Wednesday, March 31, 2010

my cover or yours?

oh dear. is it the same girl?

so i haven't read the ciara geraghty book, i just saw it at the airport and felt a bit pouty and cross that they would use "sophie" on another book. where do the covers of books come from? obviously the interweb. it must feel nice to know that at least the about a girl cover is one of a kind.

i read a review of it tho and discovered that both books are about single mothers. how freaky is that? and the author of becoming scarlett is irish - and sophie loves the potato famine (err, the subject of it).

this review makes me think that i like sophie's story better. i love my candlelight novel, and am sorry that someone else is wearing its skin.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2010 shortlist is on my list

well lordy lordy what do you know?!?! the cbca have come through with the goods. so usually i read the shortlist with trepidation and am rarely satisfied, sit back and think well! they are wrong.
but this year! so many books that i loved.

in older readers we've got loving richard feynman, liar, a small free kiss in the dark (as well as stolen, jarvis 24 and the winds of heaven). in younger readers tensy farlow sits among other excellent company. for early childhood (aka picture books for wee ones) there is nick bland's the wrong book (as well as fearless and clancy and millie) and in picture books (aka picture books for everyone) there's the indomitable mr chicken goes to paris as well as the beautiful, spectacularly lovely schumann the shoeman. over in non-fiction for the eve pownall award there are two of my faves: maralinga: the anangu story and lost! a true tale from the bush.

i will be so happy for any of these to win. thank you cbca.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

10 must read YA books

of all time? ye gads! this is hard. but everyone is doing it and viewpoint magazine has asked for it, so here 'tis:

kate's top ten list of young adult books of all time, chosen because these are either the ones i read and reread as a teenager, or maybe that really affected me the one or two times i read it (i'm talking to you ponyboy!), or that i've come across as an adult and wished it had been around for me as a teen. (in no particular order)
  • after january, nick earls
  • tomorrow, when the war began, john marsden
  • people might hear you, robin klein
  • paper towns, john green
  • the simple gift, steven herrick
  • homecoming, cynthia voight
  • the outsiders, s e hinton
  • the knife of never letting go, patrick ness
  • mahalia, joanne horniman
  • nick and norah's infinite playlist, rachel cohn and david levithan
and some i might have liked to include:
harry potter series, j k rowling (or would this be classified children's, not YA?)
guitar highway rose, bridgid lowry (didn't include this because on re-reading it it jumps out at me as being a leetle contrived)
hatchet, gary paulson (but whenever i mention this book i am met with collective groans of disgust, so i think i am alone in my love of this one)
finding grace, alyssa brugman (just because it is so special and hilarious and sad)

ok. that'll do. except for this picture of the guys from the outsiders. hubba hubba.

Monday, March 22, 2010

she and him: volume two

i've been hanging out for summer to be over, cursing these hot, blue skied days, but now i realise that the weather was just sticking around so i could enjoy the new she and him album to its full. it is sunshiney, twee, 60s pop and i love it. while the first album was great, this one surpasses it.

here are some of my highlights:

don't look back is a great track with wicked melody and excellent harmonies/backing vocals -they end up singing in a round, for the love of all that is cheesy!!

lingering still has a great opening verse:

'i like to learn things slow
i like learning a lot
i like to get it all again and in the end you know
you get what you got
i like to mean what i say
but it don't always come through
'cause if i say it again again again it doesn't
make it more true'

they've included just two covers on this album. gonna get along without you now (originally written by milton kellem in 1951) is fantastic all sweet uh-huh, mm-mm and i wish i could get that lilt to my voice.

the whole album gets me humming and smiling. zooey has such a beautiful voice and the music accompanying her is perfect, as though they are just two parts of one thing. superb!

Friday, March 19, 2010


had brunch today at ici, a lovely bluestone cafe in fitzroy. it was delicious. very, very nice coffee and the most delicious poached eggs on excellently-toasted wholemeal bread with beetroot relish and avocado. miam miam!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

a past life doesn't mean a good one...

the returners, gemma malley

this stand-alone title from the author of the brilliant the declaraction and the resistance (and apparently a third title soon?!?) is a creepy, excellently written and moving story set in england's near-future. england has suffered (as has the rest of the world) of the 2009 global financial crash. times are tight and people have become fierce. a general climate of fear and xenophobia envelopes the people and there is strong support for a conservative government.

will hodge is our adolescent protagonist whose father is angry at new immigrants to england, feels that they have no right to take the few available jobs (and god forbid that they succeed in business!). will feels like he has to support his dad; even if deep down he has questions.

but will has other things on his mind. people are watching him, looking at him, following him. sometimes he can't catch them at it, he has no idea who they are and he doesn't have anyone to talk to about it. and then there are the dreams - at night, but even during the day. what are these scenes of war, of torture, that appear to him and seem so real?

like her other books before, malley creates brilliant characters - i identify with them, empathise, they appear so real. and theme-wise, this is sophisticated stuff. i found myself going back and rereading it just to make sure i was up to speed. the idea of good and evil and of the possibility of predestination with regards to a person's really gets me. makes me want to rewatch two hands, that great australian film (with the best bank robbery scene!). this book is also about choice - do we all have the ability to choose our path?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

who is anonymity jones?

anonymity jones, james roy woolshed press $17.95

anonymity is getting sick of being overlooked but it is happening everywhere she tries to turn. her father has left the family for yet another secretary. her sister raven is preparing to leave the nest to see the world. her mother's new boyfriend john goes quickly in her mind from annoying to creepy. her friends are abandoning her for the world of boyfriends. and then there's the art teacher...

james roy writes in a very funny, snappy tone with great dialogue (i can just hear some of anonymity's more cutting remarks hissing off her tongue) but i found that the general tone of sarcasm distanced me from the events and from the characters - as if anonymity herself was keeping me at arms length. because of this i felt like i was just looking at a snippit of anonymity's world, the reader isn't privvy to the whole story. but that's ok - james roy leaves it to us to fill in the gaps. it was also really nice to see the contradictions in anonymity's character, the way she feels compassion towards john in one scene, then the next she feels otherwise. the stuff to do with her friends almost broke my heart.

anonymity is a fabulous character and i would like to know more about her. i can see some of gossip girl's blair waldorf in her, some of the mad and headstrong girls from tv's skins. there's the fragility behind a ballsy exterior like the titular character from john marsden's winter. anonymity jones is ultimately about how some people fail others, even the people closest to them, but it is not a book completely without hope. and it has a kick-arse ending.

james roy lives here:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


there's been a bit of discussion about and around the topic of sex in YA books. an inside a dog discussion forum a few weeks ago got me really thinking. i discovered that a lot of the people who would prefer to read books without sex were embarrassed. natural; this is something that is private, sometimes scary, that makes you nervous. but it isn't as though YA books are pulsing with pornography. at least, i hope not.

i think it is lovely when a book can explore the fumbling, awkward moments that occur between two characters - letting the reader experience, or be introduced, to sex and sexuality in a safe and gentle way. you've got the more explicit (and here i don't mean porn, but sex scenes without metaphor) scenes in john marsden's the dead of the night, judy blume's forever and maureen mccarthy's cross my heart - and i can't help but think of poor sophie from joanne horniman's my candlelight novel just waiting to get away from the boys and back to her books.

then there are the more metaphoric or poetic depictions. for example, here's a really beautiful sex scene from steven herrick's the simple gift:

Making love

It was like falling headlong
into the clear waters
of the Bendarat River
and opening my eyes
to the beautiful
phospherescent bubbles of light
and trying to catch those bubbles
iin the new world of quiet and calm
that carried me along, breathless,
and too late, or too early,
I surfaced
and broke the gentle tide,
and I gasped and rolled
and wished Caitlin and I
could return to the hush
of that special world
and we could float
safe for a lifetime
and hoping never
to be found.

but now i am hopping off my soapbox and back to reviewing. that's what i'm here to do.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


so being new to the finer points of the interwebs i sometimes head over to the place where they tally up the people who have visited my wee corner of the worldwideweb. i particularly like to see how they got here. the last few people have searched for

1. alphabet city westgarth blog

2. the opposite of coffee

3. surfache gerry bobsien, was it a hit?

and i am scratching my head and laffing a lot because someone got here by googling:

4. travelling with internet boyfriend

hilarity!! i have never travelled with an internet boyfriend, never had an internet boyfriend, never read a book about travelling/having an internet boyfriend. perhaps this is a new niche book market? author-people - get writing!