Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Raw Blue and a winner!

Last night the winner of the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards was announced and I am absolutely beyond thrilled to give a HUGE congratulations to Kirsty Eagar and her novel Raw Blue
I was absolutely beaming like when I heard, hey! I had a little squeal because it's one of my favourite books ever. And I love it hard.

And (I had visitors over) my sister in law was impressed too as she had asked me which book I recommend to her to read (out of my towering shelves of awesomeness) and I had shoved Raw Blue into her hands earlier that day among babbling accolades of my love for the book. Her reading time is limited (babies and all that) so I knew I had to pick the best off my shelves :) And she doesn't read YA but Raw Blue is really a novel for anyone.

Also, once a book wins such a prestigious award, I feel my fangirling is more than justified so I can now rave as much as I want and let you know this book rocks and if you can you should get your hands on it asap.

My review of Raw Blue
Other OFFICIAL reviews of Raw Blue :)
Raw Blue @ Kirsty's site
Kirsty's notes on writing Raw Blue
An extract from Raw Blue
One of the judges talking about Raw Blue and the awards last night

Raw Blue is also in the running for the 2010 Golden Inky! Alongside Beatle Meets Destiny (Gabrielle Williams) and Swerve (Phillip Gwyne) which were also short-listed for the VIC Premier's Literary Award - which are two outstanding Aussie titles.

Also -I emailed my winner of Steph Bowe's charming and lovely debut Girl Saves Boy but forgot to shout it out on my blog (sorry, sorry).

yay to Claire and I know you will love it!

And it's so summer-y and the beach is just lovely at the moment! I'm on school holidays with the kids and have had family visiting from Sydney and more coming this week from Canberra and it's such an awesome time of year.

Hope you all have a lovely chilled out day :)


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about. 

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere. 

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls. 

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

My review: In which I feel like I am slightly fangirling.

Graffiti Moon takes place over one night (although there are some flashbacks) and is told from two POV's: Lucy and Ed.

This book is genius.

It's exactly why I love reading YA.

Somehow this book perfectly captures how I felt as a teen - that big dreaming scheming place in my head, a place where night time is magical and when boys can make you tingle just by looking at them across the room.

It's funny and heart felt and the whole scenario is one of the best set-ups I've read. And I wish I could tell you the hook but I don't want to give away spoilers... so, you'll have to see for yourself.

Graffiti Moon is completely addictive with the tension building so beautifully that I just had to keep reading, wondering how it was all going to play out.

It's sprinkled with stunning prose and scenes described to masterfully that I felt I was right there. really, I have rarely read such beautiful, compelling prose - poetic and lyrical and funny and smart - words that beg to be re-read and swilled around in your mouth like a good wine.

The dialogue was brilliant. BRILLIANT. It kills me, dialogue like that. Sigh.

The characters are so completely awesome that they stand up and walk around, leaping off the page. They are also completely teenagery in the very best of ways.

The boys in this novel are charming and off-beat, wildly funny and completely crush-worthy and so nuanced that they are unique - not carbon copied characters that you'd find between the pages of another book.

The girls are captivating, sometimes sly and always fun. They are genuine and their moments of angst have such flair that you can't help but completely love them.

It's not just me who is raving about this. Check out more reviews @ goodreads

Anyway, Graffiti Moon spoke to me and is one of my favourite reads this year and for a girl who loves contemp YA with a splash of romance - well the love story in this one is completely awesome.

5 Stars, hey? Absolutely :)

Not out in the US yet :( - But, all Aussies out there - track this one down and do a happy dance when you have it. I found my copy in Kmart (so weird, kind of, as normally they only stock commercial stuff).



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hold Still - Hard Cover V Paperback

Hard Cover 
I love this cover. I love the model chosen - with her hands on her knees and for some reason, I'm into that hair. The journal writing on the wall behind her and the scrawly doodle-y art in the top left is just lovely (I've also heard the pages within have some lovely scrawly arty journal stuff in there). The rip across the bottom and the title inked in looks awesome and I want to read this book.

So, I pre-ordered my copy before the paperback cover was visible. A lot of the time the paperback cover is the same as the hard back. But not this time...

I know!

It's mesmerising and hints at life between the pages and inner conflict with the tagline verse the image. I love the shadowed title and the way the model blurs into the background.

And the colours are stunning.

I'm thinking I love this cover. A lot. I'm thinking you want to pick it up too, right?

I am now even more super-psyched.

I have heard so many utterly brilliant and worthy things about this debut and it's paperback release is now only 13 days away... :)

(also, reminds me of the UK Hardcover and first edition Australian paperback of If I Stay)

Nina Lacours site (and it's such a funky site)

What do you think? 
Paperback or Hard Cover?
I'm absolutely cheering for the paperback :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Last Ten Books I've Read

I don't really have a system to my reviews except I like to review books that impacted me and that I love. I usually want to shout out to the world READ THIS BOOK. I haven't really reviewed a book I didnt enjoy. mainly for three reasons:

  1. If I'm not into it, I put it down
  2. It's just too much effort to eloquently and politely explain why the book didn't work for me.
  3. It's someone's baby and I feel kind of bad to bag it out on the internet (but come and talk to me and I'll freely chat about what books I love and which ones ticked me off).

I also don't review every book I read as, ah, that would take up all my free time.

For this post I'm going to briefly let you know what I thought of the last ten books I read (which are the books I've read so far in September). Not really beautifully articulated reviews - just me chatting about them :)

Also, I am strict with my star ratings so I can save 5 stars for the best of the best - a three star from me means I liked it and enjoyed it, hey :) Links go to goodreads (for synopsis)

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty.

I really liked this one, hey? It's older but a classic rite of passage, coming of age book. It was clever and had some lovely crush-worthy sentences and felt so teenagery. I liked it enough to plan on reading the rest of the series. 3.5 stars.

Jarvis 24 by David Metzenthen (2010 winner of CBCA)

I've read 4 of Metzenthen's earlier books which were well written but didn't necessarily resonate. Jarvis 24 though - was so brilliant. I felt so good while I was reading it. The characterisation was so good that I spent half the book being in awe and the other half grinning away at the Aussieness of Jarvis and his mates.

One of the best male POV's I've ever read (similar to Swerve by Phillip Gwyne). I think both those books have ruined other less superior male POV for me - as the standard has now been set higher. I loved every minute of this book and will be revisiting it for sure. 4.5 stars.

Loving Richard Feynman by Penny Tangey (short-listed for CBCA)

This book was refreshing and had it's own unique beat to it. Catherine (protag) reminded me a smidgen of Bindy (Jaclyn Moriarty) although the writing is not dramatic or Moriarty-esque, it is written in diary format and it's fresh and funny and heart-felt. This book will resonate with many teenagers.

 Catherine is such a cool nerd, awkward and smart and earnest. It was easy to feel that teen angst with her - reminded me of being back in school and studying and how huge exams and competitions are. This is an important and timeless book that also made me feel smart by association, haha. I flew through this one and have a fond little feeling just thinking about it now. Sigh :) Also, lovely to read a clean no swearing, no sex but totally rocking book. 4 stars.

Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks

(YA/cross-over Adult Fic, multi POV)
 A multi-generational novel that explores buried secrets and tragedies. I loved the rich prose here and the way it effortlessly flowed backwards and forwards in time. It's not a very long novel but it packed so much plot and emotion into it. It's really literary and the twists and surprises along the way are lovely. I enjoy slipping into novels like this and would read more of her work. 3.5 stars.

Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles

I loved the first book (Leaving Paradise) so I was very much looking forward to the sequel. I was so disappointed, hey. In fact, I really didn't like it to the point that it's tainted my memories of the first book and I'm not sure I will seek out another book be this author again - not that it's bad - more that it's not my kind of book.

I gave a more detailed review of me feelings about this on goodreads. However, I did love Leaving Paradise and maybe other people won't feel the same way I did about the sequel. 1.5 stars (I added half a star on goodreads b/c I felt bad for giving it just one)

Also: not a fan of the cover.

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce

I was so pleasantly surprised by this one. I got it for a light, relaxing read and therefore was not expecting something of such high quality. The writing was flawless with crisp, lovely prose. The characters were all nuanced and 3D and flawed and likeable. Pearce shows so well all their struggles and aches and feelings without ever once stepping into clichéd territory.

The romance was not an over the top paranormal love but a lovely tingly crush and blooming love. The world-building was flawless - it read effortlessly and likewise the pacing felt spot-on with rising stakes and an unpredictable climax. A smooth contemp with no sex, language, etc. Good times. I would have loved this as a teen. I liked it as an adult: 3.5 stars.

She's So Dead To Us by Kieran Scott

I love guilty pleasure reads in amongst award winners. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for a bludge entertaining read and this totally delivered. Actually, I feel ashamed about just how much I enjoyed this book. Which was a lot - and it was better than I thought it would be (I didn't expect much, really). Initially the characters seemed cliche - straight out of Mean Girls - but as the plot moves along - the two main characters had a lot of depth and I cared for them both.

 It was such a fun alternating male/female POV and a little bit sexy and the rising stakes and dramas made it an addictive read. Really, if you're in the mood for this kind of book - or if this kind of book is your fave genre - you will enjoy this one. 3.5 stars from me - I'm probably to ashamed to boost it to 4, being 30 and all :)

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Everyone I know who had read this gave it 5 stars. That still did not prepare me for how hard I would love this book.

Easily one of my favourite reads of the year. Will plan on finding words to give it it's own review - but am still so blown apart by it's brilliance that I can't articulate the beautiful review-ish sentences it deserves.

 Brilliant. Addictive. A life-long favourite.

I am so inspired and floored by this. If you're an Aussie - get yourself a copy of this asap - you will not regret it! (I found mine for $11 in Kmart! Bargain) I plan on forcing this book onto all my friends. 5 stars of crushing so hard on this.

What My Mother Doesn't know by Sonya Sones

Oh, how I love Sonya Sones. Curling up with one of her books is just such an awesome way to spend an afternoon. I love verse novels and hers are just so easy to slip into and I think anyone who is an inpsiring writer can learn a lot from reading quality verso novels like this.

The way she uses words to so powerfully and succinctly encapsulate emotions and events is just gorgeous. I adore her characters and the events in the novel and truly feel all those intense and beautiful emotions of being a teen and falling in love and daydreaming and fighting with your parents. I so recommend her and love her and re-read her often. I think my favourite of hers is What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know (5 stars). 4 stars of awesomeness.

The Dead of The Night by John Marsden

Second book in the Tomorrow Series (after Tomorrow When the War Began). Obviously, my fave series of all time, so, you know, I love these books :) Loving the re-read. 5 stars, obviously.

Last ten books I've read:

  • four are Australian
  • one is paranormal (although with a contemp vibe)
  • one is crossover YA/adult fiction
  • three are diary format
  • four are alternating male/female POV
  • one male POV
  • one in verse
  • two are male authors

Bonus: a few books I tried to read (this month) and put down:

Take Me There by Carolee Dean
After such brilliant male POV in Graffiti Moon and Jarvis 24 and Swerve, the male POV in this just falls flat for me. Also, made it 40 pages in and am still not hooked - so much back story, hey? I own this one, so I'll probably give it another go at some stage.

Anyone else read this? Thoughts?

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot
Probably wasn't in the mood for this light-hearted women's fiction. It's not really my genre, to be honest, but I gave it a go as The Princess Diaries are just wonderful.

Beautiful Creatures
I just keep getting restless in this one. Will persevere, I think. I need some inspiration. i.e. someone telling me it's brilliant :)

On a side note: is this post too epic and overwhelming? I just scrolled through and it seems huge. Maybe I should have broken it up a little and made it into a few posts?

What book have you read recently that you've absolutely loved?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Early Cover Designs for Saltwater Vampires

Kinda like a cover comparison post, but not...

I love this behind the scenes of the making of a book cover.

Penguin Australia's Between the Lines had two posts last week discussing Kirsty Eagar's cover for Saltwater vampires. Over 70 cover concepts were created in a design brief (!!) Senior Editor Editor Amy Thomas discusses those ideas here. The images below are from this post which also discusses each design concept

An early concept design:

copyright: Marina Messiha
A la Clockwork Orange style:
copyright: Marco Recuero
copyright: Getty Images
I love this one. A lot. The water and the blues and model <3 I'd pick it up for sure. I think it matches the surfer scene and perhaps the idea of Aussie music festival days - but it's very light looking for a novel with some pretty freaky guys in it.

The almost final version:
copyright: Getty Images
I like this one too. Same model from the blues one above. I love seeing the image used so differently.
AND the final available now in shops cover for Saltwater Vampires:

This one makes me think of the Batavia shipwreck and also the creepier content. It doesn't necessarily look YA - which is a good thing as this book has crossover appeal into the adult market.

What do you think?
Do you have a fave?
Would you pick up any of the earlier concepts off the shelf? 

The designer for this cover (Marina) also designed two of Melina Marchetta's Australian covers - both of them I love whole-heartedly:

And while we're here talking about Kirsty Eagar - here's a lovely clip I found of her talking about writing Raw Blue (one of my favourite reads this year).

And, reading a book right now that is so good it's awesomeness makes me want to weep (a book-loving stupor kinda weeping).

I knew it was going to rock but am stunned just how how much it does.

Everyone I know who's read has given it 5 stars. I have a feeling my rating will be the same :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe

The first time we met, Jewel Valentine saved my life. 

Isn’t it enough having your very own terminal disease, without your mother dying? Or your father dating your Art teacher? 

No wonder Sacha Thomas ends up in the lake that Saturday evening… 

But the real question is: how does he end up in love with Jewel Valentine?

With the help of quirky teenage prodigies Little Al and True Grisham, Sacha and Jewel have a crazy adventure, with a little lobster emancipation along the way. 

But Sacha’s running out of time, and Jewel has secrets of her own. 

Girl Saves Boy is a hugely talented debut novel, funny and sad, silly and wise. It’s a story of life, death, love… and garden gnomes.

Girl Saves Boy is 16 year old Aussie author Steph Bowe's debut

Girl Saves Boy has a unique flavour to add to the YA scene. With it's quirky and off-beat vibe it's an intelligent novel that manages to convey hope among devastation and silliness alongside mourning.

The story is told from Sacha's POV and Jewel's POV.

The narrative isn't always linear in a sense of plot moving forward with scenes. It's got anecdotes and a running internal narrative of thoughts on life and death and the world in general. You know how sometimes you're thinking one thing which leads to thinking about another and another and so on and then you come back to original thought? Sometimes the narrative swirls along in that style, with quirky asides and observations.

The prose is gorgeous and charming. And it felt straight from a teen perspective - in the concerns of the characters and their outlook on life: sometimes jumbled, other times hopeful and also occasionally defeated. It reflected the braveness and conviction of teens but lacked hindsight that comes with adulthood - which gave it a true teen vibe.

I do think there was a lot going on in the novel in terms of tragedies and scarred pasts and tormented characters and dead people. It seemed overwhelming that they all had such complicated and devastating back-stories. Although the novel didn't just dwell on this aspect - there were plenty of moments of fun and general silliness.

Some sections were reminiscent of Brigid Lowry's Guitar Highway Rose - so much so that I would imagine that book may have had an influence on Bowe's writing style? And GHR is a dynamically brilliant book (as a teen, my friends and I were inspired to write our school writing assignments in a format similar to Guitar Highway Rose - I love that book hard. Diverting in my review here to urge anyone who hasn't read it yet to track it down - you can thank me after :).

Random Thoughts:

  • Throughout the novel I was unsure where it was headed. I like the feeling of things lurking unpredictably up ahead but occasionally I felt like I was floundering a little in terms of following the main story arc.
  • I didnt always understand the characters motivations, but I kept flipping the pages regardless.
  • Like in many alternating POV books, I connected stronger with one POV over another (in this case, it was Sacha's). Does anyone else find this in duel/multi-POV reads?
  • It felt teenagery with it's many comments on clothing and what everyone looks like and how tall they are, etc. Kinda cute, that.
It's really an impressive debut and I haven't tried to be favourable in my review due to Steph's age. She's a bright talent and I imagine teens will find lots to love about this book and it's characters. It will appeal to guys and girls.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tomorrow When the War Began - the Movie

On Wednesday I finally went to see it (!!!) I was kinda nervous - for all you non-Aussies (or non-New Zealanders) the Tomorrow series is bigger than The Hunger Games - my generation devoured them - teens and adults. The first book came out in 1993 - so it's been a long wait for it to arrive on the Big Screen. I posted the trailer here.

It's opening night was the third biggest for an Australian film (coming behind Australia (Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackson) and Happy Feet. It debuted at #1 and made $3.86 million during its first weekend in Australia and grossed $358,653 with a #1 debut in New Zealand

First of all: the books are brilliant and I swear, the characters are real - out there...somewhere. Reading them, I felt like I was with Ellie and Homer and the gang and fought alongside them. Each new book that was released caused a Mockingjay-like fever. Especially #7 The Other Side of Dawn.

My mother in law is a high school art teacher at a Private Boys School in Sydney and she said that John Marsden and The Tomorrow Series were responsible for getting a whole generation of boys reading. 

Okay, I can feel an essay coming on, haha, so I'll just move right along to the movie.

The Movie:

I absolutely loved it, hey.

It was faithful to the book (minus the hermit's hut) and as soon as it started I was back there - feeling nostalgic to be with the gang. I was caught up in it and it felt so similar to the movie that happened in my head when I read the books :)

The sound track is seriously rocking too. Can I hear an amen?

I knew what was coming but that didn't stop me from feeling the suspense. And, I cried. Okay, so I don't normally cry in movies (really) but it was like watching my mates (not just characters I was meeting for the first time - but mates from my teen life) and the ending hit me hard. No spoilers but those who've read the book can imagine the scene that just killed me. It was really powerful, hey.

Robyn and Lee in Hell
Ellie and Homer in Hell
The setting: filmed in the Hunter Region and the Blue Mountains (the book is set in Victoria though). It felt like home to me, having grown up in the Blue Mountains. It definitely had an Aussie vibe. Really stunning.

The characters

  • Ellie (Caitlin Stasey): Just brilliant. I loved her as Ellie. Ellie is my literary hero and I didnt expect I'd love Caitlin being Ellie as much as I did.
  • Homer (Deniz Akdeniz): How awesome was he? Homer is one of my fave YA boys ever and I just loved Deniz acting him. He was funny and tough and so Greek Australian. You know you love him.
  • Corrie (Rachel Hurd-Wood): It took me a while to warm up to Corrie, but then I was into her. 
  • Kevin (Lincoln Lewis): He had a great character arc and really matched the book. Loved it - loved how he showed the fear and how unashamed he was of his own wuss-like tendencies.
  • Lee (Chris Pang): I think he came across better in the book- although his dialogue wasn't the best to showcase his intensity, IMO. He is a bit ambiguous as a character in book one. I loved the snake moment. And him and Ellie on the couch. sigh...
  • Fiona (Phoebe Tonkin): I already liked Phoebe from H2O Just Add Water (I like watching Aussie MG shows, okay? :)  At first she bugged me and her lines felt more like a US movie than Aussie - but she came really good. So more love from me. She was pretty beautiful and I never imagined Fi was the hot in the book (?)
  • Robyn (Ashleigh Cummings): At first, she felt timid to me. And I wanted her to be more tough. But one of my fave moments was Robyn at the bridge, I teared up then. It really hit me. I was so proud of her and completely conflicted in my pride considering the scenario.
  • Chris (Andy Ryan): Okay, how funny was he? In that perfect Aussie stoner way. My husband and I were killing ourselves in his scenes. He was so deadbeat - it was awesome. I dont remember him being that funny in the book? 

Sometimes the girls sounded POME*. I know Caitlin Stasey is a POM so I was wondering what was going on with the others. My husband reminded me (we're original Westies) that some Aussies do talk that way - kinda posh - you know, from the North Shore, etc. And, yeah, I get that :)

* Prisoner Of Mother England. Aussie term for our UK mates :)
Homer and Fi
Kevin and Corrie
Bonus Section. (Haha) 
After the Movie:

I wanted to stop in @ the shops and buy a new copy of the book (some of you may remember my husband left my first edition copy on a plane somewhere in Uganda in July. Hardcover first edition just sold for $756 on ebay (!) but husband hates the shops - so we skipped that.

Figured I'd do it later. But then when I got home, I had an email from Pan MacMillan saying I'd won an exclusive movie edition of the book! Wahoo!

I was kinda pumped after that so I went for a bushwalk (to soak up the Hell/Taylor Stitch vibe) and a huge red belly black snake slithered right across the track in front of me. Which was really cool as I was thinking about the gang in the bush at the time and the story, etc. And there's the whole red belly black scene in the movie. Which, how cool was it? :)

Such a cool ending to the TWTWB day. I'm still kind of buzzing thinking about it and the series and how profound and brilliant and impacting a book can be.

movie tie-in edition
available at book shops
Edition I won from Pan Macmillan
Here's the boys signing John Marsden's Book  - which is kinda weird
(seeing as they are not the author) but also cool by me :)

So who's seen the movie?
Read the books? 
Read the books and seen the movie?
Planning on it?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nobody's Girl - Sarra Manning

Nobody's Girl follows the story of 17 year old Bea, who, as a result of her bossy mum, soul-crushing Saturday job in an ancient clothes shop and habit of randomly using French words in conversation, thinks of herself as a bit of a dull loser. So an invitation to go on holiday to Malaga with popular girl Ruby and her friends certainly comes as a pleasant surprise. But two days after arriving in Spain, Bea is already heading to Paris, to find the dad she's never met. On the way, she meets Toph, an American student backpacking around Europe, and as they look for her dad in the romantic rues and cafés of Paris, she finds a little romance of her own... 

The question is: who will Bea decide to become this summer - Toph's girl, the goody-two-shoes girl her mum expects or her own girl?

Nobody's Girl has just been short-listed for The Booktrust Teenage Prize 2010 which is a prestigious UK based award

This was my first Sarra Manning novel and being the contemp girl that I am, I loved the sound of the premise. Europe, romance, coming of age, etc, etc.

The book definitely had that Sarah Dessen vibe going down, but it's UK, so it has a UK feel about it that resonates with me after reading so much US based YA. (Not that I'm British, but I get the vibe).

It's complex being a teenager when the line between self-identity and peer acceptance and  convictions blur. Sarra Manning nails that feeling in Bea who starts out as a bit of a doormat, craving acceptance from Queen Bitch Ruby who is suddenly suspiciously friendly. What ends up going down between Bea and Ruby and her posse is girl warfare at it's best: startling and vicious and reminds me why teen boys have it better with just getting to the point, smashing each other faces in and moving along. 

When Bea turned fiesty, I was in awe or her and her talent for revenge. Yeah, Bea! After that, Toph arrives on the scene and I couldn't put it down. Because, I mean, swoon. Toph's laid back and sweet, but speaks his mind and adds some 20 year old perspective that reminds you that although the intense struggles you have at 17 can be world-shattering, that they too will pass.

It's such a daydreamy book, to be in Paris at seventeen and meet older, cooler backpackers who accept you for who you are. While I was a sucker for the love story and the adventure of Paris, this book is so much more than that. It's about friendship, facing secrets of the past, forgiving your mum, standing up for yourself, and realising that being you is enough. Also, watch out for some sweet and steamy moments :)

Recommended: About first kisses and love and friendship, this is a book for any girl who has daydreamed about finding adventure, a knight in shining armour and discovering a world bigger than the worries of high school.

Other stuff:

  • The annoying thing about this book was the back blurb. I felt impatient with the pacing as I kept waiting for Europe, France and Toph to turn up... it took a good one hundred pages to get there. I think I would have settled more into it if it wasn't for me hanging out for that.
  • Toph is short for Christopher. But, really? Toph? It didn't particularly grow on me...
  • I definitely think this book would have resonated with me more reading it as a teen than reading it as an adult. The teen voice is authentic, so Bea's struggles felt real and reminded me of what it was like to be back there, but as an adult, I had too much hindsight that sometimes left me feeling frustrated with Bea's struggles.
My rating: On goodreads I gave it three stars b/c I liked it.  But it has some really high ratings with many people listing it as one of their favourite YA books. I probably would have loved it harder if i had read it as a teen. If you get what I mean :) I'm keen to read more of Sarra Manning as she did impress me with this book.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

GIVEAWAY Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe

The first time we met, Jewel Valentine saved my life. 

Isn’t it enough having your very own terminal disease, without your mother dying? Or your father dating your Art teacher? 

No wonder Sacha Thomas ends up in the lake that Saturday evening… 

But the real question is: how does he end up in love with Jewel Valentine?

With the help of quirky teenage prodigies Little Al and True Grisham, Sacha and Jewel have a crazy adventure, with a little lobster emancipation along the way. 

But Sacha’s running out of time, and Jewel has secrets of her own. 

Girl Saves Boy is a hugely talented debut novel, funny and sad, silly and wise. It’s a story of life, death, love… and garden gnomes.

Girl Saves Boy is 16 year old Aussie author Steph Bowe's debut

It was released in Australia one week ago and will be available in the US in 2011

This give-away is open internationally - I'll post it out to wherever the winner lives

Closes Sept 14

Praise for Girl Saves Boy:
"Beautiful and fresh, Girl Saves Boy is full of the absolute truth—life is complicated. I could not put it down." 
 Rebecca Stead 

"Steph Bowe’s debut is charming and quirky and heartfelt enough to make you catch your breath when you least expect it. Readers will adore Girl Saves Boy and I can’t wait to see what comes next."
 Simmone Howell 

Lightly read by Holly and me - sharing the love :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Saltwater Vampires by Kirsty Eagar

He looked to the sky, praying for rain, a downpour, some sign from the heavens that he should refuse the abomination contained in that flask. But all he saw was the bloated white face of the moon smiling down on him … 

And the sky around it was cold and clear and black … 

They made their circle of blood. And only the moon witnessed the slaughter that followed. 

For Jamie Mackie, summer holidays in the coastal town of Rocky Head mean surfing, making money, and good times at the local music festival. But this year, vampires are on the festival’s line-up … fulfilling a pact made on the wreck of the Batavia, four hundred years ago. If their plans succeed, nobody in Rocky Head will survive to see out the new year. 

Page-turning and suspenseful, Saltwater Vampires is a distinctly Australian vampire thriller. 

After being floored by Raw Blue, Kirsty Eagar became my newest must-read author. And, also, how good is the trailer for Saltwater Vampires? I snatched up a copy as soon as I saw it shelved.

Saltwater Vampires has a hugely ambitious and sophisticated plot - there's three story-lines that blend together: the shipwreck and blood pact made on the Batavia (400 years earlier), a gathering of powerful freaky-guys in Amsterdam and Jamie and his mates kicking back surfing in Rocky Head, Australia.

What I loved about this book is it's unique blend of rich prose and suspense-filled plot. It's got this laid-back Aussie pace that manages to buzz with an exhilarating, suspense-filled plot. My reading experience was similar to Raw Blue: a contradiction - I was tearing through the pages and at the same time pausing at moments to re-read sentences and soak up the magic in the prose.

Jamie and his mates are not your usual heroes or vampire slayers. They're these loveable, freaked-out, wide-eyed and brave teens: flawed and crushed, hopeful and resilient. They're mates who watch each others backs as well as let each other down and these contractions are so well drawn that the characters breathe on their own and worked their way into my heart. Eagar is a master of showing and readers are drawn into the richness of her characters and maybe have to work a little to see all the shades and complexities in the Aussie gang (consisting of three guys and two girls - whose history  includes crushes, betrayals, guilt, relationship complications and a recent horrific accident in the ocean).

The vampires from the Batavia wreck are seriously freaky creatures of the night. Ugly and evil and the stuff made of nightmares. Powerful and relentless and their desire for blood and sadistic plans of mass feasting gave me chills. The horror factor clawed at my belly - in a wide-eyed, can't-look-away, creeped-out manner.

Just like the power of the outback setting in Lucy Christopher's Stolen, Eagar evokes similar sensations with the ocean. It's churning and powerful and compelling and lurking with hidden horrors. The ocean and the bush and music festival were used to advantage to add to the creepy undertones and Australian authenticity.

I haven't seen many thrillers of this outstanding calibre in the YA scene. Also, the male POV - spot on in a way that made me ache for it's authenticity.

It's a dark, spine-tingling read but not without it's moments of laid-back humour and some heart-felt relationship drama that added some levity. Also, how much did the last page just make me grin? It left me with a sense of loving these guys.

Two quotes I loved:

  • Aw, bugger it. Don't die wondering. 17. I love Jamie :)
  • I love this sentiment: Jamie's eyes met hers and recognition passed between them. He wondered if that was how it was going to be for the rest of their lives. They'd talk as if they were just two people who used to hang out, but all the time their eyes would be saying, I know you well and I miss you badly. 304.

WA Premier's Literary Awards and Victorian Premier's Awards

2010 Victorian Premier's Awards

YA Short-list
I am completely torn. And in agreement with the awesomeness of these titles:

Swerve - Phillip Gwyne
Raw Blue - Kirsty Eagar
Beatle Meets Destiny - Gabrielle Williams

Also, kinda psyched that my last RTW (where I picked my best two books of the month) were two books that Victoria have picked as the best Aussie YA books of the year.  Really, such brilliance.

I loved Swerve but Raw Blue and Beatle Meets Destiny spoke to my soul and shot to my fave books of all time and I'm scared for both of them pitched against each other and I can't pick which is my fave. I'm holding my breath for them both

Beatle Meets Destiny is in the running for the Prime Ministers Literary Award and Raw Blue is also up for the Golden Inky. All three titles are Penguin :)

  • Western Australian Premier's Awards
  • Winners for 2008 and 2009 were announced last week (winners and short list below):

WINNER Justine Larbalestier- Liar
Belinda Jeffrey – Brown Skin Blue
David Metzenthen – Jarvis 24
Penny Tangey – Loving Richard Feynman
Lia Hills – The Beginner’s Guide to Living
  • Obviously, anyone who's read Liar will realise that Justine is some sort of literary genius :) However, my faves in this line up are Jarvis 24 (winner of CBCA 2010) and Loving Richard Feynman. And, The Beginner's Guide to Living is screaming out at me from my wish-list - have heard nothing but brilliant things about it
  • 2008
WINNER Shaun Tan – Tales from Outer Suburbia
Adrian Stirling- Broken Glass
Melina Marchetta- Finnikin of the Rock
Norman Jorgensen – Jack’s Island
Alison Goodman – The Two Pearls of Wisdom
  • I've only read three of these and was quietly impressed with Adrian Stirling's Broken Glass - a riveting and suspenseful psychological thriller which reminded me of Steven Herrick's small town settings with a strong Aussie flavour and dusty, authentic characters.

  • Does anyone else get intimidated by the goodness in the Aussie YA scene? As Simone Howell says the Aussie YA scene is rich. I so agree. Anyway, congrats to all the winners and good luck to Gwyne, Eagar and Williams!