Phew! First semester is over, so it’s back to the (fun) books for me! I couldn’t resist reaching for a novel I’ve been aching to read since it first came out – ‘Valentine’ by Jodi McAlister.
Great cover (don’t you think??!), great premise. Four kids, all born on Valentine’s Day… but which one is the changeling? Add a dash of love-hate romance and you have the perfect recipe for YA enjoyment.
This book does truckloads of stuff right. The characters and location feel so real. The start is amazing. All those midnight animals creeping around keep building the suspense.
And whoa… because if there aren’t at least two Valentines who can trace their lineage back to a bit of fairy magic, then I’m not a madcap children’s writer. Unfortunately, I have to wait for the next book to find out if I’m right. Continue reading
Made by me using pablo…
Critiques and beta readers… they’re how our craft gets richer, our writing more fab-tabulous, and our manuscripts closer to published. But do we all know how to accept the feedback when it comes?
I think I’m better now. I’ve taken a crash course in how to receive feedback. Here are my top five tips:
1. Take it and nod
Seriously people. Someone’s just taken the time to read your work and give you feedback. That’s huge. So maybe the feedback isn’t what you wanted to hear…? Continue reading
made by me, using pablo :o)
I know. I used to be posting every week and browsing through all your awesome posts. And then suddenly… nothing.
It’s like I walked off the edge of a cliff or sailed for Mars or something. Fear not… I’m still here, and I’m still sitting at the same desk. Just doing different stuff.
You see, I blog about books I’ve read…
…and writing I’ve done.
And basically, the only books I’ve read this past month are textbooks (and you don’t want me to blog about those)…
…and apart from a few stolen moments, the only writing I’ve done is academic.
(And trust me, you don’t want that either!)
So this is me, checking in, giving you all a high five because you’re all fabulous, and then logging back out to finish my current uni assignment.
Because if I don’t, this blog will morph into procrastination, and we don’t want that, do we!
Take care awesome people!
When I browse the library shelves, I admit I don’t normally venture into the graphic novel section. I’ve read a few “pure” graphic novels, but basically I’m a read-the-words-and-make-my-own-picture kind of reader.
But graphic novels continue to be on the rise. So I decided to review one.
To make it more meaningful, I chose the Twilight volumes – I’ve already read the book. How do the graphic novels differ?
Twilight: The Graphic Novel is told over two volumes, based on the work of Stephanie Meyer, art and adaptation by Young Kim. (I couldn’t find a website to link to that I was certain was the correct Young Kim – so if anyone knows it, please tell me.)
If you love unabashed epic middle-grade fantasy, you’ve probably heard of John Flanagan. Between the Ranger’s Apprentice series and Brotherband Chronicles, I count nineteen books. Each and every one with a totally awesome cover.
Today I’m heading back to where they started, in 2004 with ‘Ranger’s Apprentice Book One: The Ruins of Gorlan‘.
Hang on one book-devouring second…
Nineteen books in just over twelve years? And another one due this year? That is, hands down, awesome work. Bravo Flanagan!
So, what did I love?
- Positive relationships
- Incorporation of bullying
I got drawn into this book by the awesome idea of a sinister garden shed. I admit, I don’t like delving into the depths of my rickety back shed (hello red-back spider, and <hooly dooly> what made that scuttling noise?) but I always love discovering long-forgotten things.
I wasn’t disappointed by the read. In fact, it pleasantly over-achieved! ‘The Memory Shed’ by Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, illustrated by Craig Smith, was a delightful read. It is beautiful, well-written and give-yourself-a-hug warm.
- Junior Fiction
- 5 chapters
- 55 pages
- About 2,500 words
- Chapter 1 – intro to characters (including shed!) and inciting event (going to clean shed out)
- Chapter 2 – trepidatious entry into shed to start clean
- Chapters 3-4 – fun and memories
- Chapter 5 – realisation and happy finish.
What did I love?
I’ve just read that the Lulu Bell series by Belinda Murrell has sold >200,000 copies.
Just a moment while I put the laptop aside and bow in tremulous awe.
Okay, I’m back. So today I’m reviewing Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn, the first in the Lulu Bell series. The book instantly caught my attention, thanks to the vibrant illustrations by Serena Geddes. And then it kept it, thanks to the clever writing.
Awesome thumbs-up aspects:
- Cute animals (everywhere)
- Mermaid costumes (what kid doesn’t want one of those)
- Gorgeous illustrations
That’s the short of it. But, of course, I had to look a little deeper into the workings of a very successful book idea.
Want some tips on how a great chapter book works? Read on…
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Considering the release of the third book in the Red Queen series was imminent (‘King’s Cage’ was released on Tuesday), I figured I ought to read the first and see what the fuss was all about. ‘Red Queen’ by Victoria Aveyard was a wildly successful debut. So how did she do it?
Maybe I’ve finally read too much dystopian YA (<gasp> is that even possible?)… or hey, maybe it’s simply the answer as to how she did it, but ‘Red Queen’ seemed to conveniently tick all the plot boxes that come up when you compare other successful dystopians. In my head I’ve got a list like this:
Dystopian YA a la ‘Hunger Games’, ‘The Selection’ and ‘Divergent’
- Poor girl
- Boy at home who likes her
- Whisked into new world
- Gets to dress up
- Becomes famous
- Is strong/special
- New world boy falls in love with her
- There’s a rebellion
- She gets involved
- Love triangle
- Open ending
And now I can include ‘Red Queen’ as another bestseller with these tropes. Except it’s got a love square-ish-kind-of-thing going on rather than a plain old boring triangle. Continue reading
Maybe it’s a book-nerd thing, but I really loved how this book both pokes fun at, and pays homage to, the mighty Chosen One trope. I loved the nuances, I loved the giggles and I even loved the confusion.
Confusion…? What are you talking about Heather? Good books don’t confuse you! Except sometimes they do…
‘The Rest of Us Just Live Here’ by Patrick Ness had me scratching my head. Thankfully not nits (can you even catch them from a book?). Perhaps not even confusion, so much as mystery. I couldn’t get a complete handle on the world. Because I had too much of a handle on the world.
When was it set? Where?
Because everything seemed to be about now and about our normal world. Except for the blue lights and the zombies and the adults that don’t remember. Are they metaphors or are they real? Are they both? And… aaaah!
Reading! Continue reading
This has been on my TBR since before it was even published… and it did not disappoint! A clever melding of belief and reality, loss and discovery, fantasy and contemporary, it lured me in and held me. It’s been a while since I’ve read magic realism, and I sank back into it like a comfy couch.
‘The Shark Caller’ by Dianne Wolfer is a Young Adult novel that can easily suit Middle-grade readers as well. As in, no sex, drugs, angst or other decidedly YA-only markers.
‘The Shark Caller’ has a funky set-up that I loved, interspersing main character Izzy’s narrative with the POV of a shark (mako). The latter is beautifully set out on the page, not so much chapters as poetry and art. In fact, the whole book is beautiful.
It has a suite of diverse characters, and interweaves Tok Pisin with English so you get immersed in the setting of Papua New Guinea.
It’s fresh, it’s different.
I’m a fan. Continue reading