Wednesday, October 27, 2010

a year in provence...or was that the dordogne?

we've stocked the covetable cards for a while now at the shop and i love them. kinda cheesy, but great. and i'm just so impressed by how beautifully designed the book is. go into a shop, i dare you, and have a little touchy-feely look. it's cloth-bound, for the love of lavender! and think about christmas, birthdays, other holidays: mums, aunties, francophiles...they'll love it.

have to admit, i haven't looked at the poems yet. they could be tosh. but they're probably good. and you could just look at the pictures at any rate. france! flowers! markets! bicycles up against stone walls? oh dear, i fear i am falling into the elizabeth gilbert trap!!!

visit the covetables website here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


i think that this, too, is how a good story is written (or told).

(this is from page 85 of nausea by jean-paul sartre, popular penguin edition)

Monday, October 25, 2010

review : six

Six, Karen Tayleur (Black Dog Books)

One car. One after-party.
Six people, six points of view.
But only one outcome.

Six is quite eerie and intense. Tayleur has successfully created a true page-turner with heightened anxiety and increasing tension. After reading the atmospheric prologue, I thought I knew exactly where the story was going and it did get there eventually. But there was also a SURPRISE plot departure!

This alternate storyline (ie not the car bit) was much more interesting, but unfortunately speedily resolved in two lines at the end. I would have liked to read much more about it. Though I wasn’t 100% convinced by the way the group dealt with THE SURPRISE, nor did I fully understand certain characters’ motivations, it was definitely an excellent plot twist.

Like Megan, I didn’t understand the 'txtspk' language in the text messages half the time, though muddled through and got the gist.

We don’t learn a lot about the characters beyond the superficial and they do seem to slot into specific ‘Breakfast Club’-esque moulds: the jock, the princess, the weirdo. The scene at Virginia’s house served no real purpose but to get them into the Woods, thus to discover the thing that the book revolves around. But it could have been used better to give us a better understanding of the characters. There were elements that fleshed out their situations, such as Poppy’s slightly-odd stepfather, Virginia’s dad being in politics and even Sarah’s family, but mostly it goes nowhere. However, in spite of being on the one-dimensional side, the characters are kind of sweet and interesting and some of their dialogue and exchanges were funny. The voices are also convincingly teenage.

I think that teenagers will really enjoy this one, really get on board with the ending and be very moved by it. I certainly have many customers who will ADORE it. But I don’t think that Six ultimately stands up alongside books like Paper Towns (John Green), Game as Ned (Tim Pegler) or Checkers (John Marsden) that also deal with horrifying events. (err. and this book nowhere near as disturbing as Checkers. Six is appropriate for around 13+)

But all this has got me thinking about the different kinds of YA. More on that later...

Friday, October 22, 2010

sew you feel like a coffee?

this is a little cafe i went to in krakow, poland.

it's a pole. and we're in poland. funny enough for me, but then the pole felt the need to declare both its being and belonging with this note:

unfortunately this hilarious pun's hilarity was lost on my french travelling companion. 'franchement, kate,' il a dit, 'qu'est-ce que tu as dans la tête?! n'importe quoi!' I guess puns don't translate.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

oh so clever

saw this recently on flinders lane, melbourne.

Monday, October 18, 2010

three recent young adult releases...

i am terrible for starting multiple books at once...and sometimes not finishing them. i will try to finish them, but i cannot say for sure. right now i am reading:

life, after - sarah darer littman (scholastic)

so far (48 pages in) i've met daniela and her family. a middle class jewish family from buenos aires, their lives have been made difficult as a result of the crisis in their country - a new government in argentina, the economy is in terrible shape and there are terror attacks and bombings. family upon family are fleeing the country, including dani's best friend (whose family have gone to israel) and her boyfriend (whose family are going to miami). we know from the blurb that dani's family will also emigrate to america. dani reminds me a little of sally j freedman (from the judy blume book) and it's quite brilliant. it's due for release in december.

beautiful darkness - kami garcia & margaret stohl (razor bill)

so i wasn't the biggest fan of beautiful creatures (see my review), but we have a reading copy of the sequel and i thought i'd have a bash. i did enjoy the deep south setting in the last book. i'm four pages in. and already cringing at sentences like this: "because the second i fell in love with a caster girl, no one i loved was safe. lena thought she was the only one cursed, but she was wrong. it was our curse now." let me know why i should continue!

six - karen tayleur (black dog books)

it's full of foreboding and narrated in the past tense and we already know what is going to happen, just not how. i'm only up to page 15. so far it feels a wee bit heavy-handed, but i have read many good reviews so i plan to keep going.

what is everyone else reading? anything amazing?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

review : bright young things

bright young things, anna godbersen (penguin)

from the author of the luxe series, which are absolutely winning books set at the turn of the last century in new yawk city. scandal! frocks! parties! carriage rides through the park! chaperones! i loved them. (i also loved the game i invented where i allocated each character their gossip girl counterpart) what's more, they were sparky, busy stories with very strong characters and an excellent plot that weaved very well through the four books.

bright young things is the first in a new series. this time it's set in the roaring twenties and is told from the alternating points of view of three young women: letty larkspur, who is determined to be a star; cordelia grey, who wants to find the father she's never known; and apparently wealthy flapper astrid donal, whose position in society is always tenuous.

all the aspects of NYC in the 1920s are here; it's an entertaining, fun-filled (gin-filled?) ride through the era. there are the parties in big mansions, the dance halls and cigarette girls, lots of vintage outfits and a little bit of romance and scandal. there are lots of potentially very interesting characters. as it is though i felt that, at times, they were all just there to move the plot along. hopefully, their nuances will come closer to the light in the ensuing sequels. and to be honest, the plot seems to just exist in order to demonstrate how people lived in the 20s. it's almost there - i just think the book could have really used another draft to strengthen it. i could almost see what was going on. almost - it's a bit hazy. whether i'm shooting clay pigeons with cordelia, avoiding lecherous barflies with letty or trying to avoid sad, gold-digging mothers with astrid. so while it's not as compelling or intricate as the luxe, it is still a lot of fun, and i'm definitely interested in the sequels.

one final, aesthetic point...the cover is a little bit off, a little bit NQR (though the title is in a terrific font). what i mean to say is, it's a lovely set up but the model they have chosen is quite clearly a modern girl in costume and it brings what could be a fantastic vintage effect down to rawther trashy. if i got to design my own cover (and if it had to be a photograph rather than illustration) i'd have done a shot of an absolutely stunning 20s dress on a clothes hanger on the door of a wardrobe in an opulent room (maybe also reflected in a mirror?), with perhaps an out-of-focus view of the city at night out through the window. not that i've thought about it much or anything...

when chicks become hens

cute, fluffy babies no longer; silky and sweet little sophie, joan, peggy and pearl will soon be off to their real home that has lots of grass and worms from the ground (and not from the pet shop) and hopefully equally as much love! cheep cheep.

if you feel like reading a lovely story with chickens in it, try thurley fowler's the green wind and the wind is silver (but you'll have to get them from the library, or borrow them off me, because they are very sadly out of print) - so the chickens aren't the main attraction, but oh for being a young boy in the 1940s and here's to smuggling your favourite pet hen into the house by putting it down your shirt. (err...) but seriously, these are two lovely books about a family sticking it out through the tough post-war years on their farm in outback australia. jennifer, the main character, is sort of an australian anne shirley.

and there are chickens. sometimes on the dinner table as well as in the chook shed. (that will NEVER happen to our babies though!)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

not a holiday?

yes, a holiday!

i'm off to the blue mountains! here's what i'm taking with me:

  • keep the aspidistra flying, george orwell (penguin)
  • the old man and the sea, ernest hemingway (this is an arrow books edition, bought on the cheap at one of those horrible book grocer places, for $3)
  • scout, nicole plüss (penguin)

also taking along my notes for my "navel" (also known as what i'm supposed to be writing for a subject called novel 1).

Friday, October 8, 2010

i always enter the kingdom of silk with a happy heart

review : plum puddings and paper moons, glenda millard (illus. stephen michael king)

there are red-kite wishes, which are made-aloud wishes that are "usually for fun and not important at all" but then there are those wishes that are "deep and silent and don't need to be said." this story sees a deep and secret silent wish become a beautiful near-reality.

scarlet silk is fifteen. she has made friends with anik who washes the dishes at mr kadri's colour patch cafe. he tells her the story of how he came to live in their town, losing his parents in a war zone. scarlet is horrified that people can bear to have war continue and she decides to declares peace, at least in cameron's creek.

it was wonderful getting to know scarlet, the oldest rainbow silk girl, as well as the other silk girls who have always been hovering in the background through the four other kingdom of silk titles.* it's nice to cook an armenian love cake with amber (in my family we always called it an armenian wedding cake but i think it's the same thing) and to watch the entire (extended) family weave their individual magic through their everyday - but never ordinary - activities.

i would like to have attended nasty nellie's floating academy for pirates and plunderers with perry angel (who has some difficulties learning, so some days he gets lessons from nell and annie instead of at the big school in town). i was so happy to see another, secret, private side to layla's mother. i am worried about nell, who is getting old.

plum puddings and paper moons is a tale to make your heart leap with hope, and also to delight with glenda millard's superb writing. her descriptions and thoughts are perfect, and never fail to make me cry with their beautiful bittersweetness - and their simplicity.

wonderful. for all ages.

*the naming of tishkin silk, layla queen of hearts, perry angel's suitcase, all the colours of paradise

Monday, October 4, 2010

monthly monday milf meeeeem

MMM is a meeeem created by The Dugong Lady and kate.o.d in celebration of those who lurk handsomely in the background. we want you between our pages.

and the winner of my very first Minor characters-ILF non-meme is none other than:


(from mahalia, written by joanne horniman, published by allen&unwin)

otis plays the blues. when he plays the blues his whole body gets into it, the music flows through his very body and out of his guitar. but even though he plays so beautifully and with his soul, otis wants to study and be a teacher. and when otis gets a crush on a girl he starts working out, starts looking "sharp", with hollows in his cheeks and a glint in his eye. when his best mate (matt) has to pawn his guitar, otis gets it back for him. now that's a best friend. i am definitely a bit in love with him.

here's how he's described in the book:

"...otis worked hard at school. he had goals, something matt had never had. otis's ordinary, stolid, pudgy face, what the americans would call homely, was as familiar to matt as his own. an ugly black bastard was how otis had once described himself, his voice light and quick and careless, lifting his eyebrows to show he didn't give a shit what he looked like."

but in spite of this description, in my mind otis is also very sexy.

maybe something like this handsome devil --->