Saturday, 11 April 2009
Sarah, Vania and I were speaking about how many books we carry on us at one time. I thought it would be cool to show what I have on me right now (of course I stacked them better). Sort of a twist on the bookcase photo postings.
The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) - need to plan a unit on it for my English class
Locket of Dreams(Belinda Murrell) - just received it to review
The Good Daughter(Amra Pajalic) - been waiting for this Aussie novel for awhile, very excited.
Just Listen (Sarah Dessen) - I always have a SD book on me due to The Sarah Dessen Diarist, Just Listen is my fave and the book of the moment.
The Enemy (Charlie Higson) - the Penguin girls have been prodding me on this one, they love it.
My Extraordinary Life and Death (Doug MacLeod) - just received to review
13 Blue Envelopes (Maureen Johnson) - complete with postcard bookmark, it's my book of the moment.
What do you have? Why do you have it? Who carries the most (threatening the well being of their spine)?
As she settles in‚ Bianca′s sense of unease grows. Her classmates are impossibly perfect‚ her teachers are slightly sinister‚ and the new boy‚ Lucas‚ continues to send out mixed signals. Is he attracted to her or not? Meanwhile‚ another classmate‚ Balthazar‚ is definitely interested ... and he′s totally gorgeous!
Things come to a horrifying climax on the night of the Autumn Ball‚ where Bianca makes a shocking discovery about herself and her feelings for Lucas that will affect their lives forever.
Review - I thought I had this novel pegged from the beginning and then BAM, what I thought was true was flipped. I was duly impressed from that moment on and it assist me in overlooking some of the more cliched developments. One quibble would be Bianca's labelling of herself as 'shy' yet that instantly disappears in Lucas' company. I never buy that for an instant in any literature.
You are expected to buy into the love that develops between Lucas and Bianca and I did to a degree, but it was impeded by two aspects - 1) swift falling in love where the basis of adoration isn't really established (typical of YA) and 2) Balthazar. I really like Lucas, he's complex, flawed and the kissing scenes were delightful but I am intrigued by good old Balty. I wanted to see more of him and was disappointed when Bianca didn't give him a chance. What can I say? I am a sucker for those with a bad case of unrequited love (or Pacey Syndrome as I choose to call it.)
It's a fresh take on a genre that is swiftly becoming stale. I loved the concept that Evernight Academy was established to help teen vampires keep up with the technological advancements of society. (Ranulf's adamant conviction that there are spirits trapped in iPods was hilarious). More than anything I respect the fact that Gray has presented a star crossed couple but provided an equally attractive and respected third to their triangle. All characters are well rounded and their actions are understandable. I am waiting on tenterhooks for the release of Stargazer in the next few months.
Published: March 2009
Format: Paperback, 327 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins Aust.
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Claudia Gray's Official Website
Friday, 10 April 2009
But at the heart of the novel is Tom's close friendship with fellow school-leaver Cain, a compelling enigma who becomes increasingly unpredictable as he follows his impulses down a path towards self destruction.
Review - I was very excited to get my hands on this book as I have enjoyed delving into male protagonist's perspectives in YA of late. Interestingly though, this is the first I have read that's been written by a male.
Tom is your average teen boy, fresh from finishing school in 1980s Sydney. Though he may have expected life to change; in leaving high school behind he finds every other element of his life shifting also. Riddle's work is curious, I was involved with the characters but there was a languidness that pervaded every sentence. Tom is a largely reactive character, whether to his mother moving out, his best mate going off the rails or the object of his affection exploring other options. Even when he's reacting, Tom is largely passive. Almost every character has a larger personality than he. Cain, in particular, is the complete antithesis of Tom with his sweeping statements, intelligence and delusional qualities. It's also a personality trait that doesn't serve him particularly well with his friend, Kate who he has less than "friend" feelings for.
The story paddles along nicely. The story is pretty eventful but it still feels like a pretty chilled out narrative. We discussed this over at the Aussie YA Alliance but unfortunately I somehow misplaced/lost the file. We all felt that it had a distinctive memoir feel but having spoken to Tohby, I now know that it's completely fictional. There are a plethora of fascinating characters that flit in and out of the pages, from the fascinating artist Martin, to the mess that was Bob Dylan (yes THAT Bob Dylan) and the bizarre Fenella.
It's an odd little book that I really enjoyed. It felt very atmospheric, very of the time. As Tohby's first foray into YA writing, I think he's made an impression and I very much look forward to his follow up work.
Published: March 2009
Format: Paperback, 212 pages
Publisher: Penguin Aust.
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Tohby Riddle's Official Website
AYA Interview with Tohby
To win a copy of Zombie Queen of Newbery High (Amanda Ashby) all you need to do is this -
"... ’fess up and tell me what’s the dumbest thing that you’ve ever done for love (double points if it involves zombies!)"
You need to click here to leave your confession.
But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future-between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?
Review - This novel plopped into my lap like the Book Gods were smiling down upon me, it was fate. Almost like the fate that swept the known world in Ryan's novel - a zombie apocalypse - that destroyed everyone that it touched (sorry, I meant bit, maybe gnawed upon). This novel was my first zombie read and boy, did I start with the cream. I had read a review that said this novel felt a little like the movie, The Village, and I would have to agree. It touched upon all the things that were positive about that movie.
Ryan's writing style is paced slow, the story furls up like paper in a fire and when you're not expecting it, the paper is fully ablaze and mesmerises you. I could have lived without the romance that is throughout the novel (but I know many would take that away as their favourite element). It's anguish-y and everything that most woman love but I wanted to get back to the Cathedral or the Forest. What won me over was the tension. The knowledge that they are all doomed and it's only a matter of time. Most of the characters I found to be rather unlikeable in several of their character traits and that's what made this book fascinating. Every character felt real, their reactions to the situation were all varied and all intensely personal. To be selfish, a thoroughly unattractive emotion, means survival here.
As a debut effort, I have to say I am a little stunned at the effort. Ryan's really launched herself onto the YA stage with aplomb and I know there are many of us clamouring for the companion novel (The Dead-Tossed Waves) to be released in 2010. I was really surprised, entranced and excited by this novel.
I was enchanted by the setting of this novel. It's not about the Unconsecrated (the zombies) s much as it is about how we survive, what we believe in to do so and the choices we make. The idea that what remains of the human race is assembled in very basic villages connected by paths that are never travelled, is fascinating. That their whole lives are dictated by faith in the Sisterhood, quashing their curiosity, is compelling. The concepts of societal structure and religion were strong throughout - the question posed to the readers, when one village's better preparedness seems to be a direct consequence of their lack of devotedness, is one that had me thinking for days.
This isn't a novel you'd want to read when you are already low. But if you wanted to be taken on a beautifully written journey with full formed characters, a sprinkling of romance, a truckload of suspense and some fence rattling creatures with a taste for human flesh, then this is your book! (A big thank you to the Book Gods and their middleman, Brendan at Hachette, for sharing this awesomeness with me).
Published: April 9, 2009
Format: Paperback, 310 pages
Publisher: Hachette Australia
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Carrie Ryan's Official Website
Carrie Ryan's Blog
Carrie Ryan's Twitter
Thursday, 9 April 2009
Was your intention to keep the readers dangling for the truth about that night the entire story?
It was--but sometimes, in my eagerness to get Parker's story told, I'd forget this and reveal the secret too soon. Which was always... fun.
What line do you wish you'd had Parker say that you 1) hadn't thought of or 2) changed in the editing process?
I'm really happy with the novel in that respect, so I can't think of anything I'd go back and add to Parker's narrative. But there was one line my editor and I changed during the editing process that I've never forgotten for some reason. And I'm very glad we changed it. It was "Jake's a rather tenacious young man." The original line was, "Jake's a rather tenacious lad." While I have utmost respect for the word "lad," I don't think it's one Parker would utter. It's the little things!
How carefully did you have to tread with Parker's self-destructive tendencies?
I think I treaded carefully in the sense that I had a good idea of how far Parker would go and from that point on, it was just making sure she did go that far. I didn't want to hold back, so I removed myself from the equation and let Parker tell her story. Parker, though, didn't tread carefully at all. :)
In a movie version, who'd be your ideal cast?
Robert Pattinson. For every part. Parker, Jake, Chris, Becky. It would be FIERCE.
What can you tell me about Some Girls Are?
Some Girls Are is a novel about really, really--like REALLY--mean girls, told from the perspective of the best friend of the MEANEST girl in school. It's about identity and it's about duplicity and it's about forgiveness, all topics that fascinate me very much. I'm really excited about this story because these characters have a lot to answer for, and I can't wait to see how they are received for the not-very-nice things that they do. And they do many, many, not-very-nice things. I sort of think if Parker met the girls in these novels, she would back away from them very, very slowly. Or very, very quickly.
What does it feel like to have your debut novel on Australian shelves?
AWESOME. All in capitals. It feels very sparkly, too. I have some very dear friends in Australia, and it puts the biggest grin on my face to think of Cracked Up to Be hangin' out in the same place they are... although, I must admit to being really jealous of my debut novel since it got to go to Australia before I did. I'll get there someday, dangnabit!
Thanks so much to Courtney for allowing me to spotlight on her magnificence this week. I cannot wait to read Some Girls Are, although I sense I will be waiting awhile :)
Unfortunately, killing is just what someone has in mind, and Bailey, Delia, Annabelle, and Zo are in for the battle of their lives. Along with her tattoo, each girl receives a gift - a supernatural power to help them in their fight. As Bailey's increasingly frightening dreams reveal the nature of their enemy, it becomes clear to the girls that it's up to them to save the world. And if they can get Delia to stop using her newfound power to turn gum wrappers into Prada pumps, they might actually stand a chance.
Review - I picked this up after an increasingly common, depressing yet good YA novel that populate the genre. I needed something that was light and not a complete waste of space - I picked exceedingly well. Not only that but it is also my first official faerie book and I really liked it!
The concept is fun, plonk a temporary tattoo on your skin and develop a telekinetic power. The pace is speedy without sacrificing character development, meaningful without resorting to trite high school nonsense and hilarious in some parts. I really felt as if the girls had known each other for a really long time. They weren't cliches, each were entirely individual, vibrant and fun personality allowing the reader to see themselves in one or all of the girls. They are depicted so well that would be surprised if it wasn't optioned for a TV or movie deal in the near future.
Bailey is a great protagonist. She's not the typical, denying-their-beautiful girl that YA readers often come across. She's average and that's what makes her journey exploring her birthright, with help from Alea and Valgius, all the more intriguing. I was misdirected by the "bad guy" and didn't see how it all connected until much later in the novel which impressed me. More than anything it was the presence of humour (one word: butterscotch) throughout that made this a vastly enjoyable read. Combine that with the presence of mythology and you have me as a fan.
If you want a read that's heavy on the friendship and magic, very light on the romance and leaves you with a smile on your face, this is the book for you. Barnes has created a great story here and I cannot wait to read Fate!
Publisher: Random House Aust.
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Jennifer Lynn Barnes' Official Website
Jennifer Lynn Barnes' Blog
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
"...I’m plotting a novel about a secret band of superhero cheerleaders who are employed to protect the US President’s teenage son."
BEST NOVEL EVER - gosh, I hope this happens.
Location: Putnam, CT
Everything in my life was working out. I had my three best friends, a brand-new boyfriend, and the lead in the school play. Aside from that history paper I hadn't started, things felt perfect. Then I returned from spring break to find my Friendverse profile hacked. Someone clearly out to ruin me had spilled the most damaging secrets - AND posted the worst photos of me ever taken - online. Now my boyfriend and I are broken up, half the school hates me, and I'm in deep trouble.
Get my boyfriend back, figure out who could have done this, and clear my name! Also, pass history.
Summary - This book didn't knock my socks off. I think the whole solution to having one's friendverse site hacked would be to delete it. Or is that just me? Despite this, I think it had an interesting message about dissing people behind their backs. The hackers (of which I guessed very, very early) parroted Madison's own comments about people on her myspace-like site while she was on vacation. So while she had been hacked, she couldn't really defend heself against the comments. An interesting predicament indeed.
The formatting throughout is very interesting as it shows Madison's actual profile page including the changing top 8 friends, comments and so on. This got a little old after awhile as the msn's were also included in the text. I am not against their inclusion but I have a problem when they are pretty pravalent in a novel. What I really did enjoy was the great songs and quotes listed at the start of each chapter. One of my student's (grade 8) read this book and really enjoyed it so maybe I am just being old and jaded? Or maybe it's just something to read.
Format: Paperback, 308 pages
Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition. He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets. Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head. She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is. Damen equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies.
Review - This book was eagerly anticipated on the Persnickety Snark Wishlist. I would have even run interference between a carload of Twilighters and the Special Edition DVD to get it. Fortunately, I was looked upon fondly by an AlexaFairy and an AlysonDeity and received this purple package of love, lust and immortality.
That being said, I found the pace incredibly frustrating. It felt like it took forever to build and not in a great way. Secondary characters hopped in and out of the plot and never really developed in any way. This should depress me but I suspect that as this is the first of a trilogy, we'll see a longer character arc for Miles and Haven. I feel the same way about Riley, her continual costume changes and pop culture references kept me wondering what the point of her character was. The relationship between Ava and Riley was very intriguing and I hope to see this continue in the books that follow.
I fell for the misdirect too. Damen reminded me of Edward at times and despite the series being called The Immortals. I was convinced he was going to be a vampire. Thank goodness he wasn't. I felt slightly stupid, but invigorated, by the concept that they are simply immortal. He's a curious creature - intense yet standoffish, romantic yet cold, brazen yet reticent. I love the idea that Ever's soul is continually reincarnated for Damen until he finally catches onto Drina's psychopathic tendencies. Drina's fixation with Damen seemed a little over the top until I realised that's what happens when an immortal mean girl is obsessed with a guy for centuries. A mean girl might cyberbully you in high school but in immortal-world, she would have a hit out on you. That being said, I am not sure that Ever is really in love with Damen. She really doesn't know enough about him to be in love and if she really is, why?
One particular element that jolted me momentarily is a spell that Damen conjures over Ever. It sets their relationship back a few steps as Ever struggles to remember her weekend. I love how Noel managed to pull this off without feeling clunky. It's not something I have come across before I cannot wait to see what she pulls out of the hat in Blue Moon. Alyson Noel is an author that I really enjoy as she creates complex, flawed characters. I feel that Evermore was a little underdone in that area but I sense that it might be part of a larger plan with the series. I look forward to learning more with the following novels. Yay for Evermore.
Format: Paperback, 306 page
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
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Alyson Noel's Official Website
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
A tragic accident has turned eleven-year-old Aubrey’s world upside down. Starting a new life all alone, Aubrey has everything she thinks she needs: SpaghettiOs and Sammy, her new pet fish. She cannot talk about what happened to her. Writing letters is the only thing that feels right to Aubrey, even if no one ever reads them.
With the aid of her loving grandmother and new friends, Aubrey learns that she is not alone, and gradually, she finds the words to express feelings that once seemed impossible to describe. The healing powers of friendship, love, and memory help Aubrey take her first steps toward the future.Readers will care for Aubrey from page one and will watch her grow until the very end, when she has to make one of the biggest decisions of her life.
Review - Love, Aubrey is another book to add to my pile of children left behind novels...and yet I enjoyed it. I had heard a lot of very complimentary things about this novel before I read it and so I was expecting a lot. I really wasn't all that sure what to think about it as I started reading. I was piecing together the story well before elements were confirmed and yet I was in the present with Aubrey. This could just be a story about grief, instead it's about being left behind, and all that that means.
The eleven year old protagonist is not someone I would normally want to read about. She's mourning her family - how it once was, what it isn't now. She's barely keeping her head above the waters swirling with grief, depression, anger and need. What surprised me is how removed I felt and how much emotion I felt. I am contradicting myself I know, but that's how I felt. The anger I felt towards Elizabeth is overwhelming, I understand on a base level that her depression overrode her daughter's needs but I didn't care. She left her child alone. The last remaining member of her immediate family and she just up and left her. How dare she?
While Aubrey's being difficult with her grandmother, befriending Bridget or missing Savannah - I didn't really connect. But it took one letter to her father to break me. I find it interesting that the one member of the family, the one mentioned the least, could elicit so much emotion from me. It was then I realised how beautifully crafted this novel is. Each word is deliberate. LaFleur's words are delicately placed creating a whirlwind of contrasting emotions that race through you, leaving an emotional wreck behind. It is a stunning debut effort, one that I am reluctant to quantify because I cannot place why it is so good. Perhaps it's the use of simple language which leaves you feeling sparse? Maybe it's the number of emotions, conclusions and thoughts that aren't ever directly stated? Maybe it's both. Regardless, this book is a revelation and the start to a very promising career for Suzanne LaFleur.
Publisher: June 2009
Format: Paperback, 267 pages
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Suzanne LaFleur's Official Website
"There's a greasy handprint mark on my window. It's either the gardener, my bro, the next door neighbour or my dad. All choices aren't really good ones."
Courtney's debut novel, Cracked Up To Be, has just launched here in Australia - yay. It's released some of the naughty in me, hence the rearranged book displays across Adelaide. If only I had some review cards as well!
Which book is memorable from your teen years?
I was really obsessed with Jurassic Park when I was a teen. I just loved dinosaurs. A lot. And Dr. Ian Malcolm. A lot.
Describe your high school English teacher in three words...
Didn't have one--I left school before she taught me. :)
Your book of the moment?
Evermore by Alyson Noel.
What do you use to mark your page when reading?
I dog-ear (terrible!), or use the jacketflaps or the bookmarks the bookstores give me.
Favourite place to read?
Bed or the car.
It's not for polite company, so you may have my second favourite: fisticuffs!
Favourite book store?
The Flying Dragon Bookshop in Toronto. They are lovely.
Character you wish you had created?
Archie Costello from The Chocolate War. Or Harry Potter. Or Edward Cullen.
Bonus Question - Why are volcanoes fabulous?
This might sound weird, but volcanoes make me feel like everything's as it should be! Even when they're erupting and causing mayhem.
On Thursday, Courtney is back with some probing (in an un-Roswellian way) questions about her novel and her WIP.
Monday, 6 April 2009
From besties to worsties and back again . . .
For Avalon, staying on top of trends has never been a problem—until her fellow cheerleaders decide that her BFF Halley is definitely out this season. Now Avalon must choose between the frenemy who embarrassed her in front of everyone or the new friends who stood by her.
Halley thinks she's got it all: her forever-friend Avalon, her new bestie Sofee, and the hottest fall wardrobe at Seaview Middle School. Her life is a total YES. But when Sofee spies Avalon flirting with Halley's crush, will it be World War Halvalon all over again?
Review - Well if you read Frenemies you would have loved it and thought that it was the best book ever. You were wrong...because super-talented Alexa Young (author of the Frenemies series) has written a sequel and it's even better!
Avalon Greene and Halley Brandon had a huge fight before and made up (yay :) but in Faketastic the girls pretend to be enemies and act like they had another fight... but end up breaking up again. The story ends on a cliffhanger when Avalon ends up with Halley's soon-to-be-boyfriend and Halley gets Avalon's dream of becoming the cheerleading captain. This book is fabulous and you won't be able to put it down because of how interesting it is - Faketastic Rocks!
I loved the characters. Each and every one of them had something good about them and after you've read the book for awhile you feel like you've known the characters for years or that they were you friend. I also loved how realistic the book is - it's about normal people, not vampires, mythical creatures, faeries, etc. When you read the book you can't decide if you like it more when the girls fight or when they're friends. They work so well as a team but they're so funny when they split because they're trying to make their ex-bestfriend jealous.
I didn't really hate anything because I loved the book and everything that was in it but I was a little annoyed when Avalon stole Halley's crush/soul mate/soon-to-be-boyfriend. Halley and Wade (Halley's crush) were meant to be together and they were such a cute couple!
You can't take sides or choose you favourite characer becasue each one is fabulous. Faketastic is a wonderful book and readers around the age of 13 or 14 will love it! It's a great read and I hope you'll get an opportunity to read it like I did because it'll put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step.
Formet; Paperback, 244 pages
Publisher: Harper Teen
This review was written by one of my grade eight student's, Lady Alice. Aren't I lucky with my students?
Review - This book was made in the beginning of the 21st century, and followed the story of Afghani teenager, Ali Ismail. There are not many books that can give you a real insight to becoming a refugee or travelling by yourself from country to country. Most people take for granted all the advantages they have from third-world countries, like Kenya or in this case Afghanistan. While a decreasing number of people think about these under-aided countries.
This book would have to be one of the best books that I have ever read. When I started reading the book, it seemed to be very boring and not many things would happen. Not true. Later in the book, many things started to happen and I thought to myself, this book actually sounds really cool. And it also has a little bit of humour in it as well. You could say that the author, Alan Sunderland, has put every type of theme into one small book. From my point of view, absolutely excellent. If there were more books like this one, I would have all of them. The only problem is a lot of the authors these days are writing about action and comedy. What happened to thinking about other people?!?! World Peace!
When you think about it, the book could have had many endings. But the author chose one ending which really I did not like. Ali ended up living in Melbourne. I would have like it if he stayed in Adelaide. I would give this book what I say a fair 9.5 out of 10. But when I really give it a long hard think, I will just round it off and give it 10 out of 10. The best book that I have ever read.
Format: Hardback, 215 pages
One of my grade eight students, Moose, wrote this review so please leave him a comment :)
The lovely blogging lasses are:
- Amanda Ashby (Zombie Queen of Newbury High)
- Diane Curran
- Natalie Hatch
- Kiki Lon (Enter the Parrot)
- Sara Hantz (The Second Virginity of Suzy Green)
- Vanessa Barnesveld
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Into White Silence (Anthony Eaton),
It's Yr Life (Tempany Deckhert & Tristan Bancks),
Juno of Taris (Fleur Beale),
A Brief History of Montmaray (Michelle Cooper),
Tattoo (Jenn Lynn Barnes),
Love, Aubrey (Suzanne LaFleur).
Centre (L) -
Faking Sweet (JC Burke),
The Spook's Secret / The Spook's Curse / The Spook's Apprentice (Joseph Delaney),
The Celebutantes on the Avenue (Antonio Pagliarulo)
Bottom (L) -
Cindy Ella (Robin Palmer - bought),
Ocean Pearl (JC Burke),
Getting to Third Date (Kelly McClymer - bought),
The Rage of Sheep (Michelle Cooper),
Silas and the Winterbottoms (Stephen M Giles), The Enemy (Charlie Higson).
A big thank you to Sarana who sent me the Random House motherlode on Friday. Also to Floss who was telling me about Love, Aubrey and made sure I had it the next day - insane.