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)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

No Time Wasters + Beatle Meets Destiny

No Time Wasters is a collection of all the fake ads that some friends from Melbourne put in their local paper each week. Some of them are pretty funny so it's well worth a read.. the one above is an ad for a stalker. Which is funny because it's a joke but what happens when you reply as a joke and it turns out it's not a joke? This exact scenario happens in Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams (Penguin Australia, August 3 2009). Which should give you an indication of it's slightly quirky nature. It's a really adorable book... so more on that soon!

Beatle Meets Destiny

Imagine your name is John Lennon, only everyone calls you Beatle.

And then you meet your Dream girl and her name is Destiny McCartney.

But what if you're already with the perfect girl?

A novel about change, chance and everybody doing the wrong thing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guest Post - The Geek Girl's Guide To Cheerleading

Today's guest post is written by Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance, authors of The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading, on their blog tour....

If writers wrote as carelessly as some people talk, then adhasdh asdglaseuyt[bn[ pasdlgkhasdfasdf.
— Lemony Snicket

I have a confession to make: I have not read any of the Lemony Snicket books. I suspect this will make me not so popular with the fair Lisa May. In my defense: I have wanted to read them since The Bad Beginning. It’s just that I want to read so many other books too. And, when I go to a bookstore, my natural ADD tendencies kick in. I am likely to purchase the first armful of books that call out to me, ‘Ooh, look over here! I’m shiny! Pick me!’

That is the essence of both what is horrible and wonderful about children’s and young adult book publishing these days. There are so many wonderful books out there that it is impossible to read them all.

That is also the essence of the difference between writing for young people and writing for adults. The next time you walk into a bookstore, take a look around. The adult fiction is segregated, all neat and tidy. Mysteries over here. Romances over there. Sci-Fi on the left. Literary Fiction on the right. The boundaries between each section are carefully drawn, but within each genre those boundaries are even more explicit.

Sci-Fi fanatics freak out if there is no actual science between the covers. Mystery readers are divided between those who prefer their stories hard boiled and the ones who expect their murders a tad cozier. The first group will be disappointed if a little blood isn’t spilled on the page. The second group might ask you to wipe your feet before you pull up a chair to discuss cats or casseroles or, ahem, the murder that has just occurred unseen, somewhere off the page, if you please.

Romance readers, oh my, there a gabillion expectations in that genre. At least one semi-sexual encounter by page 30? Check. Hero and heroine must commit to a forever love by the end of the book? Check. Adult paranormal readers expect their werewolves to know their time (full moon only) and vampires to know their place (in the coffin by dawn, please). Each genre and subgenre has its own strict rules and woe to the author who attempts to pull at those restraints.

Now take a look at the YA section of the bookstore. It’s a mess. Chances are, if any boundaries exist at all, the books might be divided between fiction and non, or between series and stand alone. Within just a shelf or two, you can find:

A book about three nerdy boys and a preppy girl who head off to follow mysterious clues about a mysterious girl who is holed up in a mysterious town that doesn’t actually exist. (Paper Towns by John Green)

A story where Death develops a soft spot for a young girl, then follows her around Nazi Germany (The Book Thief by Markus Zusak)

Or the palooza of young adult fiction – a series where a girl falls in love with a vampire who sparkles, then a werewolf who morphs when he pleases (screw that full moon thing). She must choose between these unlikely love interests while coming of age, dealing with loss and making large life and (un)death decisions (The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer)

This is YA today. There are no boundaries, no rules and no limits for those who wish to write for young people. We are allowed to mix ‘n’ match genres and are encouraged to throw old conventions out the window.

What’s the difference between and writing Adult Fiction or YA?


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm 'Blog Of The Day' at Fuel My Blog

In exciting and unexpected news Look At That Book is the blog of the day on the blog network site Fuel My Blog so Look At That Book is the big picture up the top of the page. I think it must just be a random thing to become blog of the day, but I think it's pretty cool regardless :)

If you linked here from Fuel My Blog, hello to you!
So yeah.. I should get to putting up some new content or something :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lemony Snicket Appreciation Post (Part 10)

Like a church bell, a coffin, and a vat of melted chocolate, a supply closet is rarely a comfortable place to hide.
- Lemony Snicket


Criminals should be punished, not fed pastries.
- Lemony Snicket


When some is crying, of course, the noble thing to do is to comfort them. But if someone is trying to hide their tears, it may also be noble to pretend you do not notice them.
- Lemony Snicket


Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it isn't so.
- Lemony Snicket


Entertaining a notion, like entertaining a baby cousin or entertaining a pack of hyenas, is a dangerous thing to refuse to do. If you refuse to entertain a baby cousin, the baby cousin may get bored and entertain itself by wandering off and falling down a well. If you refuse to entertain a pack of hyenas, they may become restless and entertain themselves by devouring you. But if you refuse to entertain a notion - which is just a fancy way of saying that you refuse to think about a certain idea - you have to be much braver than someone who is merely facing some blood-thirsty animals, or some parents who are upset to find their little darling at the bottom of a well, because nobody knows what an idea will do when it goes off to entertain itself.
- Lemony Snicket


Friday, June 12, 2009

Review: Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

I was intrigued by this book ever since I saw it mentioned somewhere online and was eager to read my own copy. Red-Headed Stepchild is about kick-ass mixed-blood, outcast vampire assassin Sabine Kane. She is put on a mission to infiltrate a cult that is threatening her vampire community which is where the story really starts with Sabina stuck with a demon who tried to kill her, being stalked by a hot mage and forced to let another vampire suck her blood, all while discovering some unsettling truths about things she had been told from birth. (Just a note this is not young adult fiction - there's plenty of sexual happenings in this book (but no actual sex, heh) plus swearing etc.)
Things To Do:
1. Infiltrate rival vampire cult and assassinate leader.
2. Get rid of demon houseguest.
3. Ditch the hot mage stalker.
4. Betray family.
This book is really sassy, Sabina is a sharp, witty leading lady. The banter in this book is hilarious, especially between Sabina and the demon. The action in this book is full on, Sabina is one tough half-vampire :) It's quite graphic, but not extremely so.

I really enjoyed the storyline, apparently it's 'urban fantasy'. Heaps of mythical creatures all make appearances in the book; vampires, mages, faeries, nymphs, demons etc. All living in secret surrounded by humans in a modern-day setting. It was really interesting, fast-paced reading. It raised plenty of questions and gladly supplied the answers, but there's still enough going on for a sequel, The Mage In Black, which I will be looking out for!

Highly enjoyable, somewhat addictive reading. If you're still into vampires but don't want to go through the teen romance, this one is well worth a read.

Published by Orbit, Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells is out now.