the awesome folks at Walker Books.
Mo Johnson's Website - http://www.mojohnson.com.au/
Sunday, 1 March 2009
I haven't compiled a wish list for this blog before. Having found some issues with getting American published works, I thought I would put my list out there on the internet and see if the Book Gods would be my friend.
Two-way Street / Lauren Barnholdt
The Comeback Season / Jennifer E Smith
Hate List / Jennifer Brown
20 Boy Summer / Sarah Ockler
Something, Maybe / Elizabeth Scott
Wintergirls / Laurie Halse Anderson
A Map of the Known World / Lisa Ann Sandell
A Match Made In High School / Kristin Walker
Tempo Change / Barbara Hall
Front and Centre / Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Even if this turns out to be a huge fail, at least I have a list of the books I want. I usually forget.
Allie (Just Listen), Lisa (Look at that Book) and I united to create the AYA: Aussie YA Alliance. A place where we could channel our Australian pride in all areas of YA literature. We are about to launch the blog properly from tomorrow with a focus on Justine Larbalestier's How To Ditch Your Fairy (kindly supported by Allen and Unwin). We will be posting our reviews, having Justine over for a chat and host a HTDYF book club throughout the week. Make sure you follow the blog so as to keep updated. We have lots of great ideas that have been in the works for a month now and we would love for you to be involved.
I started the Soundtrack Saturday meme which has started slowly. Thanks to Carrie, Renay, Jordyn, Lenore and Jenny for jumping on board. Hopefully more will too. I love hearing about how music relates to a book, it makes me want to read it immediately.
Vampire Academy / Richelle Mead
Crossing the Line / Dianne Bates
Going Too Far - Jennifer Echols
Frenemies - Alexa Young
Red: Teenage Girls in America Write What Fires Up ...
Paper Towns - John Green
Cracked Up To Be / Courtney Summers
Boofheads - Mo Johnson
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side / Beth ...
3 Willows / Ann Brashares
Guest Blog: Beth Fantaskey
Guest Blog: Karen Tayleur
Reader's Snapshot - Beth Fantaskey
Reader's Snapshot - Karen Tayleur
Interview - Karen Tayleur
Interview - Beth Fantaskey
Video: ALA Advising Award Recipients
Coming in March...
Author Spotlights with Australian authors Sue Lawson and Mo Johnson, Cassandra Clare, Gayle Forman and Alexa Young.
How To Ditch Your Fairy - Justine Larbalestier
I am sixty pages in and trying to finish this afternoon for the AYA meeting. We are interviewing Justine this Tuesday so if you have any questions email in!
At New Avalon, everyone has a personal fairy - some less desirable than others: Charlie's fairy ensures that she always has a car park, which seems to pale in comparison to Fiorenze's all-the-boys-like-you fairy. Hilarious, original, enchanting, this is urban teenage humour at its best.
Charlie, having a parking fairy is worse than having nothing at all - especially since she's not old enough to drive. Enter The Plan: swap fairies with her archenemy!
But Charlie discovers that you ought to be careful what you wish for - and she'll have to resort to extraordinary measures to set things right.
City of Glass Manuscript - Cassandra Clare
To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that enter-ing the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.I want to read this bad. But the manuscript is large, floppy and generally unwieldy. I will conquer it.
As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?
Arrival - Charlotte McConaghy
“There will come a time when greatness is needed. Strength, passion… goodness. For in the land of Paragor an oppressor travels closer. Four is the sacred number, and it is only by looking beyond ourselves that we will find salvation, and only through love that we will defeat the darkness that threatens to consume us forever&hellip”— Words of the Great OneCharlotte is a teenager who's debut novel, Arrival, is being released next month. She started writing this when she was sixteen and I am amazed. When did she have time to study? Not only that, this is the first of a series...gobsmacked.
It has been foretold. Two worlds will collide when six mortals from Earth enter Paragor
through a portal. They will face forces of terrifying darkness.
Their journey will become the stuff of legends.
It is time.
Beastly - Alex Flinn
I am a beast.You might have noticed that I am trying to read more novels with a male protagonist or author. I am trying to spice it up. I suspect I will love or despise this one.
A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's
no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell
you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.
Major Crush - Jennifer Echols
Tired of the beauty-pageant circuit, Virginia Sauter tosses her tiara, pierces her nose, and auditions for the most unlikely of roles--drum major of the high school marching band.Ahh Jenn - bliss.
Virginia wins, but is forced to share the title with Drew, whose family has held the position for generations. Sure, Drew is hot, but because of his superior attitude, he and Virginia are constantly arguing. That is, until they share more than just their half-time salute...
But as the drum majors' heated competition turns to sizzling romance, explosive rumors threaten everything--including the band's success. Love seemed to be a sure hit, but Virginia and Drew may be marching straight into disaster.
IMM was created by the delightful Story Siren.