Tag Archives: Melina Marchetta

Recommendations of Note (for the scrappy ladies)

(photo credit: martinak15 via photopin cc)

It has been pointed out to me of the double meaning of crafty—I did not mean anything by it, fabulous ladies. I just think of you of my crafty ladies, and today, you’ll be scrappy. =)

So my last post of recommendations focussed on book series, and today we’ll focus on individual books! (The harder task, since so many books today are part of series.)

The Fault in Our Stars (John Green, Penguin). This one can’t be ignored, especially since the movie is making women and their daughters everywhere sob out loud in cinemas. Two teenagers fall in love and they just happen to have cancer – a lovely, heartbreaking book that shows all the beautiful and ugly emotions associated with grief. Recommended for 14+

Saving Francesca and On the Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta, Penguin). Melina is definitely one of my favourite Australian authors; she captures the teenage soul so well. Saving Francesca is about a girl whose mother suddenly won’t get out of bed while trying to navigate her new school as part of the first class of girls in an all-boys school. The pop culture references are to die for (and are particularly relevant to me as this book was published when I was sixteen.) On the Jellicoe Road begins the day Hannah disappears. Taylor was left at the 7Eleven in Jellicoe by her mother when she was 11. Hannah, the woman who picked her up, is the closest thing she has to a mother–and one day she’s just gone. But Taylor doesn’t have time to be mad at Hannah (although she makes time)–the Cadets are arriving in Jellicoe and that means the territory wars are on again. I have so many emotions about these books that I could never do them justice in one or two sentences. Recommended for 13+

Everyday (David Levithan, Random House). I don’t read much David Levithan. I’m not entirely sure why, I should–I really like his work. I also really like that he’s a publisher at Scholastic and STILL has time to write meaningful books. Everyday is a book that should be on every single school’s senior curriculum. It challenges sexuality and gender in a very open, very real way, and that just makes the book all the more endearing. Recommended for 12+

Stardust (Neil Gaiman, Harper). A true modern-day fairytale. Stardust is beautifully written that makes the reader feel like they’re floating and softly landing in a magical land. It is nothing like the movie, so don’t expect the lightning pirates to turn up, sorry. Both movie and book are individually brilliant. I particularly like Stardust because it was written as if it’s meant to be read out loud. Start reading this at bedtime! Recommended for all ages.

Tithe and Doll Bones (Holly Black, Simon & Schuster). Tithe, as I’ve said many many times before, is the book that made me want to become an author–specifically a children’s and young adult author. Tithe follows Kaye as she discovers the fae world through the intriguing and slightly off-putting Roiben–the Unseelie Court’s knight. Doll Bones is Black’s latest children’s book and is seriously creeepy. Three kids on the brink of ‘growing up’ make one last ditch effort at being real kids playing with their dolls–only the queen of their dolls’ world (an antique piece made with real human hair) suddenly starts sending them messages trying to be buried with her bones. Tithe is recommended for 12+, Doll Bones is recommended for 8+

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern, Random House). Like Stardust, this is a gorgeously written book. It wants to be illustrated! The book follows the Night Circus and the character’s the interact with the moving exhibition. What the patrons and artists don’t know is that the Night Circus is a battle between two apprentices of frenemy magicians, and that their magic is the only thing holding it together. Recommended for 12+

Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver, Hachette). My favourite book in 2012, and probably the last great book I read until I found a bunch of fabulous ones in the last three months. The best way to describe this book is to let another review do it for me! (You can’t blame me, there are SO many books on this list.) Kat says: “This book is about a teenager, Sam, who is a Mean Girl who trips into Groundhog Day world and is set on a path to redemption.” Before I Fall shows just how much of an impact your actions can have on the world around you, and that you never ever want to be like Sam (you don’t even like her at the beginning of the book!). Recommended for 12+

Ice Station and Contest (Matthew Reilly, Pan Macmillan). I don’t know if there’s anything I can say about Matthew Reilly’s books that hasn’t already been said. Do you have reluctant readers around you? Start them on Ice Station–lots of action, a bunch of swearing. I read these books because my Dad (he’s a manual arts teacher) told me that the year ten boys at his school were studying Ice Station in English. Most of his books are page turners and I’m partial to the action-orientated ones. Yes, Ice Station is part of a series, but it stands alone. Contest was his first ever book that he self-published before being picked up by Pan Macmillan. Recommended for 14+

Attachments (Rainbow Rowell, Hachette). Better than any rom-com I’ve ever seen! (This is a slight exaggerations as I’ve seen a lot of rom-coms and I love a lot of them.) Lincoln is brought on as a security supervisor–what this really means is that he gets to read the company’s flagged emails and send warnings to their writers. Except, he never sends a warning to Beth and Jennifer, best friends who ignore the company’s email policy, and suddenly becomes utterly involved in their life story to the point of falling in love with one of them. Sounds creepy, but is actually pretty adorable. Recommended for 14+

 

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(photo credit: martinak15 via photopin cc)

via bronzewing on instagram

I am the editor of a scrapbook magazine. This means that all the new friends and creatives I meet are papercrafters, not writers. And often they have kids. Occasionally I’ll see a post like the one on the left on my social media streams and I just have to jump in and recommend books because I love introducing people to my favourites. (And all the writers in my life know this list.)

Note I: This post will deal with series only. They are not in any particular order.

Note II: Harry Potter is not on the list because it’s assumed you’ve already read it.

The Lumatere Chronicles. (Melina Marchetta, Penguin) I had to start with an Aussie series, but this series holds its own against even the best overseas series. A country is in exile and it’s up to the king’s best friend to reunite his people and take them home. Recommended for 14+

The Spiderwick Chronicles. (Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, Simon & Schuster) I am very partial to this series as I have never found anything for middle readers that quite lives up to the imagination that this book has. Jared, his twin brother, older sister and mother move into an old Victorian house in New England after their father leaves them. When Jared comes across an old book that details the mysterious creatures of the forest, Jared has to see them for himself. Recommended for 8+

“The Daughter of Smoke and Bone” trilogy. (Laini Taylor, Hachette) A recent addition to my recommendation list, but I’ve bought it twice now–once in ebook form and once in hard copy. Karou is mysterious to everyone, she has crazy blue hair, open eyed tattoos on her hands, and is whisked away at any moment for no reason. The reason that she can’t share is that she is a tooth collector for her foster monster dad. Recommended for 14+

The Raven Cycle. (Maggie Stiefvater, Scholastic) Warning: do not get too attached to this book. There are only two published out of the four in the series. Whenever I read these books, I feel like I’m coming back to old friends. Set in Henrietta, a town that lies on the magical leyline which is the key to finding the lost king who will grant his saviours one wish. Recommended for 14+

The Sally Lockhart Mysteries. (Philip Pullman, Oxford University Press) No, it’s the normal Philip Pullman recommendation, but it’s just as amazing. Meet Sally, who is essentially an orphan, and is looking for a way to make her life meaningful in Victorian London. She stumbles upon a mystery surrounding her father’s death and a photographer who is willing to help her. Sadly for Sally, the fourth book is my favourite and she’s barely in it! Recommended for 11+

The Tales of the Otori. (Lian Hearn, Hachette) Admittedly, I have not read all five books, and honestly I’d only recommend reading the original trilogy. As a historical fantasy novel, it is greatly influenced by feudal Japan. Another plus point: Australian writer! A riveting story that makes you want to visit Japan. Recommended for 14+

“The Bronze Horseman” trilogy. (Paullina Simons, HarperCollins) This book is not for the faint-hearted. It’s intense. It’s heart-breaking. It’s an epic love story set in World War II Russia. It’s my go-to gift book. (Testament in this picture and this picture) But it’s not for young kids. I read it when I was fifteen, but that’s because I ignored my teacher’s recommendation to get my mother to read it first. And then my mother was a little horrified when she eventually read it. (What I’m trying to say, descriptive sex in this book!) I won’t put an age recommendation on this book because everyone is different. At fifteen, I read it twice in one week.

This list should keep you going for sometime. But I’ll make a non-series list sometime soon too. AND: I would love to hear how the papercrafters go!

On reading Australian women in 2013

(Image taken from Australian Women Writers Challenge website.)

In 2012, something started called Australian Women Writers Challenge. I don’t know how I first heard of it, but it wasn’t something I had much interest in. My reading list was already huge (I had all the George R.R. Martin books on it for starters).

But as the end of the year approaches, I also start to look at my “life list” (or bucket list) and start to make a mini one for 2013. This is, of course, if we survive tomorrow.

Every year, I choose to participate in the Goodreads challenge where you select a number of books to read and aim to read that many in the year.

Last year I choose to read 24 and read twenty-four. This year, I pledged to read thirty, and I am currently on my 30th book. Next year, I am challenging myself to read thirty-six books.

And ten of those books will be by Australian women. The list is as follows, in no particular order:

  1. Obernewtyn – Isobelle Carmody
  2. All This Could End – Steph Bowe
  3. All I Ever Wanted – Vikki Wakefield
  4. Blossoms & Shadows – Lian Hearn
  5. Tide Lords series, book 1 – Jennifer Fallon
  6. The Puzzle Ring – Kate Forsyth
  7. Night Beach – Kirsty Eager
  8. A Miss Fisher novel – Kerry Greenwood
  9. Magic or Madness – Justine Larbalestier
  10. Snugglepot & Cuddlepie – May Gibbs

I also wanted to add Jane Higgins, who won the Text Prize with her novel The Bridge but is Kiwi, and some more Melina Marchetta, but sadly I don’t think she’s publishing next year. I got a little distracted with a couple of Australian men writers as well, so maybe next year is just reading Australian writers (whether they’re actually Australian or originally published by Australians). I also like the idea of reading a bunch of picture books. But at this point I think this list is enough to keep me going for the first three months.

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On Froi of the Exiles

(A note: I’ve been waiting to post this until my Mum finished reading Froi. She reads my blog–hi Mum!–and I didn’t want to spoil it for her.)

I usually write reviews of no more than one hundred words. This is because while I read many books, I don’t really want to dissect them too much. I enjoy story, I enjoy style, but I don’t want to analyse something that I love in case it ruins the experience for me.

The problem with writing one hundred word reviews is that it doesn’t leave a lot of space to really get into a book.

Froi of the Exiles is one such book. I have written five lots of 100-word reviews and none of them really say what I want them to say. None of them really explain why I feel how I feel.

I read Froi for the second time this year. I was given an advanced copy last year and read it over two days. But I read it so fast, I missed so much. I forgot so much.

The emotions in this story are what holds it together. We met Froi in Finnikin of the Rock (book one of the Lumatere Chronicles), and he was a thief. He couldn’t speak any language, he spat in people’s faces, he was dirty and ragged; he had no home, no family and no love. Then Isaboe and Finnikin came along and took him home with them. Afterall, he had to be an exile. He was young enough that it made sense–a child locked out of their country by a curse with no family. What else would a child do but live on the streets?

Three years later, Froi has family. He lives with a lord and the lord’s family and farms in his land. He lives with Queen Isaboe of Lumatere and her king Finnikin, and trains in the Queen’s Guard. He speaks all the languages of the land. He’s been trained as an assassin and he’s a very good one at that.

So when the Queen sends him to Charyn to kill the king responsible for the murders of her royal parents and siblings when she was young, he goes without question. Afterall, he owes the Queen his life, and there is nothing he wouldn’t do for his Queen.

“Do what must be done.”

What happens when ‘what must be done’ breaks his word to his queen? Breaks his word to those he trusts with his life and trusts theirs to him? What happens when ‘what must be done’ breaks him in half where he belongs to all and none all at once?

Froi finds comfort in the insanity of the Princess of Charyn, of the boys with no skills wanting to protect her and in the family he didn’t know existed. Simultaneously, he finds comfort in knowing his home is two days away and that there are people there who love him.

Even after all that, it’s still quite difficult to describe what Froi’s story means to me. Froi of the Exiles, the book, builds on and enhances the world and characters created in Finnikin of the Rock, the book. I adored Finnikin of the Rock. But I’m irrevocably attached to Froi. The strength of the emotions that bind this story together make me sob at two in the morning. Froi believes he’s a Lumaterean–what if he’s not? He finds love, trust, family and friendship in both countries, yet an undercurrent of pain, betrayal and nostalgia plague the people. His heart belongs to those in Lumatere; his blood sings for those in Charyn. Can he choose? Can he survive belonging to both? A devastating story about finding out who you really are and if it is worth the journey.

Someday, I wish someone will write a review about my work with no meaning, a review that doesn’t really say anything, but just with raw emotion because there are no words. There is just the devestating look on one’s face when they think about the book that tears open a heart and lets it pour out on the floor. Well done, Ms Marchetta, well done.

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Review: Finnikin of the Rock

A review in one hundred words. (Written while in Africa, early September.)

What struck me reading Finnikin of the Rock this time was the sense of overwhelming love the Lumaterean people have for their royal family. Every single person loved the family as if they were their own parents and children. The stories they tell are about the royal family as if they were telling fairytales. I don’t know if any one country and every single citizen in that country has ever felt for its royalty as this fictional country does for theirs. It literally broke my heart to read, this time, understanding the love they have for those they have lost.

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