Monday, March 30, 2009

Children's Book Council of Australia 2009 Shortlist!

The shortlist for the Children's Book Council of Australia's awards for the book of the year have been announced :)

Here's the shortlist for Older Readers:

Book of the Year - Older Readers Short List 2009
Author Title
CORNISH, D. M. Monster Blood Tattoo Book Two: Lamplighter
EATON, Anthony Into White Silence
FRENCH, Jackie A Rose for the Anzac Boys
MARCHETTA, Melina Finnikin of the Rock
MOLONEY, James Kill the Possum
TAN, Shaun Tales from Outer Suburbia

I haven't actually read any of these, have you? I've been meaning to read Finnikin of the Rock and I will definitely check out the others. Have you read any?

To look at the other shortlists (younger readers, picture book etc) click here :)

In My Mailbox (6)

Hmm.. what was in the mailbox this week?

Carrie Ryan cover
The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan
Yay!! So happy to get this :) I prefer the US cover to the Australian one (this cover reminds me of Twilight).

And then I got...

13 Treasures - Michelle Harrison
The One and Only - Sophie McKenzie
The Secret Ministry of Frost - Nick Lake

Monday, March 23, 2009

Review: A Map Of The Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell is a beautifully written story about high school student, Cora who is struggling to return to some level of normalcy after the death of her older brother. Taking refuge in her art she forms an unlikely relationship with her dead brother's best friend, Damian who helps her make sense of things.

The language used throughout this book is a delight to read and has made me seek out other books by Lisa Ann Sandell (I have Song of the Sparrow on my TBR pile). I was immediately drawn in to Cora's story and pretty much read the entire book in one sitting I was so captivated. One part in particular, made me tear up a little :(
'This feels like I'm turning a corner, and once I make this turn, I can't go back. But what exactly am I leaving behind? Nothing good, I think. If this is a turning point, I'll take it.'
The story isn't always a happy one, Cora and her family are almost torn apart trying to cope with their loss, but ultimately the story is one of survival, creativity and staying true to yourself.

I give A Map of the Known World 4.5/5 stars it's definitely one of my favourite books of the year and I would highly recommend it to everyone, especially anyone who is a fan of Sarah Dessen as they'd go well together.

A Map of the Known World (Ages 12+) by Lisa Ann Sandell ( is available in hardcover in April.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Friday Fun ANSWERS (2)

These are the answers to this weeks Friday Fun, First Lines Game. If you haven't had a chance to check out the game yet it's never too late! Just go here! :)

So these are the titles of the books which the first lines come from, just highlight the text (ctrl + a) to see the answers, that way there's no spoilers if you don't want them!

  1. Peter Pan, J M Barrie
  2. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
  3. The Dawn Treader, C.S Lewis
  4. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
  5. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  6. Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale
  7. The Field Guide, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black
  8. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Princes, J K Rowling
  9. James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
  10. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
  11. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  12. Uglies, Scott Westerfeld
  13. The Wide Window, Lemony Snicket
  14. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  15. Looking for Alaska, John Green

How did you go? :)

Does anyone have any suggestions for next week's game?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

In My Mailbox (5)

I got tired of my unruly tag cloud so I neatened up the tags a bit and compressed them into the navigation bar you can see on the left hand side. So if you want to look at past In My Mailboxes just click the appropriate button, fun! Also, does anyone know how to have a search feature on blogger?

Without further ado, In My Mailbox (which is hosted by The Story Siren) is a weekly feature in which you get to find out what books I received last week :)

Not a big week, which is nice because it gives me a chance to catch up!

Willow - Julia Hoban
I post that I am eagerly waiting on Willow by Julia Hoban on a Wednesday and it arrives Thursday morning! Made me so happy :)

Vampire Academy Series - Richelle Mead
I already had the set of these books but for some reason I received another one.. except this time there were one copy of the first one and two copies of the second one!

Behold my Vampire Academy stack!Perhaps I will have to have a competition to get rid of a few of them? :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Fun, First Line Games (2)

Every Friday I'm going to post a bit of a book related game, maybe some trivia or a quiz or something entertaining. I'll give you the weekend to ponder it over and then I'll put the answers up on a Sunday :) Sound like fun?

First Lines Game - Can you work out what books these first lines come from?

  1. All children, except one, grow up.
  2. In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.
  3. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
  4. There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
  5. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
  6. My lady and I are being shut up in a tower for seven years.
  7. If someone had asked Jared Grace what jobs his brother and sister would have when they grew up, he would have had no trouble replying.
  8. It was nearing midnight and the Prime Minister was sitting alone in his office, reading a long memo that was slipping through his brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind.
  9. Until he was four years old, James Henry Trotter had a happy life.
  10. Suppose that you and I were sitting in a quiet room overlooking a garden, chatting and sipping at our cups of green tea while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago, and I said to you, "That afternoon when I met so-and-so...was the very best afternoon of my life, and also the very worst afternoon."
  11. First the colors.
  12. The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.
  13. If you didn't know much about the Baudelaire orphans, and you saw them sitting on their suitcases at Damocles Dock, you might think that they were bound for an exciting adventure.
  14. When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.
  15. The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party.
Think it over! You can post your guesses here if you like, and then on Sunday I'll put the answers up so you can see how you went :)

[Future suggestions appreciated!]

Review: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I didn't know what Inkheart was going to be about before I started reading it (and even when I started reading it I still didn't know what it was going to be about!) but I wanted to read it because I'd heard people talking about it and I'd seen posters for the film-adaptation and it just seemed like this could be a book I might really enjoy.

What I found was an increeeeeedibly slooooooww beginning. I swear that nothing excitement happened for the first 100 pages, I kept reading all that time with the faith that surely something amazing was going to happen very shortly and I would be captivating by the awesomeness of it all.

Well, it did pick up after that but I still felt that Inkheart was entirely too long, the length could have been cut in half and a lot of the slower bits could have been condensed. Even the exciting ending seemed to drag a bit for me :(

I'm tempted to say if I were younger I might have enjoyed it more, after all the protagonist, Meggie, is 12 years old. I'm not sure though if the length of the book would have bothered younger readers. I'd be interested to know what experiences other people have had with this book!

However, the book was incredibly well written. The words are written like poetry and the imagery from this book is beautiful. Inkheart is a book within a book about books and a love for the stories and books pours out of the pages.

The fantasy story is about a Meggie who's life changes dramatically when she discovers her father can read the characters out of books.

The climax was built up very well and I was incredibly satisfied with the ending of the story! Everything wrapped up well and I know there are two sequels, Inkspell and Inkdeath but the ending Inkheart didn't suggest anything of what might happen in the next volumes. I think I will read the next book but I'm not going to go out and get it anytime too soon, I need to have a nice rest after Inkheart! :)

I give Inkheart 3.5/5, it's the sort of book I would love to read to young children in small chapter size morsels over a long period of time. I do, however, think it would be a great story to translate into film (to cut out all the slow bits) so I'll probably check out the movie. Has anyone seen the film version?

Have you read it? Tell me what you thought about it, I'd be very interested to know...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Themed Booklists: Fashion

I've put together a list of young adult books about fashion - designer clothes, starting trends, modelling - some of them are pretty girly and don't make you think too hard but others aren't so shallow...

So Yesterday - Scott Westerfeld
So Yesterday is a fascinating thriller aggressively questions consumer culture. Seventeen-year-old Hunter lives up to his name. A "cool hunter," he's paid by corporations to comb his native Manhattan in search of street style that could become the next new trend. Hunter meets and falls for fellow teen culture-watcher Jen, just before Hunter's boss mysteriously disappears. Jen and Hunter hold the most clues, and their wild, increasingly dangerous search uncovers a plot to subvert a consumer system that dictates what is cool. (From Booklist via Amazon)

Gossip Girl - Cecily von Ziegesar
At a New York City jet-set private school populated by hard-drinking, bulimic, love-starved poor little rich kids, a clique of horrible people behave badly to one another. An omniscient narrator sees inside the shallow hearts of popular Blair Waldorf, her stoned hottie of a boyfriend, Nate, and her former best friend Serena van der Woodsen, just expelled from boarding school and "gifted with the kind of coolness that you can't acquire by buying the right handbag or the right pair of jeans. She was the girl every boy wants and every girl wants to be." Everyone wears a lot of designer clothes and drinks a lot of expensive booze.... (From Amazon)

The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger
Most recent college grads know they have to start at the bottom and work their way up. But not many picture themselves having to pick up their boss's dry cleaning, deliver them hot lattes, land them copies of the newest Harry Potter book before it hits stores and screen potential nannies for their children. Charmingly unfashionable Andrea Sachs, upon graduating from Brown, finds herself in this precarious position: she's an assistant to the most revered-and hated-woman in fashion, Runway editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly. (From Publisher's Weekly via Amazon)

Violet On The Runway - Melissa Walker
A wallflower in the spotlight can do one of two things: wilt, or blossom...
Violet Greenfield's life changes forever when a lady in giant Chanel shades tells her she could be IT, the next Kate Moss-but taller, and without the PR problems. That's how Violet winds up with a business card in the front pocket of her jeans on her first day as a senior in high school. Angela Blythe from Tryst Models in New York City wants to put Violet on a plane and whisk her into the world of high-heeled boots and oversized sunglasses. Tall, skinny Violet, who's been P-L-A-I-N practically forever.
And guess what? She's going. (From Amazon)

Just Listen - Sarah Dessen
Annabel Greene seemingly had everything: cool friends, close family, good grades, and a part-time modeling career in town. But it all came crashing down, and Annabel has spent the summer in shaky, self-imposed exile. She finds herself dreading the new school term and facing, well, everyone again. The last thing she wants to do is revisit old friendships while the losses are painful, the secrets behind the rifts are almost unbearable. Her solid family seems fragile, too. What happened to cause the stiff silences and palpable resentments between her two older sisters? Why is no one in her loving but determinedly cheerful family talking about her middle sister's eating disorder? Annabel's devastating secret is revealed in bits and snatches, as readers see her go to amazing lengths to avoid confrontation. (From School Library Journal via Amazon)

Got anything to add to the list?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Interview with Aussie Charlotte McConaghy (Part 3)

It's Charlotte McConaghy week over at the Aussie YA Alliance so Adele, Allie and myself conducted somewhat of a SUPER interview with Charlotte. So super that it had to be divided up into parts or else you would be scrolling downwards forever. I got the lovely part 3, so if you want to read what comes before this, and to continue reading all the way to part four, the links are at the bottom of the post...

Your debut book is Arrival. Is it just Australian distribution at this point?

Yes, at the moment, but Black Dog Publishers also do international publishing and translations into other languages, so I guess if it does well, we might be looking at other countries...

Is Arrival going to be the first part of a trilogy?

That's what it has always been in my mind. Although I guess now that it's called a series, it could be opened up to the possibility of more.

So you haven't planned out how it's all going to end then?

I do have an ending, actually. I've written it. But things can always get changed. I tend to write and rewrite a lot.

As I get older, my style changes subtly.

I find myself wanting to explore different things.

What kind of music were you listening to while writing Arrival? Is there a playlist?

There was definitely music involved, I love listening while I write, it helps with the mood, but it was so many years ago now that I can't really remember what I was into at the time! Sorry.

Cover of Arrival

Where did the Anna/cancer plot come from?

Umm... I was just thinking about all the kids who have serious stuff going on in their lives like illness, and I wanted to include something like that to bring a bit of realism to the story. Perhaps so that people can relate to it, where everything else is so fantastical?

If Arrival was made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

That is the hardest possible question in the world!!! They all have to be young, just teenagers.

What authors do you really enjoy reading?

I love Isobelle Carmody, Melina Marchetta, Guy Gavriel Kay

Of course... Stephanie Meyer, lol, but who doesn't? I just love Edward!

Back to Melina Marchetta... I LOVE on the Jellicoe Road. And the new Finnikin book.

Were you consulted with the look of the book?

No, actually, but I love it. The original cover was very different, it was a drawing of Jane and Fern, but this cover is far more striking and mysterious I think.

Want to put all of this in context? Then you should check out the rest of it...
Part 3 - Look At That Book (You're here already!!)
Part 4 - Persnickety Snark

Interested in Arrival? You can buy it online here at Dymocks.

Waiting On Wednesday, March 18

Happy Wedesday everyone! Short and sweet today... I really want to read Willow by Julia Hoban!

Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow’s parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy —one sensitive, soulful boy—discovers Willow’s secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the “safe” world Willow has created for herself upside down.

Told in an extraordinary fresh voice, Willow is an unforgettable novel about one girl’s struggle to cope with tragedy, and one boy’s refusal to give up on her.

Sound good? It's out in April.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Interview With Tracy Madison, Author of A Taste of Magic

Today's author interview is with Tracy Madison author of the novel, A Taste of Magic which is released this March. Tracy lives in Northwestern Ohio with her husband, four children, a bear-sized dog, a snobby cat, and a loud-mouthed bird. Her house is often hectic, noisy, and filled to the brim with laugh-out-loud moments. Many of these incidents fire up her imagination to create the interesting, realistic, and intrinsically funny characters that live in her stories...

1. To begin with, can you tell us a bit about your new book, A Taste of Magic?

A Taste of Magic is the fun story of what happens when one woman receives the family's gypsy magic on her birthday. Here's the back cover copy:

Elizabeth Stevens is one bite away from happiness.
Today is Elizabeth Stevens’s birthday, and not only is it the one-year anniversary of her husband leaving her, it’s also the day her bakery is required to make a cake—for her ex’s next wedding. If there’s a bitter taste in her mouth, no one can blame her.

But today, Liz is about to receive a gift. Her Grandma Verda isn’t just wacky; she’s a little witchy. An ancient gypsy magic has been passed through her family bloodline for generations, and it’s Liz’s turn to be empowered. Henceforth, everything she bakes will have a dash of delight and a pinch of wishes-can-come-true. From her hunky policeman neighbor, to her gorgeous personal trainer, to her bum of an ex-husband, everyone Liz knows is going to taste her power. Revenge is sweet…and it’s only the first dish to be served.

2. Have you always wanted to be an author?

I've always enjoyed writing, but didn't give serious thought about trying to become published until my mid-twenties. Even then, it took me a while to get to the point I was ready to submit. With marriage, several moves across the country, and four children, I was more than a little busy! I continued to write, though, and was thrilled when my long-awaited dream of publication came true.

3. What was the road to publication for A Taste of Magic like?

I'd been submitting the book to agents for a while, and at the same time, it was at Dorchester Publishing. After about 8 months there, I received a phone call from the editor with an offer. It was amazing! I didn't have an agent yet, so I took a few days to contact those that still had the novel, and ended up with two offers of representation. While it was a tough choice, I decided to go with Michelle Grajkowski from 3 Seas Literay, and couldn't be happier!
4. Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

This is a tough question to answer, because almost anything can inspire me. A dream. An article in the paper. A news story on the TV. Normally, though, my inspiration comes in the form of a question that I just have to answer, so I write a book to answer it!

5. What do you think makes a good story?

Hmm, I'm going to answer this question as a reader, not a writer. Even with that, my answer will likely vary from any other reader you asked, because we all have different tastes. For me, what makes a story work is far more about the characters than the plot. Obviously, there has to be a plot, there has to be conflict of some sort to keep me intrigued, but my heart will follow a poorly plotted novel if I love the characters. On the other hand, if I don't love the characters, the greatest plot in the world won't keep me turning the pages.

6. Do you listen to music when you write?

Nope, I find it too distracting. But I do like to listen to music before I start writing, and sometimes I'll take a break from a scene to listen to a few of my favorites. Unfortunately, as much as I've tried, I cannot focus on the writing if I have music playing.

A Stroke of Magic

7. Who is your favorite character you've created?

I love all of my heroes and heroines, naturally, but I also have a special love for wacky older lady -- Grandma Verda. She's funny, has great instincts, and wow, I just LOVE writing her.

8. And finally, what can we look forward to from you in the future?

My second novel, A Stroke of Magic, will hit the shelves on June 30, 2009. This time, we get to see what happens to Elizabeth's sister, Alice, when she receives her gift of magic. It's a great story and I can't wait for others to be able to read it!

Thank you for having me here today! I really appreciate it. :)

Teaser Tuesdays, March 17

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! I'm a bit Irish so I can celebrate too!

So the books I'm currently reading I seem to have been reading for a while and have already teasered them in previous Tuesdays. I finished A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell already but that doesn't mean I can't tease you with it.

So, Teaser Tuesday! What's it all about? (Though you can probably disregard these this week as I haven't followed any of them...)
  • 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 :)
So I cheated and wrote out an entire paragraph. I just thought it was a really great paragraph :)
I cannot figure out for the life of me how to put an outfit together like these girls do. I can never seem to find that adorable top or the perfect pair of jeans. And even I do have the "right" clothes, forget about wearing them the ways these girls do. I simply cannot carry it off. Rachel says it's about attitude. Clearly I have an attitude problem.