Tying up all the strings like a Cherry putting on his ATLAS – ‘Obsidio’

Obsidio.jpgOk, people. Hands up who totally loves The Illuminae Files?

<Earth shudders on its axis as billions of hands are raised>

It’s no secret I really dig this series. I love the way it’s written. I love the way you have to work to read it. I love the way it makes you question good and bad and ethics and whether we all should have a murderous AI watching our backs.

I jumped at the opportunity to read ‘Obsidio’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff as soon as it turned up shiny (literally) bright and new at my library.

I was not disappointed 🙂

Questions are answered. Body counts are added to. There are laughs. There is panic.

There is AIDAN…

 

Right. So, what are a few aspects I loved?

  • That dash of you-can-do-this-too
  • The distinct VOICES

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The spiky issue of positive relationship role models in YA – the clever ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’

acotar.jpgMan, I had fun with this series! I wanted to read ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ by Sarah J. Maas because firstly I love her writing, but mainly because I was intrigued as to how a series with a blatant love triangle could garner such positive reviews of said triangle… a love triangle is like a death knell to most books.

So how did this one not only keep readers happy, but have them cheering for the new guy?

I had to read ACOTAR and find out.

I didn’t expect to then have to read the next one. And the one after that.

I didn’t expect to not just enjoy the series, but to be impressed with the messages it was sending.

I want to talk about two things here.

  1. How Maas sets the scene at the start of ACOTAR
  2. How the love triangle totally redeemed itself in my eyes.

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A dream come true, with a side-serve of toilet gnomes – ‘Carousel’

Carousel.jpgI loved this spooky, quirky, thoughtful book! ‘Carousel’ by Brendan Ritchie has been on my TBR list for simply ages (please don’t ask me how long my very-long-list is!) so I jumped at the opportunity to grab it from my library.

Why?

Firstly, because it’s set in my closest too-enormous shopping centre, one of my least favourite places to be. Imagine being stuck in there <comical grimace>. I was intrigued how the book would play out.

Secondly, and most superly importantly, I wanted to read it because of a dream I used to have when I was a kid. All. The. Time. I was the only one locked up in a shop after hours. And it used to start out as such an awesome dream, with me finding all the lollies. Until it would always, without fail, turn spooky. Something else would be in there with me. 

Cue the ‘Carousel’ toilet gnomes, people. When I read about them, I came to the realisation I might never ever shop at Carousel again… 🙂 Seriously, if I could choose ANYTHING to try and make huge empty toilet blocks less scary, it would not be garden gnomes with their little faces watching out of the shadows… <shudder>  Continue reading

My CBCA Notables book binge!

My last library visit I had an aim – grab three CBCA Notables YA books.

And then read them. (Of course.)

At home, I mean. Not the library. (Of course.)

Not only did I manage that with flying colours, I also managed to find a Scribblers Fest feather in one! Not the gold… but still… I felt like I’d just opened a Wonka bar and found a golden ticket!

Here is my quick take on the three books. Beware spoilers, people…

‘A Shadow’s Breath’ by Nicole Hayes

AShadowsBreath.jpgSuspense. What went wrong? How did they get there? Will they survive?

I loved the structure of this book, very cleverly interweaving now and then to ensure we only discover what we need to, when we need to. And then, when we think we know what the bad thing is that she saw, that’s when the real bad thing that she doesn’t want to remember comes out. 

I really loved the Australian setting. The heat, the fire, then the rain. Some readers, unfamiliar with an Aussie summer, might think Hayes went over the top with the changeable weather. But I could smell the heat and feel the brooding clouds of a summer thunderstorm. Super.

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Heaps better than a fake spider on your door frame – ‘Olivia’s Secret Scribbles: My New Best Friend’

Olivia'sSecretScribblesMNBF.jpgWhat’s more awesome than your kid not wanting to go to sleep because they’re reading a great book?

Having them wake up the next morning and keep reading! And almost be late for school because they love the book so much! And then talk about it all the way to school!

‘Olivia’s Secret Scribbles: My New Best Friend’ by Meredith Costain and Danielle McDonald is the first “big kid” book my daughter read by herself, cover to cover. In less than 24 hours, too.

That’s not reading, people, that’s devouring.

So, what was so inviting in this book?

  • Easy to read font with lots of enticing illustrations
  • A couple of mysteries to solve
  • Some hidden lessons

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Bushfire – Fiction Friday!!

I didn’t hear the characteristic rattle of the loose roof iron above the kitchen, heralding a change in the wind. Hot easterly turning to a south-westerly that on a normal day would promise a drop in temperature. My brain didn’t register the growing smell of smoke, creeping up like an intruder.

CSIRO_ScienceImage_439_Experimental_Bushland_Burning_Results

Image: CSIRO

The shrill clamour of the smoke alarm finally halted my study halfway through working out the molar weight of an unknown substance in question 34a. Fear buzzed as chemistry fled my brain. I made it halfway to silence the alarm before the power went out, plunging me into a dark that was simply too dark for the time of day it was.  Continue reading

Even better than a hug from a dingo cat – ‘Cyclones and Shadows’

CyclonesAndShadows.jpg

I used to work up in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Red dirt, indomitable spinifex and awe-inspiring mountain ranges.

I’m miffed that I never got to experience a cyclone, though. (‘You don’t want to,’ said everyone who ever had.) Still, I would’ve loved to really feel WHY. The wind and the pressure and the bunkering down…

Now, thanks to modern storytelling, I’m halfway there :). ‘Cyclones and Shadows’ is a collection of four fab stories all based around the north of Australia, including one in a cyclone.

I’m in love with them all. I’d love a Shadow of my very own!

And his mango tree too, please!

What made me grin reading this book?

These stories, by Laura Dudgeon, Pat Dudgeon, Sabrina Dudgeon-Swift and Darlene Oxenham, are full of humour, empathy, insight and adventure. There are strong female main characters, zero gender stereotypes (when was the last time you read about a girl fixing up a car in Junior Fiction? Yeah, I thought so…), and vibrant themes of family and friendshipContinue reading

The inconsiderate window

When you’ve shimmied through as many windows as I have, you develop a strong appreciation for why doors were invented. This one’s a prime example. Clearly not designed for ease of entry.

To be honest, I’m kind of wedged.

My butt is stuck out in no-man’s-land, legs dangling Humpty-style. It’s starting to rain back there. If this wasn’t so serious it’d be funny. If it was funny I could laugh. If I laughed it might just help me wriggle all the way through.

I brace my arms against the chill inner wall, empty my lungs, and push. Eyes bulge with pressure, fabric rips, then I slither headfirst to the floor with a boom that resounds through the whole damn place. I hate floorboards.

As I groan to my feet lights are appearing out in the hallway, voices raised and alert. But there’s no way I’m heading back out that curse of a window.

No. I’m going to get what I came here for.

 

windowBecause it’s fun (and seriously, who needs a better reason?) I’ve instigated a Fiction Friday post, where I pop up something short and (not always) sweet from my recent writing efforts. 

This one is from the #scbwiwestchallenge, which encourages us SCBWI West Aussies to #createeveryday. The prompt for this piece was ‘window’

Check out Instagram to see other creations of awesome from myself and SCBWI Aus West!

Poking around perfection with a bird-tipped umbrella: ‘Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow’

Nevermoor.jpg

When you hear of a children’s book exploding onto the scene like those whizz-bang fireworks that keep on sparkling (complete with everyone going ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’) what you absolutely want to find out is HOW DID THEY DO IT?

‘Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow’ by Jessica Townsend is one such delightful explosion. It’s surrounded by stories of bidding wars and movie rights that make me happy-sigh, because stuff like that is still possible, and books are still awesome and kids still love reading, and more will love it after reading this book.

And that’s all awesome!

So, how did Townsend do it?

What is so delightfully scrumptious about her book?

  • A huggable world you get immersed in
  • The laughs and clever whimsy
  • The intricate extras in the story.

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Diverse voices make for a brilliant read – ‘The Stars at Oktober Bend’

TSAOBThis was an unexpectedly extra-super-dooperly beautiful book. ‘The Stars at Oktober Bend‘ by Glenda Millard had been recommended to me, so I was prepared to thoroughly enjoy reading it.

I was even prepared to cry. Quite a lot.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the depth, the intensity of the characters, and the extent to which this book covers new and interesting perspectives.

I read the blurb and expected a love story with extras. It’s way more than that. The back calls it:

A beautiful, heartfelt novel about transcending past troubles and learning to live with trust and hope.

And it absolutely is. Like the ocean is water, or chocolate is yum.

3 things that were super-dooper

  • Diverse backgrounds and issues
  • Great use of POV
  • Poetry you really do want to leave around the place so people read it.

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