Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug. She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po. She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace - or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone...

I really enjoyed Graceling by Kristin Cashore because it was a fun exciting novel that, while it was relatively long, had enough action and suspense to keep me reading and to want to find out the ending quickly. I believe in Australia Graceling is marketed as an adult book but is young adult overseas? I will have to confirm that but it definitely read as a young adult book in its simplicity and lack of an ultra-complicated storyline which I often find myself bogged down in with this type of fantasy-adventure genre adult novel but at the same time could definitely appeal to adult readers – the book is big!

There was actually quite a lot of violence in this book though I wasn’t really aware of it until after I’d finished and read the backcover where there was a mention of ‘graphic violence’ or something similar. As a fan of pretty violent cinema I might just be desensitised but the content of this book didn’t really strike me as overly violent, at least not to any extent where I would warn readers to be cautious (age dependent of course).

The medieval world were the story was set definitely intrigued me, along with the concept of people born with certain talents or ‘graces’. The two main characters, Katsa graced with killing, and Po graced with the ability to see things with his mind were very interesting and it’s very enjoyable to watch their talents develop. However, I do have the criticism that often there was a lot too much conversation going on with (often for chapters at a time) very little action to move the story along.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Graceling to anyone who’s looking for a fun, epic and adventurous journeys across fantastical lands with graced heroes leading the way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Check Out The Scene Of This Blog

I'm the weekly feature on Scene Of The Blog on Cathy's blog Kittling: Books - http://cathyskye.blogspot.com

You're totally invited to go check out my desk space... though I think I may have redecorated my area since the photo was taken :) And while it is technically the scene of this blog it has recently become the scene of some seriously study and exam-revision.

Only two months before I'm all done... at which point the blog will rise from the land of the dead.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Judging A Book By It's Cover (In A Good Way)


I don't deny that I will often pick up and read a book based solely on its cover. Good cover design is important! A couple of days ago when it was already dark outside and pouring with rain I ventured out to check the mail and there was a big tough envelope which was getting a bit soggy in the rain. Once safely inside, I ripped it open and the first thing I saw was that elephant. And I immediately decided that I really wanted to read this book :)

I have since found out a little more about it, as you can no doubt read it's called The Billionaire's Curse (which is an intriguing title) and is written by Richard Newsome. The whole book is published as a result of The Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing which is an annual prize awarded to an 'outstanding unpublished manuscript' with the aim to discover more wonderful new books for young readers, by Australian and New Zealand writers.

If you are an Australian or New Zealand writer you still have until July 31st to enter your manuscript for thsi year's prize. All the info is here. Otherwise there's always next year!

But back to The Billionaire's Curse...

Someone has stolen the world’s most valuable diamond and a constable lies unconscious in the British Museum, two sedative darts protruding from his backside. Not something Gerald Wilkins knows or cares anything about. Not until he finds himself on a private luxury jet heading for London to attend the funeral of a great aunt he has never met. Not until he inherits her estate, worth twenty billion pounds. Not until he opens a bundle of envelopes from his dead great aunt. Was she murdered? Who stole the diamond? And what is the mysterious casket that everyone seems to be looking for? With the help of the Valentine twins, the rat-fearing Sam and the gymnastic champ Ruby, Gerald’s got a mystery to solve. A mystery that will take them into secret passageways, a musty bookshop, an ancient crypt, a ruined tower and a colossal cavern where the secret of a priceless treasure lies protected by deadly booby traps.

The Billionaire’s Curse is an irresistible adventure story with an array of curious characters, ancient folklore and a whodunnit. Young and not-so-young adults, get ready to stay up late.

It's not out until August in Australia, so expect my review around then :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Great Australian YA Books That Are Also Great Australian Films (II)

One of my all time favourite Australian films has to Australian Rules which in my opinion is seriously under appreciated. It's adapted from Phillip Gwynne's YA book Deadly, Unna? and is set and filmed in country South Australia. The main character, Blacky, is played by one of my favourite Aussie actors Nathan Phillips who was fortunate enough to play the guy who was the reason all those snakes were on that plane in Snakes On A Plane. This film was made in 2002 so yeah, it was before he was famous haha. Definitely try and find this movie if you can, I'm not sure how easy it is to come by, though I'd be interested to see if you felt you needed subtitles though if you're not Australian, there's some great slang in here.


In Prospect Bay, a remote outpost on the South Australian coast, two communities, the Goonyas (whites) and the Nungas (blacks), come together on the one field they have in common, the football field. But the underlying racism and class warfare threatens to make the team's greatest victories irrelevant. This holds particularly true for Blacky, a white teen who is more interested in books than sport, and his best friend, Dumby, the Aboriginal star of the team.

http://www.middlemiss.org/matilda/australian_rules.jpg http://www.westprint.com.au/images/Book%20Scans/Youth/deadly%20unna.jpg

(Actually both book and film are available on amazon, you'll just have to ignore the film's sole review... it got one star haha - book | film)

Great Australian YA Books That Are Also Great Australian Films (I)

Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta is an Australian YA book first published in 1992 and made into a film, released in 2000. It's probably close to ten years since I've read Looking For Alibrandi but I watched the film again recently. The film's is a bit girly but well worth trying to get your hands on a copy to watch. The beginning and the end of the film are a bit slow but the middle is amazing! Definitely an example of a good Australian film. It stars Pia Miranda as Josie Alibrandi as well as Anthony LaPaglia and Matthew Newton.


A teenage Australian girl deals with the traumas of everyday life. These include her difficult relationship with her single mother, the unexpected return of her long-lost father, the disapproving nuns at her strict Catholic school, the acceptance of her schoolmates,and romantic dilemmas over two very different boys...

http://thecia.com.au/reviews/l/images/looking-for-alibrandi-poster-0.jpg http://www.booksloveme.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/lookingforali.jpg

(Both the book are and the film are on amazon - book | film)