Friday, January 30, 2009

Review: The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

If you haven't heard of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book you are unfortunately not very attentive. The book's been in the news all week as it has just won the prestigious Newbery Medal. Add to that the confirmation of a movie version, to be directed by Neil Jordan. Hailed as an 'instant classic' there is no doubt that The Graveyard Book is big news right now. Is all the hype deserved? In a word... yes :)

The book begins with a triple stabbing, leaving a baby orphaned... said baby wanders to a nearby graveyard and is brought up by the ghosts that live in the graveyard. Crazy premise but it definitely works.

From amazon:
The sole survivor of the attack--an 18-month-old baby--escapes his crib and his house, and toddles to a nearby graveyard. Quickly recognizing that the baby is orphaned, the graveyard's ghostly residents adopt him, name him Nobody ("Bod"), and allow him to live in their tomb. Taking inspiration from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Gaiman describes how the toddler navigates among the headstones, asking a lot of questions and picking up the tricks of the living and the dead. In serial-like episodes, the story follows Bod's progress as he grows from baby to teen, learning life’s lessons amid a cadre of the long-dead, ghouls, witches, intermittent human interlopers. A pallid, nocturnal guardian named Silas ensures that Bod receives food, books, and anything else he might need from the human world. Whenever the boy strays from his usual play among the headstones, he finds new dangers, learns his limitations and strengths, and acquires the skills he needs to survive within the confines of the graveyard and in wider world beyond.

The chapters begin with illustrations by Dave McKean which are spooky and great, I really wish there had been more of them! Each chapter reads as a sort of individual short story, Bod is usually at a different age and will discover a new thing and have a new adventure, with a mini-conclusion in each one.

It's a 'coming-of-age' type-book -we all know that when Bod is going to reach a certain age he will need to leave the graveyard - and it's highly enjoyable to read Gaiman's masterful storytelling as Bod goes from a curious toddler to a determined teenager.

When I got to the end of the book, my main thought was how I didn't want it to end. I wanted to keep reading about Bod and the other characters. Why did it finish?! :(

If you haven't already read it, go read it. Now! I give it 4.5/5 stars... have you read it yet? If not, why not?!

I Can't Believe I Didn't Know This!

As regular readers will no doubt know, I'm a big big fan of Sonya Hartnett. Yet somehow I completed missed the part where she has a new book coming out.. IN TWO DAYS!!

Like what?! How could I not know this?! I am crazy. I live under a rock. But I do know now, so all is well.

The book is called Butterfly and is being released on Feb 2 in Australia (but later in other countries).

From the Penguin website:

Here is Plum Coyle, on the threshold of adolescence, striving to be new. Her fourteenth birthday is approaching: her old life and her old body will fall away, and she will become graceful, powerful, at ease. The strength in the objects she stores in a briefcase under her bed - a crystal lamb, a yoyo, an antique watch, a penny - will make sure of it.

Over the next couple of weeks, Plum's life will change. Her beautiful neighbour Maureen will begin to show her how she might fly. The older brothers she adores - the charismatic Justin, the enigmatic Cydar - will court catastrophe in worlds that she barely knows exist. And her friends - her worst enemies - will tease and test, smelling weakness. They will try to lead her on and take her down.

Who ever forgets what happens when you're fourteen?

Butterfly is a gripping, disquieting, beautifully observed novel that confirms Hartnett as one of Australia's finest writers.

Did you know this? Why didn't you tell me!

EDIT: I actually can't find the book on it's on though!

Books That Make You Cry

A good cry every now and again can be a great release... I get some perverse pleasure out of watching Titanic, even though I know that I will spend the last half hour of the film bawling my eyes out... and will continue weeping for another half hour after it's finished.

Unless you're particularly emotional, it takes a good book to bring you to tears. You have to be able to really connect with the character's and sympathize with them to become emotionally involved to the point of crying. (I know a lot of people who cried in Harry Potter 7... honestly I think I was a bit confused and emotionally detached when I read that one, didn't shed a tear).

So what are some books that have made me cry?

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
The ending was so tragic, I wept. Granted, I was quite young when I read this for the first time and didn't cry at all on the reread. But oh, it was so sad!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Such a beautiful story... but a very tragic one. It's established right from the onset that it's going to be a sad, teary book. Lots of tears from me!

Through A Glass, Darkly by Jostein Gaarder
When I read this book, I enjoyed the ideas but sometimes found myself a bit bored. I was actually incredibly shocked with myself after reading the final sentence. Suddenly everything just clicked and I cried and cried... and cried :(

Obviously, different things are going to set different people off. What books make you cry? Ever read a book that people have told you is really sad and just didn't feel it?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Love The Cover, Simmone Howell

I love the cover of Notes From The Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell. The cover looks like someone has sat down and done some awesome doodles. I like it very much.

From Amazon:

Seventeen-year-old Gem feels as if she's beginning to drift away from her best friends, Lo and Mira, with whom she's formed an alliance against the "sucker peers" they call "barcodes." In the spirit of Andy Warhol and his Happenings, Gem comes up with the idea to make an edgy film to screen at an underground party, she thinks this project will bring the three girls back together again. As scriptwriting and production begins, however, she starts to feel that the project is getting out of control.

A quick google reveals that it actually comes in many different covers...

It's a good book :) Anyone else read it? Which cover do you like best?

EDIT: The fantastic Adele over at Persnickety Snark has just interviewed Simmone Howell and has a guest blog coming up soon!

Also, if anyone out there lives in Melbourne you can meet Simmone Howell and Justine Larbalestier on Feb 22!! How cool :)

Review: Surrender - Sonya Hartnett

Surrender by Sonya Hartnett is a psychological thriller.. Gabriel, who is still a very young man, is on his death bed. Through Surrender he recounts the haunting and horrific events from his brief life in a small, country town.
In the hills there's many places we call home, hollow trees, wombat holes, shanties I've built using timber filched from the tray of the carpenter's truck.
The book switches perspectives between Gabriel and his dangerous friend, Finnigan, setting up a layered story full of unexpected twists and turns.

Hands down, Surrender is a fantastic book. Gabriel is a flawed protagonist and his story is gruesome and dark. Sonya Hartnett's writing creates a chilling atmosphere that seems to come out of the pages.
We met among trees and on the edges of fields and by the creek where ebony snakes slid under stones; it suited us to meet this way, in wild places, like migrating birds.
I wouldn't recommend it for younger readers, though.. the story is bleak and heartbreaking.

Sonya Hartnett is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and Surrender does not disappoint. I rate it 4/5 Stars!

Waiting On Wednesday, January 28

Better late than never, it's not Wednesday anymore but I am still eagerly waiting on Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of Speak. It sounds like it will be a deeply emotional and moving book. And also, brilliant cover art. Love love love the cover. Great design. *Swoon!*

From Amazon:

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson will be released on 19th March 2009. So... are you waiting on anything?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays, January 27

Hottest day in five years... an unbearable Tuesday!
Which is, of course, a good as time as any for a good teaser :)
What's it all about?
  • Grab your current read
  • Let the book fall open to a random page
  • Share 2 "teaser" sentences from the page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • No spoilers! Just teasers :)
I only just started reading my book so this teaser will be just as interesting for you as it will be for me...
"The horse paused beside the obelisk. In the east the sky was lightening gently, predawn luminescence that made the people of the graveyard uneasy and made them want to think about returning to their comfortable homes."
This quote is from The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Also with awesome illustrations by Dave McKean. Not a lot of illustrations... but very good ones :)

Enticed? What are you reading this Tuesday?

Monday, January 26, 2009


Happy Australia Day everyone! :) Yay, it's the day to celebrate what's great. Personally, I'll be spending the day at the beach in the sun, listening to Triple J's Hottest 100.

I thought I'd celebrate here by putting together a little profile of some of my favourite Australian YA authors...

John Marsden is like a YA Australian author legend. Seriously! :) If you haven't read his Tomorrow series, about these teenage kids who are out in the bush when Australian gets invaded and take it upon themselves to do their bit in the war, you're missing out! I've read most of his books and, especially his earlier works are really something special.

I mention Sonya Hartnett a lot here, I think she's the bee's knees! She's written LOADS of great books like Surrender, The Ghost's Child and The Silver Donkey. All are very, very good and totally different from each other. Last year she was the first Australian to win the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. I'm going to work my way through every one of their books and I'm sure I'll love them all.

Margo Lanagan is the award-winning author of many YA fiction novels and short stories. Her books include Tender Morsels, Red Spikes and The Best Thing. I read The Best Thing soooo long ago, I remember borrowing it from the teen section of my local library back when there was a poster of the wall of pretty boy Leonardo Dicaprio with ridiculous bangs. And I still remember so many things about the story, the plot, characters names, crazy details and scenes. I can't believe I remember as much as I do. She's good!

Emily Rodda aka Jennifer Rowe, has written many, many different series'... she writes mostly fantasy-adventure type books. Her Deltora series is really good, it looks a little crazy but it is very enjoyable! Also, her series about a character named Rowan who does all sorts of adventurous things is great as well :)

Once again, Happy Australia Day! If you haven't heard of some of these authors before, I seriously recommend them...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jane Austen and Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!

I am so thrilled that this exists... Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

What more could you ask for in a book, seriously?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! Apparently it's the classic tale of Pride and Prejudice with some "all-new scenes of bone crunching zombie action".

Well I don't know about you, but I think that sounds like a whole lot of awesome for one book.

It's published by Quirk Books who seem to be a one-stop shop for all your insane heart's desires. I don't know about you but I would love to learn about Creepy Cute Crochet, The Baby Owner’s Manual or a book on How Not to Write. Aaaah I want them!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
isn't out until May so there's still a while to wait for a zombie fix!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Love The Cover, Justina Chen Headley

I love the cover of North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley. It's a nice photo and I like the cropping, plus the compass superimposed over the top is very cool as well. All in all, I think it's great. Props to the designer!

The book's not out yet but I read a teaser over at Rimas Book Journal.

From the authors's website:

From behind, you’d think Terra Cooper had it all: she’s tall but not too tall, has a figure to kill for, and boasts naturally blonde hair. But the palm-sized birthmark on her face might as well be her fate map. Everyone in her small, touristy town knows what’s hidden beneath the heavy makeup she’s worn since birth. Sick of being the town oddity and even sicker of her caustic mapmaker of a father, Terra yearns to escape the suffocating grid of her life. And then she nearly runs over an Asian Goth boy, her age…and encounters True Beauty in him…and herself.

Explains the hair in the photo! It's always good when the cover actually relates to the book. This one's out on February 1st... I'm looking forward to it :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday, January 21

Solving ZoeHappy Wednesday everybody! We're halfway through the week already :)

What am I waiting on this Wednesday? That would be Solving Zoe by Barbara Dee.

From the author's website:

Zoe Bennett feels lost at her fancy private school. She’s not the star drama queen, like her sister, or a brainiac math genius like her brother. Luckily her best friend, Dara, is just as content as Zoe is to stay in the shadows—or is she? When Dara gets a part in the school musical, Zoe feels abandoned. What’s worse, she’s practically being stalked by the weird new kid, Lucas. When he accidentally drops his notebook, Zoe finds it’s written in symbols and numbers—it’s complete gibberish. And yet she sees her name in there, plain as day. Now Lucas is telling her she’s a natural code-reading genius—or some kind of mental freak.

As Zoe’s daydreaming lands her in trouble at school, anonymous notes start to appear in students’ lockers, and they point to Zoe as the number one suspect. Solving word puzzles may come easily to her, but now there’s more at stake—will Zoe be able to solve her way out of this?

With plenty of wit and insight, Barbara Dee has created this fresh, funny story of a girl who discovers that fitting in sometimes means standing out.

Sounds like good fun to me :) Solving Zoe comes out on April 21, 2009.

How's your Wednesday going? Are you waiting for anything...?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays, January 20

It's time again for Teaser Tuesday!
What's it all about?
  • Grab your current read
  • Let the book fall open to a random page
  • Share 2 "teaser" sentences from the page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • No spoilers! Just teasers :)
This week I'm reading Q & A by Vikas Swarup which you may know is what the recent film Slumdog Millionaire was based on. I really loved Slumdog Millionaire, which was directed by Danny Boyle. I saw it just before Christmas and now it's won a ton of awards, well deserved awards if you ask me!

I'm not very far in so I can't tell you yet how similar Q & A is to the film. I can, however, give you a teaser...

'Absolutely, once hundred per cent correct! You have just won two thousand rupees.'
'Amen,' I say.
I'll post my review when I'm done. I'll let you know how similar it is to the film.

Has anyone read this book or seen Slumdog Millionaire? What did you think?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Love The Cover, Gabrielle Zevin

I love the cover of Gabrielle Zevin's Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. While the cover design doesn't really give you much of an indication as to what the story will be about, it is very pretty to look at. And anyway, the title Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac sums up what the book is about nicely!

I wish my hair fanned out like that. Doesn't it make you want to go lie out in the sun?

The book was also printed with a different cover, typewriter keys. Which is probably more fitting to the story but not as please to my eyes.

Which cover do you prefer?