Thursday, January 27, 2011

where have I been?

This picture is far too cute a representation of how I feel...

Just a courtesy post to say hey and that I have been just, ugh, awfully sick and plan on getting straight back to things as soon as I am well again. 

It's been a bit of a shocking week. Miss you guys. 

Back to bed...

xo Nomes

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

6 by Karen Tayleur

But only one outcome. (blurb)

Karen Tayleur knows how to capture a readers attention from the outset and tease her way through to a twist-y climax.

6 opens with a haunting prologue:
"But the facts are simple. A recipe for disaster.
One car.
Five seatbelts.
Six people.
A late night party.
A generous splash of alcohol.
A sprinkle of bad weather.
Two P-plate signs." p.5
And no one is answering the ringing mobile phone...

6 follows the lives of 6 teenagers in their final 6 months of year 12 (the last year of school). There's the teaser that one of these 6 teenagers will die by the end of the novel. You don't know who or how it all goes down. BUT what grabbed me was, after the rocking prologue, it opens with an inciting incident that will suck you in.

On a stormy day, 6 teens stumble across something shocking, and despite misgivings, keep it a secret amongst themselves. It continues to haunt them throughout the year. There's uneasy feelings between them. The 6 teens are like a Breakfast Club assortment ~ not all are friends and they all fall on different places on the social hierarchy, one crushing one another who's crushing on another... it's complicated yet realistic.

It's like reading a coming of age novel, exploring friendships, family relationships, love, that sense of identity and being on the cusp of adulthood. It so finely portrays the stress of exams, giddy anticipation of The Formal and choosing what to do in life. All this is set against a back-drop of something truly sinister tying a group of teens together and something horrific looming unseen ahead of them.

I love how Karen Tayleur pushes the boundaries with experimentation in her novel. This is a taste of what you can expect in 6:

  • 6 different points of view, male and female
  • past, present and future tense
  • first person, third person, omni-present
  • Vlog entries, diary entries, narration, flashbacks
  • additional extras: mini character profiles, chapters opening with nursery rhyme snippets ~ which, although familiar, were creepy and ominous in the context. The nursery rhymes were so cleverly used ~ one of my favourite aspects.

There's a lot to admire. I always love extra titbits in novels and in 6 it was pulled off to add an extra dimension. It really enhanced my reading experience. Each POV felt distinct and it was effortless to follow. It takes incredible vision and talent to produce such an energetic and layered plot. It barely hits 200 pages, and it's an incredible feat, juggling so much story.

While I was hooked from the out-set (really, who wouldn't be?) I did find a little restless lag in the middle, despite churning through the book in 48 hours. Blame it on being anxious to get to the conclusion to see how it was all going to play out...

Recommended: 6 is atmospheric, unexpected and unique. The ending is a bit of a twist and it's a book you could easily re-explore, finding clues and hints cleverly hidden amongst innocent-seeming prose. 6 is a novel that will easily engage reluctant readers ~ with characters that teens will oh-so-easily relate to.

Discussion point:
While the book is Australian, using Aussie terms for our final school exams, it didn't have a strong Australian vibe. In fact, I was initially thrown with some terms I see in imported work but I don't hear Australian actually use. Such as:

  • they drank soda (we call it fizzy or soft drink)
  • they talked about The Woods (we call it the bush)
  • they shopped at The Mall (simply the shops or the plaza)
  • And didn't seem to wear a school uniform (most US school don't have a uniform but in Australia it is the norm)

Or was it just me? These things threw me out of the story when they popped up. (I know, I am pathetic like that). Little details like that made the setting foggier for me ~ I just wasn't sure what I was imagining? An Australian town or some random universal western world setting?

6 @ black dog books
Karen Tayleur's website
6 @ goodreads

Thanks to black dog books for my review copy

Monday, January 17, 2011

QLD Floods Book/Writer's Auction

Authors for Queensland are putting on a huge bidding auction to help raise funds for the Queensland Floods.

Here's the FAQs and the site where you can hoon around on and see whats up for grabs. The auction went live today and closes next Monday, 24th Jan.

There's a lot of stuff to bid on, including signed books and full manuscript critiques by Aussie authors. 100% of the winning bid goes directly to the appeal. Sounds good, hey? Especially if you were planning to donate anyway ~ this way you may get something special as a bonus...

Here's a sneak peak at some of the SIGNED YA books that are up for auction. There's a little bundle that I would love to win at auction ;)

There's more YA on there as well :) Kids books and adult fiction and poetry and phone consultations, etc.

There's also original artwork from children's books...

The floods are pretty huge and eerie and completely devastating. 
My husband is currently working 14 hour days on the flood phone lines and hearing all kinds of tragedies and braveries and just stories that take your breath away and are hard to compute.

Amongst the heart-breaking's a kind of funny story...

One family returned to find a random cow on top of their roof ~ washed up there in the floods.

random cow on the roof
National 9 News

Hope you guys are off to an awesome week! 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson

Using the skills you've learned so far in Introduction to Psychology, please write a brief self-assessment describing how things are going in your freshman year.
Presenting Concerns:
The Patient, Leigh Nolan (that would be me), has just started her first year at Stiles College. She has decided to major in psychology (even though her parents would rather she study Tarot cards, not Rorschach blots).

Patient has always been very good at helping her friends with their problems, but when it comes to solving her own...not so much.

Patient has a tendency to overanalyze things, particularly when the opposite sex is involved. Like why doesn't Andrew, her boyfriend of over a year, ever invite her to spend the night? Or why can't she commit to taking the next step in their relationship? And why does his roommate Nathan dislike her so much? More importantly, why did Nathan have a starring role in a much-more-than-friendly dream?

Aggravating factors include hyper-competitive fellow psych majors, a professor who’s badly in need of her own psychoanalysis, and mentoring a middle-school-aged girl who thinks Patient is, in a word, naive.

Psych Major Syndrome

Psych Major Syndrome is Alicia Thompson's debut which came out in August 2009 (which sounds like ages ago now that we're in 2011...)

I wanted to read it for AGES. Set in college. With an older protag. It sounded fun and maybe a little bit mad crazy. Which is how I love my books to be...

When I finally got it, I started reading and couldn't put it down. Sneakily, (despite my, erm, new years resolution Reformed Sleeping Habits Commitment) I stayed up until 3:30am to finish it.

It's probably an odd book to find un-put-downable. It's not because I was sucked in to the plot, or waiting for some major twist/secret to be revealed. It's because I was JUST HAVING SO MUCH FUN reading it. It was compulsively addictive.

It's gorgeous. 

And KINDA SWEET with this FUNKY VIBE. It's FUNNY (oh, I so love books that make me grin) and often cringe-worthy and honest and, dear God, I was also in a state of swooning and sweating over Nathan. Boy, talk about a new fictional crush. Phew...

Leigh felt like every-girl. I so loved her with all her flaws. 

It's not a deep book. It's not going to blow your mind. It won't have you on the edge of your seat. You can kind of see the ending coming. You get things before our spunky, OCD protagonist does. Okay, sometimes way before she does. You sometimes want to scream some sense into her. But you just love being taken along for the ride. (I've slipped into second person POV here :)

I haven't really said what it's about. Mainly it's just about Leigh and her first year of college, classic coming of age stuff. Growing up and freaking out and  wanting to lose your virginity and figuring out what you want to be and how to get there, yada yada yada. 

It's an older YA read ~ a few older themes but still done in a squeaky clean kinda way.

My fave part? The road trip with Nathan and thanksgiving back at home.

Recommended: This one is for fans of Rebecca Sparrow and Kirsten Murphy's Raincheck on Timbuktu. It's like a witty, fun-filled blend of these three books (below) ~which are favourites of mine.

Others have recommended it for fans of Meg Cabot and Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts series. I can see why ~ it's reminiscent of both their work. I personally loved it more than Sloppy Firsts and Meg Cabot's work. It's got a bit more of a funky edge. Think, throw in a little bit of Beatle Meets Destiny...

and now I'm getting carried away... haha.

So I recommend it for fans of contemporary. 

For when you're in the mood for a rainy day comfort read. 

In the mood for grinning and swooning and just relaxing into a slightly crazy, fun story. 

I'm not ashamed to say I've already re-read parts of it, curled up in the hammock the next day (after pulling my all-nighter). 

It's a new favourite of mine because books like this just make me happy

I could find so many quotes that I adored to give you a taste... but here's the opening, where Leigh fills out this psych evaluation dooby:


1. I like... to read incredibly unrealistic and badly written romance novels.

2. The happiest time was... I can't remember.

3. Back home... the house smells like incense all the time

4. I regret... buying Avril's first album on the basis of one song

5.At bedtime... I make up stories in my head.

6. I am... very sensitive about the weirdest things

7. What annoys me... is when people confuse "you're" with "your" or "its" with "it's"

8.People... are stupid.(see above)

9. A mother... can really embarass you sometimes, espescially when she insists on bringing her tarot cards to all parent-teacher confrences

10. I feel... a low level of dread on a regular basis.

11. My greatest fear is... of being stranded in the desert or buried alive. Or never finding happiness.

12. When I was a child... I liked to play "pretend" a lot.

13.I suffer... every time I have to drive my car.

14. I failed... geometry. Twice.

15. Guys... are confusing, but nice to have around.

16. I need... Dunkin' Donuts coffee to live.

17. I hate... the way parking services hunts you down.

18. This school... is a small liberal arts college in California.

19. My father... wears an eye patch as an affectation.

20. I wish.... Rotter had never graduated with a psychology degree." 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Aussie YA Challenge 2011

Brissie girl Nic of Irresistible Reads is hosting the Aussie YA Reading Challenge 2011

You're pumped, right? :)

Nearly 50 people have already signed up (!!!). If you sign up by Australia Day (Jan 26) you are automatically entered to win an Aussie YA book (your choice from 18 titles, sent from The Book Depository).

Here's my sign up post including Aussie YA books I'm planning on reading this year.

First,  a bunch of books that are already out that I have been meaning to read:

It's often hard to know about upcoming Aussie YA titles, so I'll be adding more as I hear about them.

Books coming out 2011
7 books by authors I already adore:

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
Kingdom of Cello #1 by Jaclyn Moriarty
Shirley Marr's sophomore title.

As for you? If you are thinking of joining and not sure what Aussie YA to read - you can check out:

@ goodreads

Or: let me tell you who I think you should read...
Jaclyn Moriarty. 

Which books in this post would you love to read?

Monday, January 10, 2011

What I've Been Reading and Hey :)

A sheepish and friendly hey from me :)

Yep ~ I've been off-line for a fortnight while we were away seeing family. Missed you guys and thanks to those who emailed me while I was gone ~ how lovely are you!?! Looking forward to getting into my google reader and popping over to all your blogs. If you're new here HELLO! and leave me a comment so I can follow your link back, yeah? :)

It's raining here (I know, I always talk about the rain, you would too if you lived here :) but not flooding...

And schools on holidays, which means I am too (wahoo!) with my kids. We've got plans for board games and the beach and reading and lazing around in general and hanging out with mates.

Here's 6 books I read in the last fortnight. 

Some reviews coming up but here's a little teaser...

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
Started slow for me, but then suddenly I couldn't put it down.
Loved it, a re-read for sure.
Lyrical and atmospheric.
Even felt a little teary towards the end...
A re-telling of the Lady of Shallott in verse.
Featuring Camelot, Lancelot, Arthur and Tristan (from Tristan and Isolde)

Between Shades of Grey by Rupa Sepetys
This is a stand out
Once you've read this, I don't think you'll ever forget the story or events
Which are based on a true story
Left it with my mother-in-law to read
Made me feel awkward about eating yummy food over Christmas when half the characters were dying of starvation... still, I overcame the awkwardness by savouring the yummy stuff even harder :)

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
A fave read of the year already
This one got 5 stars from me on goodreads b/c:
  • once I started I couldn't put it down
  • I cried. Actually cried. Rare for me in a book. Okay, maybe I got on the verge of going all-out and bawling...
  • The ending was perfect: real and sad and haunting and hopeful.
Need to read more of her work, hey.

Slice by Steven Herrick
Set in Katoomba ~ and I read it while in Katoomba :)
It's funny
and brilliant
and everything you'd expect from Steven Herrick.
See the watermelon on the cover? It's grinning. I couldn't stop smiling when I read this one.
It was also, sneakily, powerful and life-affirming.

And these last two? They were okay.

Losing Faith frustrated me.
I liked Life As We Knew It A LOT more than The Dead and The Gone. 

Any thoughts on the books I read?

What's the last book you read that made you cry?

xo Nomes